How to Boost Your Confidence Through Self-Compassion
Have you ever wondered why some people seem to be just so confident?
You may have asked yourself – “how do they believe in themselves so completely when I am always doubting myself and wondering if I am good enough?” …
You may have even convinced yourself that they are just more skilled, more talented, more intelligent, more attractive or more experienced than you are and that this is why they can be so confident…
HOWEVER, often the reason that someone else is more confident than you, isn’t to do with what they know, how smart they are or what they look like. As humans, we all have strengths and we all have weaknesses. Each and every one of us has things that we do well and are good at and things that we aren’t so great at (or that we need to work on). When someone isn’t very confident, they tend to spend a lot of their time focusing on those things that they aren’t so great at and beating themselves up for not being better at those things.
However, when someone is confident, they tend to celebrate their strengths and positive qualities and then see their weaknesses as areas for development or things that they can work on. Confident people don’t tend to beat themselves up over what they can’t do or because they aren’t good enough, instead they tend to talk to themselves kindly and compassionately, encouraging themselves to succeed in a motivational way rather than a harsh and critical way.
Now let me be clear that when I am talking about confidence, I am not talking about being boastful and feeling the need to tell everyone how amazing you are. I am talking about that quiet internal confidence that means that you aren’t constantly doubting yourself and your abilities. A lot of people can feel as though they aren’t “good enough” or they aren’t “doing enough” and it isn’t their fault that they feel this way.
Most people naturally tend to talk to themselves harshly and critically. Also, how you feel about yourself can often be something that develops from your younger years. Maybe you had teachers or family members that made you feel as though you weren’t good enough growing up or you have had some other negative experiences that have led you to doubt our worth. So, it isn’t your fault if you tend to doubt yourself and feel as though you aren’t “good enough”. In fact, many people feel this way. However, there are things you can do to shift this and to feel better about yourself.
This is where self-compassion is such a powerful tool for boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Many people tend to be kind and compassionate to those around them but then very harsh and critical of themselves. When they start to show themselves the same kindness and compassion that they show others, they tend to feel much better about themselves and their confidence improves significantly.
A first step in nurturing that self-compassion is to start to notice your thoughts and how you are talking to yourself (in your own head) throughout the day. Are you thinking thoughts and using words to talk to yourself that you would feel comfortable saying out aloud to someone that you really love and care about? Would you tell your child or your sister that “you are such a failure, you are not good enough”? Or would you perhaps coach them by saying something like “you didn’t succeed this time but you can do this, I believe in you, let’s try again and do better next time”. Aiming to talk to yourself how you would talk to a loved one can be very helpful. Catching and then gently shifting any negative self-talk can really help to boost your confidence and how you feel about yourself.
There are several other things that can negatively affect your confidence and in these areas self-compassion can help too. These include:
Basing your self-esteem on the opinions of others
So many people rely on other people for validation and confidence. For example, they will only feel attractive on days when other people have complimented them on their appearance or they will only feel that they have put together a good piece of work when someone else praises that piece of work. They are relying mostly on the judgment and opinions of others in order to feel good about themselves and their lives. Basing your self-worth on the opinions of others however makes that self-worth very fragile. It means that you could feel bad about yourself one day just because everyone around you is in a bad mood and doesn’t feel like complimenting or praising you that day. It means that you are leaving how you feel about yourself entirely in the hands of other people. Much more helpful than depending on others for validation is to give yourself that validation through treating yourself with compassion.
If you are being kind to yourself and celebrating, valuing and appreciating the work you have put in to a project, you won’t need to depend upon other people to tell you that you have done a good job. If you can appreciate and celebrate your appearance and what you look like, then you won’t have to wait for other people to compliment you to feel good about yourself.
Spending a lot of time comparing yourself to others
Often people feel bad about themselves because they spend a lot of time comparing themselves to other people. Of course, this is never really a fair comparison because they compare the “best” version of someone else (the version that this other person wants to show the world) with the “worst” version of themselves (because only they will know about all of their flaws and insecurities). When making these comparisons people also tend to only make upwards social comparisons – so they will only compare themselves against people that they feel are “better” than them but not against people that aren’t doing as well as them. This also makes them feel much worse about themselves. A lot of the narrative that comes up when someone is comparing themselves to others is a very harsh and critical narrative. They are beating themselves up and being mean to themselves for not being as “good” as someone else.
However, nurturing a kinder and more compassionate internal voice can shift that narrative. When someone is being kind to themselves perhaps others become more of a source of inspiration and positive encouragement rather than a reason to beat themselves up and feel bad. Or even better, when someone is being kind to themselves, what others are doing becomes far less relevant or important, because they are just focused on doing the best that they can.
Feeling the need to change to fit in
We are social creatures and we like to know that we fit into our tribe. However, always feeling the need to change ourselves and be something or someone that we are not in order to fit in, can have a very negative effect on our confidence levels and mental health. If we always feel that we can’t be accepted and loved for being our authentic selves we will never believe that we are “good enough” as we are. Having the confidence to just be you often comes with talking to yourself kindly and compassionately. Instead of beating yourself up for not being more like someone else, instead you are celebrating and enjoying what it is that makes you unique and different.
So, self-compassion really lies at the heart of true confidence. That unwavering belief in yourself and that quiet understanding that you are more than “good enough” comes from being able to celebrate and appreciate your strengths and positive qualities, rather than constantly beating yourself up for your flaws. How are you going to celebrate what makes you uniquely you today?
“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn't try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn't need others' approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.”
― Lao Tzu
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