The secret to self-confidence isn’t much of a secret at all, according to happiness expert and bestselling author Dominique Bertolucci. All you need to do: Commit to treating yourself with the same kindness you show other people.
Self-compassion is “the key to feeling good about who you are and the life you live,” Bertolucci writes in her new book The Kindness Pact ($12, amazon.com). It makes sense intuitively that constant negative chatter in your head can get in the way of your confidence, yet too many women still fall victim to it.
To help you remember to be nice to yourself, Bertolucci’s book offers eight basic promises you should make, each designed to quiet your insecurities and build up your courage. In other words, they represent the same type of loving advice you’d instinctively give a good friend. Check them out, below.
The first promise: Accept your imperfections
“I am perfectly imperfect.”
There is no such thing as perfection and yet so many people exhaust themselves and erode their confidence in the pursuit of it. When you accept your imperfections, you recognize you have strengths and weaknesses. You acknowledge that, like everyone else, you have many positive qualities but that you also have other, less positive ones â€¦ and that’s okay.
Once you have released yourself from the burden of perfectionism and accepted your imperfections, you are free to use your positive qualities to their fullest. You can also decide which of your less-than-ideal qualities you would like to invest your energy in improving and which qualities everyone else will need to accept as ‘part of the parcel.’
The second promise: Always do your best
“I always do my best and my best is always good enough.”
When you set impossible goals that you have no real chance of achieving, you are setting yourself up for failure; when you promise to always do your best you are able to have much more realistic expectations of yourself and what you can achieve. Your sense of self-worth will no longer be dependent on outcomes and you will feel good about who you are regardless of what you have or haven’t a been able to achieve.
When you truly believe your best is good enough, you can accept that you are having a bad day, or feeling a bit ordinary, without this affecting the way you feel about yourself.
The third promise: Stop comparing yourself
“I have no need to see myself as more or less than anyone else.”
Whether it’s your neighbors, celebrities, or the people that you see on reality TV, comparing yourself to others will usually leave you feeling inadequate. Even if you find yourself thinking that you are better or superior in some way, this will only give your self-esteem a short-term boost.
When you stop comparing yourself to others, the only person you will need to impress is yourself. You will be able to source your confidence from within and it will no longer be affected by anything anyone else says, does or has.
The fourth promise: Believe in your potential
“I fully expect my life to be happy and rewarding.”
Not only is worrying a big waste of energy, it also sends a clear message to your subconscious about your expectations in life. Instead of worrying about things that might never happen, when you believe in your potential, you are able to focus your attention and your efforts on making the things you do want your reality.
You don’t have to be in denial about negative things that could happen, but once you’ve acknowledged your fears or the worst-case scenario, you are able to put them to the side and continue on towards the happy and rewarding future you know you deserve.
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The fifth promise: Silence your inner critic
“I only welcome thoughts that support and encourage me.”
Think of yourself as the guardian of your self-esteem. The way you speak to yourself has a big bearing on how you feel about yourself; if you speak to yourself in a harsh, critical or belittling way, your confidence will wither, but if you silence your inner critic and never speak to yourself more harshly than you would to a small child, you will nurture your confidence and allow your self-esteem to flourish.
Changing the way you think takes practice, but while initially you might not be able to control every single thought you have, you will always be able to decide which ones you want to pay attention to.
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The sixth promise: Challenge yourself
“I am brave and willing to step outside of my comfort zone.”
Confidence and self-belief are like muscles; you need to exercise them if you want them to grow stronger. One of the best ways to build these muscles is by stepping outside your comfort zone. When you challenge yourself, you are telling your subconscious that you believe in yourself and that you are willing to back yourself in new circumstances and situations. Regardless of how you feel while doing something new, you will always feel great for having done it.
When you step outside of your comfort zone, you take on a challenge or learn something new, you open yourself up to the added confidence boost of discovering that you are actually not so bad at something you never knew you could do.
The seventh promise: Stop making excuses
“I take full responsibility for who I am and the life I lead.”
Regardless of how it may look from afar, nobody is living the perfect life. What some people are better at than others is living their best life. If you are not living your best life, you need to examine not only the things that are getting in your way, but the reasons why you are letting them.
When you stop making excuses and start taking responsibility you are able to enjoy the things that are great about your life, while harboring no illusions about what you need to change if you are to enjoy everything else.
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The eighth promise: Love yourself
“I always treat myself with love and respect.”
If you want to feel good about who you are and the life you live, you need to make building your confidence and your self-belief a high priority.
Love yourself. Treat yourself with as much love and respect as you would your closest friend, be understanding and forgiving of your failings and, above all, be as kind to yourself as you are to the other important people in your life.
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Excerpted from The Kindness Pact: 8 Promises to Make You Feel Good About Who You Are and the Life You Live by Dominique Bertolucci (Hardie Grant Books).
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