- Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.This is a hard habit to break, but once it is broken, it ends up benefiting you in the end. No one person is perfect. We all have issues we’re dealing with. Some are worse than others. They may look great on the outside, but you have no idea what that person had to go through to get where they are. I’ve heard it this way: “Don’t be jealous of anyone. I guarantee you, if everyone walked into a room, and dumped their problems onto the floor, when they saw what everyone else’s problems were, they’d be scrambling to get their own problems back before someone else got to them first.” (Karen Gruenenfelder, A Total Waste of Makeup) You may have issues, but they are your issues. Even though my issues annoyed me, tripped me up, and made me sick, I thank God for every difficult situation I’ve had to live through because all of them have taught me something. No one is better than you, and no one is worse than you either. We’re all on an equal footing–in spite of what you may have heard.
- Help someone else.Treating people with kindness and generosity are two of the easiest and most mutually beneficial ways to gain confidence. Whether you contribute your time, a hot meal, money, or a word of encouragement, being a good person will make you feel good about yourself, as well as other people.
- Embrace your faults. You are not perfect. You never have been perfect, and you never will be perfect. Your flaws are a part of the unique qualities that make you. I wouldn’t have developed into a confident woman if I didn’t make the decision be accountable for my bad behaviour. I am selfish with my time. I ignore people when I don’t want to deal with them. I am indifferent toward strangers, and I am standoffish with people I don’t like. I make snide remarks because I think they’re funny, and sarcasm is my second language. I give my unsolicited opinions without any regard for peoples’ feelings. I get snappish whenever I sense that someone is trying to intimidate me. I’m a know-it-all. I’m abrupt. I tell the truth, even when it’s mean and unnecessary. I ignore things that aren’t important to me. I am stubborn. That isn’t my entire list of faults, yet I can acknowledge them because I like the person I am in spite of all of my weaknesses. I know I will never be perfect, but as long as I’m alive, I can always keep trying to be better.
- Don’t look to anyone else for validation. I have to admit: I have benefited from the love and affirming words I received from my parents as a kid. However, I eventually had to learn how to get by without someone holding my hand and telling me what a special cupcake I am. Not everyone you meet is going to appreciate you. Some won’t appreciate you at all. If you’re too used to coddling and affirmation, criticism– even when it’s constructive, is seen as a personal attack. Not everyone you meet is out to get you. Then again, they’re not there to validate you either. Since I can’t say it any better, here’s a quote: “Expect nothing for your generosity. Not gratitude, not fanfare. Generosity is not for your comfort… it is to soothe the ache in others.” I don’t know who wrote this, but it is dead on.
- Recognize your strengths. Everyone is good at something. Each person on earth was born with a set of gifts and talents, and whether your talent is leading a team as the CEO of a company, or mopping the floors of a building, you are important. Too many people waste time trying to fit into professions that do not suit them. Once you find what your purpose is, you’ll be so busy trying to attain it that you won’t have time to dwell on weaknesses, either for you or the people around you.
- Take care of yourself. The inner dialogue of an insecure person would go something like this: “I’m not good enough.” “I’m not smart enough.” “[He/She is better than me.” “I’m a fool.” “I hate my life.” and on and on. To insist that you’re a confident person when your thoughts of yourself are mostly negative is a lie. In order to be confident, you have to believe you are worth something. You won’t acknowledge your own worth if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself. Whenever I hear one of my friends put themselves down, I say, “Hey! Don’t you talk about my friend like that!” Be your own friend by respecting whom you are. As a sign of respect to you, take care of your whole self. You only get one body. You would do well not to wreck it.
This list may or may not have been sitting in my drafts folder for almost two months. The reason: halfway through, I decided that I was in no way qualified to tell anyone how to be confident. For me, the road to confidence was a long process that involved rejection, ridicule, and self-doubt. I didn’t have any confidence until it was made clear that my life isn’t about me. I am a Christian, so any certainty I have is because of my relationship with God. I guess, the thing that qualifies me is that, I used to be insecure, and now I’m not. (Thank the Lord) It took me 20+ years to accept myself for who I am, and I have no choice but to keep going. (Flaws and all!)
You will have to find what gives you courage, whether it is in religion, your family, or something else, make sure your faith is in something that will last.