There is no magic pill, detox juice or superfood that can instantly make us feel confident. You may be able to find confidence in Instagram likes, makeovers or attention from the opposite sex, but temporary satisfaction can only fill the void for so long. Coming to terms with yourself can be difficult in a world cluttered with stereotypes, stigmas and airbrushed magazine covers. Still, try to make an effort to appreciate yourself as an individual — it’s much more fulfilling than trying to keep up with unattainable standards. Avoid doing these five things that’s killings your confidence:
1. You fixate on your flaws.
We consult our reflection anywhere we can catch a glimpse of it — mirrors, selfie-cameras, windows. The problem is, we’re always seeking out the opportunity to “fix” ourselves. We’re either reapplying our cover-up, readjusting our ponytails or picking at the blemish that arrived to our forehead uninvited.
What if we spent the same amount of time appreciating our reflection as we do criticizing it? It’s not until we reflect (no pun intended) on how we evaluate the way we look at ourselves that we realize how self-critical we are. It’s time to make amends with the mirror; take advantage of the most practical tool you have to appreciate your favorite features. Instead of cringing at how dull your skin looks, take a second to admire the unique color of your eyes or the natural pigment of your lips.
2. You actually believe you are what you eat.
We often give food waaay too much power. We let what’s on our plate dictate how we feel about ourselves. In reality, food is fuel; it gives us the energy we need to get through our hectic days. The goal is not to eat as little as possible, but rather to feed ourselves a diversity of foods that make sure we get all of the vitamins and nutrients our body craves.
Let’s get one thing clear: this does not warrant a week-long ice cream binge, either. It’s important that you enjoy your food; but it’s equally as important that you nourish yourself with fruits, vegetables, proteins, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats.
That said, if you want the pizza, eat the pizza. Listen to your body! Your stomach will tell you once it’s had enough chocolate, and it will tell you when it needs apples and cucumbers. It’s important that you trust your body — have faith in your intuition. Don’t try to outsmart your appetite, no matter how big or small it is. Be good to your body and be good to your taste buds!
3. You compare yourself to what you see on your social media feeds.
Scrolling through social media feeds can be mindless, inspirational or straight-up belittling.
We often resort to Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat if we’re bored or feel lonely. But there, we are faced with thousands of photos of people having fun with their friends, which in turn compels us to also post only about our happiest moments. We rarely see photos of people failing exams, receiving parking tickets or accidentally maxing out their credit cards. Everyone is battling his or her own demons. Life is not perfect, and the world will keep on spinning whether we are documenting it or not.
4. You overestimate your capability to read other people’s minds.
When was the last time you analyzed the way a stranger on the street looked at you? If the answer is “today,” you’re probably not alone.
It can be tempting to try to decipher a person’s tone of voice or use of emoji, but it can also be mentally exhausting. If you have a question, ask it; if you have a doubt, express it. Nonverbal cues only reveal so much, so don’t overthink the fact that your friend forgot to answer your text message; maybe their phone died, maybe they’re dealing with a crisis at the dry cleaners, or maybe they just… forgot. Life happens, don’t overthink it!
Learn how to articulate your thoughts and opinions, and you’ll take at least half of the guesswork out of interpersonal communication. The most you can do is to be honest with others, and to be honest with yourself.
5. You forget to celebrate your accomplishments.
There’s no Hallmark card for getting to work on time, but that shouldn’t stop us from celebrating our little victories. Small accomplishments often get lost in the midst of promotions, birthdays and baby showers; but that doesn’t make them any less important. Maybe you haven’t finished a marathon, but you got up before sunrise this morning to work out; maybe you didn’t get a 4.0 this semester, but you turned in every homework assignment on time and you made it to every class. Celebrate those small successes.
You don’t have to pop bottles or bake a cake every time you do something productive; but allow yourself to celebrate minor accomplishments, too! Let’s face it, remembering to buy everything you need on your weekly Target run is a victory in and of itself.
Confidence is learned, not innate. If we were all born sure of ourselves, our physical appearance and our personal preferences, maybe we’d spend less time considering other people’s opinions and spend more time enjoying our own lives. Learning how to be confident takes time – but the time you invest in yourself is most definitely time well spent.