'THINK' Yourself Well

7 Ways to be a More Confident, Independent Woman

+ Rebecca

Do you feel like you’re a confident, independent woman?

I know I do most of the time, but some days, that feeling just goes whoosh right out the window.

Do you know what I mean?

You’re going about your life thinking you’re doing pretty well, and then someone says something, or something happens, and suddenly your confidence vanishes.

Maybe you revert to some of your old bad habits, like apologizing too much, or obsessing over a negative interaction, or blaming yourself for whatever went on.

There’s no doubt that women have come a long way, and are more powerful and independent today than ever before. But that doesn’t mean we don’t still doubt ourselves, or have the occasional setback that causes us to lose our mojo for a few days.

Fortunately, there are things we can do to build ourselves up and keep our self-esteem going strong. I recommend a regular “confidence practice,” as it tends to help you be more resilient to the ups and downs in life, so you can respond from your best self even when the chips are down.

1. Find something that restores you and do it regularly.

I enjoy traveling, the occasional spa retreat, running, yoga, and time with friends. Each of us has activities that restore our energy and positivity. Maybe for you it’s gardening, or time with a pet, or participation in a favorite hobby like playing an instrument, canoeing, or taking part in a sport you love.

Whatever it is, don’t think of it as a “hobby” that you do only when you have time, because that’s the best way to push it straight out of your life. Instead, pencil it into your weekly schedule and then enjoy the confidence-boosting benefits.

2. Practice self-love.

When we practice self-love can we then turn around and give love to others.

Self-love is also the key to confidence. We must regularly remind ourselves that we are enough, that what we have to offer is worthwhile. The world has a way of knocking us down now and then, and self-love is the only way to bounce back.

Ask yourself every day: What can I do to make myself happy? And then do it! It can be as simple as taking a walk in the park, enjoying a concert, having a favorite dish for lunch, or heading out to the spa for a facial.

And yes, I’m serious about every day. There is always something we can do to build up our own positive feelings. Just try it and see how much more confident you feel.

3. Resist comparing yourself to others.

Some studies have reported that browsing social media can be depressing. That’s because we tend to compare our lives to the lives we see on the screen. Of course, everyone is putting their best foot forward on social media, showing their most positive experiences, but we tend to forget that.

What we see are the pictures of happy couples on romantic getaways, successful people earning accolades, and everyone seeming to have better lives than we do. Zap! There goes our confidence right down the drain.

The fix? Stop comparing yourself, period. Realize that we are all on our own journeys, and that everyone has difficulties, no matter how ideal their lives may appear. If you need to, on your more sensitive days, just avoid social media until you’re feeling stronger.

4. Care for your body.

You know how you feel after you get a new haircut, or facial, or find that awesome new outfit?

We don’t have to be magazine models to feel great about our bodies. All we need is regular self-care. That means eating right, exercising daily, and not being afraid to invest in what makes us feel good about ourselves.

It’s easy to feel guilty about these things. Aren’t we being selfish if we spend money on new clothes or spa treatments? Or if we invest in that piece of exercise equipment, or that gym membership?

Kick that guilt out the door. Self-care is part of your plan to be a confident, independent woman. Do what you need to do to feel good about your appearance. We’d suggest you start with your skin. Healthy skin is really your best accessory!

5. Get strong.

Did you know that as women build up their muscles, they also build up their confidence?

It’s true! In a 2006 study, researchers reported that female volunteers who participated in 12 weeks of strength training not only got physically stronger, but exhibited more self confidence and effectiveness in life.

Lyn Paul, a Montana State University Extension professor who studied the effect of weight training on women, told the LA Times: “My study found that the No. 1 benefit of strength is that the enhanced function makes them [women] feel empowered.”

If you’re feeling like your confidence is waning lately, I suggest you try a bit of strength training. You don’t have to get all bulging muscles to experience the benefits, either. Just getting a little stronger can help you feel a lot more powerful.

6. Stop negativity in its tracks.

Negative thoughts destroy confidence, right? So that means you have to be vigilant about them, and stop them the instant they spring up.

How do you do that? After all, we can’t expect that we won’t think negative things every now and then. I’ve found the best way is to challenge the thought, and then squash it with something positive.

For example, let’s say you’re thinking that you’re never going to succeed the way you want to in your career. “Ugh, I’m just never going to get there. I guess I’m just not smart enough,” you may think.

First, challenge the thought. “Really? Can I honestly say for sure that I will never get there? Am I really not smart enough? Is that true?”

Once you rob the thought of its power with questions, then turn it around by calling out your strengths. “Actually, I’m one of the hardest working people I know, and if anyone can do it, I know I can. And I’m pretty bright, too. I mean, look how far I’ve come over the past five years.”

You get the idea. Apply this routine-stop, question, and turn it around-every time a negative thought enters your head. Gradually, you can train your brain to stop allowing these negative thoughts to have so much power over you, and you’ll feel more confident as a result.

7. Act “as if.”

This is one of the most powerful ways to become more confident, but we often forget to do it.

Some days, let’s face it-you’re just not going to feel it. You can tell yourself you should be confident, that you are strong and capable, but your feelings just refuse to respond.

When this happens, it’s time to play. Choose one of your idols, one of those women that you really admire. Try to pick one that has the qualities you need on that particular day. If you’re feeling bad about your body, for instance, choose a woman you think is beautiful and act like her. How would she dress? How would she walk? How would she interact with others?

If you need confidence to make a presentation to your peers, for example, choose a different role model, someone you’ve seen pull off these types of things with confidence. Watch her do it on a YouTube video, for example. Pick up her motions, what she does with her hands, the way she talks, the way she dresses. Copy her. Don’t be afraid! It’s fun.

You may be amazed at how well this works. First of all, it allows you to play a little bit, which can boost your mood straight away. Secondly, it gets your mind into a different place. Suddenly you are a different person, and as you move and act differently, your mind will respond, helping you to feel more confident.

Try it. You may be so impressed with how well it works that you turn to this technique more often. The nice thing is that the more often you “act” confident, the more confident you’ll feel, until eventually you won’t need to act anymore.

How do you keep yourself feeling confident and empowered? Please share your tips with our readers.

SourcesJean Barrett Holloway, “Self-Efficacy and Training for Strength in Adolescent Girls,” Journal of Applied Psychology, June 1988; 18(8): 699-719, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1559-1816.1988.tb00046.x/abstract;jsessionid=17DD4304C5E3570CCD80A3338E6F0D72.f01t04.Roy Wallack, “Women find boost in ability and other benefits in strength training,” Los Angeles Times, May 23, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/health/mind-body/la-he-strong-20150523-column.html.

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