I often get asked how I have the confidence to travel the world alone or to share my personal stories online.
So let me start this story by telling you I haven’t always been confident.
In fact growing up I was frequently bullied. Whether it was for the colour of my skin, my afro hair, my glasses or my name. Nothing was left untouched. Though I didn’t realise it at the time those little things gradually chipped away at me and became part of my story. I felt like who I was was under attack. That just being me wasn’t enough.
Being one of two black girls in school (the other being my sister) I was distinctly aware of my otherness. Though it wasn’t always expressed out loud it was an underlying feeling. A knowing. While I was going through this already difficult period of my life my mum passed away leaving my sister and I orphaned. If I felt different from everyone else before – after that I felt like a total outsider. On top of that add a heavy dose of anxiety and, well, let’s just say the odds for me believing in anything weren’t looking great.
I remember one incident after my first ever CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) session. The therapist actually rung me ten minutes later to tell me I needed to buy this book for overcoming my painfully low self-esteem.
I would honestly say it’s taken me until 2018 to aggressively love myself the way I do now. Growing up British there’s this belief that if you like yourself too much it’s a bad thing, but I think the more self-love the better. You are an incredible, divine being on this earth – now it’s time you started treating yourself like one.
So maybe you want to know how to more confident in expressing your opinions or chasing your dreams. Or maybe you want to develop the confidence to wear something crazy or say yes to more things. Whatever it is I’ve got your back girl, and I’ll always be your big sis when you’re in need.
Get clear on what the confident version of you looks like
In 2016 I created my first vision board. There were numerous things on it: exotic locations I wanted to go to, the type of relationship I wanted to have, things I wanted to own and how I wanted to feel about myself. It’s not like I wrote in big letters I want to love myself (perhaps I should have) but I knew I wanted to adopt healthier habits.
I remember proudly glueing on a photo of a bagel with avocado. It was my life’s mission to become a bagel and I’d be damned if I didn’t become one (I just wanted to eat healthier, this picture seemed to do the trick).
The crazy thing is after creating the board elements of my life just began to fall into place. I began travelling the world, I fell in love with my best friend and I moved into a beautiful city apartment with a gym and yoga facilities. People write off vision boards as woo woo magic, but I think it’s important to realise that nothing will happen for you if you don’t work towards it. You don’t just create a vision of your life tuck it away, click your heels and wait for your dream life to materialise. You have to put in the effort to shape your destiny and I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong.
If you want to feel more confident you need to establish things in your life that the most confident version of you would have. If you were living your dream life – what would that look like? How would you feel? Who would be there with? Maybe creating a vision board isn’t your thing and that’s totally cool. Instead just write it down so you know what you’re working towards.
Work on your body
I’ve always been naturally toned so I never really saw a need to go to the gym. I seriously used to think people only went to the gym to lose weight and seeing as I didn’t have any weight to lose in my mind I had no reason to go. I’ve come to realise that exercising is about so much more than losing weight. It’s about discipline and those yummy yummy endorphins. I don’t care how much you weigh. I’m sure you don’t even care how much I weigh.
Whether you want to lose weight, tone up or even stay the same I highly recommend adding some more fitness into your life. Maybe for you, that looks like an hour lifting weights or it could look like a walk around your local park. There really is no right or wrong but I promise that the compounded effect of those sessions will massively boost how you feel about yourself.
I also can’t get enough of yoga sessions. I’ve laughed, I’ve cried and I’ve had real life epiphanies during my sessions. Though I’m decidedly shit and have the flexibility of a tree trunk I truly love what yoga brings out in me.
Reprogramme your subconscious mind
Did you know that your subconscious mind is where the vast majority of your thoughts are stored?
That means if deep down you have a belief you’re not enough or that you can’t succeed your subconscious mind is taking down a note of these to replay back to you, on a loop, for the rest of your life.
The good news is that you can reprogramme your subconscious beliefs by using conscious practices.
I’m obsessed with podcasts and if you want to become more confident they are a great way to expand your learning. I also highly recommend the following books:
- The Chimp Paradox
- Feel the Fear and do it Anyway,
- Daring Greatly,
- The Power of Now,
- Overcoming Low Self Esteem
- And even Harry Potter
There’s a lesson to be learned about a young boy who wasn’t accepted coming into his own and conquering both internal and external demons.
Affirmations are positive self statements that are proven to rewire our brains to a more positive way of thinking. You are essentially tricking your brain into creating new, positive subconscious thoughts instead of the old negative ones.
- I can’t do this – I believe in myself and I know I can do whatever I put my mind to
- I’m a failure – I’m successful and I choose to believe I am enough
- No one will ever love me – I attract positive, healthy relationships into my life
You can either write your own or use ones that someone else has written. I like to have affirmations on my whiteboard in my bedroom and as a screensaver on my phone. When I first started I stuck them over every mirror in the house. Just put a few where you know you’ll see them every day and say them with feeling. Imagine how you’d feel if what you were saying is true. Now live it.
When I started doing affirmations I was thoroughly depressed. Truly it’s hard to describe that place to you because I’ve come so far since then. When I go back there in my mind it’s pretty heartbreaking to see just how low my self view was. I definitely didn’t deserve what I put myself through.
Now I can’t fully attribute my current state to affirmations, but I can say that they have helped a lot. Any time a friend is going through crisis books, affirmations and a shoulder to cry on are the main tools in my arsenal. So now dear reader I bequeath this gift to you.
Be more selfish
Now when I say be more selfish I’m not talking about refusing to give up your seat for an old lady on the bus or never sharing the last Rolo with anyone. I’m talking about something much bigger than that.
I’m a very empathetic person and as result, in the past, I’ve been drawn to people who well let’s just say weren’t the best for me. I saw my own insecurities in them and rather than address my own problems I set about fixing theirs.
A couple of years ago I lost a lot of myself trying to ‘fix’ someone. After I got out of that toxic situation I had a huge shift in the way I viewed and valued myself. You don’t have to be treated like shit to realise how valuable you actually are. There are a lot healthier ways, but for me, that was what happened. Then one day I just got sick of it. I was done with being treated like shit. Sick of the empty promises and apologies. That was the moment I realised that ultimately I had to put faith in myself.
I’ve talked before about my upbringing and how being orphaned at 14 impacted my life. A big part of that was I saw being alone as a bad thing. I felt abandoned and I was determined to fill that void by any means necessary. I think it took me until 21 to realise that I actually enjoyed my own company. That it was okay to put myself at the centre of my universe.
That’s really powerful because a lack of confidence comes from our fear of what others will think of us. We can’t bear the thought of being embarrassed or laughed at. When you wholeheartedly love yourself that doesn’t matter because your purpose and vision are so much bigger than that one person who might think you’re a bit of a weirdo.
Remember if everyone likes you then who’s going to LOVE you? It’s also okay not to be liked. We all have different interests and as great as it would be a worldwide cuddle puddle isn’t going to happen any time soon.
What does confidence look like for me?
Singing Ariana Grande to myself in the shower. Dancing naked. Talking to strangers. Eating alone in public. Wearing red. Not beating myself up. Leaving the house without a bra because it’s just comfier that way. Travelling to new places. Crying because I am so happy and proud – not because I hate myself. Feeling fear and bypassing that feeling to do something incredible.
I’m not sure what confidence looks like for you, but what I know for sure is the world needs more of you.
To hear your voice, to see your smile and to laugh at that terrible joke you’ve been keeping in.
So gorgeous, what are you waiting for?
What about you guys? What advice would you give to someone struggling with confidence? What tips have helped you? Let me know in the comments!