Confidence might sound like some fluffy, idealistic principle your Girl Scout leader used to talk about, but it’s the most powerful, tangible thing you can cultivate to achieve the life you want. You might have learned from ’90s makeover movies that once you make major changes, then you’ll finally feel confident. But actually, confidence is the key to make drastic improvements, whether it comes to your health, career, or relationships. In other words, stop waiting for circumstances to happen and, instead, work on boosting confidence first. The changes you want to make in your life will happen as a byproduct. Here are 10 concrete ways to love yourself like Lizzo and boost confidence to achieve your best life.
1. Be brutally honest with yourself
Do you love your job? Do you genuinely enjoy all of your friendships? Are you open about the hobbies that bring you joy (yes, even the geeky ones)? Not only will being brutally honest illuminate areas in your life where you’re not your true self, but it will also force you to stop trying to “fit in” (middle school trauma can still really affect us, you know?). And when you realize what you do genuinely love and enjoy, do more of it. You can’t be fully confident unless you openly own, accept, and feel comfortable with who you are.
That also means knowing your strengths and accepting whatever you previously deemed a “weakness.” You know that famous quote by Albert Einstein that’s written on inspirational cards and quoted in graduation speeches? “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” Remember this lesson when you’re picking at your “weaknesses.” If you’re shy in large groups, don’t sit around wishing you were more outgoing. Instead, appreciate that you’re really charismatic in one-on-one situations. Keep track of the hobbies, people, and activities that make you feel like your true self, and then seek them out more.
2. Use visualization
Before first dates or big presentations, we often focus on the worst-case scenarios. Not just your-date-turned-out-to-be-a-serial-killer type of scenario, but the forget-the-entire-presentation or what-if-they-don’t-like-me kinds of scenarios. Instead, visualize yourself acing the presentation or enjoying the first date as the highest version of yourself. If you’re not sure what your highest self looks like, think about how you act in your most comfortable relationships. Are you goofy, vivacious, enthusiastic, kind, or thoughtful? What memory do you have where you did feel good about yourself? Visualize showing up as that person and the best-case outcome. You’ll not only feel more confident going into uncomfortable situations, but you’ll be more likely to achieve your highest self.
3. Practice empathy and positivity
We’ve already established that confidence requires a change in internal mindset, not a change in outside validation. But if changing your mindset was as easy as flipping a switch, we’d all be confident. So the key to self-confidence? Empathy and positivity. Just like happiness, empathy and positivity are skills, not circumstances. When you work those muscles on other people and situations, you’ll start to feel empathy and positivity for yourself too. Work on positive thinking through gratitude journaling or exercises, and prioritize the glass-half-full mentality in all situations. See the good in other people (including celebrities, influencers, and frenemies–ex-boyfriends exempt from this list), and you’ll start to see more good in yourself too (guaranteed).
4. Accept compliments
PSA: can we agree to stop downplaying when we receive a compliment!? Especially as women, we’re taught to be polite at our own expense. However, it’s just not true that putting ourselves down makes other people feel more comfortable. In fact, it typically makes people more uncomfortable, not to mention it’s hurting your confidence. When a coworker tells you that you nailed the presentation, don’t respond with “I couldn’t have done it without my team,” or “Really? I messed up the whole second half!” Say, “Thank you so much! I worked so hard and am so excited about how it turned out.”
Likewise, when a friend compliments your hair, don’t say, “Ugh, I have such frizzy hair, I spent 45 minutes getting it to lay straight!” Instead, respond with a simple “Thank you!” and take a moment to internally feel good about yourself (why yes, my hair does look phenomenal. *Cues ***Flawless by Beyoncé*). If just saying “thank you” feels uncomfortable, feel free to give a compliment in return but stop downplaying the compliments you receive.
5. Be smart about social media
It’s no secret that social media is a common confidence-suck. Being constantly bombarded by the pretty, filtered version of hundreds or thousands of other people’s lives is not exactly the best recipe to feel good about our own. We know that we only put our very best pictures, selfies, and sides for the world to see, while keeping “real life” (like messy kitchens, PMS tears, and stretch marks) offline. But somehow, it doesn’t always register that other people do the same. Do yourself a favor and mute or unfollow everyone on Instagram except a few select accounts that bring you inspiration, motivation, and happiness whenever you click through their feed or stories (like, IDK, @theeverygirl, just as a totally random example).
6. Change the words that follow “I am”
Personally, my identity has been defined as a writer my whole life. Ever since elementary school, my love for writing was always the first thing teachers noticed about me. For 24 years, I put myself into categories of, “I’m a writer, and I’m creative,” but because of that identity, I also said, “I’m not good at business” or “I am not a math person.” I loaded up on English classes in college and didn’t take one business, finance, or economics class. I always took on the “creative and free-spirited” type of personality, and didn’t feel confident in any skills related to business or personal finance.
But when I became a grown-ass woman (AKA, like a few months ago, but it depends who you ask), I was over feeling like I wasn’t good with money and that creativity was all I had to offer the world. I started telling myself, “I am a businesswoman,” and, “I am smart with money.” It gave me the confidence to sign up for finance classes and start my own side business. The lesson here? Think about what stories you’ve been telling yourself about who you are, and then replace the words that follow “I am.” Have you been telling yourself, “I am awkward,” “I am shy,” “I am ugly,” or “I am not good enough?” Change the words after “I am” to anything you want to be, and eventually, you’ll start to believe it. Fake it ’til you make it, you know?
7. Get outside yourself
Listen, I’m not calling anyone self-centered in a negative way. As humans, we see reality through our own perspectives, and therefore, everything centers around the way we experience it. When you’re feeling a lack of confidence, it can be tempting to wallow in your feelings or vent to friends. While you should lean on the people who make you feel better, make sure to get outside yourself too. Ask other people questions more than you talk about yourself (and listen!), or volunteer for an organization that needs help.
Not only will focusing on other people make you feel better about yourself (because nothing is more powerful than helping someone else), but you’ll also realize that other people don’t think about you the way you think they do. Other people are too caught up in their own problems to realize you’re a little awkward or have a breakout on your chin. One of the most important life hacks I’ve ever learned: you’ll stop feeling self-conscious the minute you turn your attention to helping someone else.
8. Do more things that make you uncomfortable
Stepping outside your comfort zone is–you guessed it–uncomfortable, but it can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself. Try something new that you’re scared to try, whether it’s cooking a new type of food, attending a different workout class, or networking with people you’re typically too shy to reach out to. The good news is that you don’t have to be good at whatever new thing you’re doing in order to boost self-esteem. In fact, you probably won’t be good. The confidence comes when you keep showing up, even when you’re not good at it. It will teach you to feel comfortable in uncomfortable situations and accomplished in trying something new.
9. Keep promises to yourself
We have a conception that “confidence” has to mean thinking highly of ourselves, which is not necessarily true. To break it down, confidence is actually a combination of both self-esteem and self-efficacy. Self-efficacy refers to the belief you have in yourself to accomplish something. In other words, to boost confidence, you must make and keep promises to yourself. If you want to eat more veggies or get to bed earlier, make a plan, and then follow through with it. Remember that there’s more on the line than leafy greens or getting enough sleep. Think of it like a friend; the more you can rely on them and trust them, the more you love and respect them. The same goes for the relationship you have with yourself. Eat what you say you will, get to bed when you say you will, and watch your confidence skyrocket.
10. Cultivate the “eff it!” mentality
Channel your inner Dua Lipa and just don’t care. Typically, I’m not a fan of IDGAF energy (I think caring about people is the most powerful thing we can do as human beings, even when it hurts), but when it comes to cultivating self-confidence, I’m an advocate. You see, sometimes you have to remind yourself that not everything is as big of a deal as you make it in your mind. You gained a few extra pounds–who cares? You’re shy meeting new people–big deal! The side business you want to launch might fail–so what? Doing something you want to do or being someone you want to be (while saying “screw you!” to insecurities) might be the absolute best thing you could ever do for yourself. Just as a reminder, don’t take everything so seriously; it’s just life! The point is to enjoy it.