Though the pandemic can make every day feel as if it blends into another, not only has 2021 arrived, but it’s already brought changes: a new president, a new vaccination schedule, and hopefully, a new mindset. It’s impossible to snap your fingers and feel completely different than you did in 2020, but we suggest focusing your energy toward making this lap around the sun about… you. One way to do this is to choose ‘confidence’ as your word of the year and focus on building a stronger sense of self. After 2020 created many hurdles to overcome, you need that self-esteem boost more than ever.
Plus, confidence is an essential foundation for the growth of all kinds, according to Serena Poon, a wellness and nutrition expert and reiki master. “The more grounded you are in your personal power, the easier it is to navigate almost all components of life,” she continues. “Confidence can help you bust through barriers professionally and personally, achieve your goals and be resilient in the face of failures along the way.”
Here, effective ways to celebrate the unique person you are:
Identify your strengths
Rather than nitpicking all of your flaws, which can make you feel less than worthy, Poon says to take time to identify and honor your strengths. Start by journaling what makes you special and what kind of value you offer to your community and the world. “Maybe you’re exceedingly smart, the most caring person you know, or make the best breakfast on the block,” she continues. “Whatever your strengths may be, acknowledge them and remind yourself about them daily.”
Quit the comparison game
Take a quick audit of your Instagram feed: is it full of accounts that offer inspiration and joy? Or, do you follow many people who set unrealistic standards of beauty, success and happiness? Since we spend so much time on social media, the content we consume must be a source of realism and not a trigger for self-defeating thoughts. As motivational coach and entrepreneur Suzy Holman puts it, it’s impossible to feel confident when we’re constantly bombarded with influencer highlight reels, face filters, Photoshopped bodies, and perfectly clear faces and clean homes. Do a sweep of your followers and get rid of anyone who makes you feel unworthy.
“That messy topknot you’re rocking today is a sign that you’re a real human living a real life. The screaming baby on your hip is a blessing that many women wish for,” she continues. “And the piles of laundry on your bedroom floor? You better believe that the influencer you’re envying has a similar stack, just out of the frame of her latest edited photo!”
Practice daily affirmations
At first, you might feel silly or awkward talking to your reflection in the mirror, but it’ll become second nature with practice, Poon says. Affirmations are a powerful way to get your brain to truly believe in your power, and researchers have found that these daily mantras activate our mind’s reward center, too. You can create whatever sentence resonates with you. “Select affirmations that will help you achieve your goals and say them out loud until you truly believe them with every ounce of your being. Whatever you believe will become your reality,” she says.
Sign yourself up for a challenge
Rather than deciding to climb a mountain to feel confident, Poon says to allow yourself to build self-esteem from micro wins. One easy way to do this is to sign up for a challenge that keeps you on track, in a healthy routine, and moving toward something positive. “Whether it be a 7-day sugar-free challenge or training for a 5K, set a goal to finish and celebrate when you do,” she explains. “Achieving small goals can help you feel more confident to take on bigger and more substantial objectives in the future.”
Turn your focus inward
Do you plan the ‘when I…’ game? As Holman explains, this is a thinking pattern where we believe confidence comes from achieving monumental feats. So, you might say something like ‘I will feel better when I get a promotion’, or ‘I’ll be more confident when I lose twenty pounds,’ and so on. We will never fully be satisfied with this way of living since we are always chasing the next best thing. Instead, we should focus inward. “Remember that confidence doesn’t come overnight. Take small steps every day to be the best version of you that you can be,” Holman shares. “At the end of the day, the confidence you have in yourself will trump any outsider’s perspective.”
Become your biggest hype woman (or man)
We all have one friend who surrounds us with love. They’re the first to respond ‘I’ll be there!’ to a birthday invite and the ones who cheer you on, no matter what you’re going through. And while having a hype person is definitely a blessing, Holman reminds us it’s essential to do the same for ourselves. This means embracing your most authentic self, quit apologizing for things that don’t warrant a ‘sorry,’ and setting healthy boundaries. “Your life has a purpose, and you owe it to yourself to embrace it. Expose your flaws and own them,” she continues. “Discover the power in saying ‘no’ to opportunities that don’t serve you. Never forget that the world needs exactly who you were meant to be.”
Balance your third chakra
Your third chakra or solar plexus chakra is your center of personal power, explains Poon. This is due to its location, stretching above your belly button up to your breastbone. You can work with a yoga teacher or energy healer to balance this energy center for greater self-confidence. You can also try chakra balancing techniques, such as guided meditations, at home. “The color yellow rules this chakra, so you can utilize yellow crystals like citrine to enhance your healing,” she continues. “You can also help restore balance with yellow foods, such as yellow lentils, bananas, and spaghetti squash.” A balanced third chakra will increase confidence, self-esteem and positivity.
Spend time with people who lift you up
As the saying goes, we are the company we keep — and who we choose to spend the most time with impacts our confidence. As empowerment coach and motivational speaker, Keith L. Brown, we frame the relationships, friendships, partnerships and mentorship we have in our lives, for better or for worse. While we cannot choose our family members, we can decide how much energy we give to potentially toxic dynamics. And the same goes with friendships or romantic relationships; it’s up to us to only invest in those who invest in us. “Having the right people in our lives will inflate or deflate our confidence,” he continues. “The right types of partnerships can bring about positive results, which will also serve as confidence builders. As we continuously frame our lives by having the right people in our lives, we will begin seeing positive results overall, which only enriches our confidence.”
And by wild, we don’t mean flying off the deep in. But more so, sticking your big toe into something that makes you nervous or uneasy and seeing how the water feels. As transformation specialist Jerry Snider suggests, find something outside your comfort zone and set a plan to tackle it during 2021. Even better, tackle it in the first few months so that you can go after something else and really stretch yourself.
“If you’ve never done something like singing in public, you’ll definitely be nervous the first time you try. That’s whether you can actually sing or not. But once you have sung that first time, the next time is easier, and you’re less nervous because you have a bit of confidence,” he continues. “You’ll still have some nerves, but you’ll be able to overcome them because of that confidence.”