Where do you get your self confidence? ……… That is hands down the number one question I get from blog readers, friends, aquaintences, etc…. The answer, well its neither simple, nor is there really one correct answer. And truth of the matter, I am still a work in progress. I may have more confidence than some, but I still have my days where I doubt myself or let those bad thoughts in.
I think there is some element of how my parents raised me that has helped with my confidence. That may sound odd to any of you who read my post about my journey to self acceptance. My father did say and do a lot of things in my pre-teen and teen years that left me with body image issues to say the least. But my mom did everything she could to counteract that. And outside of my dad’s fat phobia, both of my parents constantly told me that I was smart and capable, and that I could do anything I wanted. Really a contrast there for my father I know, but that is sometimes how it is living with someone who is mentally ill.
Just because you didn’t have the same sort of family life I did, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to place of confidence. I am happy to share with you some of the things that I think have helped me at various stages of my journey. Some of these may sound cliché, some of them may sound silly, and some may be difficult for you. But, they are what worked for me, and I think they can help you too.
This is not a step by step guide, so these are in no particular order.
1. Fake It Till You Make It
I am a great believer that you can fake it till you make it. Research has shown that making yourself perform simple physical task can bring forth emotions. The most commonly cited is the case talked about in Psychology Today, showing just the act of smiling itself can make you happier. So even if you aren’t feeling confident in the moment, sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, push out your chest, head up, and say here I am world bring it on.
And every time you do that it gets a little bit easier. You realize each time you were up for the challenge before. You have got this. Whether it be going into a challenging meeting or simply stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new with your wardrobe, you can do it.
2. Stop Caring About What Other People Think
Someone recently asked me what I would tell myself as a teenager if I could go back in time. The number one piece of advice I would give myself, and anyone else for that matter is don’t worry so much about what other people think.
The truth is people don’t really think about you that much, unless they are trolls on the internet and they don’t matter. I know that may sound harsh to some, but people are busy they have their own problems and worries. So short of you making a decision that directly affects maybe a family member, people don’t really get that worked up about the fact that a fat girl went sleeveless or her mid section is showing. I know the trolls on the internet might have you think so, but there have been post after post of plus size bloggers showing how nothing happened when they wore a bikini or when they wore a crop top. Oh they got some stares, but probably not more than you do on the average day as a fat person.
3. Learn To Take The Compliment
How many times have you had this happen? Your performing a task or out running an errand and someone says “You look so nice today”, “You are so talented”, “You have the most beautiful smile”, etc….And instead of saying “Thank You” and stopping there, you say “Oh, this isn’t my usual clothes” or “My sister’s smile is so much nicer than mine, you should see hers”. Do you do that? I can say I have been guilty of it in the past, and I struggle with it at times now still.
For me there is definitely two things going on that causes that internal struggle. First I that think just being a woman, especially a plus size woman, we are taught early on we shouldn’t seek those compliments. I have to continually remind myself that just because someone offered me a compliment, that isn’t the same thing as attention seeking. And the second bit is a little more personally targeted. I am a bit of an introvert, I do have my moment where I can step out of that, but I also have a fear of not just public speaking, but really anything that puts major attention on me. I know that there are definitely others that have that same issue. For me, blogging and posting pictures of me can even be difficult at times, but I can step out of my discomfort when my desire to help others is greater than my fear.
So how do you learn to take those compliments when you have spent a lifetime avoiding them? All I can do is tell you what worked for me. I started trying to look at the compliments as gifts. For me gift giving is my major love language, and I find a lot of joy in giving them. I know a lot of people who feel the same. When someone refuses your gift, or even if they don’t refuse it but just try to because they feel bad about receiving it, they are in a way stealing some of your joy about giving it. And when someone loses joy in giving to you they are less likely to give to you again. In the long run you hurt both yourself and them. And so its the same with a compliment. Like I said, I still have moment where I struggle wanting to turn the compliment down. So I might pause for a moment, but then I say thank you and smile.
4. Don’t Base Your Self Worth Around Your Looks
I get it, we are constantly bombarded with images of what the ideal woman or man looks like and acts like. Hell, at this point in our society we are even constantly told what the perfect thing is to buy if you want to be cool or accepted. But that is clever marketing from companies that want to make sales. And most of the images we are sold on are not real. You have to fight to keep that out of your head.
So when you evaluate your self worth try to focus less on the physical appearance and more on your strengths, talents, and achievements in life. Maybe even make a list of some of your best qualities. When you’re feeling really down about yourself this may be a hard task to accomplish. If you feel stuck try asking a friend to help you out.
5. Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
I think many of us living in plus size bodies, especially us ladies, often get trapped into thinking we are the only ones who have body image issues. But the truth is I have yet to meet a person, man or woman, of any size who doesn’t have some sort of insecurity about their body. There is no such thing as a perfect body, or the perfect face.
And we do a lot of comparing ourselves to the people we think are those perfect ideals. But the only perfect person you can be is you. Instead of spending your time trying to achieve something impossible, put your efforts into to becoming the best you that you can be. I promise, when you stop comparing yourself to other people your confidence will soar.
6. Remove The Negativity From Your Life
Jim Rohn once said, “You’re the average of the five people you spend most of your time with.” Do I think this is accurate? I don’t know if the number is correct, but I think the concept he is trying to convey is sound. The people we spend time with really affect who we are and how we look at life. If we surround ourselves with people who have positive attitudes and are confident, then we start to immolate that. But the same is true for being surrounded by people who are negative points in our life.
I think this is probably the thing that is the hardest for people to change. Sometimes you have to illuminate those negative influences, or at least limit your time around them, if you really want to make a real change in your life. Each person has to make the judgment of what is appropriate and what is not. For me there are some clear lines of what is appropriate to be negative about and what not to be negative about. For example any major health issue, major accident, life altering events, etc… you get what I am going for, these are all reasonable things to express negative thoughts on. But if you make constant negative comments about other people, their appearance, every day events, etc.. this is where I have to start evaluating whether spending time with you is going to effect my state of mind.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting you just dump people for good out of you life, unless that is what you want. I am a proponent of honesty is the best policy. If its someone you really care about, talk to the person and tell them you feel they are too negative. Maybe you can help make both of your lives better. Or if its someone less important in your life and you still don’t want to let them go, perhaps just schedule less time with them. Use that time to spend with someone who has a positive attitude.
I really hope these tips have helped some of you. I could probably give a few more, but I think some of the points would become a little over lapping and repetitive. If you have a tip to share please leave it in the comments below.