3 Things You Need to Develop Self-Esteem
3 Things to Do to Gain Confidence and Be Comfortable in Your Skin
I had someone on Instagram message me recently and asked what I thought were three of the most important things someone should know/do to develop self-esteem and truly be comfortable in their skin. I thought it was such a good question that I’m turning it into a blog post.
I think there are a lot more ways and a lot more things people can do to help boost their confidence and self-esteem but these are three things that have helped me the most on my journey to body positivity and self-love.
Reject current diet/fitness/beauty trends
You can never be truly happy in your own body if you are constantly trying to conform to society’s standards of beauty. This doesn’t mean you have to let your armpit hair grow out and stop showering. It also doesn’t mean you have to stop dying your hair or buying on-trend clothing, but you should only do those things if they make you happy.
I spent a huge portion of my life trying to force my body to be something it wasn’t meant to be. I tried, in vain, for years and years to reach a goal weight that is a number I have never been in my entire adult life. I’ve tried every popular diet, except keto, and done all the various workout programs. I’ve bought clothes that didn’t really fit or look good in order to try and fit in. Not only did none of it make me happy, most of the time it made me feel worse about myself.
I’m not suggesting we all just stop working out and eat cookie dough for every meal, but I am suggesting we stop trying to force ourselves to be something we are not in the name of a beauty trend or in the name of being skinny. Workout because it makes you feel good, dye your hair pink because it makes you feel like a badass and you love it, wear whatever clothes make you feel most confident. Do it for you and your happiness, not because someone else said you have to.
When I started to embrace me, all of me, I started to learn to love myself. I started to feel more confident that I ever had before. When I stopped trying to change myself for someone else I learned to appreciate my body for all the amazing things it can do. And the power that comes from loving, accepting and respecting your whole self is life changing, it is freeing.
Ask yourself why the opinions of other matter so much
And allow yourself to be uncomfortable as you figure out the answer. When you get to the root of why you are looking for outside sources of validation you can start to heal your relationship with yourself. And like Samantha says in the Sex in the City Movie, “I’ve been in a relationship with myself for 49 years and that’s the one I need to work on.”
This is really hard to do. We are taught from the time we are little kids to seek praise and validation from outside of ourselves, especially if you are a woman. We are conditioned to want to be pretty and likable. We are taught that finding a husband is one of the most important things we can do (maybe you weren’t, but I was). And as a result we spend a huge chunk of our time doing things to make other people happy. To gain love and affection and attention from others. We begin to equate fitting in with true belonging and change ourselves in the process of trying to fit in. I read a lot about this in the book, The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown, and if you haven’t read it I cannot recommend it enough.
Brown says that being vulnerable and authentic is the only true way to be happy and as I’ve started to do that more and more in the past year, I wholeheartedly agree. We hide the best parts of ourselves because we are worried about what other people will think. We play small and keep our passions, dreams and opinions to ourselves out of fear of upsetting others or not fitting in. But living as a shadow of who you are meant to be is not the way to happiness, and it certainly won’t make you more sure and confident in yourself.
Love, acceptance, belonging -- they all have a place in our lives, but not at the expense of your true self. It might feel uncomfortable at first but owning who you truly are is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.
Do whatever makes you happy
No one else has to understand, no one else has to cheer you along. Do it for you and only you. You might notice that these three things are intricately connected. I didn’t actually do that on purpose. When I got the message asking me what three things I would tell people I automatically jotted down what came to my mind, but I think it’s no accident the first three things I thought of are all about owning who you are, rejecting other people’s standards and living the life you want.
I know it’s not possible for every person on the plant to give up the jobs the hate or careers they tolerate and pursue their passions (I am still working a full-time job that has nothing to do with my blogger/author career because for the time being I have to). But that doesn’t mean we can’t do the things that make us happiest. If your passion is writing, than write. It doesn’t matter if a single person will ever see those words. If lifting weights and competing in bikini competitions makes you happy go for it. If cooking or sewing or reading or marching in protests make you feel alive, than do those things.
Confidence and feeling comfortable in your skin has almost nothing to do with how you actually look and everything to do with how you feel about yourself. Are you comfortable being you? Are you happy with your day to day life? Are you doing the things that light your soul on fire? I believe everyone needs a passion in life and that they should be able to pursue those passions unashamed and unafraid of what others will think. If it makes you happy, do it. It’s as simple as that. Doing those things breeds self-assurance and confidence in who we are.
You’ll notice not a single one of my things has to do with making your body smaller or changing how you look. That’s because true confidence and self-esteem come from within. Sure, we all have bad days where we hate how we look and every outfit we put on. But real, lasting confidence can’t be destroyed by one bad outfit. It comes from knowing who you are, pursuing your dreams even if you’re afraid and not being scared to live the life you really want, not being scared to be the person you want to be.