As a coach, I’m often asked about the formula for self-confidence. If you dig a little deeper, the real question is, ‘How do I become comfortable in my own skin and know that I’m enough?’.
The starting point is to accept yourself unconditionally, which may not be what you want to hear because it feels pretty self-indulgent.
Self-acceptance is simply contentment in who you are right now. Even if you’re not where you think you should be financially, physically or whatever conditions you place on your self-worth.
I remember facing this dilemma many years ago. I knew my lack of unconditional self-acceptance was the obstacle between where I was and where I wanted to be. I worked with an incredible coach who reminded me that unconditional self-acceptance was missing in my life, and I needed to feel enough without external conditions.
I remember a conversation where I asked him for a bullet list of what I needed to do to achieve self-acceptance. My coach laughed at me, more out of disbelief that I was being serious.
He never gave me that list, but the good news is that I managed to figure it out independently. I want to share the advice I desperately needed at the time, and I feel humbled and grateful to share my experience with you. So here goes – the ultimate guide to self-acceptance and feeling enough:
Change usually happens at the crossroad of a crisis, a loss or a health challenge. You are out of options at that point, and change becomes a must.
Don’t wait for tragedy or illness to force you to the point of putting yourself first and making some much-needed changes.
If you want to get healthier, find a loving relationship, or go for the job you want – choose yourself as your why. When you make a change about someone else, it never lasts because the motivation wears off.
I had a client who went from doing zero exercise to running a 20km race because she agreed to sign up for a marathon to raise funds for her favourite charity. She dedicated her morning time before work to her training because she couldn’t let her team down.
After the race, she felt lost because the guilt of taking time to train just for her was too much. She hadn’t chosen herself as the why to continue her training; she didn’t need the charity race, but in her mind, this alleviated her guilt. Now that she was only running for herself, she didn’t know how to justify it.
Choosing yourself is not an indulgence but the commitment to yourself that you are worthy of the change, the action and the time you will commit to yourself.
Keep the promises you make to yourself.
You are fantastic at keeping the promises you make to other people, but when it comes to yourself, you tend to let yourself down.
How many times have you hit the snooze button instead of going for a walk? How often did you intend to do something for yourself but instead put other people’s urgencies ahead of your own?
Your self-confidence is directly proportional to the promises you keep for yourself. When you break the agreement with yourself, your self-worth is rattled.
What is one promise you can make to yourself today? Can you start walking twice a week? Can you listen to a guided meditation in the morning? Can you take twenty minutes to go and paint that picture you keep thinking about or even cook dinner twice a week?
It doesn’t matter what the promise is – what matters is that you begin to introduce things you enjoy into your week and show yourself with your actions that you matter enough to follow through.
Your intention to walk is not enough, keep the promise and take action. Even if it’s one squat, five minutes of stretching or reading one page of the book, it’s not about the quantity of time; it’s creating a ritual that builds your self-trust and self-respect.
Spend time alone.
When I question clients if they spend time alone, they say, of course – when they go to the gym or walk their dog. Yes, you are alone, but most likely, you are drowning out your thoughts with music or a podcast.
I am talking about carving out dedicated time in your calendar to journal and write about your goals, dreams, and what you want to create. This simple act is so kind because you allow yourself the space to dream and focus on what you want. Don’t let your mind censor you – create the possibility on paper, and then you can figure out how to approach it.
You’ll be amazed at what can show up on the page when you give your inner voice a platform to speak.
When you see yourself as your own best friend rather than someone you want to avoid, you create the opportunity to become comfortable in your own skin. As Wayne Dyer says:
“You cannot be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.”
Create a Personal Board of Directors.
Throughout my life, I have been blessed with incredible people who have helped me master various aspects of my life, not only my career.
My gym trainer is my CPO (chief physical officer), my meditation teacher is my CSO (chief spiritual officer) and so on. These special people come into your life and help you grow and create harmony across all areas of your life.
Is it a best friend, a teacher, or someone at work? If you lack in certain areas, source these experts to help develop the skills. Every time you master an aspect of your life, your confidence grows.
Your board of directors is about having people in your life who will push you to do more than you would on your own and who will believe in you when you cannot see what they do.
Sometimes it’s about having people who love you enough to call you on your stuff and hold up a mirror to a story holding you back. It’s not people who will break you but love you enough to tell you what you need to hear.