Let’s say you’re feeling pretty good about yourself. You think, “yeah, you’re just killing it! Go get ’em!” And then something happens to make you stop dead in your tracks. Maybe it’s seeing your ex-boyfriend on Facebook or LinkedIn (why so successful? why marrying?!). Maybe it’s some stranger being unnecessarily mean or rude to you. Maybe it’s your boss or in-law’s snide comments. You suddenly lose steam and feel gassed out.
Perhaps it’s that I have a very fragile ego but this happens to me all the time. Of course, we all know to go for a run, do exercise, eat a healthy snack, light some candles, etc, and they do help your mood. But sometimes you need more than just mood stabilizing–you really need to feel confident about yourself, to find a different frame of mind.
When you’re feeling unsure about yourself, here’s how to give yourself a dose of self-love, and bring your confidence back.
1. Remember how far you’ve come: When one thing happens to ruin one day, we tend to forget all the good things that have happened in the past week, month, and year. Reverse this phenomenon: make a quick mental list of what you’ve accomplished or what you’re really proud of in the long term. For instance, if you’re feeling stressed about work, you might compare your current situation to the one a year ago, and notice what positive changes have been made due to your hustle.
2. Make a positive connection: Talk to someone in a positive way, whether it’s a co-worker, your server, or your best friend. It could be a short compliment (“You look really glowing today!”), a running joke, a comment about the weather, or actual venting about your circumstances. But saying something in a genuine way and commiserating can alleviate tension and boost your morale. Go ahead, text someone and say something funny or sweet.
Even better, do something nice for someone else (which research shows improves your mood) and affirm to yourself that your value doesn’t just come from accomplishments (how high you go), but the way you reach others. For me, this means giving my best to people in my barre class, or reading PD fan mail.
3. Dress up a little: If you’re feeling so “Ugh” just right now, take a 2-minute break and give yourself a mini-makeover. Put on some lipstick, dab on some perfume, re-braid your hair, and mist yourself with rosewater toner. Feeling positive about your appearance can be all it takes to boost your self-esteem and mood. Tip: when I’m feeling blah, I dress up more than I need to: it might just be a dinner with friends but go ahead and wear your new dress. Instant mood lifter!
4. Put on sunglasses: When I used to be under a lot of stress, I *relished* putting on my sunglasses right as I picked up my purse at the end of the day…yes, walking through the office. That was a semi-conscious decision to shield myself from a sense of hostility. Apparently, research supports that putting on sunglasses can actually smooth down aggression and improve bad mood. Is it because it gives you a sense of attitude? Or is it because you can feel free to wear whatever expression behind them, darn it? I think both.
5. Put on a talisman: Do you own anything that symbolizes something for you? Whenever I go through a big hurdle in my life, I buy myself a ring, and it becomes a reminder for that period in my life. I very rarely go to a meeting without wearing my rings, for these reasons. I also have a custom-made bracelet that I never take off, which says “Courage.” Whatever the object, make it something that tells your favorite story about you; put it on and feel both comforted and strengthened.
6. Think about what you did well today: So this wasn’t your most glorious day…but even so, you did *something* today that was excellent. It might have been an excellent email (“wow, I really wrote a flawless business email!”), or the way you made someone else happy (even if that someone else is a stranger, or your pet), your workout, or your delicious dinner. Even if it was something small, it’s worth celebrating that you play your part with grace and excellence.
7. Give yourself a time out: Sometimes, you have to shake off that constant pressure to feel happy, and give yourself leave to be unhappy for about 30 minutes. Think whatever you have to think–let it out honestly. But, once you give yourself permission, you might find that you don’t need whole 1/2 hour, and that you feel ready for contentment and confidence again after a little while.
8. Remember a compliment: Maybe you wrote down your favorite compliments in your diary, or maybe you just remember it. Whenever I receive a touching compliment, I do “pull it out” from my memory whenever I need a boost.
9. Start over from the beginning: When all else fails, take a deep breath and pretend that you’re starting over again from morning. That means forgetting about whatever trigger that “ruined” your day.
Now, your turn. What makes you feel good about yourself without fail?
Related: 20 Ways to Take a Break
Photo: Elia De Fria via Unsplash; Peaceful Dumpling