Yesterday we looked at how far you've come and all the things you've accomplished in your life. Today let's talk about adding even more accomplishments to that list. But to do that you've got to stretch a little and maybe do things you're a little uncomfortable doing.
You're probably a little uncomfortable just thinking about it, right?
When we think about building our self-confidence, it often seems like a huge task. If you’ve been beaten down so often that you have no sense of self left, trying to get it back can be a task that’s the equivalent of riding the entire Tour de France on a tricycle.
It’s better to pick your battles and find your courage — and your confidence — in the little things. As you’ve no doubt heard before, there’s nothing wrong with baby steps, because with each baby step you take, you find a little more of the confidence you’re looking for.
So, what are some of these things you can do to stretch your confidence muscles?
Stretch #1 - Change something about your looks.
When we get stuck in a rut, sometimes we can’t see ourselves in a different light, because we changed how we look in years. Keeping the same appearance is a big safety net, because it’s comfortable and familiar, even when you don’t necessarily like it.
Gather up your courage and go get your hair cut, or try a new shirt in a colour you’ve never worn before. I can tell you from my own experience that this works wonders for both your self-esteem and your self-confidence.
When I first decided I was ready to rebuild my life I did two things, both at the urging of my then-teenaged son. I cut my hair, and I bought some bright coloured clothes. For the five years before that I’d let my hair grow to halfway down my back, and it was a mess (to put it politely). The look didn’t suit me — long hair never had but I let myself be talked into growing it out — and I’d worn pretty much nothing but black t-shirts and sweatpants the whole time. So, my son signed me up for golf lessons as a Mother’s Day gift, then dared me to go and get my hair cut and buy some new clothes… and I was not to come home with anything black! I couldn’t believe the difference. When they say that getting your hair cut is an easy way to lose ten pounds, they’re not kidding. I not only felt ten pounds lighter physically, but I also felt about a hundred pounds lighter emotionally and confident enough to take on the world.
You don’t have to do a complete makeover to transform the way you feel about yourself. Just one little thing like a haircut or a new shirt can make all the difference you need to start moving forward with your life again.
Stretch #2 - Practice using positive body language.
This is a little thing that seems like a pretty big thing when your confidence is on vacation. Body language is a great indicator of confidence, and if you’re lacking it you most likely tend to stay hunched over, eyes down, trying desperately to fade into the background.
Instead, try one little thing each time you go out and interact with people.
Start with learning how to look someone in the eye. This requires you to stand up straight and hold your head up, so automatically you’ll look a little more confident even if you don’t feel it.
It takes some courage to do this if you’re not used to it, but each time you do raise up your head and make eye contact you build more confidence for the next time out.
The other thing that goes along with unconfident body language is an unconfident voice. Have you ever noticed how people with low self-esteem tend to talk really quietly and mumble?
Once you’ve mastered the art of making eye contact, add speaking clearly and confidently to your repertoire as well. I won’t lie and tell you that you’ll be able to do it overnight. It will take some practice if you’re not used it, but I know that you can do it. Just as I know you will feel so much more confident each time you’re able to make small talk or carry on a conversation in a social setting.
3. Stand up for yourself.
This should probably be number one on the list because building up your self-confidence and self-esteem is ALL about being able to stand up for yourself. However, I put it down here because it’s something that you may have to work up to. It’s another little stretch that’s really a big stretch when you do it.
Here’s the thing… Most of the people I know (myself included) who battle with low self-confidence weren’t always like this. We were confident people, with jobs, lives, relationships, etc. that we knew how to deal with. And then we gave our power away to the wrong person. We let someone else tell us what we should wear, how we should look, even what we should think in some cases and in doing so we stopped standing up for ourselves!
So being willing to make a stand, and say “This is what I believe in, this is who I am” is a really big deal and something that takes a lot of courage. And it may take you awhile to get to that step, and you may have to start small. Even something as seemingly insignificant as saying “No, that's not what I want for dinner” can be your first little step at standing up for yourself if you’ve not done it in awhile.
It takes courage to build your confidence and self-esteem up when you’ve lost them. Taking baby steps like changing how you look, using different body language and learning to stick up for yourself will help you grow more confident and stronger as a person. You will be well on your way, moving forward to reclaim the life you were meant to live!