- Always radiate positivity. Attitude is infectious. The people around you will mirror your mood. As a program leader in a room of fifty kids, this became especially apparent to me as I had to consciously work to keep a calm and upbeat demeanour throughout the session. Kids rely heavily on a palpable sense of security and authority to act at ease, so if I started to look stressed or disoriented, I could almost immediately feel their tension rising and my control slipping. The same goes for adults. If you appear happy and lively, others will respond similarly. Another benefit of doing this is that often, in pretending to be cheerful and confident, you do actually start to genuinely feel cheerful and confident.
- Kindness is so underrated. When I lead a group of kids who are divided in teams and competing for points through athletic games, the ones who stand out to me are not the loudest or the most athletically talented. The ones whom I notice most are those who help their opponents up when they’re hurt, who congratulate the winners when they themselves have lost, who are always happy to help a teammate even if that means sitting out. This is something that my program always tries to encourage and I just wish I could see more awards for honour, loyalty, and kindness, as opposed to achievement, in other aspects of my life as well.
- Get excited and believe. There’s something so liberating about the way kids will believe in anything. One of the best conversations I’ve had was with a grade 2 who, inspired by his leader’s time-turner, decided to build his own time machine. It was so uplifting to hear such spirit and fearlessness; the kid was so excited and he really believed he could do it. I miss seeing that passion and excitement in adults. We don’t get so enthusiastic about simple pleasures anymore because we’re taught to look at everything analytically and realistically. However, I think that allowing ourselves a break from skepticism sometimes could really make a positive difference in the way we go about our daily lives.
- So much can be solved with just an apology. I used to be terrified of conflict. I absolutely dreaded having to sit down with two kids who were crying and pointing fingers at each other and make them stop. However, the first time I actually did it, it was shockingly easy. With relatively few prompts, the kids told their sides of the story in turn, then each acknowledged their fault, apologized, and moved on. It took less than a minute and made me wonder how much time and energy could be saved in every fight if the sulking silent treatment part was skipped.
- If you don’t act like it’s a big deal, then it won’t be. Kids cry a lot, and most of the time, it’s over something they’ll be laughing off in a minute. My instinct at first was to comfort them all thoroughly until they stopped. However, I soon learned that that wasn’t the best solution; fawning over them often made it seem like it was a much bigger deal than it was. On the other hand, checking in to see if they were genuinely hurt, then acting casually if they weren’t, yielded far quicker recoveries. 99% of the time, they’d be back in the game in a minute. The same is true with any problem in life; giving an issue more attention than it deserves does nothing to resolve it more efficiently.
- Treat others the way you want them to respond. A lot of adults, when talking to children, will dumb things down and simplify their language. However, I’ve found that taking kids seriously and talking to them as if they were adults brings out intelligence that I never would’ve ever expected. Kids understand so much more than many people give them credit for. I’ve had a 7 year old explain to me in detail how radios work, using terms I’d only learned in grade 10 physics. Even with abstract concepts like honour or wisdom, they responded better than many adults do. I would’ve missed out on so many amazing conversations if I’d just assumed that the other party had nothing to contribute.
- Make a decision and stick to it. Some things are not worth pondering through in detail, and as someone who loves to plan and consider all options, this didn’t come to me naturally. As a program leader, he said/she said problems come up a lot. At first, I’d always panic on the inside as I tried to quickly hear both sides of the story and make a call. However, sometimes, this is impossible because there’s no solution that will satisfy everyone. I can’t keep an eye on everything, and if one team claims they scored while the other team claims otherwise, the best thing to do is make a call, and move on. Considering every detail is a luxury that’s not always afforded. Sometimes, it’s better to not waste time on listing the pros and cons of every decision, but rather to just go for it.
- Acknowledge feelings. This is such an easy thing to do, and yet, it’s one that so many of us forget. We often ignore the fact that our reality is different from the reality of others. A situation that is fun, uplifting, and comfortable for us could very well be terrifying for someone else. If one kid claims that “this game is no fun,” it’s very easy to respond along the lines of “yes, it is! Look how much fun everyone is having!” But that does nothing to help alleviate the problem. Acknowledging other people’s realities is a huge step to understanding and problem-solving, and that can range from “I understand that your shoes hurt your feet” to “I understand that you’re feeling lonely and left out.” Only when we start becoming conscious of how often we contradict other people’s realities can the real healing begin.
- If you cultivate respect, authority will come naturally. I was raised in a culture in which respect for elders is practically law. I would be grounded for not saying hi to elders, and contradicting them was suicide. This always rubbed me the wrong way because oftentimes, they were downright ignorant and I had no respect for any of their outdated beliefs. I firmly believe that respect and authority must be earned, and you don’t get a free pass even if you’ve lived for 90 years. In all those cases, while I put on a polite face publicly, I didn’t actually care for anything they said and didn’t take it in. That’s something I always kept in mind when I began taking on leadership roles. Working with a large group of kids is impossible if they don’t want to listen. And if you want others to really listen to you, you had better work for it every day. Only then will you see results.
Throughout my teenage years, I read in multiple online articles and posts that “fat” is the absolute worst thing you can call a girl. It’s complete taboo, whether you’re joking or not, and is considered an insult of colossal proportions. I certainly took it as such.
As a sensitive person by nature, my preteen years were not fun. I was called “fat” more times than I could count and the result was that that one word cost me my health unnecessarily for years. It cost me a job when I fainted at work. I no longer have the liberty to meet a friend for breakfast without fearing that I’ll pass out on the way there. Even worse is that I was not really fat in the first place, but we’ll leave unrealistic beauty standards for another day.
Eating disorders affect millions of people and have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness. How could this one word have had such a disastrous effect on so many? I had been called “stupid as a dog” in grade 3 (I remember thinking at the time, “dogs are actually quite intelligent…”), but that never hurt me like “fat” did. I’d been called “selfish,” “heartless,” “dumb,” and many other words that, when you think about it, are far, far worse traits than “fat.” Perhaps I was not as affected because knew that I wasn’t entirely any of those things, but I was not really fat either. For some reason, it stood out above all others as my one great flaw. It was the only trait that seemed to matter.
That, I think, is the root of the problem. I placed that one word describing someone’s opinion of my body above all my other faults and qualities, because that’s what I’ve been conditioned to think is most important. “Fat” is not even a word with the intention to insult, the way “airhead” is. It was not designed to hurt, merely to describe. It is this description that society had deemed worthy of insult. Yes, some people are fat. But no, that shouldn’t be a bad thing.
Not everyone is physically beautiful. Some people are fat, and others not. Our society has decided to make those traits more important than anything else. More important than intelligence, than confidence, than compassion. Numerous studies have shown that stereotypically beautiful people get a lot more advantages in life, including ease in finding a job, getting promoted, and much more.
When I see people that I haven’t seen in years, the first (and often only) compliment or comment they tell me is, “you’re so pretty!”. Not that I don’t appreciate that, of course, but my physical appearance has defined my identity and my worth all my life, more than anything else. I’m willing to bet that millions have felt the same. How twisted is that?
It wouldn’t be a problem if we placed the same value on physical appearance as we do on more meaningful and personal qualities as well. But often, people stop at “pretty” or “fat.” I rarely hear “she’s very driven” or “he’s so optimistic.” As an average person commenting lightly, that may not matter, but as a boss making a choice of who to hire, it does. This is an issue that surpasses self-esteem and confidence; the way we judge and define people has enormous consequences for career, relationships, and almost every part of our daily lives. We need to sort out our priorities.
- Understand that accepting your body is a very long process. No one wakes up one day, looks in the mirror, and suddenly loves their body. There will be days when we feel confident and days we won’t like one aspect of our appearance, or even anything at all. That’s human. The goal is to have the good days outnumber the bad ones as much as possible.
- Accept that people have different body structures. Some are big boned and some are short and some have wide hips or flat chests and that’s more than okay. There are many aspects of our bodies that are totally out of our control. Men and women do not have to aspire for a formulaic body type. Every shape and size is beautiful.
- Aim for health, not for image. Love and accept all bodies, especially yours, but with the aim to be healthy. The reason obesity is a problem is because of health conditions. Work out, exercise, and eat a balanced diet in order to maintain strength, energy, and health, not to lose weight and look skinny.
- Don’t think of terms like “fat” or “overweight” as a negative term or insult. It is an adjective with highly negative connotations and is often used inappropriately. If you were born with a large body, there is very little you can and should do to not be socially considered “fat.” It’s not a bad thing if you are healthy. Similarly, if you are a short person, there is little you can do to avoid being called “short.”
- Surround yourself with positive people and positive energy. They will lift you and your confidence incredibly and give you the energy to overcome the bad days.
- Don’t be afraid to drop the people and things that bring you down. Even if takes a lot of sacrifice and courage, it will be worth it. Take that leap of faith and it will make you feel so much better.
- Spread the positive vibes and love. Don’t judge others; see the beauty in everyone and let them know that they’re beautiful. Support each other.
- Accept that Haters Gonna Hate. There will always be critics. No matter what you do, there will always be people who don’t like it, who don’t like you, who find the negative in everything and bring you down. That’s inevitable and totally out of your control. Don’t let the fear of being judged cripple you.
- Don’t look at the number on the scale. It’s just a number, and muscle weighs more than fat. As I have realized personally, you can work out and gain so much flexibility and endurance, and not even lose a pound. That shouldn’t be the goal.
- Make yourself look and feel beautiful creatively. Accessorize with creative jewelry and flattering clothes. Change your hair colour, get a tattoo, or piercings, or whatever you like.
- Cling to what you love. Doing things you love will bring you energy, confidence, happiness, and passion. This positivity is contagious and will contribute so much to personal growth and development.
- Remember that your body does not hold you back from anything. Don’t be afraid to attend certain events or parties because you feel like your body will be out of place. For example, don’t avoid the gym because a lot of intense people are working out and you feel that you are inferior and will be judged. Just go right ahead and use confidence as your shield.
- Remember your self-worth. You are worth so much more than your body type. Do not settle. If someone truly loves you, they will not say “Oh, this person is thinner and prettier so our relationship is over.” Trust that. Have the confidence to hold out and not settle just because you feel like you have to, or don’t have any better options. Don’t respond to people you aren’t interested in. Don’t feel like you owe anyone anything because of how your body looks. Have the confidence to say no and yes to sex, new opportunities, fashion styles, and everything in life.
Being a highly sensitive introvert by nature, confidence has always been a huge personal struggle for me, especially through the 12-16 years. Body image is an issue I could (and shall) write an entire separate post on. But in terms of overall confidence, in both appearance and respect for my self-worth, I’d like to say I’ve reached a point where I love who I am enough to not want to be anyone else. At the very least, I am miles ahead of the girl I was when I stepped into grade 7. It took me 18 years to reach this point, but I can say I’m proud of it.
Everyone struggles with confidence for different reasons. It’s a tricky thing to master. Being so down on yourself all the time is not an attractive or healthy trait, and can sometimes be considered as attention-seeking. I played that role for most of my life; I know exactly how hard it is to not be such a harsh self-critic. It takes a lot of time and many outside factors to gain self-esteem. On the other hand, there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. As with everything else in life, it’s all about balance.
So what can an average person do to make themselves feel a little more confident?
- “Act the way you want to feel.” (Gretchen Rubin). The phrase “fake it ’till you make it” actually has a lot more power and meaning than meets the eye. It is scientifically proven that we are capable of tricking our mind into feeling how we want. For example, smiling physically enhances happiness levels, even if it was a forced or fake smile. Listening to sad music will put us in a more down mood, whereas listening to pump-up songs will motivate action. Despite being tired and running off no sleep, if we act energetic, we truly do become more energetic. The same goes with confidence.
- Take on leadership roles. I’d always enjoyed being involved but taking on a leadership role with kids changed my life. It was the first time anyone had ever looked up to me; it was the first time I felt respected and important. I had a group of 9 year olds who looked to me as someone worth learning from. It was flattering and it was the first time I started to see myself in a better light.
- Accept compliments. One of my top pet peeves happens to be people who deny compliments. Putting that annoyance aside, taking compliments to heart just makes life better. Even if you don’t agree with the compliment, just smile, say ‘thank you’, and feel happy and flattered.
- Surround your living/work space with inspirational images/ quotations. There is a magazine clip-out hanging in my room called “Beauty Peace Treaty”. It reminds me to treat my body nicely– something I haven’t always done. I know a few other friends who have similar reminders stuck on their mirrors. I also have a page of celebrity quotes on body image bookmarked. Inspiration and role models are different for everyone, so find what strikes a cord with you and make sure you don’t forget it.
- Do what it takes to make yourself feel beautiful. Some people may only feel confident behind a coat of make-up and Abercrombie jeans, and that’s okay. It’s okay if you want to make time to style your hair every morning or spend a little more on that Aritzia coat. Put in as much or as little effort as you want, just so long as you can walk out the door feeling sexy.
- Remember that people don’t notice you nearly as much as you think. When we look at pictures of ourselves, the first thing we notice is how we look. Everyone does it. In a group photo, our eyes will gravitate immediately towards our face, then we will proceed to make a judgement on the quality of our appearance. The thing is, because everyone is doing this, people don’t actually pay an enormous amount of attention to how everyone else looks. That tiny pimple that was so visible in the mirror actually may not be so visible to outsiders. Often, I catch myself complaining about a minor appearance flaw (i.e. my eyes are swollen, my forehead is red, etc.) only to have others state that they didn’t even notice.
- Do it for yourself. Do not ever wait for someone else to come along and make you feel confident, especially a significant other. I would argue that the most productive periods of personal growth come from the single times. (So why have relationships? Because personal growth can be taxing and stressful and relationships make life easier and happier). Take in the compliments and keep all existing relationships strong, but find personal goals and work for your own gain. Start a club. Take dance classes. Join choir. Confidence is not to impress, but to gain a deeper and healthier connection with the self. Only then can attraction radiate because only then can good impressions be genuine.
- Confidence Tips (Fake it til you make it) (thepremierlifestyle.wordpress.com)
- Confidence tricks (wordsmithsuk.wordpress.com)
- Week 2: Improving Self Confidence (amylong1933.wordpress.com)
- How to Improve Your Self – Tips To Improve Confidence and Self Esteem (erikabeyk.wordpress.com)
- Confidence (cuteandtailored.wordpress.com)
- Insecurity is the Ugly One, NOT You! (pocketsfullofhappiness.com)