I used to believe having confidence required you to achieve a lot, love your body, or be successful in at least one area. Although I know this contributes to having confidence it turns out it isn’t required. Most of my life, at least during my twenties, I really struggled with having a “healthy level” of self-esteem; it was close to zero. I know this is pretty common, especially when you are discovering yourself and learning about life. It astonished me though when I’d meet people, my age who were “comfortable in their own skin” (as my mom would call it). How did they become so comfortable with who they are? I didn’t understand why I struggled so much to feel that I was good enough or why I was constantly striving to prove something. It kept robbing me of happiness.
The good news is that I’ve come to the awareness that loving yourself starts by choosing to do so. Wow, it sure sounds too good to be true. Think about it though. The man I picked to marry for example; my choice was not based on his resume, job status, financial blueprint, or awesome ability to pick up snakes. No, it was simply for the joy of being in his presence, hearing his thoughts, and learning what he enjoys doing. Sure, there are things I love about him that he is good at like beach volleyball and his teaching ability, but those are not prerequisites for my love. The same is true for ourselves finding our own confidence.
Here are three ways I have learned to acknowledge my inner beauty and embrace my flaws which seem to glare much brighter than my strengths.
1. Self criticism is not an ingredient to being confident.
It’s not anything new that we all can be or constantly are our own worst critic. Actually, I took a lot of pride in being my own worst critic for a large portion of my life. People would observe, “Whitney you are too hard on yourself”. I’d give a half smile realizing it didn’t feel good to be so critical of myself but believing if I wasn’t I’d never get better. I sure was wrong and thank goodness!! I’ve been practicing the exact opposite over the last few months and have had incredible results. Replacing self-critical thoughts with sentences that I would say to someone I love. It sounds crazy, at least I thought so, but I no longer need other people giving me compliments to know my self-worth.
- Being me is so much fun.
- I am awesome, just the way I am today.
- I’m completely capable of doing this.
- You are only human, we all make mistakes.
- I may be feeling (tired, anxious, etc) so I will give myself extra grace today.
2. Embrace your mistakes and flaws with love.
Imagine if we all believed we were lovable and fabulous just as we are, including our flaws. Imagine feeling confident because you realized being human means making mistakes and that being secure comes from acknowledging your beauty.
When I was thirty pounds heavier I used to think, “once I lose weight I will love my body”. Thank goodness I learned my beauty doesn’t come from my pant size because I never would have lost weight. When I started to think positive and encouraging thoughts about myself I’d want to do healthy things for my body. It was when I thought about how fat I felt that I’d crave junk food or sugar.
Is it possible for you to love yourself when you aren’t where you want to be? Absolutely! Start by making a list of qualities you are thankful for in yourself.
3. Like a gratitude list, take inventory of your strengths.
This can be challenging for us because we are soo critical of ourselves. There was a point where thinking of ten things I liked about myself was extremely challenging. Crazy-right? So I started with basic things: I have pretty hands, I’m grateful for my willingness to learn, I value my eagerness to listen to others.
For me, I love to grow, to constantly be challenged, and to be out of my comfort zone. I believe we are made for growth, it’s where we thrive. When I set out to learn something new or practice on becoming great at a new hobby, the real game changer was learning to embrace my failures and talk positively to myself. I’m no longer chasing life to achieve something more in order to love myself, instead, I decide to love myself even in the midst of growth and achieving. This takes intentional work.
Ask yourself, how often do you feel restricted from doing something you want to do or feeling worthy due to lack of confidence?
When I imagine a life where my confidence doesn’t come from other people affirming my beauty or achievements. I’d have a lot more of the freedom that comes from being ME and embracing my shortcomings.
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for making me just the way I am. You created me with both my strengths and flaws. Forgive me for comparing myself to others or not loving myself as I am. Please teach me to speak encouraging thoughts to myself, as you would talk to me. Then help this acceptance spread to accepting others just as they are. Amen.
With love, Whitney Roehl