One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is I’m rather insecure. Always have been – even when I was “skinny and fit” Figure competitor. I’ve had poor self-image more than I haven’t. I’ve picked apart every aspect of my body more than I’ve embraced it. I’ve been working hard for the past 4 years learning to love myself, undoing the damage of decades of diet culture belief and mentally abusing myself. I’m finally at the point that I can say that I love myself – truly and deeply love myself.
Sure, I don’t love 100% of myself 100% of the time, but I do pretty darn good!
So how did I get here?
First, understand it will not happen overnight. It takes time and you have to work on it constantly. Like I said, I’ve been working on this for 4 years. Will you need 4 years? You might need 6 years – or it could only take 2 years. I started this journey at 41 years old – I had a lot of bullshit to undo in my brain! If you’re younger, it might take less time due to not being entrenched in it for as long – I spent 30 years hating myself and my body. That’s a huge rats nest to detangle!
Secondly, be prepared for your body to change. I gained a lot of weight on my journey – but remember, my journey is not your journey, nor should it be. As I moved away from diet culture and embraced intuitive eating, I also found I had to step away from the gym which was always a huge cornerstone in my life. I had a dysfunctional relationship with working out as much as I had with food. So stepping away from a strict diet and little to no exercise meant I put on weight. As much as I disagree with using a scale to measure progress, I do occasionally step on one.
I remember stepping on one at one point in 2017 and it was close to 200 lbs and I remember thinking “Really? But I love myself”
We are taught from a young age that smaller is better – both literally and figuratively. Women are supposed to be petite and demure – heaven forbid we’re over 120 lbs and speak out to defend ourselves or others – and *gasp* use a swear word! Tsk, tsk! No man will ever want you!
When you finally decide that this is patriarchal control and absolute bullshit (tee-hee!) it is hard to escape that mentality especially when people around you keep it. People get so completely offended when a fat girl is happy! Now, yes, I still have thin privilege; I’m not discriminated at the doctors, I can walk into most stores and find clothing that fits, and I can use conventional seating without too much discomfort; but the struggle is real. Poor self-confidence affects all persons at every shape, size, and gender.
There’s been a lot of “every body is a bikini body” hashtags out there talking about loving and accepting your body and wearing the bikini or shorts or whatever – and I understand that it’s a lot harder to actually DO it. Lots of women hate their bodies – I get it! And they simply aren’t comfortable doing it – and that is 1000% okay!!! Don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with… but don’t forget to push yourself outside your comfort zone a little bit!
So how do you become more confident?
Instead of focusing on clothing centric exercises – like wearing something specific – focus on non-clothing centric activities. People think that to be confident in a bikini you have to wear a bikini – and that may work for some people (it worked for me) but from what I see, it doesn’t work for most.
So you have to ask yourself: what is it about going to the beach/lake that you dislike? Is it because you actually hate going to the beach? Or does it have to do with the expectation of having to wear a bathing suit? If you like the idea of going to the beach/lake but don’t go because you don’t want to put on a bathing suit, then don’t! Go to the beach wearing shorts or a dress!! But just go! Now, with me, my aversion to going to the beach is that I am not a strong swimmer. I own more bathing suits and bikinis now than I ever have before! And we never go to the beach! So one way for me to get more confident with this is to take swim lessons.
Another way to build confidence is to look at other areas of your life. When you’re confident in some areas of your life, it’s easier to become confident in other areas of your life.
One thing many, many people are uncomfortable with is public speaking. So get involved with Toastmasters. Public speaking is an excellent way to get confident as communication skills will benefit all areas of your life.
Another way to increase self confidence is to set boundaries with those around you. You’re not a convenience store open 24/7 so stop letting people treat you as such. I find many people with low self confidence are compulsive people pleasers. Start setting boundaries; say no every now and then.
Do you have low self confidence or are you just surrounded by assholes?A botched quote
Make sure you’re surrounded by positive people. Get rid of anything or anybody that makes you feel like shit about yourself. Unfollow anyone who makes you doubt yourself. Unfollow anyone you compare yourself to. And, I hate to say this, but that includes family. Being family doesn’t give a person the right to treat you like shit or talk down to you. “Tough love” is bullshit, so don’t believe that they’re saying these things “for your own good”.
Self love and self confidence is hard, but it’s even harder when you’re not supported by those closest to you. Find people, groups, and pages that are filled with supportive women.
If you’re self conscious about your looks, focus on the now. What can you change now? Your hair color, hair style? Maybe look at a little makeup. Maybe an updated wardrobe – something that really fits your current body. Too many women have a mentality of “I’m going to lose the weight so why bother buy new clothes”…. what if you don’t? What if it takes longer than you thought? Your body right now deserves to be dressed in a way that you love. If you don’t know what looks best, take a compassionate honest friend or go to a fashion consultant.
If I’m not feeling the best about myself, I try to go out of my way to look good – usually a bit more effort in my hair, put on some makeup, and an outfit I absolutely love. It doesn’t always help, but it often does!
Another thing you can do is get photos taken. A good photographer can capture your beauty that you don’t see. When you’re so used hating your body, you tend to be blind to your natural beauty or your potential. What I have learned is that the parts of my body that I hate, people rarely notice until I point it out.
And last, always remember that how you think and feel is directly affected by what you regularly consume – and I’m not talking food. What you watch and what you read can help with progress or set you back. Focus on how you feel and your inner monolog when you’re watching TV and avoid shows that you find yourself comparing your body or your life to. If you don’t read, start reading books by Brene Brown – her books are amazing!
Remember – self confidence takes time. Don’t rush things but do things that push you out of your comfort zone. It will happen – you are beautiful and you deserve happiness in all areas of your life.
How do you deal with self confidence? Do you have any tricks? Comment some things that help you.