Monday, 27 April 2015

Mental Health Monday #3|| Confidence & Self-Esteem




 








An issue that many people struggle with in today's society is confidence. It has become such a common thing that hardly anyone in this world loves themselves, or is able to say they are comfortable with their life, or their appearance. We are always focused on the negative aspects of things, never the positives. Why don't we change that? Together, why don't we all love ourselves?
 
We are always going to look the way we look and it is most likely going to stay that way for the rest of our lives. Therefore, we are always going to have the same features, so we can either drone on and moan about the things that we really can not change, or we can learn to gradually accept them over time & be okay with them. Learning to accept yourself as you are is very important. You are who you are. That's just the way it is. It is a known fact. You can not change every single aspect of your appearance. You can not automatically click your finger and change into an airbrushed model. It does not work that way and you should not want it to either. You should be able to accept who you are and take it as a positive thing, You are unique. You are original. You are beautiful. You are YOU. Why wish to be someone else? That is only a waste of the person you are. It doesn't affect other people.
 
Looks genuinely do not define you. When you pass away, people are not going to remember you for the amount of cake you ate or what dress size you were. They will remember you for who you were as a character and the influence that you had on other people and their lives. Chances are, they will not even pay much attention to your physical features. They will think of the kindness you portray, the effort you put into everything that you do, the way your eyes light up when talking about something that you are passionate about. Those are the things that are beautiful and precious. This is why it is so important to pay more attention to the characteristics you demonstrate and the way you are as a person. Personal compliments are so much more special and meaningful in comparison to physical ones. For example, if you have got a successful job as a business person, and someone was to compliment you on your hair cut, would you really feel happy or as if you have achieved something? You worked so hard on making your business the best it could possibly be and then someone only notices the physical attributes, which didn't even take as much time & determination.
 
Accept compliments that you receive. Don't argue with the compliment-giver and deny what they are saying, as that may be somewhat insulting and as if to say their thoughts are irrelevant or stupid. So just accept it & say thank you! It is not arrogant or big headed, it's lovely because someone has openly initiated and given you that compliment willingly and through their own choice. Think of that.


The quote above speaks for itself. If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you'd have no friends left. What this means is that the amount of times that you insult & put yourself down, it is enough to push all of your friends away if you were to say the same rude remarks to them. You really are your own best friend. If you don't learn to accept who you are and make the most of it before it is too late, then you really will not have much of a fun, worthy life at all. Bringing yourself down is not going to solve anything or make you feel better. In reality, it will probably make you feel a whole lot worse. Why don't you compliment yourself at least once a day? Wake up, look in the mirror, smile & tell yourself that you are beautiful. Just do it. What harm can it actually do? If you don't at least attempt it, then you will never know what it feels like. You might as well just give it a go if you have nothing left to loose. You should think about the way you speak to yourself though. Passing insults & pulling at your skin is only going to make you feel even worse about yourself. It is all about changing your negative thinking into a more positive one, which I said in my last blog post.

Society & The Impact Of Media:
One of the main reasons as to why so many people struggle with their confidence nowadays is due to social media and the way that society is. There is this idea of 'perfection' and if you don't fit that label, you are supposedly not good enough, which is totally wrong. You see so many models & well known celebrities who have been heavily airbrushed and edited in order to make them look 'perfect'. When scrolling through magazines or the Internet or using any form of social media, our confidence is crushed and we often find ourselves aspiring to want to be like these people and have their lives. Photoshopping can change people's appearance dramatically and that's what so many of us fail to realise and accept. If you saw these celebrities with no makeup on and they were in their pyjamas, you would be shocked at how different they look that you may not even recognise them. There's always talk of boob jobs, Botox, liposuction, fillers and other types of surgery and treatments in the news that it's actually quite disturbing and unnatural for young people to be surrounded by these type of 'role models'. The media depicts idealised images of men and woman, which means that our perceptions of beauty have changed over time due to the influence of society and the power of advertising. The media also influences the way that we think and act. If we see a certain famous person wearing a certain clothing item, then we will automatically want to buy it too in the hope that we will end up looking more like them. What happened to individuality and expressing originality? If we all look the same, how boring is that going to be? It's a trap that too many of us are prone to falling into and I want you guys to see just how much the media really affects our confidence. 



What the media portrays to us is not always the truth. Young people will often imitate their role models badly. What is being highlighted to the audience can be the mistakes that celebrities make and then these people who idolize them will want to aspire to be like that as well. Seeing as we look up to them so much, we will still celebrate and love them, even for the mistakes that they make and the bad things that they do. The highlighting of the media genuinely is giving a negative affect to society. Many of us are tricked into thinking that everything being displayed and advertised to us is true and the right way of life. This alters our judgements on situations and the way that we act within today's society. Instead of socialising and creating real life memories, all of us are falling into a fantasy world of rumours, headlines and celebrity culture. Some people even go as far as to get extreme surgery and facial reconstruction in order to look like their idol which I think is very worrying & also dangerous.  

Our Appearance & The Way We Come Across:
Quite often, we are misjudged and misinterpreted within society. As far as the way we look goes, the media can play a huge part in the way that we see ourselves. The power of beauty & fashion adverts has a powerful effect on the way we view who we are and what we should come across as. There is an awful amount of pressure and judgement nowadays and it seems that unless you look a certain way, you are not classed as beautiful or as important, which is completely false. During our teenage years, we are all changing. Puberty is making us develop and grow at different stages and we often find ourselves looking very different to how we did previously or to the people around us. At this particular time in our lives, we are beginning to develop our own individual identities and we are trying to work out who we are and what we want to do with our future. We are also at risk of social pressure and the fake images being displayed by the media and advertising companies. Women's magazines in particular can shape how you view your body image and a lot of teenage girls rely on these articles to find out how they should be appearing in terms of beauty and fashion. This constant, unavoidable pressure has created an image that thin and perfect is the only thing acceptable within society. Supposedly, if you are anything other than a size 0 with no flaws whatsoever, then you are ugly. Isn't it scary how the media can affect us and our thoughts so much that we let it dictate the person that we are? With this unrealistic perception being created, it leads to feelings of inadequacy, depression, anxiety, confidence issues, eating disorders and many other things. Due to the nearly impossible expectations of beauty placed within our current society, these feelings of worthlessness and unrealistic hope to look the same as advertised, airbrushed models can lead to the development of long-time mental health sufferings that these people may have to face for the rest of their lives.  
Nobody should be able to tell us who we are supposed to be or what we are supposed to look like. It's all about expressing individuality and not being afraid to be different and to stand out of the crowd. I understand that the media is like a trap that we can not help but get sucked into, yet we just have to try to enjoy it and not be so consumed by it that it takes over all our thoughts and brings us down. I may be doing a separate post on the media, so I'm going to leave this section here.

Insecurities & Our Flaws:
We all have things that we don't particularly like about ourselves. We also all have things that we would change in a second if we had the chance. I think it's so much better if we accept and embrace our insecurities! Our quirks are a part of who we are and they will most likely always be there, so we might as well start to embrace them and be proud of the person that we are, because the body that we have right now will stick through so many years and it's better to love it than constantly loathe it, right? If you don't like your eye colour, wear eye makeup that will bring it out or draw away attention from your eyes. If you don't like your hair, find a style that makes it look nicer or even change the colour if it really makes you feel better. But just remember not to change for anyone else, only yourself if it's what will make you happier. There are always ways that you can feel more confident. Write a list of all the positive things about yourself. Go out and buy some clothes that will flatter your figure. Try out new makeup looks to bring out your favourite features or to make what you dislike a little less obvious. It's not all about appearance, remember. Here are some ideas to raise your self-esteem:
  • Listen to your own feelings. If your mind is worried about something, then sort it out. Don't bottle your feelings up. I know how hard it is to ignore yourself if you are so wrapped up in other people and the world around you, but you are the most important thing to yourself and your thoughts should be valid, so listen. Take notice. Don't just hide and push them away.
  • Choose to be around loving people. I genuinely can not stress this enough. If you are surrounded by people who constantly judge you or mock you or bring you down, how do you expect to feel confident? Friends & family should be encouraging you and bringing you up and if they don't do that, you should be seriously questioning the place that they currently have in your life and why you aren't quickly removing their negativity and disheartenment.
  • Stick up for yourself and what you believe in. I know how hard this one is, as I often struggle to do it myself. One of the main things I've learnt over the past 2 years is that you can not let people walk all over you. I've let this happen so many times and it never gets me anywhere. Even when I do not want to do something, I still sometimes do it, as I don't like to let anyone down or upset them. However, if you don't stick up for yourself, then you won't get very far at all, believe me. If you do NOT feel comfortable doing something, then why do it? Just say no, be firm & be honest. You need to put yourself and your thoughts first. If that person can not accept your discomfort, then they are not truly worth the hassle either. If you are the only person in your family who wants to become a vegan or start a healthy diet, then do it. Let everyone else do what they want and you do what you want. As long as they aren't stopping you from continuing and vice versa, then no harm can be done! Assertiveness is such an important skill that can help in so many situations throughout your life. You will be more likely to succeed if you are more confident and if you don't care what others think. Of course, there will always be people who are so desperately eager to bring you down, but you just need to be determined and show that their thoughts and words don't stop you from pursuing your wishes. If you really do want something, then you will do what it takes to get there, regardless of how many obstacles are in the way. If you are assertive, you will gain respect too. People may ask you to do something and if you display assertiveness, then they will see that you are not afraid to say no and speak up about things you dislike. Be direct and honest. State things how they are. Don't sugar-coat it or hide certain details. The more you practise this skill, the more you will be able to demonstrate it in your day to day life.
  •  Develop a good attitude about yourself and life in general. It impacts how other people perceive you, as well as having an effect on how you feel about yourself. Your attitude is infectious. If you're bubbly, optimistic and positive about things, it will encourage others to act the same. If you're pessimistic, unhappy and negative all the time, then that will also show through your body language, facial expressions and the way you act, which will bring other people down and cause a cloud to form over you, so you're hidden from the happiness and light. I don't have the best attitude in the world at all, but I'm trying my hardest to change my thoughts and so I want you to try too. We are all in this together, to support and help each other grow. My blog is a little community where we can all become more positive people!
  • Defend yourself in a calm and reasonable manner. Take care of yourself and your rights when someone is trying to put you down. This ties into my 2nd point, but I just wanted to reiterate it again. Don't just stand there, allowing yourself to be overwhelmed by anger. Speak your mind, talk the truth. Even if nothing changes and you don't exactly get anywhere, at least you have demonstrated to yourself and others that you will not stand for disrespect in any way.
  • Don't be aggressive in any way. If you act in this way and you immediately resort to violence, you will not be gaining anything or anyone. You need to approach situations in a calm and collective way in order to sort things out properly.
  • Try to turn the negatives into positives when possible. If someone tries to insult you by saying that you are bossy, turn that negativity around. Assume that it means you are a natural leader, someone who tries to take control and help other people to improve things.
  • Don't ever, ever give up. This is something I have to remind myself on a pretty regular basis. I've come so far in the past 2 years, as I'm sure you have too. There will be times when it seems like everything's going wrong and it's too hard, which may result in you relapsing or going back to round one. So make sure that doesn't happen! Have a cry, allow yourself to think about the situation for a moment, then get up and brave it. After all the effort you have made, it really is not worth it to go back on it all and just end up how you were in the first place. We all have bad days and cry sometimes, but we can not let these slip-ups affect our recovery process!
  • Fake it till you make it! If you don't always feel confident, then just pretend to be until you actually are. If you do that, you will eventually convince yourself that you are capable of acting this way and it should raise your self-esteem even more.
  • Grow from conflict instead of hiding from it. Arguments are natural. Some people's personalities are just made to clash. This is not your fault and it isn't necessarily their fault either, so be careful before you make accusations or point the finger. Don't be afraid though. Hiding away will not sort anything. Learn from these conflict's and grow from them. Allow them to make you a better person. Do not be ashamed over your mistakes.
Individuality:


If you wish to be someone else, then that is a waste of who you are. You should express yourself in whichever way you want and appreciate that you are unique. If we were all the same, it would be incredibly boring and actually quite sad, as we would all be copies of each other and we wouldn't feel special. What would make us worthy of love and attention if there was millions of other people identical to us? This is why you should embrace the person that you are! You may not like everything and you may feel that you are the ugliest person on the planet, but that is not true in the slightest. As cliché as it sounds, every single human being is beautiful in their own unique and individual way.
Dye your hair bright blue, start your own rock band, create a charity that will change lives - do anything! If people laugh at you because you have a few lip piercings or if they think you are stupid because you always wear ripped jeans and printed t-shirts, then screw them, honestly. They are basing an opinion on you due to either a stereotype or pure judgement and those people are not worth any of your time, ever. Those who do not even make an attempt to get to know your character should not be in your life in the first place, so remember that. Not everyone is going to like you for the way you are, but you should be okay with that. As long as you have a select number who do love, care for and accept you, then that's cool! Just pay attention to your own life and them. Forget the other people.

The Importance Of Confidence:

 
Confidence is the foundation for everything that we do throughout our lives and it is our confidence (or lack of it) that directly affects HOW we do everything and the outcomes of these actions. When we know and appreciate who we are, we will make better choices, judgements and have a generally better outlook on everything. When we make better decisions, it will have a more positive affect on our life. Everything is literally based around our confidence. It's a world-wide problem that so many people struggle with, including me and so this means that it is perfectly normal to be unconfident, but you need to try and change it. Confidence can involve the emotions surrounding anything from body image, self-worth, relationships with others, public situations, not believing in yourself and more. People who are confident and love themselves radiate positivity, strength, passion and courage. A confident person is someone who knows their strengths, weaknesses, values and purpose. They know who they are and they do not allow anyone to tell them any different. Being confident must be something that you want or you will not be prepared to work for it or put in any effort to get there. Many people just settle with their current life and the way things are in the moment, even if they are not happy with them and they will not be able to see how rewarding and satisfying it is to have a life filled with confidence, purpose, passion, strength and enthusiasm as they lack the confidence and inner knowledge to do so. Sometimes, it may not be easy to where you want to get to, but you have to keep going, no matter how far away the end result seems or how hard it may be to reach it either. Your confidence is NOT controlled by anyone else. This means that you have ultimate control over it and even if you have suffered a lot with various things in the past, you can still get there and become confident. With dedication and determination, you will become more confident, which means you will be happier and more successful, both now and in the future. It may take some time, but you have to persevere. Do not let anyone knock you back down. It's a learning curve, but you will get to the end.

Comparison:

 
So many people suffer with this problem. We compare ourselves to others all the time. The perfect image of a person is constantly pushed at us in more ways than one. You have to catch yourself when you are comparing and then switch that thinking around and stop these thoughts. It is unhealthy as well as pointless. You can wish to be other people all your life if you really want to, but it will only make you miserable and it won't get you anywhere either, so do you really want that? You will always be the way you are, just like I said earlier on in this post. Sure, you can change things and improve if you honestly want to, but isn't it better to try and make the most of the person that you are and the things that you do have?
 
My point goes very well with the quote above saying that people should fall in love with their eyes closed. It goes to show that looks do not define you and it is the inside that counts. People will love you and respect/admire you for your inner beauty, not your appearance or for the way you dress. You should not care about what people think of you. As hard as it is, you should not look the way you do in hope that it will make the person you like feel the same way or in hope that it will draw unbelievable attention to you. You should just be you and do not try to impress others. When you are carefree and chilled out, that is when you are in your most beautiful state. No makeup, baggy clothes, your hair all messy. When you do not care at all, in the slightest about what you look like. If people truly did fall in love with their eyes closed, it would be so much more real and meaningful. People care too much about the outside, rather than what is on the inside. That is what matters the most. When you fall in love with someone, all of their imperfections begin to blur. You do not care what they look like. You do not see the things they may be insecure about. You look beyond that and you see through to their heart, their soul. You began to fall in love with their characteristics, their quirks. You see the way their dimples form whenever they smile, the way their eyes light up when they are talking about a true passion, the way they will do anything to help others in whatever way possible. Whatever they look like, whether they have a disability, have braces, have a wonky smile, have wrinkles,  have larger thighs - you will still have unconditional love for the way that they are inside.
This is why you should not care what other people think. Regardless of your physical attributes, when someone is in love with you they will not care. They will only care about your personality. Please remember that.

Shyness:
I've always been incredibly shy, ever since a young age. I've never liked talking in social situations or going to events/parties or contribute in school or even talk to new people, on the phone or in person. It's gained control over me and it has always held me back for as long as I can remember. I often find myself feeling very uncomfortable and anxious around certain types of people and in specific situations. I'm awful at speaking in public situations whether it be speeches, presentations, answering questions in class or even speaking on the phone. I'm going to attempt to share some tips with you.

Tips, Tricks & Advice:
  • Remember that you are not the only one. Many people will struggle with the same things that you do and deal with emotions that you feel too, so you are never by yourself or the only one with that particular problem. Often, when we are in the moment, we feel that it will drag on forever and we will always be this anxious or we will fail and we won't be able to do it, but the feelings of anxiety do disappear once you have got the situation over and done with. People will know what it feels like, so try not to get yourself too het up or stressed out over anything.
  • There's nothing wrong with being quiet. The way you are feeling is natural. Not all of us want to be loud and speak our mind all over the time and that's perfectly okay. We are all unique. So what if you don't talk much in social situations? You are you and you should not be doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. You will probably become more confident in time, but don't rush.
  • Start off small. If you are particularly worried about speaking in front of the whole school, then begin with a couple of people that you know well and practise with them. Get them to give you feedback or constructive criticism and then work on that. Maybe think about your body language, posture or eye contact. Take small steps and it will pay off. You may slip up from time to time, especially in the beginning, but don't beat yourself up over it. Understand that you are learning and nerves are natural. Even if you stutter or stumble, keep practising and get used to gradually talking to a few more people. Baby steps are key. Progress is progress, no matter how small it may be. It all adds up in the end.
  • Your opinion is valued, no matter what. People are not always going to agree with you. That's a given. We all have different thoughts & views on certain things and that is okay. Don't be afraid to express those opinions though. Express them if you wish to do so. If you are not happy with something in a shop, ask someone or tell them nicely/politely. It could help to improve the quality next time or it could give a new idea for the future. People will be interested in what you say, even if they don't agree, because it means that they can get to know you and your personality better and they can also see things from a different point of view, which will help them.
  • Don't try to be something your not. You should not feel the need to be more assertive just to impress people or to get others to listen to you. If you do not feel comfortable with being a louder person, the don't do it! Don't put yourself in an uncomfortable position just because you want to get attention or get your voice there. We all have a right to express our opinions and we all have a right to speak out, but we should make sure we do it the way we want to do it.
  • What's the worse that could happen? Think about the worst outcome that you could face. If you put your hand up in class when you think you know the answer and you get it wrong, that doesn't matter! People may laugh at you and you may feel a little disheartened, but it will be forgotten about by the next day. At least you had the courage to try, which was probably not the case for the people who laughed at you. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes.
  • Just do it. Push the doubts aside and face your fears. If you are going to a party or a particular event with either popular people or people who you have never met, that doesn't matter! You may become overwhelmed by fear in the hours or even minutes leading up to it, but you just have to take deep breaths and deal with it as best as you can. Don't turn back around, don't convince yourself that you can't do it. Do the opposite! Prove to yourself that you are stronger than you think and you can have a good time. You are gaining an experience, that will probably be fun and you will feel so much better and more proud afterwards! So, try it! JUST DO IT! These experiences will also help to raise your confidence, boost your self-esteem and help you to enjoy things more and be more willing to take up opportunities in the future.
  • Speak up. I touched on this briefly earlier, but it's very important, as is everything I'm saying. If someone is always rude to you, just find the courage to let them know that it's not okay and you are not alright with that. Don't allow yourself to get constantly trampled on. You are worth so much more than that. Even if other people may not understand you, it does not mean your problems are any less important or valid.
Self-respect is another very important point. You have to love & respect yourself before anyone else can fully love & accept you. If you do not respect yourself, that can lead to unhappiness and feelings of worthlessness and let's face it, none of us want to feel that way. You will end up harming yourself and you may be at risk or in danger. You could get into an abusive relationship, become addicted to certain substances and you may gradually spiral out of control and end up with no hope left. You have to realise your own worth and be consistently good to yourself and your own body. Then you will be happy & those in your life who surround you on a daily basis will always be happy. Self-respect breeds confidence! They really do go hand-in-hand with each other. Without self-respect, many people would fail to care for themselves and think about what they really need, because they don't think that life is worth that much or they will feel as if nobody cares about them or what happens to them. Self-respect is extremely necessary for having a happy and satisfying life so everyone must have respect for themselves.
Another important reason as to why people should have self-respect is that as I believe I've said before, you need to respect yourself before others can respect you. If someone has so little self-respect and self-esteem that they can not stand up for themselves or display strength, they will probably not have as much respect from others. One very accurate example is peer pressure. If someone always gives into pressure and will always do anything, however risky and dangerous, they simply will not be respected by anyone. People who care about themselves will care enough about their body & the way they live that they will not give in and do things that cause them discomfort or harm. This will also mean that they will not only get respect from others, but they will live a happier, healthier lifestyle where they do not just live in order to please or impress other people.
You have to remember to respect others as well as yourself though. It's important that you follow the quote 'treat others as you wish to be treated' because it really does apply in many, if not all, situations. Ultimately, respect is a two way street. You can't earn it if you don't display it and you can't display it back if you don't receive it, if that makes sense. If we all respected each other and everyone's thoughts a little more, the world would be a more peaceful & happier place.
 


You will find me repeating this quote a lot on my blog. 'This too shall pass' speaks for itself. Whatever you are going through, whether it be shyness, confidence struggles, self-esteem issues or anything to do with self-respect or the way you see yourself, just remember that it will not be like that forever. You will not be anxious or shy every single day for the rest of your life. You will have good days & bad. Live your life to the best of your ability and do not allow anything or anyone in this world hold you back. Know that your feelings are temporary. There is always a solution and ways that you can feel better and remember that once that social situation or whatever is over, that and those feelings will be in the past. Keep repeating that this too shall pass. Your pain will not last you forever, I promise you that now. There is a light at the end of every tunnel. Keep telling yourself that you are stronger than this, you will get through it, the feelings will not last long. Even if you are standing up in front of a large amount of people and you want the ground to swallow you up or you have to read in class or do anything that enables fear to take over your mind, please do not give up. Just try your best to keep going, stay calm and just focus on what your saying. Once it's done, it's done. It's over, it's in the past. You are stronger than you think, I promise you! Take small steps and with time, you will gradually gain more confidence with practise, perseverance, baby steps & experience. I will always be here for each & everyone of you, I promise. No matter what your issues, you can always come to me :) I believe that I have grown so much in the past 2 years since joining secondary school (I will share my story in a future post) and if I can do it, then anyone can. <3
 
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