Confidence is something everyone struggles with. There are more reasons than we can count as to why this happens – personal traumas, societal pressure, or our tendency to constantly compare ourselves to others are just a few. What we often lose sight of is that those who are the most together are usually as insecure as the rest of us.
It’s hard to remember, but in truth we all know it – insecurity isn’t really about what we have or what we look like. It’s rooted in who we are. The solution to low self-esteem isn’t going to be found at the end of an article – including this one. Instead, the best tool is experience. Consciously recognizing our emotions and nipping negative self-talk in the bud can turn a potentially anxiety-ridden situation into one of personal triumph.
What’s happening: Lack of self-confidence at work can easily become a cycle. Not only are our personal insecurities being tested, but our livelihoods are on the line. Whether you missed a small deadline or majorly dropped the ball, it doesn’t matter – people who care about their jobs will beat themselves up over mistakes, and in turn, question their abilities. Luckily, the problem usually isn’t a real-world one – it’s all in your head. Add to that perceived (or, unfortunately, sometimes real) scrutiny from co-workers – especially in traditionally male-dominated jobs – and getting your stride back can be a serious uphill battle.
What you can do: Stop comparing yourself to others. In a competitive environment like work, it’s easy to lose focus of why you’re great at your job in the first place. Try something radical: If you can do something to fix a problem, then do it and stop worrying. If you can’t do something to fix a problem, then stop worrying – it’s out of your hands. Either way, doing your best and learning to let go will boost your confidence in taking risks and trying new things – both traits that will make you even better at work.
What’s happening: In the last few years, due in part to mommy bloggers, amplified parenting trends, and ruthless comment sections, it’s become oddly acceptable to judge other people’s parenting style. Now not only are we judging each other by our children’s behavior, but by the quality of their clothes, the amount of vegetables they’ll willingly tolerate, or the level of intricacy that goes into planning family events and creating a picturesque, perfect home. Are you a working mom? There’s judgement for that. Are you a stay-at-home mom? There’s judgement for that, too. Yep, it doesn’t take long on Pinterest to start internalizing these standards as the status quo.
What you can do: Here’s something to remember about bad parents: they don’t know they’re bad parents. They’re not stressing about whether they’re doing their best, they’re not up late wondering if it’s okay to feed their kids white flour, they’re not protective, or thoughtful, or involved. Pushing yourself to be a good parent is important, but listening to every pang of guilt over something you think you should be doing will just stress you out. Maybe you lost your temper, or had to work late again, or let the kids have too much screentime because you just needed a quiet minute – but are these things you need to be guilty over? Of course not! If you’re worried about it, you’re already learning from it, and that’s what’s going to make you a great parent. And if you need reassurance, just look at the smart, sweet, friendly little person you created. Give yourself a break – you’re doing great.
What’s happening: Whether you exercise at a typical gym, barre studio, crossfit dungeon (if that’s not what they call it, it should be), yoga in the park or jogging down the street, exercise-type situations are fraught with stress. Even those of us who apparently both consume and enjoy chia pudding have Instagram to remind us our lunch isn’t as photogenic as the next #yogamom. What about us mere mortals, puffing along in a spin class or flapping down the street after abandoning our running shoes all winter? Negative self-talk during exercise almost guarantees you won’t be motivated enough to reach your goals – even if, outside your head, you’re making great progress.
What you can do: To paraphrase the great Amy Poehler, “Good for her! Not for me.’ This applies to every possible scenario (seriously, try it) but it’s exercise, the practice of self-care, that may need it the most. Bodies are different, schedules are different, lives are different. You don’t know what other people went through, or how long it took, to get the body you’re envying – not to mention, they’re probably just as envious of someone else. So instead, focus on your body – it’s a good one. It takes you where you want to go, it wears clothes you love, it dances and runs and plays with your kids. You can love your body and make improvements on it at the same time – and the quality of the latter depends very much on the former. So instead of competing with other people, compete with yourself – you’ll find the odds stacked in your favor.
What’s happening: Oh, we don’t need to spell this one out – you already know. Every woman that doesn’t have “Victoria’s Secret Angel” on their business card is used to the deluge of “bikini body” media decrying that only certain bodies are worthy of exposure to the sun. Well, we’re not the first to say it but we’re happy to join the chorus: This. Is. Bullshit. All bodies deserve to be on display. All bodies deserve a trip to the beach. Most importantly, we all deserve a break from this rhetoric.
What you can do: More than ever, there’s an online movement pushing body positivity, self-acceptance and realistic beauty standards. It takes a long time to reverse a lifetime of internalized “bikini body” garbage, but these are great places to start. Get involved in the conversation and take inspiration from the ladies that are making these communities some of the most positive and well-loved corners of the web. You won’t feel super-confident overnight, but enough reassurance from the accepting and inspiring conversations happening there will help you realize that a day by the lake isn’t something to be missed because you’re feeling a little doughy.