Secrets to Self Confidence


 

My favorite dress at the age of 12 was a straight, navy blue boxy number with a British flag sewn into the collar. It went straight to my ankles and was as "athletic" of a dress as would pass my standards. My late grandma and I bought the dress on a shopping trip to Walmart. The occasion escapes me, along with the answer to "What was I thinking?"

 

 

In my mind, the dress fit. It wasn't flashy or revealing, and it would hold up fine if I decided to play hoops with the boys. In other words, it checked all the important boxes for a preteen tomboy. What I didn't realize at 12, however, were the multiple dimensions to consider when signing new members to a wardrobe. The conservative nature of this threaded recruit showed off my post-pubescent curve, notably a tail end that has followed me to this day.

 

Soon, the dress I wore religiously to Sunday service, as if it would bring me closer to God himself, was cast aside and shoved to my closet's rear, since it made mine the subject of brutal torment. I was called every name in the book - although "bubble butt" sticks out the most - making it the last item in which I ever felt truly comfortable.

 

It's with great discomfort I type these words. Openly admitting some degree of neurosis doesn't come naturally, even though I know I'm not alone in my thinking - or my flaws. The past 14 years has been an uphill battle to return to the comfort of my preteen days when body parts weren't the focus of so many adjectives that buried the joy one could find in their own body.

 

Don't get me wrong; I wholeheartedly believe there is a pinnacle of health towards which each should strive; these are clearly defined, not based on size or structure, but body composition, nutrition and exercise. However, I think every woman (and man) should find beauty in themselves at any size. If you don't, what's the point?

 

I battled for many years (and still do) the notion that I need to look a certain way, or be a certain size or have a certain shape, and I often all too frequently allow negative feelings about myself to creep in when I don't meet these "standards."

 

I've found that when I let my thoughts travel down a path of self loathing, I tend to make decisions that have painful consequences - like skipping workouts, eating a pint of Half Baked ice cream or tossing a perfectly good dress.

 

It's hard – make that impossible – to do good for yourself when you don't love yourself.

 

Unfortunately, we will always be surrounded by influences telling us we are less than we are. Sometimes, they're subtle advertisements and magazine covers that match someone else's standard of beauty; other times, they're insecure co-workers bent on pulling you down. (Yes, at 26 I'm still the subject of unnecessary butt-busting comments!)

 

While these influences can't always be silenced, they can certainly be drowned. Here’s how:

 

  1. Think the truth: The mind has strong powers over the body. If you think it, you'll feel it and eventually believe it. Even offhand negative comments have the power to bring you down. Here's the standard: whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, of excellence and worthy of praise, think of these things.

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  3. Focus on your positives: If you're like me, there's a list of things you'd probably alter if given the opportunity. Some of these things you can change, some need the help of a surgeon, others require a magician. While I certainly applaud people’s effort to better themselves, it's crucial to find things you enjoy about yourself, for these traits and features will fuel the confidence needed to inspire change. Maybe you have great teeth, or you have killer arms, or perhaps your toes look remarkable in a certain shade of pink. Personally, I'm fond of my hair when it's been blow dried and my one-year-old hasn’t yet thrown up in it. Whatever it is, focus on the things that lift you up.

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  5. Spread these truths: Social convention rewards negative self talk with solicited compliments; don't fall into the trap. Insecurities entice us to tear others down; rise above. Don't let your friends eviscerate themselves in an attempt to uphold a social norm, and don't pick out negatives in someone else to boost your morale. Look for positive things in others and share those praises. What may surprise you most is how good you’ll feel about yourself when you lift another up.

 

What can you add to the story? I’d love to hear your comments and game plan for thwarting negative self image. We all deal with it; let’s eradicate it!



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