Everyone struggles with self-confidence at times, it’s quite a natural part of being human. When we’re new to something (or a new relationship), when we make mistakes (we all do!), when reaching our goal seems impossible (it’s gonna happen), or simply when we’re feeling down and out, our confidence can take a big hit. This is usually only temporary, although for some people this may take longer to recover from depending on their personal situations, support systems (or lack thereof), and so on.
Having the right amount of self-confidence in the right situation is the nirvana we all strive for; it’s elusive but definitely achievable. When our self-confidence dwindles, we often find ourselves unhappy and simply not feeling worthwhile or appreciated; it’s a basic human need to feel loved and accepted. Further, when our self-confidence meter is running too low, it’s hard to achieve our goals, as we lack the internal self-motivation to get us there. We become the biggest obstacle in our path mainly because we don’t have the faith or confidence in ourselves to move our goals forward. Conversely, if we project too much confidence, we’ll likely find ourselves without a lot of friends or allies – it’s a definite turn-off to appear boastful or arrogant. Isn’t being a human so incredibly complicated?
There are different aspects of self-confidence I’ll explore in this series, the first one being self-acceptance. This is more than just acknowledging our strengths and weaknesses – it’s truly accepting and liking ourselves for all that we are, good AND bad. It means knowing that there is no such thing as ‘human perfection’, and we’re OK with that!
Here are some key defining points about self-acceptance and how we can work towards achieving or enhancing it:
- Self love and admiration – we’re harder on ourselves than we ever need to be. In fact, some people are so hard on themselves and so self-deprecating that people don’t want to be around them, thus perpetuating the whole cycle of feeling unloved. We have to love ourselves and appreciate the different qualities that make us who we are – quirks and all! Being in control of our self talk is one way to improve our self love, as that nagging, negative self-talk can really get in the way. When we’re constantly focused on what’s wrong with us, we can’t make room for appreciating all that’s great about us.
- Recognizing our self-worth – it’s essential to value ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses. This doesn’t mean we have to accept all our weaknesses, however. If we want to lose weight, get better at our jobs, or learn a new language for example, it’s not OK to simply say “Oh, I’m just not good at those kinds of things, it’s not who I am”. We can learn, grow, and take on new challenges – it’s about knowing the difference between things we can change vs. the things we don’t feel like changing.
- Usefulness & personal significance – Every single one of us is useful and significant – we all have a meaningful place in this world, and once we really absorb that concept, it helps improve our self-acceptance. If we’ve had failures in life, that’s not a bad thing, because it means we took a risk. Every time we take a risk or make a mistake, we find out what we’re good at!
- Limit assessments of ourselves against others. Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses, there’s nothing to gain in that. Our current world of social media is influencing our self-confidence more than ever, as we’re inundated daily with how attractive, rich, happy, fit, talented and successful others are. It’s hard not to be a little affected when we get such posts and updates, even when we know it’s not all sunshine and roses for others despite their best efforts to make it appear so. We can’t compare ourselves to others, we can only strive to be our very best selves and appreciate all the good things in our lives.
- Feel good about ourselves. It’s one thing to be pleased with ourselves for our good qualities and accomplishments (as we should), but another to feel good about ourselves despite the undesirable qualities we have. Our so-called flaws should never define us or restrict us from all that life has to offer. This applies to our external selves such as our appearance or physical abilities as well as our internal selves, including our personality traits, intelligence, mental health and so on. We’re robbing ourselves of the happiness we deserve every time we fail to accept ourselves for who we are.
- Self-respect. When we have self-respect, we stand up for ourselves and for others. We also act with dignity and honour, even if that’s not what others are doing. It also means we own up to our mistakes. Self-respect is a wonderful companion to self-acceptance. As we can see, self-acceptance is a bit complicated, but oh-so-achievable! Doing the best we can, not judging others, and being good to ourselves and the people around us helps us score quite high on the self-acceptance (and self-confidence) meter. When we take the time to really know ourselves, feel good about ourselves and respect ourselves, we are well on our way to finding more happiness and fulfillment. Frankly, life’s just way too hard when we’re knocking ourselves down.
“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” – Lucille Ball