I really think that my greatest weakness - and probably that of many others - is lack of confidence. When you think about it, that's a crazy weakness to have, because then the only thing holding you back is yourself.
The problem is that it's also a self-perpetuating cycle that is hard to get out of: you want to try something but you doubt yourself, so you do it half-heartedly, fail, and then beat yourself up for doing badly.
So how do you break that cycle?
These are some of the practical confidence-boosting tips that have worked for me. They aren't about repeating mantras to yourself or trying to force yourself to change - these are things you can actually do on a regular basis that can help to increase your confidence in a gentle, organic way.
1. Spend As Much Time As Possible Doing Something You Love
It's not always easy to fit the hobbies we love into our busy lives. For some reason, when life gets stressful, it's the things we love doing that seem to be the first to fall by the wayside. Make some time, now and again, to do the thing that makes you feel like you. An hour a week, 15 minutes a day -- whatever you can fit in.
For me, it's writing. Writing makes me feel like my best, strongest, most complete self, and that really boosts my confidence. For you it might be drawing, or woodwork, or playing a sport, or cooking an amazing meal. Just do whatever makes you feel great.
I don't know about you, but when someone first suggested meditation to me I found the idea difficult to get my head around. It all just sounded so self-indulgent. Well, I can admit when I'm wrong. I tried it out and found that even 10 or 15 minutes of meditation can make me feel like a whole new person. I always come away after a session totally refreshed and feeling like it's OK just to be me.
3. Go Outside
It's a total cliché, but that's because it's true; getting outside in the fresh air is a great boost for your confidence and mental health. It's our natural habitat, after all. Go for a walk, run or cycle. Explore somewhere new. Go out to the countryside if you can. Reconnecting with nature helps us look at the bigger picture and reminds us that our problems and setbacks are really not as huge as we think they are.
4. Do Yoga
I took up yoga a year ago, and I really cannot exaggerate how much it has changed my life. Not only is it great for your physical health, helping to increase flexibility and aid relaxation, it also has taught me how to put aside my perfectionism. Yoga taught me that I find some things easy and some things hard, and that's OK.
It also taught me that I shouldn't get discouraged by the things I find hard, because I will improve with time. That improvement can't be forced. It has to happen gently, inch by inch. If you can't get your heels down in Downward Facing Dog today, you won't be able to tomorrow, but next week? Next month? Maybe. Or maybe not. It doesn't matter; the important part is that you are stretching your leg muscles a little more every time you try.
5. Learn Something New
I really don't think there can be anything more confidence boosting that mastering a new skill, especially if, at the very beginning, you thought you'd never be able to do it. So have a go at something you've always wanted to try, no pressure, just for fun! Remember that it really doesn’t matter if you do it badly at first. Everybody has to start somewhere.
6. Know When To Take A Step Away
No matter how hard you try to boost your confidence, if you're trapped in a situation that saps it, you are never going to be able to truly thrive. So learn to identify whether you're in a confidence-sapping situation -- whether it be a job you hate, a hyper-critical partner, or a bitchy group of friends, and start to think about how you can put some distance between yourself and the negativity that is stopping you from moving forward.
It might be something extreme, like quitting your job, or it might be something much smaller, like simply getting out of the house a bit more to give yourself some space. You deserve the chance to grow, so don't let anything drag you down.
By Claire Saag - Claire Saag is a freelance writer and dedicated ‘at home’ yogi based in Cambridge, UK. After graduating with a first in English Literature from Lancaster University, she worked for over seven years as a bookseller before leaving to focus on her writing career. She first discovered yoga in 2013 and now practices daily in her spare room.
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