Many of us get trapped into thinking that we’re not enough. Not thin enough, not pretty enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, not rich enough, not successful enough. Pick any positive quality of yours, and you’ll find someone that believes they’re not enough in that area.
This, unfortunately, is nothing new; since the advent of imagery in advertising, we’ve been bombarded with images of “perfection.” The perfect smile, the perfect outfit, the perfect figure, the perfect vacation. It can be easy to feel down on yourself when every image you see is one that has been carefully crafted to seem like the ideal!
However, it’s entirely possible to get off the “not enough” train and become someone that loves themselves and walks into any situation with confidence. Here are five tips that will start you down the path of self-positivity and toward loving yourself for exactly who you are:
1. Remember that almost everything you see on TV, in movies and magazines, and on social media has been carefully crafted.
It’s pretty obvious when we think about tv commercials or magazines that there have been directors, producers, editors, wardrobe designers, makeup artists, and Photoshop retouching involved. It’s an easy first step when you find yourself feeling “less-than” or comparing yourself negatively to an actor or model to stop yourself right there and remember: “this has been produced.” Nothing that’s been heavily produced accurately reflects reality — even famous actresses have belly rolls when they sit or cellulite on their thighs! And most influencers, by design, are doing everything they can to attract followers and likes. They’ve become influencers to expand their online presence (and hopefully gain advertising dollars), not to share an honest reflection of not only the good but also the bad and ugly parts of their lives.
“But what about my friends on social media?” you might be thinking. “Those are people I know in real life — why do their lives seem so much better than mine?!” Ready for a secret? That’s been produced as well! No one takes photos of themselves looking just average and posts them on social media for everyone to see. They take 25 selfies in different poses and post only the one they think is the best. They take them when they’re on vacation or when they’re at a trendy restaurant; they’re curating what they let their social media “friends” see, making it seem like this culmination of wonderful “Insta-worthy” photos is their normal life. And then there are filters! Think about it: have you ever seen a photo of yourself where you were hanging out on your couch, looking normal, maybe with a ketchup stain on your shirt, and thought, “I really need to post that to social media!” I’m guessing not.
2. Make a list.
I often tell my coaching clients to make a list of everything they’ve ever accomplished that has made them feel proud. It can be anything from “winning the spelling bee in 3rd grade” to “finishing that half marathon.” The idea is to sit with a pen and paper (or computer) with a timer set for 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, the only things that get written down are accomplishments or things you’re proud of.
If this is too hard (for some people, it is), then start by writing down compliments other people have given you, such as “my boss said my presentation was really good” or “a stranger on the bus complimented my outfit.” It can be anything, really, as long as it’s positive. Once the timer goes off, spend some time re-reading everything you’ve written down.
It helps if you can get a friend to do the same exercise with you and then share your lists out loud with one another. Many of us tend to downplay our successes and positive characteristics; when we read these aloud to others, it helps us to step into our power and recognize “yeah…I HAVE done all those things!” It can be very empowering. Keep the list somewhere that you can reference it often when you need a confidence boost and a reminder of how awesome you are!
3. Don’t argue with reality.
This is where many of us go wrong. We don’t want to weigh as much as we weigh. We want to be stronger than we are. Also, we want bigger paychecks than we’re getting. And so, we get angry with ourselves. We get angry at reality. Though dissatisfaction with where we’re at can sometimes spurn us to make a beneficial change, it can also hold us back by refusing to accept what is.
Until we’re able to look at ourselves and our situations with clear and open eyes and say, “OK, this is where I am right now” and accept that, we spend all our time going round and round in mental circles thinking, “This is not where I want to be,” which can turn into “This is not OK,” and then into “I’m a failure.” When we do that, we are, in essence, saying, “Reality is not OK.” And when you think about it that way, you can see why it’s not helpful. That’s like saying, “The sky is blue, and that’s NOT OK! The sky is a failure!” It doesn’t make sense.
The moment we accept ourselves for exactly where we are right now is the moment we can begin to truly love ourselves. That may then lead to a journey of self-improvement, but it will be a journey centered around honoring ourselves and loving where we are, each moment of our lives.
4. Practice gratitude.
Did you know that focusing on what we’re grateful for has been proven to increase happiness and self-esteem? And the best part is that it doesn’t need to be a huge change to your day-to-day habits! One way you can incorporate this into your day is through journaling: there are journals that are specifically created to capture what you’re grateful for in as little as five minutes each day. But you don’t have to buy a specific journal, of course – you can simply jot down your thoughts in any regular notebook or in a note-keeping app on your phone.
Another fun and impactful way to keep a gratitude practice is to start a “Three Good Things” text chain with a friend or loved one. All you do is, at the end of each day, text your friend three things that were good about your day and how or why they came about. It’s as simple as that!
The best part is that you also get to form a shared connection with someone that allows you to hear about each other’s day while also reinforcing the bond between the two of you that comes from sharing these positive moments on a daily basis.
5. Give yourself a mantra.
A mantra or an affirmation is simply a positive statement that you repeat to yourself and remind yourself of. For example, instead of thinking, “I’ll never be as thin as I’d like,” consider a mantra that reinforces the positives, such as, “I am focused on my fitness and health.” Another way to practice positivity with a personal mantra is to reflect on the fact that there is no one else like you. The mantra “There’s no one else exactly like me in the world” can be incredibly empowering. Without you, the universe would be missing the things that only you can provide! That’s powerful!
Find a statement that makes you feel good and remind yourself of it daily. Use it during meditation; write it on sticky notes that you put on your mirror, in your car, on your refrigerator. Wherever you can remind yourself, do it. You may be surprised at how this small action of repeating your statement can improve how you feel about yourself.
As a life coach, I see so many people struggling with the idea that they’re not good enough. Simply put, that’s a lie. Every single person is exactly where they’re meant to be at this moment. It doesn’t mean we can’t or won’t change — we will — everything is constantly changing.
But when we remember who we really are, accept that each one of us is perfect right now at this exact moment, and become grateful for the good in our lives today, we can begin to heal and love ourselves the way we’re meant to.