SELF CONFIDENCE : HOW TO BELIEVE IN YOURSELF AND ACHIEVE ANYTHING
Self confidence is defined as self-assurance in one's personal ability and power. It is self belief that we are powerful, worthy, strong, capable… enough to achieve our goals and create the life that we desire. I dedicate the major part of my life coaching program via Skype to help my clients build rock solid self belief, before we even start working on the strategy and action plan for achieving their goals and making their dreams a reality. Once my clients feel empowered, build rock solid self belief, feel confident in themselves that they can achieve anything they put their mind onto and feel worthy of their desires, then I am sure as a life coach that whatever goal we set and work on together it will be a success.
I am being asked many times how do I believe in myself so much. Well, I have to say that I am coming from a place of crushed self confidence and very low self worth, when I was depressed ten years ago, college drop out, and broken hearted (again!). I was not always confident and self assured and I know how it feels to feel unworthy and doubt in yourself all the time. I believe that is the reason why confidence and self empowerment coaching is my passion today.
I have coached more than a 100 women so far and I was also giving workshops in Fortune 500 companies to female managers on the topic of self empowerment, so in this blog post I wanted to pin point the major reasons why women in general lack self confidence and give some helpful tips how to build it.
Self Confidence Killer #1: Socially adopted limiting beliefs
Since our early childhood we are exposed to “social programming”: beliefs we pick up and learn from our parents, teachers, culture, and society about what we can or cannot do or how (un)worthy we are. As children we may hear a lot of comments and other people's opinions about us and accept them as the truth of life (according to NLP till the age of seven our major subconscious beliefs are being formed). If in this age we repeatedly hear empowering messages about ourselves and adopt self empowering beliefs it can help us later on in life to feel confident, worthy and have rock solid self belief. But if in this age we adopt negative and disempowering beliefs about ourselves it can greatly affect our self confidence negatively later on. Hearing things form our parents, other kids, neighbours, and our teachers in our early childhood such as that we are “bad girl”, naughty and therefor don’t deserve something, that we are not smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, capable enough, strong enough, brave enough, _________ enough… can affect greatly our self confidence and form limiting beliefs about ourselves on a subconscious level while we may not even be aware of it later on in life.
We were also exposed in our childhood to many "messages" from popular cartoons about beautiful princesses and girls getting the prince on the white horse and living happily ever after, while "ugly" girls like Cinderella’s sisters end up - single, rejected, and poor even if they cut their own fingers for just a chance to get the Prince Charming.
In our teens we are very sensitive to our peers opinions of us and messages from the mass media about how we should look, behave, talk, and even think. If in this age we are not accepted in the popular groups or we do not find our own “tribe” of friends and social circle and we are not "fitting in" it can affect our confidence negatively. Many girls in this age particular start forming body image issues and later on feel a lot of body shame and lack of confidence, feeling like they are not woman worthy enough of love or fame or success because they are not fitting into particular beauty standards, have smaller breast, too much cellulite, teeth braces (thanks a lot “Ugly Betty” serial!) or skin condition.
Not to mention the messages infused in the culture of the country we are living in which we are picking up consciously and unconsciously. They may be empowering but they may also be disempowering and telling us how we have to suffer in life, how we are determined by the family and the place we were born, how we are less than others because we were born in poor family, country side, particular social group, or a third world country, or because we are female, or because no one in our family city, country… has not done it before so we won't be able to do it either.
Identifying these limiting beliefs that we have picked up while growing up and throughout our life from our parents, teachers, culture, society, and mass media is a very important step of building self confidence. We can work on our body language and exercises to feel and look more confident, but if these limiting bells are not healed there will always be that voice in our head that we will haunt us with words and thoughts of self doubt :”You can’t! or “You’re not good enough and worthy!”.
CONFIDENCE BUILDING TIPS AND ACTIONS STEPS
Self discovery work is very important for overcoming and healing these limiting beliefs we have adopted over the years. Take some quiet time to contemplate on where these words, thoughts in your mind, or feeling of unworthiness are coming from. Whose voice is that? Who told you that you are not good enough, smart enough, capable enough? Ex boos, ex partner, your parents, school teachers...? When and how did you learn/adopt/start believing... that you are less than or not good enough? It is very important to do this self discovery work. If you find it difficult on your own or limiting beliefs were formed in the early childhood or after experiencing some setbacks, traumas, or failures, emotional wounds... working with a life coach can be of big help to identify, heal, and overcome these limiting beliefs. ] Self empowerment work is also very helpful in replacing limiting beliefs with empowering ones (I suggest reading my previous blog post with tips on self empowerment in case you missed it).
SELF CONFIDENCE KILLER #2: BODY IMAGE ISSUES AND BODY SHAME
As mentioned above body image issues and body shame are one of the major killers of self confidence for women. These feelings of unworthiness are usually being unconsciously formed as a result of social programming while growing up and watching beautiful princesses or Cinderella seducing Prince Charming, and movies showing how "hot" girls get a raving girl gang, the hottest football team player who is handsome and popular in school as a boyfriend, parking tickets resolved, and so on…
We are constantly bombarded by messages in the popular culture and media of not being worthy as a woman unless we look like that "hot girl" from a movie or that hot super model on a COSMO cover.
While I am totally into women tuning into feminine energy and looking and feeling beautiful I know how devastating the obsession of looking pretty and feeling unworthy for not being pretty enough can be for a woman. There is a difference in wanting to look beautiful to feel good in our skin, to take care of our body as an act of self love, to do make up to enhance our natural beauty, to do the exercise as an act of care for our body and our health, to tune in our femininity and feminine energy… and desperation to look beautiful so that we feel worthy enough of love or even existing as a woman!
Having in mind that beauty standards are changing kind of every decade or so (from Twiggy to Monroe to Cindy Crawford to anorexic looking Kate Moss to Giselle to Kardashians and curves nowadays...) and that those are socially constructed it is even more sad that so many women feel unworthy of love and they do not love themselves, hate their body, suffer from low sexual confidence, suffer in relationships with abusive and toxic men who treat them as a foot mat as they do not feel worthy of being with someone who will treat them with respect and love them deeply. I have even had women who were struggling with anorexia asking me to coach them because of these issues to help them heal their crushed self worth and feel confident.
I have become very much aware of how “beauty” standards are socially constructed when I went to India for the first time. In my country I was never depicted or seen as beautiful as I was having a very fair skin. Since childhood I was listening how pail I was, how I looked "sick", and my mom used to take me to doctors many times for blood check up fearing I am having anemia (or to prove to neighbours and family members that I don't). I always loved hot weather and summers but it was always painful for me to listen people telling me all the time that I should "get some tan", I need to catch some sunlight, and how I was looking "like a ghost"… My “tanning” would always result in painful sun burns, so I finally accepted over the years myself the way I was and with the help of the inner self love and self development work over the years started feeling beautiful in my skin with all of my "imperfections". But I have spent many years prior struggling with self worth due to not fitting into popular beauty standards - not feeling worthy and lacking the confidence.
When I went to India for the first time everyone who saw me used to tell me how beautiful I am. Unlike in the Western culture, in the Asian culture fair skin is considered to be a synonym and "standard" of beauty. There women instead of tanning products use fairness creams and bleach their skin! I used to hear all the time how beautiful I am, how I am bright like the Moon and fair like a Goddess. My oily skin is the subject of admiration to Indian women as in India due to hot weather most of the women are struggling with dryness of the skin. I am being asked all the time what kind of cream I use to have such a “glowing” skin. When I say it is my natural condition of the skin and I do not use any cream many women there do not believe me and think it must be some special cream from Europe which I do not want to reveal to them! While I am admiring the beauty of Indian women, their dark skin tone and thick, coal black, strong hair, they are admiring and wishing to have my fair skin, silky, thin, light brown hair, and "glowing" skin.
We do not only get so much obsessed with these cultural standards of beauty which are totally socially constructed in different parts of the world, but we also endlessly keep on comparing ourselves with photo shopped models on the covers (I mean, what one Instagram filter can do?!?).
We have to understand that the beauty standards we tend to follow and fit into are not the universal truth or realistic picture of how a beautiful woman should like.
Also, we need to start to celebrate and feel grateful for our bodies. How many wonderful things we can do with our body: dance, move, walk, talk, see, hear, touch, less, hug, make love, give birth to a new life, cook, eat, create things, write, run, swim... and so much more!
We need to start carrying for our body more - as an act of self love. Our body is our home in this life time. There is nothing wrong in following fashion trends, dressing up beautifully, enjoying being a woman and all things feminine, putting on make up and wearing beautiful dresses… but it should not be done primarily so that we get accepted by our society, or attract the Prince Charming, or to look beautiful only for the man in our life, to turn on or seduce some (hot) guy, to be the prettiest and hottest girl at the party, or to get more likes on Instagram and external validation which will falsely boost our feeling of worthiness and confidence for a short moment... but as an act of self love, self worth, self nourishment, and self care.
Pampering ourselves with self care and cosmetic products should be done as an act of self care first and foremost. If we neglect our self care rituals because we are single and aren't dating at the moment, or we aren't showing up a lot of our our skin in winter season - that was never self care practice at the first place! That was "get-him-turned-on" practice or "avoid-the-shame-cause-they-will-see-me" practice! It was "their-opinion-care" practice or "validate-me-make-me-feel-worthy practice"!
We can very easily say that "of course we do love ourselves" but the small actions and the amount of care we show for ourselves on a daily basis is actually showing if it is true! If your man would tell you all the time that he loves you but he would not care about you and touch you... would you believe him? Think for a moment how much do you actually love yourself and how much time and money do you really invest in self care, self nourishment, and self development?
Body shame and low confidence due to body image issues is so common among women I'm working with as life and confidence coach that I have integrated it as one of the major focuses in my life coaching program. I have had women who were feeling very low self worth due to body shame and even staying in a toxic relationship just because they did not feel that they would be attractive or worthy enough for someone that would treat them with respect and love them deeply. Women who were avoiding intimacy with their husbands and boyfriends for a very long time, after gaining weight due to shame of removing clothes in front of them (fearing they won't find them attractive anymore), which would result with brake ups or their husbands having an affair outside of marriage. Women who were starving themselves to death and suffering from anorexia and so on...
With my own experience of not feeling beautiful for a long time in my life and especially after working with so many women internationally who hate their bodies and deny themselves the joys of life (like wearing bikini and going to the beach, swimming in the pool, going to the sauna, even intimacy with the man they love deeply...) I have made it my purpose, passion, and mission to help as many women as possible with my work to feel confident and love themselves and their body.
CONFIDENCE BUILDING TIPs and actions steps
Contemplate or write down a gratitude list for your body, everything it does for you, and you can do with it to start appreciating it more.
Treat your body like a home for this lifetime and the temple for a Goddess that you are.
Pamper yourself with self care as an act of self love. Pamper yourself with self care to care for self, for your body, to feel good in your skin... just because you are worthy of it and you deserve it! No matter if you are in a relationship, or single, or fit, or overweight... self care should never be a luxury but a ritual that is the way of honouring yourself and deepening self love.
I have to address here that self care rituals are not the same as "hygiene" rituals. Taking a shower fast and furious way while washing our body like a dirty laundry is not a SELF CARE ritual!
Self care indeed means CARE for our body, a ritual, a conscious touch, a conscious expression of love for our body.
The relationship we have with ourselves is the foundation of every other relationship in our life and neglecting our body and our self care rituals is a sign of low self worth.
Remind yourself every single day that beauty standards are socially constructed and unrealistic (even the most beautiful celebrity women look like an average woman on the street without make up, Versace dress, gorgeous hair style, high paid photographer, and hours of photo shopping). Self love journey starts with accepting and loving your body as it is, while at the same time you commit to honour it and take care of it the best way you can by making healthier food choices, incorporating the body movement activity that you enjoy (for me it is dancing, long walks, yoga, and swimming), pampering yourself with self care, and dressing up beautifully in clothes that reflects your personality and makes you feel the most beautiful, comfortable, and confident.
true confidence is more about how you feel in your body and how you walk with that body than how your body looks!
Of course, fit body and healthy and beautiful skin and hair can help in feeling confident but the inner work in building the confidence is much more important. I have had coaching clients who were very beautiful and attractive but they were struggling a lot with low confidence and self worth!
SELF CONFIDENCE KILLER #3: sexual SHAME and low sexual confdience
I have found in my coaching work with more than a hundred women internationally so far that sexual shame is one of the major reasons for low feminine confidence and self esteem. The most dangerous thing is that most of the women aren't even aware that feelings of shame within this area are the reason for their low self worth and confidence in other areas of their life, as true confidence and shame cannot coexist together in any shape or form. I have coached many women who signed up for coaching wanting to boost confidence and self worth, achieve professional or personal goals... that had no connection with their sexual life, but after doing (as I like to call it) "the digging work" within our coaching sessions together we would discover that they are feeling a huge amount of sexual shame and that was the actual or one of the major reasons that was the root course of their feelings of unworthiness, low confidence, and lack of self belief.
Sexual shame can be a result of a sexual trauma, especially in the childhood, but in many cases also the result of being in a toxic or abusive relationship, painful emotional disappointments with ex partners (for example a guy disappearing after woman had a sex with him which leaves her feel used and deeply ashamed - especially if she was raised to be a "good girl"), ex or current partner sleeping with another woman (woman interpreting it as she was not able to sexually "satisfy" him), free spirited woman being raised in very conservative family or community (sexuality seen as a "sinful" thing), as a result of body shame ("fear of removing clothes")... and so on.
When a woman does not feel beautiful enough, attractive enough, or sexy enough... that can devastate her (sexual) confidence!
I have had clients who were struggling with emotional overeating as being overweight was their subconscious way of "protecting themselves" from being attractive and desirable by men, due to sexual shame that they were holding for many years. I have had women asking me to coach them who were struggling with the impostor syndrome for many years with master and PHD education, holding C-level managing positions, running successful careers and businesses... and at the same time feeling unworthy of their success and like a freud, with sexual shame being the hidden reason. Many women are struggling with their intimate relationships A LOT due to sexual shame. So many women struggling to find the right partner for years - due to sexual shame. Most of the women I was working with as a coach were not even aware that the sexual shame was the hidden reason of their low confidence and self worth, even deep relationship issues!
CONFIDENCE BUILDING TIPS AND ACTIONS STEPS
Sexual shame can be very deeply and subconsciously rooted and it can require some deep self discovery work and "digging work" with a good coach to discover it. I was shocked how common this problem was with many of my life and confidence coaching clients that I have included this work as a regular part of my life coaching program. Read carefully the reasons that can be the root cause of sexual shame in the paragraph above and take some time to contemplate, and try to discover if any of them resonates with you. Note down in your journal what events from the past or emotionally painful emotional and sexual experiences with your ex partner(s) could bring up the feelings of sexual shame. If you were raised in a very conservative environment contemplate on how that could affect your sexual confidence today?
SELF CONFIDENCE KILLER #4: FEELINGS OF GUILT AND SHAME AFTER EXPERIENCING FAILURE OR MAKING A MAJOR LIFE MISTAKE
I personally know very well how experiencing failure or rejection can leave our self confidence crushed. After not being able to achieve something what we very much desire and something we have worked very hard for, or after experiencing rejection from our dream man, dream employer, or dream client... we can feel like we are incapable, unworthy, not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough, not deserving of good things in life... We can feel totally worthless. We can feel totally incapable. We can feel like a complete failure. We can lose self esteem and courage to try again with another job, another project, another business idea, another man, another relationship... because we can end up losing faith in ourselves. If we have been rejected very painfully and in a way that has crushed our feeling of self worth or treated with a ton of disrespect, or if we failed to achieve something that we truly, deeply, passionately wanted for a long time it can have devastating consequences for our self confidence and self worth!
CONFIDENCE BUILDING TIPS AND ACTIONS STEPS
If you resonate with the words above I would suggest that you read my previous blog posts that I will list below to help you rebuild your feeling of self worth. If your self worth is very low and you feel devastated after a failure or rejection you have experienced you may need to work with a good life and confidence coach who can help you to overcome it successfully and increase your crushed self confidence and self worth . If you are feeling severely depressed (with no desire to longer live or exist) I would suggest reaching out for a good therapist for help.
Blog Posts To Help you recover after experiencing failure or rejection:
SELF CONFIDENCE KILLER #5: CRITICISM AND PERFECTIONISM
Being the victim of criticism for a long time can also be a major factor of crushing and depleting self worth and self confidence. I am not talking about the constructive criticism here, from people who care about us deeply or who are relevant experts on the subject, where we receive the objective feedback about our actions, personality traits, and our work from another person, which can help us to improve, grow, change for the better... as it was given with selfless intentions and with our best interests at heart. I am talking here about the mean or subjective criticism (it can even come from the people that we love or those who care about us) which was given with the intention of hurting our feelings, manipulating us or putting us down, and what I like to call "empty criticism" from people who are not relevant to talk about the subject and are giving us only their opinion, not the objective truth or facts.
Hearing for a long time how we are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough, attractive enough, capable enough, cleaver enough... from our parents, family members, other kids at school, teachers, peers, members of the community where we belong, our partner... can leave deep emotional scars of unworthiness and crush our self confidence.
Criticism from the people we love the most, like our parents and the man we love deeply can hurt the most and have the most devastating consequences for our self worth!
Another form of criticism which can negatively affect our self confidence is self criticism (a.k.a. perfectionism) which makes us criticise ourselves every single day seven days a week! We are constantly bashing ourselves down by criticising ourselves how we could do it better, faster, greater... how we are not __________ enough, how we are not "perfect" or by doubting in ourselves all the time. While it is good to set the high standards for ourselves and expect and strive to give our best in everything that we do... the other side of high standards can lead to the extreme: fear of not being good enough if we are not perfect and not doing everything perfectly.
Perfectionism actually stems from the very low self worth. Self assured and confident people set the high standard for themselves because they believe in themselves and they are confident in their abilities - even though they may be afraid they know that they can handle failure and criticism, and in the worst case scenario they will get up, move on, try again, rebuild, start over, survive, stay strong, keep on fighting and keep the faith in themselves even if the entire world sees them as failure and loser. People with low self worth on the other hand fear that if they make even a tiny little mistake or do not "perform" flawlessly every single time that they will not be seen as worthy, in their own eyes and in the eyes of other people. They feel constant fear of doing something wrong, failing someone, failing in any single thing... as they do not feel worthy and therefor they tend to "master" everything they do till perfection as their way of "proving" how good they are and their own worth. It is very important to know the difference between these two as perfection is unfortunately usually celebrated as a "virtue", while it is actually a mask for covering up the feelings of unworthiness and trying to constantly prove the non-existing worthiness.
CONFIDENCE BUILDING TIPS AND ACTIONS STEPS
It is very important that you surround yourself with people who lift you up and care about how you feel, who are empowering you and helping you to shine your light when you are around them and see how amazing you are. It is very important that you bring the awareness into the moment whenever you are being criticised. Ask yourself who is criticising you? Is that person relevant to give you the feedback and the opinion about the topic? I love the quote from Theodore Roosevelt:
"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming,"
If the person who is criticising you is not and never was fighting in the arena of the life challenge, project, work environment, business idea... that you are working on, and that person has no credentials or an expertise on the topic... they are not relevant to criticise you or you paying attention to their opinion of you! Also know that no matter how much non sense talk and BS they are talking about you, it is just their opinion and does not mean it is the truth of life! It is you who can chose to dismiss it or accept it! It will not become your truth unless you start believing in what they are telling about you and what you can or cannot do! Also know that if other people cannot do something that is totally not the reason that YOU cannot! We are all made up differently and you have your own unique skills, talents, strengths, knowledge base, perspective, and the personality traits. In my own personal experience I can say that most of the "nay-sayers" and biggest "critics" who never believed in you and who ere laughing behind your back, or telling you at your face that you will never make it and that you are a "fool"... become your biggest fans once you succeed (and then they say you are sooooo lucky and they wish that they have your life!?!).
It is up to you whether you will chose to believe them saying what you cannot do or to chose to show them what you actually can do!
Oprah Winfrey was fired from the first TV station she was working at with the reason of being too emotional while reading news. They told her she was not good enough. Shakira was laughed out by her music teacher, who did not select her for school chore and who told her that she is "singing" like a goat. Arnold Schwarzenegger was told by the movie agent when he wanted to start his acting career that he was never going to make it in Hollywood because he had "weird body, weird accent, and the weirdest name!". Imagine if they chose to believe in what they were told about how they are never going to make it and they are not good enough. The world would lose so much and they would not achieve tenth of the success that they have achieved so far. So, stop believing about the other people's opinion about you and chose to show them what are you capable of by choosing to believe in yourself and your dream!
In case you were the victim of criticism for a long time or you are struggling with perfection and feel crippled by self doubt it is very important that you do the self empowerment work (I suggest reading my previous blog post with self empowerment tips) and to work on building your self worth with a life and confidence coach.
If you want to work with a life and confidence coach to build your self confidence and self worth click on the button below to book a coaching call with me via Skype to see how can I help you in building self confidence and self worth. I hope this post serves you. Sending love.