It has come to my attention that there are people out there who don’t seem to have an ounce of self-confidence. Hey, it’s OK, as long as you’re looking to gain some. Also, it’s not as if I’ve never been there before (read about my fight against acne). We all have and we’ve all turned around and stood up on our feet. So here’s a guide I made to help you find out how you can gain self-confidence once again.
1) Nobody’s perfect.
In this world, no matter where you are, there is always someone who is taller; who has better hair; who has more perfect skin; who is slimmer, or fitter; who can sing better; who has a nicer nose; who has bigger boobs; who has more money; who has a wider social circle; who gets more praises at work or in school; who is curvier – than you. Accept it and deal with it. You can never be the best or most at everything. But find something that you are really good at, or something about you that you think looks the best, and work at it to make it even better. It can be a skill or a flat tummy.
2) You are what you eat.
Stay away from sinful, oily, fried, unhealthy food, like fast food, deep fried fritters, alcohol, chips and soda. Consume what I call, “Happy Food,” like dark chocolate, detoxifying green or white tea, salmon (for omega 3), multi-vitamin pills and stay hydrated. When your body feels good, you feel good.
3) You can’t change what others say about you but you can change the way you react to what they say.
If there’s something about yourself that you don’t quite like, or that brings you down, such as your love handles that make you the butt of “Yo mama” jokes, change it. If it’s not something you can do alone, get professional help, like what I did to tackle my skin problems.
4) Don’t take things too seriously or personally.
Many times in life, people just blurt things out without thinking. Also, many times, they don’t even know what they are saying, or realise that you’re hurting inside because of what they say. For example, someone might say, “You’re so gross!” But then they say that to just about anybody who licks their ice cream instead of bites them. So stop feeling sorry for yourself because many times, it really isn’t about you.
5) Do some sports.
This point is specially dedicated to those of you who are feeling bad about the way you look. If you want a better self-image, you simply have to work for it. There’s no hard and fast rule here. It’s really that straight forward. Want a better, slimmer, more toned body? Work out. Go to the gym. Go jogging at the park. Play sports. Move your butt off that couch. Make time for sports, not excuses. Prioritise. You can either stay at home and sulk all day, feeling all sour grapes about hot-bodied people at the beach; or – you can be one of those hot-bodied people at the beach. Your choice.
6) Hang around positive influences.
If you’re working out, find an exercise buddy to keep you motivated. Find people who seem to always radiate happiness and optimism and stick around. Cling on to them if you can, but not to the point of being needy. Everybody likes happy people because it makes them happy. It also gives you hope that there will always be better things in life to look forward to, no matter how much you may hate yourself now.
7) Filter off negative influences.
This is in conjunction with Point Number 6 and is also arguably the most important thing you have to do to gain self-confidence. Negative influences are people who have unhealthy addictions like drug abuse, gambling, alcoholism or smoking. They can also be people who are sad, angry or just plain unhappy all or most of the time; or people who are equally – if not more – self-conscious as you, who feel equally bad about themselves, be it whether it’s about the way they look, their sexual preferences or their careers, even when there’s really nothing to feel bad about. Negative influences suck the life of out you and drain you of energy. If you want to move forward, hard as it may be, you have to let these go, especially if they don’t seem to want to move forward along with you.
8) See the positive side to everything in life and the good in all people.
Smile often. It makes you feel good, and it makes the people around you feel good. Happiness, joy and optimism are contagious. It may be difficult for you to see something good in everything, but it’s there. Open not only your eyes but also your heart. See the bitch that always calls you names? She has nice hair. And the jealous coworker who always puts you down at work? She/he is a filial daughter/son, working to support her/his sick parent at home. Good things are everywhere and as long as you search for them, you’ll find them. When you see the good in people, you’ll learn to see the good in yourself.
9) Listen to music that makes you feel happy.
It can be anyone. Lady GaGa, the Bee Gees, Britney Spears, Taylor Swift or Marvin Gaye. Just avoid those overly emotional, oh-so-melodramatic kinds. You know, the ones that always talk about unrequited love, or about how the singer is hurting inside because he/she was rejected – that type of stuff is like poison to the soul. Stick to happy, jumpy, dance-y pop or rock. Something which reminds you of happy times passed, or something which you can sing along to when you’re on a road trip in LA with some girl friends. Yes, LFO and Backstreet Boys included.
10) Dress up. All the time, if you can.
And do so appropriately. Show respect to yourself by picking what you wear on your body. Colour and shape your own nails. Trim your brows. Wear clothes that are going to last through 50 washes. Wear something to show that you are proud of who you are and what/how you look like. Stay away from huge, loose-fitting clothes that make you look 5 sizes larger to, ironically, hide your shape. If you don’t know what suits your body shape best, hire a consultant or go for a personal image course and remember what is taught to you.
11) Do good for the community.
Pick a cause and help out. Doing something good for somebody else without expecting anything in return actually increases self worth. Volunteer to help out at centres for the homeless, donate items (in good condition) that you no longer use, or be a wildlife volunteer in the safari.
12) Keep a mental image of where you want to be.
Whether it’s the movie still of Halle Berry in her famous bikini-out-of-the-sea pose, professional photographs of Victoria’s Secret angels on the runway, or something more personal, such as an image of you high up in the Himalayans, or being the host of a successful dinner party with associates, always have a destination in mind. When you find that you’re sidetracking, bring that image back to your mind to motivate yourself and give you positive vibes while you focus on the way you’d feel once you’ve achieved your goals.
13) Be patient.
Remember: gaining something you’ve lost (or never had) takes time. It can be months or even a year till you get to where you’d like to be, depending on how far you are away from it.
14) Be consistent in your efforts.
Don’t give up. The world is aways moving forward and life will continuously present you with circumstances that will test your strengths. It’s OK to falter once in a while. We are, after all, human beings. What’s important is that you get back on your feet, dust the dirt off your shoulders and walk on. Chin up, shoulders back, and take those confident steps, no matter how hard they may be.
See the world. Learn more about yourself and learn how to embrace life. Understand that life is a whole lot more than just yourself. Do the whole Eat-Pray-Love thing if it suits you and if you can afford it (and don’t feel bad if you can’t). Learn that your problems can be blessings in another part of the world. Experiencing foreign places is food for the soul and it will help you find inner peace.
16) Be thankful for everything.
For your parents, your education, your friends. For the coffee you had this morning, for Thomas Edison who invented light, for the peace in your country. For the phone that you have, for the internet, for your pet. Being thankful for the little things (or great things) in life makes life worth living. Be thankful Mother Earth hasn’t opened the grounds and swallowed us whole!
17) Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Have love and a healthy respect for yourself. If you don’t, nobody else will and this is something qui n’est pas cliché. If you want others to greet you with smiles, then you smile. If you want to hear nice words, then you say nice words. If you want encouragement, then you encourage others. If you want a man who will respect you and treat you with dignity, then find a man who does just that and not settle for any jerk that comes your way. People don’t feel sorry for the girl who was hurt by her boyfriend for whom she had chosen to sacrifice her self respect.
18) You are responsible for your own happiness.
No one owes you a living. It’s not the job of others’ to cheer you up and make you feel good about yourself. It’s yours. It’s true that everyone comes with emotional baggage. But if you can’t even deal with your own, don’t expect people to help you with it. The more you depend on others for your satisfaction in life, the more you push them away and the more you’ll feel terrible about yourself. Stop.
19) Stand up for yourself.
There are only so many times people are willing to stand up for you. After a while, you just become a burden to them. If you can’t even stand up for what you believe in, then there’s no reason other people should look towards you for anything either. When you can’t – or don’t even try to – defend yourself, it propagates any feeling of self-worthlessness. You’re not a princess or a queen. You have no army of warriors. You are your own warrior. Remember that.
20) Life is short.
Finally, life is short. If you think about the age of the earth – 4.5 billion years; the age of our galaxy -13.2 billion years and the age of our universe – 13.7 billion years, you’ll see that 80 years is really no biggie. Spend it on making yourself happy and give no effort in feeling anything negative. Work hard to get what you want and when once you get it, enjoy the fruits of your labour. Keep away from drama and people who like to stir trouble. There’s time to spare for second and maybe third chances, but anything more than that is a complete waste of precious minutes, which you could use to watch The Lion King on Broadway, or have brunch with a bunch of decade-old friends instead. It’s all about perspective and relativity. You don’t want to spend the last minutes of your life regretting the years that were given thoughtlessly away to suckers who knew no better.
Image credits: Google Images