12 Ways to Improve Your Self Confidence

Lots of good advice in here. I need to take a lot of it!

Ashleigh's Happy Place

1. Look good.

You know how uncomfortable you feel when you wear dress shoes that are too stiff to move your toes, or a high-necked shirt, or anything else that doesn’t make you feel like your true self? It’s hard to be confident when you’re uncomfortable! Now imagine how comfortable you feel in your worn-in jeans and favorite t-shirt. Totally different, right? You feel sure of yourself because you feel like yourself. Looking good isn’t just about looking polished and put together – looking good is about feeling good! Make sure you’re wearing clothes that fit you well and look nice on you. Style your hair in a flattering way, brush your teeth until they shine, pluck and groom and do whatever you need to look good, and you’ll feel confident!

2. Smile in the mirror.

It sounds silly, but it helps! Instead of brushing your teeth and then frowning…

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One Day at a Time

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The last few days have been hard. Thank you so much for those who have offered encouraging words!

I am not sure if I mentioned this before, but I am in recovery for substance abuse—almost 4 years sober. At my stage, most people see “using” as only a passing thought, and then they can shake it off like dust on their shoulder. When I get the thoughts though, it takes more than a brushing. It’s more like taking a rug out back and beating it to death with a tennis racket. It takes more time, and I have to be more thorough than the average addict.

For some reason, I have been having an overwhelming desire to go back out, not caring about the consequences. I have come extremely close in the last two weeks.

But I believe God has been protecting me. And I believe my anxiety and depression are so overwhelming sometimes, I feel like I have no other options than to numb them completely by using a substance to escape. I have to stop and tell myself over and over: Take it one day at a time.  Just wake up and put one foot in front of the other, and somehow, things will work out. That applies to my depression and anxiety too.

No matter how hard it is, it always passes. I have to fight the good fight and keep on keepin’ on.

I have always loved this quote, and many of you are probably familiar with the first part. It’s like a breath of fresh air and helps keep me centered.

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen.
— Reinhold Niebuhr

Here’s to having a good day, living just in today.

For anyone who wants to learn a little more about addiction and what it looks like, check out this website:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/info/addiction/

The Apathy Spiral

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Source: guerillamedianetwork.com

Today I am not myself, not that I really even know what that looks like. I am not anxious or depressed per se. I just don’t care. About anything.

My job is extremely unfulfilling, my love life is bland and predictable, my friends are distant and absent — well you get the picture. If I didn’t have to get up and make a living, I would probably sleep all day. Because for some reason, I just don’t think life is worthwhile today. What is there to look forward to, really? I feel like all my main choices have been made, and now I am stuck.

I have been told that apathy typically comes along with anxiety and depression. And it usually means that you have resided yourself to the status quo and don’t feel like (or have the energy for) working to get yourself out of it. Yep, that pretty much covers it.

The problem with apathy is not only will I stay in the problem, but it tends to send me into a spiral of depression.

I start having thoughts like:
• No one likes me, so why should I make an effort to reach out? The result is always the same.
• Romance is not real; it’s just something you see in the movies. There is only lust and commitment. Now I am stuck with commitment where nothing is exciting anymore. There are just years and years of carefully avoiding each other or watching TV to pass the time.
• I am in a dead-end job. But I am not even that great at it — so who would hire me?
— and so on, and so on.

Right now, I am trying to stay positive and write a gratitude list. I have to remember no one is responsible for my happiness except me. So the only one who can do the work is me. When you have enough pain, you will change. I am not there yet, but I am on my way. I really hope I snap out of this soon or I will fall into another depression. I am my own worst enemy.

 

Depression: A Side Effect of Living

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Source: www.quotesdump.com

I came across this quote and found it completely opposite for me:

“Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. Depression is a side effect of dying.”
― John GreenThe Fault in Our Stars

To me, depression is not a side effect of dying; I am not afraid of death. It’s a side effect of living!

Being alive is much more terrifying. It’s trudging through all of life’s hardships, ebbs and flows, hurts, disappointments, rejections, heartbreaks, loss, new beginnings, endings, lost dreams, dashed hopes, and the crushing sense of hopelessness. I have learned these are just a part of life, and instead of allowing them to destroy me, I must fight the good fight, do the next right thing, and just let it go. It’s just a part of being alive; no one is immune.

Of course, happiness is a side effect of living too. And so is anger, love, resentment, jealousy — all emotions come into play. It’s a matter of channeling the negative ones, the ones that perpetuate my anxiety and depression, into something positive. I was told once that no one is born with a sense of purpose or a reason to live. They just discover it on their own. I personally am still looking.

In the meantime, I always have to have something to look forward to or something to work toward. Otherwise I can be lost in a sea of despair or apathy. I have to wake up every morning and think:

• How can I make someone’s life better, just for today?
• What can I do to better myself?
• What is something new I can learn or experience?
• What do I have, right now, to be thankful for?

These, along with actively battling negative thoughts, help me get through each day. I will be honest, some days just being alive is hard enough — there is not much room for anything else but breathing.

As long as I am moving forward and keep a positive attitude, then I might just see a miracle someday.

I was duped by Disney

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Source: www.fanpop.com

So most people probably figure out that the whole “happily ever after” thing doesn’t really exist around age 13. I am a really slow learner, so for me, it was more like 30. And it took me a LONG time to get over it.

I truly wanted to believe that I would be whisked away by my soulmate on a white stallion; that good always triumphs over evil; that people are inherently good; that if I worked hard enough my dreams would come true; that friends are easy to come by and will always pull through no matter what; and that happiness drops in your lap when you aren’t even looking.

Since I didn’t have the most idyllic childhood, these movies gave me unwavering hope; something to look forward to in life. That as I got older, things would only get better. And I continued to believe this even after reality smacked me in the face on a regular basis. After all, Cinderella had some hard knocks, and she made it work!

I think this has always been a part of my problem with anxiety and depression: I had unrealistic expectations from a really early age. Shakespeare has been quoted as saying,”Expectation is the root of all heartache.” Oh, was he right.

I like to learn things the hard way. Here are just a few of the things I have finally accepted:
Life can really suck, but it’s what you make of it. If things aren’t working out, do something different. Nothing will change unless you do.
Hard work does not equal success. You can find a job you love and truly enjoy — but you may not get paid in money, recognition, admiration, or the like. And you have to be OK with that.
People screw up. You have to learn to be happy with yourself first and not depend so much on others. They will never be able to give you everything you need, because they are all humans after all.
I really have to love myself before I can love others. I know, I know, this is really cliché. I found if I am not confident in myself, no one else will be either. I have to accept myself warts and all. If other people don’t like me, well then, I probably won’t like them either. Win-win!

Does anyone else have thoughts or beliefs from childhood that turned out not to be true? 

 

Two for one: Anxiety = Depression?

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Source: http://www.artfire.com

According to PsychologyToday.com, anxiety and depression are “two sides of the same coin.”
• Of those who suffer from depression, 60%-70% also report having anxiety.
• Anxiety typically appears in a person’s life years before depression.
• The average age to develop an anxiety disorder is late childhood/early adolescence.
• Anxiety can manifest itself into a variety of disorders like OCD, panic disorder, social phobias, PTSD, and others.

(To see more, visit http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200310/anxiety-and-depression-together to read the full article.)

Whelp, I am over-qualified for this one. I was diagnosed with panic disorder (as a tween), clinical depression (as a teen), and PTSD (as an adult). Triple threat, baby! To the outside world, I can really look like an erratic, hot mess. When I am in the throws of anxiety or depression, I feel like I am (A) slowly sinking into the bottom of a dark, dank hole, or I am (B) free falling off a mountain — desperately grabbing for anything and everything on the way down.

Unfortunately most people I know don’t know how to help, react, or respond. And why would they? If they haven’t experienced it for themselves or witnessed it firsthand from a loved one, they can’t possibly get it. And I can’t take it personally. I can’t say what it’s like to be on a battlefield, so I wouldn’t know how to comfort a combat solider. I haven’t seen what they have seen or felt what they have felt.

Thankfully I have found a few people I can trust with my feelings. If anyone tries to tell you things like, “Just get over it already,” “Things are not really that bad,” or “At least you are not starving in Africa,” then you need to find someone else to confide in.

When I can’t get a hold of someone, I try to work out what might be causing my stress or sadness in the first place. I find it’s almost always related to warped or unhealthy thinking.

I try to ask myself:
• What am I really afraid of? It’s usually losing something I have or not getting something I want.
• What can I do about it right now? Taking action gets me out of the problem and moving toward the solution.
• What’s the worst that could happen? Whatever my answer usually is, it has never happened. If it ever does, at least I will not be taken off guard.

Although feelings are very real, they are not always facts. Just because I feel worthless, lonely, like I am going to die or go crazy, etc., does not mean it is reality. I may have to live with these challenges, but it does not mean I am out of control or helpless. Always remember that anxiety and depression are real medical problems that can require treatment. But take heart — they can be greatly reduced or even eliminated with a professional’s help.

I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes: “There is a light of the end of the tunnel, and it’s not always a train.”

Finding hope in depression & anxiety

Like millions of people around the world, I suffer from clinical depression. I have tried everything — exercise, prescriptions, therapy, substance abuse, and even hospitalization — and nothing has entirely removed this darkness from my life.

So instead of drowning in it, I have decided to finally take a stand. It’s my life, and I am ready to start living regardless of my diagnosis! I know I will have good days along with the bad, and I will share both.

I am NOT a doctor nor an expert on the subject; all I can offer is what has worked for me. 

Here’s to finding the hope amongst depression!