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Life, much like freelancing, has its ups and downs. There are moments when we're riding high and feeling invincible. And then those not so great times when life only drags us down. Written by: Katy Cowan. During those darker periods, our confidence tends to hit rock bottom. We hesitate and doubt ourselves.
We forget who we are and what we're supposed to be doing, and every single aspect of our life and business is affected. It happened to me last year. A few ificant things occurred personally and professionally, and my confidence crumbled. There was a moment when I thought I'd never get it back.
But with a little perseverance and some helpful tricks, I've managed to recover. If you're currently suffering, don't sweat it. These challenging moments can be positive. In the face of adversity, we learn more about ourselves. Discover our strengths. And our weaknesses. And, when we start to recover, we take those lessons and apply them to our life and work, improving ourselves and our ventures. To help you get back your va-va-voom, allow me to share some tips on building confidence.
The following tips have also helped me. Thank you to those who supported me through — you know who you are. Why is this my first tip? Because I've done it and it has transformed my life. Just by not drinking alcohol, I've ificantly improved my mental wellbeing, and the knock-on effect is that my self-esteem has improved and my confidence has sky-rocketed.
I might well drink again in future, but for now, I'm taking a break. Some of you reading this will be hoping I had a problem with alcohol, so you can distance yourself from "weird" non-drinkers like me and reassure yourself that you're not in the same boat. That's fine. You might not be. However, I was a "normal" drinker. Well, for a Brit, anyway.
But I realised I'd had enough. I'm not going to preach about the downsides of alcohol If you suffer, you'll know all this. If you're one of those lucky people who can handle alcohol, then skip this tip and move on. For me, it was a no-brainer. Better sleep meant a happier, more confident me. And anxiety? What anxiety? If you really can't bear the thought of giving up your beloved beer, try a few alcohol-free alternatives to help cut down.
The quality of them has improved greatly over the last few years, so you can still get that nice refreshing drink at the end of a workday but without the negative effects. I highly recommend Big Drop and Nirvana. I'm not talking about for business; I mean, personally.
Because let's open up an honest dialogue here: does Instagram make any of us happy? Inthe Royal Society for Public Health RSPHan independent charity that seeks to improve people's wellbeing, conducted a survey of 14 to year-olds, asking them about social media.
And many reported heightened feelings of anxiety and depression, poor sleep, body images issues and fear of missing out FOMO. It's not surprising. Sharing the "best" versions of ourselves can build an unrealistic picture: like everyone else is having this amazing life and we're not. It can make us feel like we're missing out. Like we're not good enough.
We come away from the constant scrolling and feel terrible. And when not enough people "like" our posts, we become miserable — continually refreshing our feeds to see if we're loved. The RSPH is so concerned about social media's impact that it's launched Scroll Free Septemberthe world's first large-scale social media-free month to highlight the issue and encourage people to re-think how much time they spend online. The evidence continues to stack up — social media can harm our mental health.
So if your confidence is at an all-time low, it might be a good idea to delete any social apps from your phone and take a break from clicking 'likes'. What's more, embrace the "now". Remove the urge to document your entire life to create a nice Instagram story. Don't film or photograph a concert for the sake of social media — enjoy the moment. You'll feel less anxious, happier and at peace. For further reading, check out Jon Cockley of Handsome Frank's excellent article on algorithm anxiety for Lecture in Progress. Sticking to the subject of Instagram, the pressure to be perfect is a relatively new concept.
Sure, people have always suffered a little from the "keeping up with the Joneses" mentality, but social media has only pushed this to How to build your confidence back up extreme. The terms "van life" and "digital nomad" are probably familiar to you. They hint at young, bronzed, good looking couples living "their best life" and touring the world in a camper van. Seemingly successful entrepreneurs "smashing it" and "hustling" to fly to exotic cities around the world.
Healthy, toned women adopting impressive yoga moves on a beautiful beach somewhere — a stunning blogger striking a pose in the latest styles. These people might look like they've got it all figured out, but the reality is often very different. I grew up in a sleepy town surrounded by farmers' fields. We were like the Goonies. Cycling around together, playing football, climbing trees, building dens — it was great.
It was enough. We weren't aware of the wider world. Our small town was "home", and we were happy. We didn't compare ourselves to anyone or wonder if the grass was greener elsewhere. It just didn't matter. We lived in the moment, embraced the present and were quite content with our lives. When did we start to want more? Was it when the Internet came along and exposed us to everything? Did Facebook play a big part when it felt like everyone was having such a great time, all the time?
Has Instagram only made things worse? Are all these podcasts about business and four-hour workweeks making us feel inadequate? Have the subliminal messages in advertising been encouraging us to be entrepreneurs, city dwellers, world explorers, always pushing on?
Is that capitalism's sole purpose — to encourage us to consume continually? All I know is that when we "unplug" and stop exposing ourselves to all the content from social media or advertising, we're a lot happier. When we ignore the brainwashing rhetoric, we're more present. We don't feel inadequate, ugly, wobbly or boring. We're not continually hankering after clothes or makeup to make ourselves feel better. We're just living and accepting that perfection does not exist. It's almost like taking the red pill and stepping out of The Matrix. Once you realise that no one has it perfect, that everyone suffers, you can feel the weight lifting from your shoulders.
You can get back that feeling from childhood when all that mattered was right now. When I quit alcohol in January, I turned to clothes shopping to get my dopamine fix. Browsing websites on cold, winter evenings and adding things to my cart made me temporarily happy until I received my credit card bill and realised that all this stuff was causing stress.
It's an easy trap to fall into. We think shiny, new things will help lift our mood but we're just keeping ourselves on a treadmill — one that keeps us running when all we want to do is relax.
Where was I getting my urge to shop from? Yep, Instagram. Bloggers sharing their capsule wardrobes pushed me to buy the same things. The problem is you can never keep up! When I'm living a frugal existence, I'm happier.How to build your confidence back up
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