Self-compassion: The essential step for confidence
Often when we are lacking confidence we can be quite harsh on ourselves. We can say things like, "I’m not smart enough" or "I’m not pretty enough" or "...slim enough", "...rich enough". This is like kicking someone when they are down and then simultaneously wondering why they aren’t getting up or going anywhere. A little bit cruel right?
If we can have compassion for ourselves in the moments when we are lacking confidence we can create mental space. We can give ourselves a chance to consider getting up. With more mental space, we are able to allow ourselves to think creatively. We may ponder how to improve our situation, ourselves or accept the rubbish that life has thrown at us.
When we use compassion, our energy isn’t being wasted on fighting our demons.
If we are kinder to ourselves we can use our resources more effectively, maybe for problem-solving or changing our perspective on something we have no control over. Everyone struggles with confidence at times. It is part of being human.
Michelle Obama herself says she battles with “Am I good enough?”. When she became the First Lady at the White House, this brought up many demons for her.
How can you show compassion to yourself?
When you aren’t feeling your best and your self-esteem is low, what would compassion look like for you at that moment? Could you expect less, be kinder and more forgiving towards yourself? Would you see a friend rather than your in-laws, leave the dishes or lay in bed a few hours longer? Maybe even tell your boss you can’t do that project or book a spa day just for you?
Having compassion for yourself is unique as only you know what you need.
4 ways to be more compassionate to yourself
1. Don’t take the negative talk seriously
We all have negative thoughts and sometimes they can be so loud it literally feels like the only thing we can hear. In these moments, it can be hard not to listen but that doesn’t mean we have to believe them. It is the job of our minds to keep us safe and let's be frank it isn’t all that helpful at times.
If you hear your mind telling you “you aren’t good enough”, remember you don’t have to take this negative thought on board. It is just a thought after all.
2. Treat yourself like a friend
If your friend was feeling low, I am guessing you would give them a big hug, maybe a large bar of chocolate and probably a glass of wine. You would support them through whatever they were going through and you wouldn’t judge them.
Take this approach with yourself and ask, if this was your friend, what would you say to them? What advice would you give them or reassurance? It might feel a little self-indulgent but I bet you wouldn’t think that if it was for someone else.
3. Accept where you are
I cannot tell you how many times I notice people struggling with confidence because they haven’t ‘made it’. They aren’t where they want to be or life isn’t how they want it to be. They then come to the conclusion that they must be a failure/ destined to be miserable/ trapped all because they aren’t enough... or so they think. Sometimes life isn’t how we want it to be and we can’t change it.
I think we are all guilty of falling into the trap of expecting life to be easy at times. Do you mean life isn’t one long holiday? What? You are where you are and whilst you may not be where you want to be, life is a process. Accepting where we are is very empowering. It is like giving ourselves permission to not be perfect (I mean who actually is.) We are always learning and growing and life is always changing and evolving. Even in those moments, it really doesn’t feel like it.
If we accept our situation, we can give up some of the fight. This gives us more space to be creative. If we haven’t got that promotion or aren’t doing as well as we would like at work or maybe our relationship isn’t where we want it to be.
Fighting it doesn’t help. Sometimes we need to accept where we are and let life run its course. Reducing our expectations of when things should happen or how they happen can alleviate our frustrations. Accept yourself and life as it is.
4. Stop comparing yourself
Theodore Roosevelt famously said, “Comparison is the thief of joy”. When we compare, especially when we are lacking confidence, we usually only look at what we are missing and how much better other people and their lives are.
We used to only compare ourselves to our neighbours, keeping up with the Jones’, but now we are surrounded by images telling us, not only how great and better our neighbours' lives are but our friends' lives, families, old school friends and celebrities every single day. Er, thank you social media?
Of course, we can always find someone’s life that is better than ours. When we look out we miss what we have. A gratitude journal is a great place to start to recognise what we do have and learn to appreciate it.
Our friend may have a new car, but is their house filled with love at the end of each day? The airbrushed influencer may have an amazing body, but do they have real friends that are there for them during the hard times?
If you find yourself lacking confidence, the first and essential step is having compassion for yourself. From there you open yourself up to think creatively about your life and current problems. Coaching can be a great way to support you whilst you learn how to build your own self-compassion.