Last summer, I was in the car with my family driving home from a wonderful family weekend at our cabin and my mom posed a question...
What brings happiness? What is the #1 ingredient for happiness?
We talked about a lot of things, being grateful (which I think is a fast second), feeling loved, having purpose, feeling accepted in your relationships, being happy with what you're doing in your life.... but the thing that stuck out to me the most was having self-confidence. Believing in yourself and feeling like you are capable of accomplishing the things you want to accomplish is the number one thing that brings happiness.
Because this is the one thing that you have 100% control of. We can't control how others treat us, what others think about us, or even the exact circumstances of our lives sometimes. But we can control how we respond to our circumstances and what we think about ourselves and our ability to handle the things life throws at us.
The past couple of years I have been schooled in self-confidence.
For me, 2017 began with a relationship I had been hoping for ending, getting fired from my job, and being diagnosed with thyroid cancer. All of these things changed the circumstances of my life and led to some questioning of my self-confidence. A month later I launched by business, and let me tell you, that has been a roller-coaster of highs and lows, some days feeling on top of the world and other days questioning my entire capabilities as a human being (it's scary putting your whole self out there for the world to see).
A couple of months later I had to do a round of radiation where I had to be in slight isolation for a week. This brought out a whole new level of insecurity I have about people not liking me (which is a limiting belief I've worked on). I had some friends that were supportive, some people that I think just didn't understand, and some people that were down right mean about it, which didn't help and led to some days spent working through some massive shame.
The end of that year brought a constant battle with my self-confidence because of some massive body image issues (we're all a work in progress right?) Through this whole experience my body has undergone a lot (surgery, losing my thyroid, hormone imbalances) and my body trying to figure out what the heck is going on, which has led to some definite unwanted weight gain.
Just to be clear...
there were some pretty great things that happened that year as well, and I'm pretty grateful that I am alive and cancer free 2 years later, but I tell you the hard moments to let you know that I get it. I think I can be safe in saying self-doubt and confidence are things every person in this world struggles with on occasion.
Self-confidence is a muscle that we must consistently work on in order for it to be strong, life throws curve-balls at us that test our capacities in many different ways, and the trick to overcoming is focusing on the things you can control and how you can use those curve-balls to INCREASE your self-confidence instead of allowing them to destroy you.
So.... what can we do to increase our self-confidence and increase our level of happiness?
1. Use Challenges to Your Advantage. - If something unexpected and challenging comes into your life, instead of getting discouraged and frustrated, change your perspective and challenge yourself. Ask yourself what you can do to overcome it, plan out your game plan, and watch yourself grow and achieve. Unexpected life challenges can actually become a huge WIN for our self-confidence because we witness what we are actually capable of.
2. Question your Inner Critic. - Is your self-doubt warranted or are you being too hard on yourself? We are our worst critics and most of the time need to step back and see if the way we are thinking about ourselves is actually reality. Disprove your limiting beliefs. Re-frame them into affirmations. Our mindset is everything.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” -- Louise L. Hay
3. Talk to Yourself like you Would Talk to your Best Friend. - This one coincides with the one before. Would you tell your best friend that they are fat and no one will like them? No. :) So why do we talk to ourselves this way? Put a rubber band on your wrist and every time your catch yourself saying something mean to yourself, stop thought, snap (literally) yourself out of it and cut that habit!
4. Help Someone Else. - Honestly, the best way I know of to increase your self-confidence and happiness is to help someone else. We all like to feel needed and capable. When we reach out and serve others we recognize the abilities we do have and the ways we can bring joy and happiness to others lives.
“Forget yourself and go to work.” -- Gordon B. Hinckley
5. Do One Thing That Scares You Everyday. - We increase our self-confidence by doing hard things. As mentioned above, sometimes these hard things are thrown at us out of the blue and we have to work to overcome. Other times life might be smooth-sailing and that complacency to growth can also lead to a drop in self-esteem even though things seem to be going alright.
Take initiative to do something that scares you every day. The best way to overcome fear is to face it head on. Get out of your comfort zone and just do it!
6. Visualize Yourself as You Want to Be. - The dominating thoughts of the mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward and gradually transform themselves into reality. I challenge you to spend 30 minutes (or at least 10) to visualizing the person you want to become and the life you are working to achieve. Create a clear mental picture. What you can see you can achieve.
“What the mind can conceive and believe it can achieve.” -- Napoleon Hill
7. Take Care of Yourself. - Prioritize your happiness, by prioritizing your health. Get enough sleep (7-9 hours a night), move your body (exercise enlivens your mind, body, and soul), take time to make yourself look the way you like, and pamper yourself once in a while.
There are a lot of things in life that are out of our control: unforeseen health issues, family drama, accidents, loss of jobs, how other people treat us, etc. But there are a lot of things we CAN control and these are the things we can work on to develop our self-confidence.
2018 brought some new experiences and opportunities to exemplify TRUE confidence.
Learning to fall in love with myself and my body just the way I am. Learning to love others no matter what love I was getting back. Learning how to put myself out there and actually be seen. Learning how to be true to myself and how when I use my voice, speak my truth, and have integrity with myself that’s when true confidence grows.
Increasing our self-confidence is the key to increasing our happiness. It really is that simple. :)
Click below to schedule a time to chat with me! Sometimes it is that simple, but we need some one-on-one support to help us see it and create the habits that will make a difference. I can't wait to chat with you!