A few years ago, I was going through a difficult time both personally and professionally. I was in a relationship where love wasn’t enough, while at work, my boss had decided to “drive me crazy.” I became beaten down, both mentally and emotionally.
When someone tells you over and over again that you aren’t good enough, that you are always wrong, that you are worthless, it is hard not to eventually give in and believe it, too. When you reach that point, not only does your self-confidence dissolve, but your ability to live well evaporates with it. Life isn’t easy. And when you have low self-confidence, facing challenges becomes even more difficult.
So how do you stop the cycle of self-doubt? The path out of the darkness isn’t easy, but it is possible. Here’s what helped me.
1. Force Yourself to Do Something You Used to Enjoy
At first, you may not want to do it. But by just trying, you will start to build your confidence. You will immediately begin to feel better. For me, it was going back to swimming. At first, it was a struggle to get to the pool and get in the water. Then it was hard to get my body to swim the way it used to. But it eventually got easier and I remembered why I used to find being immersed so therapeutic. Today, I am swimming in open water races and for a U.S. Masters team.
2. Go Back to Your Roots
This could mean talking to your family, or maybe even turning to a spiritual advisor. For a vast majority of us, either family or religion helped to form and shape who we are today. And both believe you are the best person around. To them, life wouldn’t be the same without you—you are a gift. No matter what has happened to you, no matter what you have done, the people in this circle won’t ever turn their backs on you. It was a combination of my family and my priest who reminded me that not only am I surrounded by love, but that I am lovable. And you are, too. Love is the root of self-confidence.
3. Be Picky About Who You Spend Your Time With
If you surround yourself, as I did (both by choice and by circumstance), with people who belittle you to make themselves feel better, to advance or just because that is who they are, not only will you lose your own self-confidence, but you will open yourself up to becoming like them. Instead, surround yourself with people who lift you up. Each interaction you have during the day affects your mood and how you see yourself. Don’t sell yourself short by being around those who are not worth your time and energy.
4. Start a Self-Care Ritual
Start by telling yourself that you are worth something and that you are enough (smart enough, pretty enough, nice enough, etc.). There are several ways to build a self-care ritual, from leaving notes around your house to facing yourself in the mirror to treating yourself to quiet time alone. Choose the one that works best for you, and start practicing today.
I had lost all ability to believe that I was worth anything. But I learned to love myself, quit that job, and today, I teach yoga and don’t look to others to validate my worth. Because I know my value. And you can find yours, as well.
Amy K. Mitchell, an RYT-200, is the founder of ProYOGA Corporate Wellness and is based in Washington, D.C.