“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.”
True confidence and self-esteem are a matter of liking ourselves. So, self-compassion really is the core of true confidence. We can celebrate and value our strengths and positive qualities and know we are enough just the way we are. At the heart, it’s about being your own best friend.
For many of us, though, this is not the reality. Too often, we do not practice self-compassion and value ourselves. We may have looping negative thoughts constantly in our minds. Sometimes, these negative thoughts and beliefs come from messages we received as children. These messages are also a result of societal expectations of who we “should” be to fit in and be “normal”.
Uxshely Carcamo, in her blog for My Self Love Supply, shares three things that cause us to view ourselves negatively.
1. Allowing our self-esteem to be based primarily on the opinions of others
2. Spending a lot of time comparing ourselves to others
3. Feeling the need to fit in
Allowing our self-esteem to be based primarily on the opinions of others.
Allowing our self-esteem to be based on other people’s opinions of us is believing others’ view of us is more important than ours. Self-esteem is partly based on how much we trust and value our own opinion. But it is self-harming when we allow the opinion
s of others to create our view and opinions of ourselves.
Spending a lot of time comparing ourselves to others.
When we compare ourselves to others and look at someone else’s success, we are only seeing a moment in their life. We may not know how long it took them to get there. And we may not know the sacrifices they had to make to achieve that success. Another part of this picture is their skill level compared to our own. We all have different strengths and weaknesses. Usually, we compare our weaknesses to the other person’s strengths. We can choose to use this comparison to improve on our weakness. But if we lack self-worth, we may let the other person’s strengths and successes stop us from trying.
Feeling the need to fit in
Connections with safe, supportive people in our life are an important part of our emotional well-being. However, it can become harmful to us when we feel
the need to deny our authentic self to be accepted by others. This is harmful to our self-esteem, self-value and to feeling that we are enough just the way we are.
To move beyond these negative effects, we can counter-balance it with some positive actions. We need to focus on building self-compassion. This is easier said than done, but we need to start somewhere. The actions listed below can build our self-confidence through self-compassion.
How to build self-confidence with these self-compassion activities
Self-compassion involves treating oneself with kindness. It’s recognizing our shared humanity and being mindful and gentle when exploring the negative aspects of ourselves. Self-compassion can help us hold a more positive attitude towards ourselves, which can aid self-confidence.
Self-compassion grows in a kind of spiral pattern. Caring for and being gentle with ourselves leads to self-confidence. And self-confidence leads to more successful experiences, and so on. If we can get ourselves into this positive feedback loop, we can start growing our self-compassion and self-confidence one experience at a time.
1. Talk back to your inner critic
While our inner critic or the negative self-talk that loops in our minds can be very harmful, it is important to recognize it is there for a purpose. It is trying to keep us safe. So, the first thing we need to say to our inner critic is “thank you for trying to help me, but I got this.” It may be important to dig deeper and realize what the inner critic is trying to protect us from. Thanking our inner critic rather than trying to fight it is helpful in quieting it down. Then replace the negative self-talk with positive, more compassionate statements. Affirmations can be a great way to do this.
As a start, we may want to develop affirmations that shift our negative beliefs about ourselves. For example, if we have thoughts like, "I'm not worthy", we can use affirmations like, “I have just as much worth as anyone else." Or if we have thoughts like "I suck at making friends," we might replace them with something like, "I can make new friends." It may feel unnatural to say positive affirmations that go against what we currently feel to be true. However, by practicing saying and thinking these things, we help create new pathways in our brains that grow stronger over time.
Affirmations can also come as “I am” statements. Click here for a free download: 30 Self-Affirmations to Build Internal Value and Compassion.
2. Affirm your positive qualities
Much like positive “I am” affirmations, you can say out loud (or in your head) as many positive qualities as you can think of. For example, you might say, "I am kind. I am smart. I am determined" and so on. Even if you have some negative opinions of yourself, these affirmations can help you focus on the things about yourself that you do like.
3. Affirm your skills and abilities
Besides affirming your positive qualities, you can also affirm your abilities. Here, you'd focus on saying statements that remind you of your skills. For example, you might say, "I am good at X. I am hardworking. I am an excellent gardener" and so on. This can help you feel more confident in these skills. It will also help remind you that you have built skills in the past so you can build new skills again in the future.
4. Cultivate self-focused optimism
Being optimistic involves looking towards the future with hope and positivity. Experts have linked optimism to many positive outcomes, including greater well-being. There are some ways we can be more optimistic, specifically about ourselves and our abilities. For example, you can do a visualization exercise where you imagine the best possible version of yourself in the future, focusing on the good things you do. You could also imagine yourself reaching your goals successfully. This can help your mind adjust to the idea of your success and help you feel more confident in pursuing your goals.
Overcoming a negative view of ourselves is difficult. Most of us have had years of believing negative things we have been told by others, and now we tell ourselves. Be patient and gentle with yourself. It will take time. Make a choice to focus on the times during the day that you show self-compassion, rather than the times you don’t. You won’t always get it right, that’s just part of the journey. But if you keep showing up for yourself, you will build a more loving and compassionate relationship with yourself.
If you need help to navigate this journey, I would love to visit with you and see if coaching may help. You can reach me at https://www.katherinebwiens.com/