If you don’t always feel great about yourself, use the new year to create a new self-image and improve your confidence.
Define success on your own terms
The most common reason people lack self-esteem is because they don’t live up to the standards they think they should, says Adrienne Hughes, a life coach and motivational speaker with Atlas Consulting Global. These expectations are programmed into our minds by family, culture and the environment, and many times, we don’t know why we’ve adopted certain standards or even consciously realize that we have.
“I often find that people who spend a lot of time watching television, celebrity news and even following trends on social media have lower self-confidence,” Hughes says. “Why? Because they are continuously absorbing other people’s beliefs and standards and not personally defining expectations for themselves.” So think about what you really want and act accordingly.
Stand up straight
Not only does good posture change the way others perceive you, it might change your body chemistry, increasing testosterone and decreasing cortisol, the stress hormone.
Kenneth Hansraj, M.D., a spine specialist in Poughkeepsie, New York, recommends stretching in the morning and at night, focusing on the neck, lower back, arms and legs. “When you start to [stretch regularly], you really crave it because it feels good,” he says.
For proper posture, your ears should be above your shoulders, with your shoulder blades back. Put a bit of curvature in the lumbar spine. “Just assume there’s a string from your head and really lift yourself up,” Dr. Hansraj says. “You’ll have a better day and a better life.”
Realize that you have more control than you may think
“Most people learn and accept the limiting belief that life happens to them — because it feels that way — when in fact, we create our own reality,” says John McGrail, a clinical hypnotherapist and author of The Synthesis Effect: Your Direct Path to Personal Power and Transformation. “Good or bad, happy or sad, the latest scientific evidence strongly suggests that we have an awful lot to do with how our experiences unfold.”
Of course, there are events beyond our control, but how we react to those — and how we create the circumstances for ourselves that are within our control — can build empowerment and resilience. “Every one of us has the inner resources we need to learn how to take much greater control over how our lives [play out],” McGrail says.
Work on both your outer and inner self-image
The better you feel on the outside, the better you’ll feel on the inside, and vice versa. “Taking time to exercise does more than burn calories and inches. It says, ‘I am important enough to take time to focus on myself,’” Hughes explains. “I always recommend consistently putting effort toward physical improvement because it demonstrates self-worth, and the improved reflection in the mirror validates that belief. As a result, that person not only looks but feels more confident.”