how to build your self esteem

I was Cat Called and I liked it.

It began like any other Monday, fighting with the snooze button and responsibility. I dragged myself out from the warmth of my flanelette sheets and headed for the bathroom. A quick morning ritual of coffee, lipstick and a once over in the mirror. Nothing too fancy, just a pair of black swing pants and a cardi, cats eye glasses and a red scarf at my neck. I grabbed my handbag and headed up the road to the trams stop, fighting the chill in the morning air. Then I hear “Hey!! Hey honey!” and my head spins around to see who’s shouting in the traffic. Windows down and a huge grin on her face, a lady waves at me, “Honey, you look fantastic!” “Thanks so much!” I call, waving back to her. The smile is contagious.

As I continued walking to the tram I made a mental note to write about this happening; how unusual and fabulous it was. How on a cold Monday morning this one simple act gave me a brilliant boost of self esteem that warmed me for the rest of the day.

There have been many articles doing the rounds of late talking about the negativity and objectivity of cat calling, and I certainly see their point. But it also makes me think how gun shy we’ve become in giving (and graciously receiving) compliments. Now, hanging out the window at the traffic lights and verbally high-fiving some one for their choice in shoes may not be your style, but there’s sure to be one that is.

The more we think about complimenting people in our day, the more aware we become; looking for opportunities to lift someone up and give them their dues. There are so many opportunities that present themselves to us each day, not just an outfit that catches our eye, but actions, words and other talents that could do with some kudos.

Oddly, it seems that the more we’ve come the rely on social media as a means of communicating with each other, the more the art of the real world compliment has died. It’s become to easy to “Like”, to comment ” Fabulous”, much of the sincerity has been lost. The effort to notice and make contact with another human being to deliberately lift them up, is worth it’s weight in gold.

As I continued my walk I was deep in thought, deconstructing which simple practises I use every day to boost my own sense of self confidence.

Here is my very simple plan to improving your self esteem; immediately!

How to Improve your self esteem in 4 easy steps

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Yep, no Facebook or Twitter compliments count here. No “Like” buttons either. Only the real world, face to face exchange that comes with being aware of your interactions and surroundings. Tell your Barrista how much you appreciate their coffee art skills, compliment a co-worker on their great idea or the chap in the park on his choice of tweed walking cap. It’s all about being in the moment, feeling it and the law of reciprocity. You can’t help but feel better about yourself when you have lovely things to say to other people.

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Imprive your Self Esteem in 4 easy steps

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Comparison to others is the enemy of a healthy self esteem. The more we sit on social media, comparing our real lives to other’s edited versions of their own, the more dents we put in our self esteem. But sometimes, there is an honesty in putting ourselves out there with others, that helps to break down our mental barriers.

When it comes to body image and putting things into perspective, I’ve found no better remedy than hitting up a burlesque class and revelling in the glory of other women in all shapes and sizes. It pays to ensure that whatever class you’re planning to attend is at your skill level, but outside of that there are so many options for this kind of experience, you just have to look. It might be belly dancing, tap classes or if you’re game, even a visit to a life drawing class. As women we are particularly cruel to ourselves and our bodies, forgetting that they are the only ones we have. There is nothing quite so normalising, and simultaneously self esteem boosting, as filling your visual landscape with other real, fabulous women having a blast, instead of hyper produced glossy pages of fantasy.

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Improve your self esteem in 4 easy steps

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A win is a win, no matter how small. Teaching yourself to celebrate the little wins you have encourages you to think more positively about your goals, your abilities and ultimately, your self worth. Sure, we all have big goals on our plates, big projects to attend to and huge To Do lists that look like they’ll never end. Taking the time to break down the big scary stuff into smaller pieces, then patting yourself on the back when you’ve done them, is hugely helpful. For some, especially suffers of chronic illness, something as seemingly small as getting out of bed in the morning is a great achievement. Through recognition and celebration (yes you deserve to bust out the good coffee this morning), you are making a great investment in your mental health bank.

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None of us are born “perfect”. We’re learning to become our best selves every day, and being wrong is all a part of that process. Fear of failure, fearing not getting it right, or thinking we’ll be perceived as stupid, is a crippling way to live. Sometimes this works its way out in the little things, like being too afraid to wear red lipstick for fear of getting the shade wrong, and missing out on that joy altogether. Sometimes it’s bigger things that stop us from achieving our goals, hobbling us before we’ve even begun.

Being wrong or “failing”, is your friend. Quite often our idea of wrong is subjective, playing into the rules that others seem to set for us. When you see achievements made by people you think of as brave, outlandish or daring, these things all came about from the peace they have with being “wrong”. Start small and train yourself to see what you’ve learnt along the way. It may be as simple as having a few friends for dinner when you’ve never really hosted, or it may be putting a pitch to a new client.

Seeing success for what it is, a string of lessons learnt then acted upon to find improvement; does wonders for your self esteem.

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I’m always working on the way I talk to myself. Owning my thoughts, and then the actions that come from them, is a constant process we need to be aware of in order to effect the positive change we want to see in our lives. There are all kinds of things I’ve realised I have very little confidence in and I’m actively applying these techniques to see real improvement.

The gift of good self esteem is one only you can give yourself.

Xx

12 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Candice, you are as inspiring as always. I tend to doubt myself a lot hence, becoming not too adventurous at times. It is nice to read about someone else’s thought process to streamline my own. My favourite is to celebrate small wins and don’t be afraid to be wrong. x Emily

    • Hi Emily and welcome to Vintage Current! It was so lovely to get to know you during our Sydney weekender. It’s funny because one of the areas I suffer from a lack of confidence in is… cooking! I really gave up on this a while back and kept trying to revive the skill, but I kept seeking outside appreciation to keep me going. It wasn’t until recently when my cooking skills received some kudos, that I realised I actually have more skill than I think and just cooking to impress myself is important. I deserve great food! 😀 xx

  2. I’ve never been cat-called in all my life. It feels anti-feminist to feel bad about that. You’re right – people are too afraid nowadays to compliment others for fear of backlash. Women complimenting other women is nearly always seen as underhanded and with an agenda. I will take your advice (well, all but the dance lessons, not so much of that in my neck of the woods in the States!)

    • Lynette: I know exactly what you mean about it feeling anti-feminist. It’s that catch 22 of wanting to be noticed but not objectified or have the feeling of danger. I think that’s why having another lady cat call you is something extraordinary. It’s such a sad situation that complimenting other women is seen as having an agenda. The only way we can remedy that is to just keep on doing it with positivity. How’s the life drawing scene where you are? 🙂

  3. One of my most favourite things to do is to pay a stranger a compliment. It’s a win-win situation: They feel awesome, and I make them smile.

    I do need to work on myself though, but I’ve come a long way from where I used to be. Thank you for reminding me <3

  4. I was at a local convenience market a few nights ago. The cashier seemed quite sullen. I noticed her earrings…sparkly studs that were darling…so I told her how cute they were. She immediately smiled and lit up with a gracious ‘thank you’. I must say that it was a lovely exchange and I felt really nice about having the chance to make another woman smile. I’m so glad you wrote this post! Thank You!!!

    xo, Angela

    • Angela: That’s so lovely. The fact that you took the time to notice her mood and make the effort to connect is really admirable. And thank you for your kind words of encouragement too. 🙂 xx

  5. Hi Candice. What a great post! It feels like real life compliments – both giving them and receiving them – are a lost art.
    If we all started our day with a compliment, I think we’d be in a better mindset and be more likely to recognise our achievements and be less likely to sweat the small stuff that day. There’s a real knock-on effect. Keep up the good advice 🙂

  6. Gee, I am a 49 year old mother of 6 and when I see a person put together beautifully be they old, young, middle aged, snow capped or not, I tell them. I usually get a stunned reaction, very rarely do I get a mind your own business but I just say it as I see it. If their outfit makes their eyes glow or is perfectly matched or put together fantastically or their hair looks great, why not tell them? It makes their day and makes mine to see the light up. My kids say I’m very friendly and a talker. My ex husband was so violent I had to have face reconstruction surgery, I know what it’s like to feel ugly. I know what it’s like to feel bleak … So… Likewise, I know what the rewards are of feeling good. Can’t beat them! Share them around. I saw an elderly lady recently in a gorgeous maybe cardigan and complimentary necklace and shoes. I said, “you look so lovely” she was taken aback. Often people will be stunned and speechless for a second and then sheepishly say: OH…? thank you! And I go on my way smiling and so do they. It’s beautiful to be able to have the freedom to smile and make people happy.

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