Be a kind and compassionate person. This is the inner beauty that is a key factor to making a better world.”
“Look well into oneself; there is a source of strength, which will always spring up if you look.”
―Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight,
or any experience that reveals the human spirit”
“Confidence is courage at ease.”
There is no right or wrong way to look at the human condition we call Confidence. To look at it in its totality, it isn’t an either, “you have it or you don’t” experience. Some people are naturally confident; they simply sail through life with easy, breezy social comfort, while others, in varying degrees, can be paralyzed by social interaction.
It can be how we come into the world, naturally shy or outgoing, or how we mature and grow with age and experience, and how we can develop the courage to challenge ourselves to stretch our limits. In my own life I was a normal, social teen, but when it came to public speaking I was off the charts inhibited. In my high school in Northern New Jersey there were two unique courses you had to pass to graduate, and they turned out to be pretty important ones, too. One was typing, I believe you had to type 30 words a minute to pass and the other was public speaking. Typing came easy, but public speaking was my nemesis. Since I had no choice, I rallied and stepped up in front of the class to face my fear. I can remember the feeling, decades later, of standing in front of the class with my classmates’ eyes piercing into me, judging me. With my heart pounding I truly thought I wouldn’t be able to remember even one word of my speech. But, I had planned for exactly that to happen, so I took a deep breath and blurted out the title of my talk and allowed words to flow. There were other times that I worked through this challenge and every time I finished I was amazed at how effortless it really was. It was the anticipation of fear, not that actual event that held me back. On a more recent event I took along my Flower Essence “Confidence,” and found it helpful to move into the space of, “letting go of the fear,” being gentle on myself and becoming more relaxed in the moment.
There are a few tricks I have learned over the years and “Mindful Practice” is one of them, which can help build self-esteem. Mindfulness brings awareness and with awareness we are more likely to move past our fears and challenges, when they arise.
Try these Mindfulness techniques:
- Take a Walk: While you are walking be the observers of everything around you. The great Buddhist teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, has lived and taught this simple exercise his whole life … he says, “Each mindful breath, each mindful step, reminds us that we are alive on this beautiful planet. We don’t need anything else. It is wonderful enough just to be alive, to breathe in, and to make one step. We have arrived at where real life is available—the present moment. If we breathe and walk in this way, we become as solid as a mountain.”
- Live Consciously: Enjoy each bite of food, experiencing the texture and taste. Be aware of the daily ups and downs, be the observer of them without being the reactor.
- Make Meditation Moments a Habit: Meditation at certain times of the day is a great way to establish a peaceful presence and space in your life. At some point in time each moment can become your meditation. When you are stopped at a red light and you’re late for an appointment, notice your feelings without resistance. If you can’t make the red light change, there is nothing more to do than accept the situation.
With practice, mindfullness helps put your life into perspective. It takes into consideration your natural personality, appearance and what you are doing in the moment as you move through your life experiences. It can be recognized and accepted with ease and grace or resisted bringing pain and sorrow. It’s also helpful to understand the cognitive-behavioral patterns you have about physical beauty, so you can learn how to alter them and use new ones to support self-esteem.
Self-Esteem and Body Image
Who among us is totally happy with our imperfect body. We have so many held beliefs about physical beauty, attractiveness and aging.
- Appearance Beliefs: These beliefs are most often created by how other people see us, but you can learn to define yourself
in your own way. Try writing down a few of your physical and personality aspects that you like the best, not what other people may find attractive. This can place physical beauty in perspective, showing you that the essence of self-esteem is based on both personality and physical characteristics; and more often physical beauty is not the main aspect of our identity.
“We are always the same age inside.”
- Attractiveness: We often confuse attractiveness with flawlessness. No one can look perfect all the time, it’s a belief supported by media-driven concepts. Acknowledging that variability, rather than perfection, is an innate aspect of true attractiveness can be very helpful. Turn this around, an exercise to try is: write down a few of your physical features that you feel may be attractive to others, do this in full sentences. It helps to determine your core sense of identity, which pertains to what you perceive may make you attractive. I know this can be challenging, because we often only see our imperfections, especially as we age, but try and find something, perhaps your smooth skin, thick hair, lip shape, eye colors, a part of yourself that is at the core of your own self-image? This exercise can help you view yourself through the lens of other people.
- Positivity: Since “we” often find the most faults in our own appearance, it’s good to perceive your inner negativity and replace it with more positive and realistic feedback. A good example of positive words is in the experiments of Dr. Masaru-Emoto of Japan, who captured “expressions of water.” Dr. Emoto discovered that crystals formed in frozen water reveal changes when specific, concentrated thoughts are directed toward them. He found that water from clear springs that had been exposed to loving words reveal brilliant, complex, and colorful snowflake patterns. In contrast, polluted water, or water exposed to negative thoughts form incomplete, asymmetrical patterns with dull colors. The astounding implication of this research created a spectacular awareness of how we can positively impact our well-being and sense of who we are, just by our thoughts.
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”
Take a Few Self-confidence Moments
Why not try this little experiment for a few weeks.
1. Sit in a quiet space.
2. Take a few deep breaths to calm your mind.
3. See what comes up when you ask yourself what can you do each day to make yourself a more grateful, kind and appreciative person.
What comes up for me is:
- Be more patient.
- Do thoughtful, quiet deeds that no one else knows about.
These are obviously little things, but they add up and show you what you may miss about yourself, what you can do to boost self-esteem. This experiment can foster a natural self-confidence and even transform a negative concept of yourself into a positive force.
Try Something New and Challenging
By challenging yourself you stretch the limits of what you believe yourself to be. If you are thrust into a situation that demands a change, or demands you stick it out, you can push yourself and discover that it’s okay; you’re okay, after all. Be brave and daring.
“Fear? What has a man to do with fear? Chance rules our lives,
and the future is all unknown. Best live as we may, from day to day.”
―Sophocles, Oedipus Rex
Surround Yourself with Good Company
It’s a simple concept, but being around negative, depleting company is simply no fun. A part of getting back the quiet roar of confidence is knowing you hold the power and promise to be around positive energy that uplifts and propels you to be the best you can be, in whatever circumstance you find yourself. It may mean taking the reins to let go of people who don’t uplift you. When you are surrounded by uplifting friends it is a natural confidence enhancer.
Confidence in its essence can be looked at as being yourself, totally … accepting yourself with all your seeming flaws and acknowledge all your wonderful qualities, too.
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