How to feel confident in your own skin is all about how we perceive ourselves in comparison to others.
In an age of social media, we're inundated with images that seek to tell us what beautiful looks like.
If they are to be believed, we should all wear certain types of clothes, have our hair styled perfectly, flawless makeup and a body that screams out
'put me in a bikini, I'm gorgeous'.
The reality for most of us is very different. Yet we do our best to imitate what we see as we get caught up in this vortex of marketing propaganda.
- Buy this £800 face cream, and you too could have the complexion of a child
- Use this serum and your hair will cascade around your shoulders in soft, luxurious waves
- Wear these jeans and you too could be sex on legs
Sadly, the results are often disappointing.
- I can't afford £800, so I will just have to live with lines, blemish marks and a growing moustache
- My hair will always look like electrified candy floss on a stick unless I cut it short
- No low slung jeans are ever going to make me sexy - hallelujah for high-waisted trousers
A Different Reality
Our reality is very different. If we don't fit that perfect image, it can leave us feeling very insecure about how we look. And it can really affect our confidence severely.
The relationship we have with our body has a significant impact on our confidence. But I'm here to tell you that the secret to feeling confident in your own skin has nothing to do with how you look on the outside, but how you feel on the inside.
The Mirror Lies
Every morning as you look in the mirror, it's so easy to find fault with yourself.
But the mirror lies.
What we are seeing is not a true reflection, but one that our inner voice insists is there.
- Too fat
- Awkwardly skinny
- Nose too big
- Mouth too wide
- Crooked teeth
The list could go on and on. What we are focussing on are all the things that we perceive to be wrong with us, especially if we compare ourselves to the images we see around us.
If I was to say to you, tomorrow morning you're going to look in the mirror and see a perfect version of yourself. One you consider to be beautiful, would you believe me?
This is because you are conditioned to look at yourself on a superficial basis. And besides nothing about your appearance has actually changed.
So, if you do want to look in the mirror each morning and see a more confident you who is confident in your own skin, then I'm going to let you into a little secret.
You are going to have to think about yourself differently.
Steady On, Can Thoughts Alone Really Help?
Well, yes and no.
Changing the way we think about things is a big challenge. It's definitely not something we can do overnight.
One technique you could use is repeating affirmations.
Affirmations are positive statements we frequently repeat to ourselves to change our inner dialogue. For example, the one I adopted when I started scolding myself about my weight and which really helped me feel more confident in my own skin is 'I'm a curvy sensual woman'.
You'll need to repeat your affirmation frequently and over a reasonably long period of time before it starts to seep into your psyche.
When Thoughts Are Not Enough - Other Techniques To Try
Thank Your Body
We are so focused on what is wrong with our bodies, we often ignore the things we like about our bodies. Now, before you say, I don't have anything about me I like. I want you to think again. This exercise might help.
Think about each part of your body and thank it for the function that it performs. For example, hate the size of your nose? Think of all the good things that it does which bring you joy.
I say thank you:-
- to my nose that lets me smell my early morning coffee
- for my big belly which provides a comfortable cushion for my dog when he is sleeping on my lap
- to my big mouth for fitting in large quantities of cake!
You can do this for all your body parts. It helps you to perceive yourself differently and be more accepting of what you have. With acceptance comes a feeling of being confident in your own skin.
Remind Yourself Of Variety
The images that we see from the media are airbrushed perfection of a perceived normal. But, if you spend a little looking around, you will realise the reality is very different.
There is nothing I like more than sitting outside a coffee shop and people watching. I find it fascinating. It's also a great reminder that we are all different sizes, shapes, and colours. Wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same?
Another way to remind us of the variety in life is to look at pictures of your family and friends. Those that you hold near and dear. I can guarantee, they will also be made up of different sizes, shapes and colours. Think about the reason they are important to you. I bet, it's not because of what they look like.
So, if you are not looking for perfection in your friends and family, don't expect it of yourself.
Be happy in your own skin, and you will be confident.
There have been lots of studies on body language. The one thing I've noticed when sitting outside drinking coffee, watching the world go by, is how different people can convey a sense of confidence.
It's not anything they've said or done, but the way their bodies communicate with the outside world. They really look as if they are confident in their own skin.
It was the same when I worked in HR. A manager would come in with a problem or issue. The approach would be hesitant. They would be hunched over as if the world was on their shoulders.
But, once we talked it through and found a workable solution, they would walk out of my office looking taller, upright and relaxed.
It's the same when we don't feel good about our bodies. We hunch ourselves over to make ourselves appear small. Trying desperately not to attract anybody's attention. The danger with this is we soon start to blieve our body language. By staying small. we are saying to ourselves we are not good enough.
Try to stand upright, shoulders back, and look ahead not at the ground. There is a beautiful world out there that is made up of more than just pavements.
Look Up, The Sky Is Beautiful
During my work career, I was fortunate enough to do some training with a hostage negotiator. One comment he made which has always stuck with me is this. When you look up, you feel uplifted.
Try it, I promise you it does work.
Here's another technique to try.
Start each morning by standing still, with your legs comfortably apart, and throw your hands up high above your head in a 'Y' shape.
Lift your head up towards your hands.
This is what is termed a power posture, brilliantly explained in Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk
Repeating this posture when you are not feeling confident can change your body language and make you feel more confident.
Go on, give it a go.
A smile can say a thousand words.
It's also a great way to release some of those happy endorphins into our system. The simple act of smiling is an automatic boost of goodness.
Besides, smiling is contagious. It's like an unwritten law. If someone comes towards you with a smile, you just can't help but smile back.
When people smile, they look confident.
I often walk around with a smile on my face. Not because I'm always happy, you should see the face on me first thing in the morning - nothing happy about that one! But when I smile, I usually get a smile back.
It doesn't happen all the time, but that's ok. When I do get a smile back, it makes me feel so good. Soon the smile I forced onto my face turns into one of genuine joy.
Oh, and the people that don't smile back? Don't take it personally. You don't know what they have going on in their lives. Besides, I always like to think that if they are having a bad time, seeing someone smiling at them might make them feel a bit better.
Alternatively, seeing you smiling might leave other people wondering what mischief you've been up to!
A smile represents a non-verbal, fleeting connection with another human being, and boy does that feel good.
So, the next time you are out and about, give it a go and see how many people smile back at you.
Feel Comfortable In The Clothes You Wear
Have you ever been to a wedding and seen the men dressed up in suits? You can easily spot the men who only ever wear suits for weddings. They look awkward and ill at ease.
Feeling comfortable in what you wear will boost your confidence.
For my 40th birthday treat, I had an appointment with a professional colour and stylist consultant. It's one of the best experiences I've ever had.
I came away knowing what colours to wear to enhance my skin tone and which colours just made me look drained. If I hadn't witnessed it happen, I would never believe that you could go from looking glowingly healthy to death warmed up just by changing the colour of a scarf!
Knowing this information gave me confidence when I went shopping as I was able to focus on the colours that looked good on me - save a lot of money too!
And, when I'm out and about, I walk with a bounce in my step. Feeling your best is a real boost. It can definitely increase your confidence. I know that the clothes are just an add on, but I do feel confident in my own skin as a result.
Following the latest fashion might be a fun thing to do, but consider whether that particular look suits your body shape. I prefer to shop where they have plus-size models (especially when buying on line). It gives me a better impression of what the clothes will look like on me. There is no point seeing something on a size 8 model and trying to imagine what the size 18 will look like.
It's like following a recipe you have found in a book and trying to recreate it. You follow all the steps, yet when you compare what you have on your place, it looks nothing like the glossy picture. But then, it might just be a sad indication of my cooking.
Be Individual And Feel Confident In Your Own Skin
Who says you have to follow the latest fashion or trend? As I get older, I'm taking more pride in the fact that I am so square, I'm trendy.
Think about how liberating it is to have your own expression. It doesn't have to be outlandish. If you discover that jeans and t-shirt are what make you look good, then rock that to your heart's content.
Unless you have heaps of confidence, wearing the latest trends can leave you feeling self-conscious. Also, if it's a trend, then you can guarantee that a lot of people are wearing the same thing.
The big problem with that, is there is a large pool of people to compare yourself to.
And, there we are, back at the comparison game again and beating ourselves up because we don't look as good as someone else.
Beauty On The Inside And Confidence From Within
Confidence is something that can be learnt. It's a behaviour that we can train ourselves to embrace, but it does take practice. And, it has nothing to do with how we look. It's all about feeling confident in your own skin.
While we may look at ourselves and wish we were like all those models in the magazines, in films or on the television, the reality is the majority of us are not like that.
Besides, being super attractive does not say that you won't have any inner doubts about yourself. And, what might be beautiful to one person may look very different from another.
- whatever your size
- whatever your colour, or
- whether your hairs stands on end and looks like electrified candy floss on a stick
We can all have confidence in who we are. It's a case of perception and accepting ourselves for who we are.
- the mirror lies
- your thoughts determine your reality
- our bodies provide a big service
- everyone is different, and variety is the spice of life
- body language has an instantaneous impact on how you feel inside and, how you look on the outside
- look up
- wear what looks good on you and provides comfort and
- don't compare yourself to others
Be happy in your own skin and your confidence will really fly.