Wouldn’t it be good if we could let go of assessing ourselves so negatively? What would happen if we felt confident enough to live freely? Too many of us are sadly our own worst enemies and it’s no wonder low self-confidence is a widespread problem, especially with images of beauty and perfection all around us. If you live with chronic illness, you might have found, like I have, that your self-esteem, confidence & body image all take a knock because of your health battles, too.
It’s time to embrace who you are, ditch the guilt and self-loathing, and nurture your inner awesomeness.
♥ ♥ ♥
1. Caring A Little Less
I’m not one to encourage apathy, but I think there’s a lot to be said for learning to care a little less about what doesn’t matter so much. That includes sweating the small stuff and worrying about the things that, in the grand scheme of life, don’t really matter. The truth is, most people are too absorbed by worries about how they’re being judged to have the time to bother judging you anyway.
We might not even be fully conscious of worrying about how we’re perceived by society, but it affects how we feel and how we behave on a subconscious level. I’ve learned to care less about what others may think of me, but it’s a pervasive habit. Do they think I look too fat or too thin? Does my face look awful? Do they think I’ve wasted my life and achieved nothing? Do they think I’m faking being sick? Do they think I’m worthless?
When it comes to how we look, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying dressing up or putting on make-up and caring about your appearance. That’s very different to hiding under all of that out of shame or embarrassment or self-loathing.
Whether it’s caring about what others think of your appearance, the car you drive or the amount of money you earn, the weight of these worries will continue to get heavier the longer you carry them.
I also find that being able to laugh at yourself is a skill that should be mastered. A lighter approach can really take the edge off whatever you’re dealing with. Face the worry head on and realise that you don’t need the approval or permission of others. You don’t have to hide who you are or feel you have to explain yourself.
Remove the filters and start embracing everything that makes you YOU.
2. Nothing Compares 2 U
Sinead O’Connor got this one spot on. As cheesy as it sounds, you are 100% unique and that’s what makes the world so exciting. If we all looked the same and lived identical lives that would be insanely boring.
What makes you, YOU? Cheese alert: What things do you love about yourself? This can be a surprisingly difficult question for many of us to answer. If you’re struggling, stand outside of yourself and think about what a friend might say. Even better, ask a friend or loved one what they like about you. Speak to your online friends and ask for their opinion.
Try to sketch a little list of the things you like about yourself. It’s easier said than done to suddenly wake up one morning and love yourself, but appreciating the small things is a good start. Don’t focus too narrowly either. It’s not just your appearance. It’s your personality, your strengths, your compassion, sense of humour. Consider your achievements, your actions, your beliefs, your morals. What big and small things are you grateful for? What parts of you do you like?
Instead of picking yourself apart to critique and berate, start celebrating those things that make you different to everyone else. Embrace them. What is it about you that makes you uniquely you? The bigger nose, the wonky eye, the geekiness, the sarcasm, the stoma bag. Yes, these are my unique points! If you’re one of the chronic illness warriors, don’t feel confined to the parts of your body that don’t work well either. You’re more than your illness.
Celebrate what makes you YOU, without apology.
3. Take A Leap Of Faith
Sometimes we just need to take a deep breath and dive right in. If you want to shake things up and change your style, do it. If you want to start mingling again then sign up to dating websites like we love dates and see what happens. You’ll never know unless you give it a go. You can still be smart about your actions but sometimes it helps to take a chance and a leap of faith, moving us out of our comfort zones to really grow and experience life.
Some say the most painful regrets are the things not said and done. I know I have long list of these. Fear, worry and low self-confidence can be barriers preventing us from doing the things we want to do or saying the things we’ve been itching to say. It might be a case of not being sure of the outcome so we don’t take the risk, but sometimes the cost of not doing something is far greater. Resentment, depression and regret are tough things to live with.
If it’s fear and apprehension borne from low self-confidence that’s holding you back, it’s time to give yourself the opportunity to shake them off, face the fear and take action!
4. Big & Small Self-Care
Self-care can be divided into small and big elements. It applies to everyone, every gender, every background. Despite the stereotyping, self-care isn’t a ‘female-only’ thing. The smaller aspects of self-care add up and it’s about indulging yourself a little with the things that make you feel good. This is where the bubble baths, candles and face masks come in. Take time out to do the things you enjoy, without feeling guilty for not being productive with your to-do list. Read a good book with a hot chocolate, play computer games, have a movie marathon.
Instead of saving the nice things for the ‘right time’ or when you feel you deserve them, use them or do them now. That TV series you’ve been holding off watching, that special chocolate bar you’ve been saving, the pretty jewellery or the fancy dining plates. Don’t leave it too late to make the most of them. If you put off the good things you’ve been saving, you’ll find they go out of date, are no longer available, go mouldy or lose their shine. I’ve done this so many times myself, waiting for the right occasion or a time when I feel deserving enough, and of course that time never comes. There’s no time like the present.
Then comes the bigger self-care. This is about being assertive, advocating for your needs, saying no when you need to, letting go of guilt.
All self-care is about making you a priority. It’s not selfish, even though many of us feel guilty for taking time out or standing up for ourselves. Looking after you is about realising that you’re important too and that you’re worth looking after.
5. Heal Past Hurts
Healing and self-care go hand in hand. Sometimes the scars in our past are what contribute to making us feel less deserving or less beautiful. We come to doubt ourselves and judge ourselves harshly. Being confident and happy and trusting in yourself aren’t things you have to earn; you deserve to be the version of yourself you want to be, and part of that is recognising the effect the past has had on you and healing those hurts.
Reach out to friends and loved ones, check out some self-help books to gain a new perspective, or seek professional support if you need it. There’s no rush to heal.
6. Self-Confidence : Fake It ’Til You Make It
Before you can get to the point of authentic self-confidence and self-love, it might be an idea to try it on for size. Talk, walk, think and behave like the person you want to be, the person you feel you are under the surface. Head up, make eye contact and be fearless. How does it feel? Actors can do it and so can you. Fake it ’til you make it. The beauty of this is that once you see you can fake it, you’ll realise you’re capable of making it.
Much like studies suggesting how smiling can help to improve our mood and make us feel happier, acting more confidently on the outside could help us to feel more confident on the inside.
7. Be Mindful & Non-Judgemental Towards Yourself
We can be our own biggest critics and many of us have a pretty cruel inner voice. You probably don’t even realise how often you do it or how automatic the negative thoughts are. It’s just normal and natural after years of berating yourself. Being mindful is about catching those thoughts and paying attention to them. Notice what you say to yourself and the tone of voice used. Notice also how you speak about yourself when talking to others. Start recognising the patterns and just how often it happens. Why do you think you treat yourself the way you do? Do you feel you don’t deserve better?
Then it’s time to work on silencing that vocal little critic. Challenge the underlying reasons you treat yourself the way you do. You might notice the tendency seeps out into other areas of life. Perhaps you don’t take enough down time because you feel guilty, and you feel you always need to be productive; if you’re not productive, you’re not worthy, and so you never treat yourself or enjoy things without guilt poking you in the eye. Behind the narration of your life is often a deeper story waiting to unfold.
Identify these patterns and start to dig underneath them, uprooting the weeds of self-hate so you can plant seeds of self-compassion in their place. Speak to yourself as you would a best friend or loved one. Be kind, be gentle and be non-judgemental.
8. Appreciate All Achievements
If you don’t already, it’s time to start celebrating all of your achievements, no matter how small. The goal posts change when living with chronic illness so a lot of my goals are smaller ones and a lot of my personal achievements may seem insignificant to someone else. But there should be no comparison because your journey and your achievements are uniquely your own.
Have reasonable, achievable goals that suit you and your abilities, and acknowledge everything you manage to accomplish. If you’re feeling awful but you got out of bed anyway, that’s an achievement. Whether you wrote half a blog post, or finished an entire novel, well done. Whether you’re prepared one meal for yourself this week or you’ve bagged a job in a Michelin restaurant, well done.
Big or small, they all count. Recognising the good things you’re achieving day to day will remind you that you’re actually pretty damn awesome, but you’re probably too busy berating yourself to usually notice.
Now is the time to stop berating yourself & stop picking yourself apart for critique. You’re more than what you look like, more than an illness, more than the job you have or the way you talk. Embrace every part of yourself & love each bit. It’s only your own opinion that truly matters, and there’s only one you in the world. That makes you pretty damn awesome.
Has low self-confidence had an impact on your life? What do you find helps in making you feel confident about yourself?
[ This is a gifted & sponsored post written by myself ]