Happy Monday! Lately, every day of the week has felt like Monday for me. I’ve been sapped of energy and motivation and in turn, I’ve noticed that I have been lacking confidence. I know I’m not alone in this. A few of my friends have also been talking about how they’re also doubting their abilities and, as a result, are doubting themselves.
Normally for me, a weekend is just what I need to give my brain a break from the self-doubt, but every once in a while, Monday comes along and I’m already questioning myself. Am I doing enough? Am I cut out for this? Lately I’ve been noticing that I answer those questions with self-defeating conclusions.
Improving self-confidence can be tricky because the problem often times lies in patterns that we developed a long time ago. For me, my pattern is perfectionism. Starting as a kid, grades were very important to me. If I didn’t live up to my very high standard I set for myself, I stressed out.In college, my confidence plummeted. My first semester, I got a 2.5 GPA– something that was unheard of for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be a perfect student and when I couldn’t do that, I looked for other aspects of myself to perfect. When I couldn’t do that, my life felt out of control. Thankfully, I’ve grown a lot since those days. One major way I’ve improved my confidence was by being mindful. That’s why I figured that today’s continuation of my Mindful Monday series would be a perfect platform to talk about something that a lot of us struggle with: self-confidence. See previous Mindful Mondays posts here and here!
First and foremost, if you don’t realize that you have these self-defeating patterns, it’s going to be hard to break them! Start by learning to be aware of your thoughts. Writing them down can help. Take some time to free write and see what comes up. Don’t try to change your thoughts or your writing style. You’re not trying to impress anyone. You’re just getting to know your thoughts better.
Notice Thoughts and Feelings
Start paying attention to how your thoughts and feelings affect each other. When you’re talking down on yourself, how do you feel? Be specific here! In other words, don’t say “I feel bad.” Work on expanding your feelings vocabulary. For example, do you feel guilty? Ashamed? Embarrassed? Inadequate? Get fancy with it!
Do your thoughts and feelings fit the facts? It’s okay if they don’t. Try challenging yourself to accurately describe the situation. Is it true that you “never do anything right?” Be mindful of what is actually going on and use your words to describe it using just the facts. For instance, you could say “I studied for an hour and I got a D on that exam. I’m disappointed.” See the difference? Being mindful of the facts means you can more accurately describe the situation and in turn, take some of the pressure off yourself.
Once you’re aware of some of your bad habits, start making adjustments accordingly. Pay close attention to how those changes make you feel. Write them down. Do activities that make you feel good about yourself, and NOTICE how good you actually feel. The more you exercise this self-awareness, the better you get at it. It’s just like a muscle. And the more you pay attention to how good you feel, the more confidence you will gain.
Check in with yourself throughout the day. How are you feeling? If you’re feeling low, pay attention to why that is and give yourself some validation. For instance, try saying “It makes sense that I feel this way because this is how I’ve learned to deal with this problem. And I’m learning that I can deal with this differently.” Then do it.
Keep practicing. Gaining confidence doesn’t happen overnight. You probably didn’t develop low self-confidence overnight. Remember, you’ve been living your whole life with these patterns! But mindfulness is a great way to improve your confidence if you’re willing to give it the time.
Where do you struggle? How have you been able to overcome self-doubt and gain confidence? Let me know in the comments!