Confidence is the key to beauty. All of the externals that society tells us create a beautiful appearance—symmetry, smoothness, classic bone structure—really have very little to do with it.
How you look on the outside is a manifestation of how you feel on the inside—we radiate what’s inside us!—and the truth is, if you feel great about yourself, that’s what makes you look great to the rest of the world.
But where does that leave us if we don’t already feel confident?
We’re all human; everyone has insecurities and places we feel vulnerable. Even the most vibrant, radiant, energetic, sexy women I know sometimes feel a little less than confident about some aspects of themselves. It’s unrealistic to expect yourself to feel totally fabulous 100% of the time.
As women, we’re often trained to be so tough on ourselves, that if we’re not careful, we can wind up feeling insecure about the fact that we’re not perfectly and constantly confident! It’s a vicious cycle, and it only stops when we interrupt it.
But the good news is that we can. And it doesn’t require some dramatic inner overhaul—it just takes consistent, patient practice.
If you try practicing building confidence in small, daily ways, you might be astonished at how profoundly your self-image changes over time.
First: accept yourself—completely.
Sounds like a tall order, right?
All of us have parts of ourselves that we’d rather deny or hide. When our insecurities come up, it doesn’t feel good, and our first tendency is often to resist that discomfort.
We think if we cover up the thing we’re insecure about, we can make it go away. But here’s the secret: doing that just makes it stronger.
When we resist something we feel insecure about, that plays into the story that it’s a big, bad thing that deserves to be hidden. It might seem paradoxical, but accepting your insecurities and fears is exactly what defuses them.
Say there’s a little wrinkle on your forehead you feel self-conscious about. If you look in the mirror and think to yourself, “I hate that line; I better hide it,” cover it up with concealer and hope nobody notices, that reinforces the idea that it’s supposed to be hidden.
But what would happen if you looked at that wrinkle, said hello to it (no matter how silly that feels!) and accepted it, as a part of you? If you practice doing that, on purpose, over and over, one day you might find yourself
looking in the mirror and not minding that wrinkle one bit. It takes a little practice—and can feel scary at first—but it’s worth a try.
Listen to your body.
When an insecurity comes up, our body’s tendency is to clench up around it—and our mind’s tendency is to spin off into all the ways we can hide it, forget it, or make it go away.
What might happen if you experimented with tuning into your body when that happens? Take a little inventory: Where do you feel that insecurity?
Is it a tightness in your chest? An urge to hide your face? A clenching of your belly?
You can experiment with shifting your attention away from your thoughts and onto your body—and then relax into the feeling.
Doing this sends messages to your brain and your autonomic nervous system that you’re safe, that everything is okay. And practicing this experiment repeatedly builds new pathways in your brain—so that eventually, you may find yourself feeling better, more relaxed, and more confident.
Notice when you feel good.
Our brains are wired to pay close attention when something doesn’t feel good—and to remember it. Our attunement to our fears has helped us to survive as a species for thousands of years—it ensures that we pay attention when something is a threat and that we remember it for next time so we can protect ourselves.
But the brain functions that served us when we were living exposed to the elements, amongst wild animals, can kind of get in the way of our happiness here in the 21st century.
If we let ourselves default to focusing on our fears and insecurities, our survival instincts take over, and they just multiply. But if we put in a little extra effort to pay attention when we feel good—if we catch ourselves feeling vital, sexy, and confident and make a mental note to pay attention to that feeling and remember it—it winds up sticking a whole lot more.
That little bit of effort spent paying attention to those good feelings winds up multiplying them. Bit by bit, we can retrain ourselves to spend more time feeling great about ourselves and less time paying attention to our fears. And that builds confidence.