The trouble with self-esteem is that when you feel bad about yourself, that feeling is always with you. Whether you’re out with friends or home alone, that voice maintains its steady mantra: Not good enough, not good enough, not good enough. Useless, worthless, stupid.
How good would it feel not to worry what other people think about you? To be able to walk into a room and start a conversation with a stranger? To wake up in the morning and smile to yourself, knowing that you’re a worthwhile human being? Confidence is a skill, and anyone can learn it. Here are three easy ways to start feeling good about yourself:
1. Practice smiling. When you have low self-esteem, that pain is often revealed in your smile. Maybe when you smile it doesn’t quite reach your eyes, or maybe it even looks more like a grimace. With a great smile, anyone can look confident, and looking confident is one step along the path to feeling confident.
How should you practice? Every time you see yourself in a mirror, whether it’s in the bathroom or an elevator or at a friend’s house, give yourself a smile. Even if you don’t feel like it, pretend you really love yourself. The more you smile, the more your facial muscles will remember how it feels, the brighter your smile will get, and the easier it will be to smile at other people and get smiles in return.
2. Turn off your television. There is a multi-billion dollar industry built on the spending power of your low self-esteem. Women are told that they shouldn’t go out in public unless they’re wearing makeup. Men are told that they’ll never get a date unless they use a razor with five blades. We’re all told that wearing the latest fashions is the only way to have friends and be well-liked.
Now, shaving and wearing make-up and wearing fashionable clothing is all fine. What’s not fine is hearing that message of inadequacy over and over again, day after day. Would you stay friends with someone who constantly told you that you weren’t good enough? I think not. Turn off your television, or at least mute the commercials.
3. Decide to like yourself. In high school, I was very skinny, with no muscles to speak of. Some of the other students gave me a hard time about it, and I felt bad about myself. Then one day I realized that I didn’t want to feel bad about myself, and that if I was going to like myself, I had to like myself as-is. I would always be a skinny person. I would never be broad-shouldered or muscular. I would never fit the masculine ideal. I had to like myself skinny, or not like myself at all.
Everything changed after that. Accepting myself as I was helped me realize that I was likeable. I stopped worrying about what I should be and concentrated on what I was, and I began to notice that I had a lot of good qualities.
None of us fit the ideal human being, but all of us have something to offer the world. At some point, being confident means accepting yourself with all of your positive and negative qualities, and saying to the world: “Here I am, deal with it.”
What have you done to increase your self-confidence? Share your tips in the comments.