Guest Blog By VeganAcneSufferers
Self-confidence is important in every aspect of our lives, yet so few people have it. Having confidence in ourselves can help us to have more meaningful relationships with family, friends and significant others. Having confidence in ourselves can help us to be more successful in our careers. Having confidence in ourselves can help us to simply be happier - happier with who we are, what we're doing, where we're going, etc.
When we lack confidence in ourselves, we feel that we are not and can never be successful. Our lack of confidence may even spill over into our work lives and threaten our jobs. At the end of the day, it's how we feel when we're alone that truly reflects how we feel about ourselves. If you don't like yourself when you're alone with your own thoughts, if you don't like who you are, the way you look, then you're not going to feel good about yourself, and you're not going to be happy.
This is why self-confidence is so, so important. It's something I've come to truly appreciate on my journey. Losing my arrogance, finding humility and self-confidence.
I wanted to share some things I've learned struggling with my acne and body image issues, that I feel have helped me build my self-confidence.
1. Look at all that you've already achieved.
Too few people spend time celebrating their own accomplishments. This is because people will lead us to feel selfish or self-centered if we do, as if celebrating our successes is a negative thing.
Instead, write down all of the things that you've accomplished that you're proud of. Maybe you learned how to play an instrument, or maybe you just volunteered your time. Whatever your accomplishments, whatever you've done that's made you feel proud, or happy, write them down. Read them often. Remind yourself how far you've come in life, all of the lives you've impacted, and how important you are.
Then look at your list of accomplishments and pull your strengths - based on what you've achieved, think about what you're really strong at, and some areas you might want to improve.
2. Set goals.
Goal setting is key to building self-confidence. If you've determined from the first step that you've got strength in creativity, challenge yourself with a new creative goal. When you set realistic goals and you commit to achieving them, you'll gain the earned boost of confidence.
3. Silence your inner critic.
Self-criticism is a good thing for personal growth, but there's a difference between “I need to work harder on refining my skincare routine,” and “I’m an ugly pizza face.” When we are constantly talking negatively about ourselves, we're being self-destructive.
The next time you find yourself saying awful things to yourself, try to focus your attention. When you get a big breakout, instead of saying something like, "I'm such a loser, I'll never have clear skin", try saying something more productive, like "I should have researched my products better. I'll do more research next time." Visualizing the ways in which we can improve, rather than pointing out our failures, is much more productive and constructive.
And don't be afraid to question your critical thoughts. Just because you think something ("My acne looks really bad today") doesn't mean anyone else thinks the same way. Most people are too preoccupied with their own lives to notice.
If you're thinking these same thoughts day in and day out, is it not possible that these thoughts are mere habits, not truths?
4. Embrace your imperfection.
I used to consider myself a perfectionist until I realized how self-destructive that behaviour and label was. There's nothing wrong with being imperfect, and we shouldn't hold ourselves to such high standards that we cannot reach them. After all, I've learned the most from my failures, not my successes.
I used to vehemently deny my "weaknesses" - my acne, by hiding it under layers of makeup, shying away from all discussion of the topic; my unhappiness with my body, by hiding it under over-sized clothes and avoiding events that called for shorts. But as soon as I stopped denying these things, no matter how uncomfortable it made me, it helped me to shift the focus from denial and avoidance, to problem-solving.
Perhaps acne isn't your weakness. Perhaps your weakness is in not remembering to wash your face, or over-stressing, or consuming dairy. If you can identify your weaknesses, then you can begin to objectively address how to handle them. Plan ahead, and overcompensate for your weakness. If you can't remember to wash your face, set alarms in your phone to remind you. If you chronically over-stress, make a plan to stop and meditate on your negative thoughts. If you're addicted to dairy, make a plan to address your cravings, and find alternatives.
If you don't stop striving for perfection all the time, you'll never learn to be happy with your current circumstances.
5. Do a little reading.
Perhaps this is the inner bookworm in me, but I love to read. Reading feeds my brain, which feeds my soul, and helps make me feel good - especially when I'm reading something I'm really interested in, that makes me think or gives me new information.
Whether you decide to read up on any old topic that you enjoy, or if you want to read inspirational stories of people who've overcome the same obstacles - just open your mind.
Similarly, you can be especially productive and use the opportunity to learn something new about your acne. Pick up an acne and skincare related book, and learn about the underlying causes of acne, the basic structure of the skin, and think of all the use you could put it to!
6. Take all criticism as constructive.
I like to view all criticism constructively. Even the nastiest, most un-helpful comments can still be constructive, in their own way. If someone makes a rude remark about your acne, simply remind yourself that everyone views the world differently. Criticism is just the opinion of someone else, and opinions are not worthy of lowering your self-esteem. Even if the comment hurt you, don't respond defensively. Listen to the criticism and make sure that you understand what is being said. If the criticism has no value, simply let it go.
7. Be generous with your time.
Even if you're amidst an acne struggle like no other, remember that there's someone out there who feels the same way that you do. Giving your time to someone, to make a kind comment on a photo, to offer them a listening ear, can make all the difference in their life - and yours. Start an acne support group, share useful information you've learned. When you act out of kindness, you feel kind, and peaceful.
8. Eliminate the negativity reminders.
Sometimes we have things lying around that we don't realize are attached to negative emotions. This could be old, clear-skinned photos when "you thought your acne was bad", or it could be a negative friend who is constantly belittling you. Assess your life, find where the negative leads you, and address or get rid of it.
9. Don't compare.
If you want to build your self-confidence, then you have to focus on improving your own life, not on making your life more like someone else's.
If you want to build up your confidence, then you need to know that there will always be someone who is prettier, smarter, and richer than you, just like there will always be someone who is less attractive, less intelligent, and less wealthy than you are; all of this is irrelevant, and what is relevant is caring about advancing your own goals and dreams.
You may lack confidence because you're convinced that everyone else has it better than you do. However, at the end of the day, it only matters if you're happy by your own standards. If you have no idea what those are, then it's time to do some soul searching before you move forward.
Additionally, studies have found that spending time on social media often encourages people to compare themselves with others. Because people tend to post only their triumphs and not their realities of daily life, it can seem as though the lives of others are more wonderful than your own.
10. Take care of yourself.
While taking caring of yourself encompasses simple grooming habits such as bathing, eating healthy food and getting adequate rest - it also means making time for yourself in other ways, even if you find you're very busy. Even if you take just 15 minutes out of your day for a relaxing bath or a face mask - when you take care of your basic needs, you're telling yourself that you are worthy and deserving of the attention require for self care. When you start to realize that you are worthy of self care, self love, and self confidence, you're well on your way to achieving it.
I first got acne in high school, and it came back in my early adulthood. I was able to struggle through those difficult times and come out of it a stronger, wiser, healthier person as a result. I'm here to help you do the same thing!
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