For years I have been learning and researching the topic of self-confidence, self-esteem and body image.
The 3 words above have a very deep meaning for me. I believe apart of the names of my daughters and husband those are the 3 words that I care about the most.
I have had my own journey discovering myself, in fact I am still in my journey with self-confidence, we all do. I think believing in yourself is an experience that never ends. Everyday we have to recharge ourselves, discharge the negative emotions that make us disbelief and find purpose again in who we are (regardless of how we look).
Loving and accepting ourselves is a challenge! An everyday life challenge that won’t stop for the rest of our lives. It is not an optional challenge. I have been invited to those 7 or 30 days challenges to do something: work out, do pilates, eat Special K, don’t use Facebook, drinking only water where you are supposed to do or stop doing something for the specific set of time that the challenge runs for. With self-esteem the challenge is different because loving yourself is a challenge for life. The good news is that you don’t have to worry about registering for a challenge that will last more than 20,000 days if you are to live 50 more years. Being happy with yourself is just a matter of joining the challenge of a moment. Yes! Just a simple moment you will have to worry about doing your best to improve your personal image. Just one moment! The tricky part is that we should really aim to care about our inner confidence every single moment of our lives.
I am going to be honest so you can be prepared: it takes time and practice and some days you are going to fail. In fact some days are better than others and some weeks you will feel like you have failed in fact if you get distracted it becomes easy to forget about it and just give up.
This particular week hasn’t been an easy week for me. Things that I can’t control have been happening in my life and I started to feel like quitting until I realised that when issues arise we have been challenged and to face the difficulties it is when we need more strength and that strength only comes from believing in yourself.
And when I felt like that I realised that it is not only me the one who feels like this one day. Millions of women are feeling right now very bad about themselves. Many of us unconsciously decide to anchor in our weaknesses, many of us spend the time proving ourselves that we are indeed worthless and the more evidence we look for, the more prove we get. The good thing is that it is a matter of learning and practising. I learned a few years ago now that there is a way to train yourself and learn to rethink better about yourself, that you can unlearn your destructive ways of treating yourself and slowly but surely we can develop better habits that can ultimately bring us to the point where I am happy with myself.
Many factors are involved in Self-Confidence and Self-esteem, I love the topic but I will leave my books to talk about those 2 things in more detail. Here I am going to concentrate on Body Image and simple and easy things that you can do to improve your body image so you can boost your confidence.
Caring about your look sounds superficial but it isn’t, we must like the way we look, we must feel comfortable in our own skin. Feeling attractive and accepted is very important for us women. In fact, it is more important than what we actually accept it. We even believe that our success and happiness might be related to the way we look and in fact you are not wrong; studies prove that confident and good looking man and women are more successful in general. Happier? I don’t know! otherwise we would not have so many pretty women with eating disorders or depression. We here this all the time with the rich and the famous.
I don’t think it is necessary to be the most beautiful person in the world to be happy and successful. We have evidence think Oprah, Michelle Obama, Julia Gillard, Adele, Jessica Mauboy and even Lady Gaga are not the kind of women who match the checklist of the Hollywood beauty standards and all of the above have shown that confidence and passion matter.
I have been studying famous people for years now. I have been blogging and reading about the stars for 1000s and 1000s of hours now and I can tell you that most of those ‘famouos women’ are not even as pretty as we believe they are. I am not saying that they are ugly but if you observe them in detail they are not as pretty and perfect as we visualize them. These women have a secret to make us believe that they are gorgeous: they have created an image that have made us believe that they who we think.
1. Undestand and appreciate your family background
Be grateful for what makes you unique
We still don’t know why but many of us aspire to be something different to what we actually are. If we are blond we want to be brunette, if we are big we would love to be small, if we are thin we would like to be thicker and so on.
- Can you identify any of these things that you would like to change of yourself?
It just comes natural to say things like:
- “I wish I had a darker or whiter skin”
- “I wish I was taller”
- “I don’t like my thick legs”
What we understand is that we are human beings made by two people, a man and a woman who brought their genes together and created us. In that creation process they put their genes and they brought to our creation lots of features that come from our ancestors and therefore we were created looking similar to our mums, dads, uncle, grand uncles, grand grand parents. The way we look is totally related to our family background. The more cultures mix, the more new generations look like but we can’t expect not to look Asian if our entire at family (as far as we know) are Asians. How can you look German if your family background is African?
Living in Sydney has been a great experience for me because I literally have learned to admire different beauties. I observe women and men from different cultures and I get to see those features that make them beautiful and unique and sadly many of us don’t even notice.
Some of my Sri Lankan friends complain about their dark skin, I know Asian ladies who have gone through surgery to attempt to reshape their eyes shape. My Anglo friends complain about their white skin.
Isn’t that funny? We tend to complain of something that others would like to have. Why don’t we make of it an asset or maybe value other features that make us distinctive.
- What about being proud of those dark eyes that make you look interesting?
- Can you start to feel proud of your curves that your genes give you away without going to the gym?
- Can you start to see that many people around you would like to have features that you have.
So coming back to my first point when you understand your family background you start to feel an identity. You get to understand the things that make you unique and different to others and also you get to learn to clearly see that you cannot be someone else. You are who you are as a consequence of how your previous generations have mated and that is amazing. You are a human being specially created, there is nobody else like you.
For those of you who are more interested in learning more about how we end up looking the way we do I leave you with this simple information about how we inherit our beauty.
Each cell in the human body contains about 25,000 to 35,000 genes, which carry information that go toward determining our traits (features). Traits are characteristics you inherit from our parents; this means your parents pass some of their characteristics on to us through genes. For example, if both of your parents have green eyes, you might inherit the trait of green eyes from them. Or if your mum has freckles or moles, you might inherit that trait and that is the reason of your pretty freckles or moles. And genes aren’t just in humans — all animals and plants have genes, too. The interesting thing is that we also inherit things from previous generations that is why we don’t look exactly the same as our parents and those genes get combined to create a unique human being.
2. Be soft with that special person (you)
Being a woman is being imperfect
Once we understand tha what we physically are is a direct consequence of our ancestors we start to feel more like humans. In a plastic and fast food society it has become a habit of thinking that we can have things instantly. You can get a hamburger in less than a minute if you go to the Auto-Mac, you can contact a friend instantly with a mobile phone, you can access information in a matter of seconds if you use the internet and celebrities have made us believe that we can also create a wish list of how we want to look and get it instantly.
Advertising agencies have also made us believe that there are products that would give us instant beauty, instant youth, instant weight loss. The truth is that although lots of great products exist in the market there are not instant solutions for our beauty or health problems. Not even those procedures that seem to offer instant results work instantly. If you go for laser hair removal it takes a few sessions to start seeing the results and after years and years of treatments that unwanted hair still keeps on growing from time to time.
My point here is to understand that we are human beings. We live in bodies that are alive, our bodies feel, our bodies manifest. We develop wrinkles, pimples, we gain and lose weight, our hair and nails grow, we get older, we develop health issues and all that is part of being a skin and bone person. We wouldn’t want to be made out of plastic without feelings, sensations and emotions would we?
So like any other person we have imperfections and we are all different. While I suffer from Policystic Ovaric Syndrome that has caused me to develop unwanted hair in my face, my sisters have developed facial acne and other ladies suffer of Rosacea or hormonal imbalances that contribute to their excess weight.
Please understand that you are a persona with a heart, mind and body. Treat your heart and your soul like the soul of a person and don’t beat yourself up for your imperfections that are not even your fault. It was not your fault to develop those skin spots that don’t look good on you, it is not your fault to have those huge breasts that you hate so much.
Don’t hate yourself and don’t discriminate your own being for your own features. Don’t treat yourself like you wouldn’t treat someone else for a personal condition.
3. Learn to find the good traits of realistic people
Find the good things in other people and you will discover 100 new and good things about you
Honestly, this exercise has done a lot for me and for other people who have learned this from me in my Seminars.
Sadly, the media has trained us to identify what is a good looking face or body. We have been trained for years and years to admire a certain kind of beauty image. We all know how a glamourous and ‘good looking’ person is meant to be that we become blind. We become blind when we have real beauty in front of us, we have forgotten how to admire the pretty things of human beings.
At school we learn to know who the pretty girls are because they are the popular ones that we forget about the good things that we all have.
For me this is very sad because not only young girls but big girls believe that they are not pretty and therefore they are not worth of being loved. I have a friend (let’s call her Asher) who believes that because she has gained weight no man would ever be able to feel in love with her. The problem with Asher is that she is has got very tough high standards, she would only say that top models with amazing photoshopped bodies are pretty so if she compares herself with top models of course she doesn’t meet the standard and therefore she is not worth of love. When we talk about friends or people we know Asher doesn’t find them attractive either. It was not until I really got tired of her conversation that only wanted to prove that she wasn’t worth of love because she was ‘fat’ (this is how she called herself) that I started to teach her to admire the good features of other people.
Asher was very good at spotting imperfections in others in less than a second my dear friend was able to tell me why she didn’t think our friend A or B were pretty. She was fast at telling me that A had acne scars that according to her didn’t make her look attractive and B always had a messy hair. One day I confronted her critics and asked her: “Have you ever noticed that A’s eyelashes are naturally long and pretty that help those pretty deep black eyes look so sparkly?”, “Have you seen the pretty naturally tanned legs that our friend B has?” Asher confessed that she had never paid attention to those details. Asher had been concentrating in the ugly things of other women.
When you star to focus you attention in the good things of others you start to practice the habit and suddenly you can start bringing that to you. If you find the good things in others it becomes easy and effortlessly to find the good things in yourself.
Practice finding the good things of others. They can be physical attributes or personality traits that make anybody special. Personality is part of being charming, that is the reason why some people who are considered very ugly could be so attractive.
4. Concentrate more on your personality strengths
Just be who you are and don’t hide yourself
Regardless of how you look, regardless of the extra kilo, the ugly pimple or your nose shape we all can be attractive. Attractiveness can be developed but you were also born with your own strengths to be an attractive person.
Being attractive and not perfect is a more achievable goal. The idea of being attractive is not trying to hard to attract attention. Being attractive is being you and sharing who we are. We all have a lot to give and people are normally interested in knowing more about other people. That is why Realty Shows are so popular. Reality Shows exhibit people with different personalities and we get to like them or dislike them. We develop preferences on the participants and if you have ever seen one, the most popular characters are not precisely the ‘most beautiful’ women or the ‘most handsome’ men. That is because at the end external beauty is not that important. I am not saying that you should not care about how you look, in fact that is another step in improving your Self-Confidence. What I am trying to say here is that if we spend more time concentrating in becoming a better person and showing the best of us, it doesn’t really matter how we look outside.
People that look at us from the outside don’t really care about those imperfections that we care about that much. Think for a moment, if you are having a fun conversation with a group of friends if you are really paying attention to the flaws of the other person. Unless you really have a severe problem with body image, most people engaged in a interesting conversation or activity doesn’t care much about the look of the other person. We tend to pay more attention in how funny, interesting, informed or whatever the strength is that the other people is showing.
If only you could relax more about your look and be who you really are you would be showing the best of you. Being who you are is only showing your genuine interests and passions, if you add a bit of attention to the other people interests I can assure you that you will increase your attractiveness and popularity levels.
Keeping all to yourself for the fear of being criticised becomes kind of selfish because you don’t really want to share anything. Share yourself with the world and you will see how the image of yourself that you create is the image great.
5. Care about your image
Bring the best of you with pretty clothes, a nice hair style and a little bit of make up
When you care about your image you are caring about how you look but you also send positive self-esteem messages to you heart and brain. You are listening to the: “I am important” message, you reaffirm yourself with a message that says “I can look good“, “the way I look is important“.
Life is busy, we all have many things to do and it becomes hard to schedule a grooming routine so we wear whatever is easier and more comfortable, time for make up and hair styling is a real luxury + who really cares how I look? Do you know the answer? It is you who cares about how you look.
We get depressed when we get to see pictures of celebrities looking gorgeous. We feel the ugly duck compared to them but we don’t thinks that these stars have an full army to give them the Star Look.
I found this picture of Miranda Kerr getting ready for a photo shooting. Look she has got her own army: make up artist, hair stylist + all the personal stylists that work behind the scenes putting the look together.
Most women (more like 99%) can’t afford all this but there are things that we can do that don’t take much of our time and really create a difference in our image.
- Buy clothes that favour your body shape. Get rid off those clothes that are comfortable but add volume on your figure.
- Get a hair cut that is easy to style or practice a hair style that is achievable in a couple of minutes.
- Wear a little bit of make up. Maybe just lipstick creates a great difference.
I used to repeat “but I don’t have time” until I realised that we always have time for what we really need. We find time to go to the toilet even if that means to interrupt other things so you can find time, just 5 minutes to look nicely. You will see the difference when you are out and about wearing pretty clothes and showing that you care. It is interesting and good fun, people will ask you about your clothes, you will get compliments and more importantly you will feel like you really care about your self regardless of your body shape.