Strengthen Your Confidence
By Judi Sheppard Missett
Left unattended, self-esteem is a fragile thing. In today's fast-paced, competitive environment, our
confidence is often beaten down by our own perceptions of our abilities, appearance, acceptance by others and sense of self
(separate from our spouses and families). We live in a society that begs comparison to artificial ideals and gives wing to
self-criticism at a surprisingly young age.
Women especially tend to berate themselves for perceived character flaws, i.e., a lack of self-control if they
gain weight or a sense of inadequacy if a relationship fails, and the trait starts early. It's alarming how many girls are
already dieting by the time they are 10 to 12 years old!
Fortunately, we can strengthen our confidence, as we do our
bodies, by exercising a few strategies:
Get to know yourself.
This sounds simple,
even obvious, but we are trained at an early age to look outward rather than inward. Take an honest inventory of all the positive
aspects of your appearance, skills and relationships. Keep the focus on yourself and avoid any negative comparisons to others.
You may have great eyes, an ability to put others at ease, a quick wit or a knack for organizing. Look to the gifts you possess,
and find ways to express yourself through them. Make a list of these if necessary and read it from time to time.
Establish a sense of control.
If there are things that you wish to change,
such as your weight, chart a course for success. Plan an exercise program. Research low-fat recipes. Find a support group.
Likewise if you're overwhelmed by current responsibilities, set priorities. Decide what obligations are most important, and
let go of the rest.
Surround yourself with positive people.
Attitude is contagious; so don't make
time for naysayers. When you learn to see the glass as half full and challenges as opportunities, your self-esteem is bolstered,
Reach out to others.
Nothing is quite as powerful a self-esteem booster
as when we use our skills to help others.
Carve out time for yourself.
time is crucial for re-establishing a sense of yourself outside of your immediate family. Reconnect with the hobbies you enjoy
and the goals you hope to achieve.
Get and stay healthy.
Diet, sleep and exercise
have a tremendous influence on mood, as well as appearance. Get plenty of sleep (seven to nine hours nightly); eat a low-fat
diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains; and exercise regularly. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends
a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily.
Strength training is a terrific way to tone muscles and
feel empowered. A study conducted at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, found that women who lifted weights three days
per week experienced greater body image and emotional improvements than those who engaged in other activities.
Judi Sheppard Missett is CEO of Jazzercise Inc., an international aerobic-dance instruction
(c) 2002, Jazzercise Inc. Distributed by Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune