New Year Doesn’t Have to Mean ‘New You’

For many of us, as we get ready to ring in 2023, “new year, new me” becomes our mantra as we start obsessing over how to “better” ourselves. While I’m not diminishing the importance of focusing on your health or making goals for your future, please STOP thinking there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed.  

As someone who struggles with anxiety and self-esteem, it’s not just January when I think something is wrong with me that needs to be fixed. I am constantly berating myself — calling myself stupid or ugly or worthless. And, at the beginning of the year, when “change” seems to be the word on everyone’s lips, it feels like my normal insecurities are amplified.  

So, I urge all of you to make only one resolution this year: To start accepting yourself as you are. I know that’s easier said than done, so here are some practical ways to increase your self-confidence: 

Stop comparing yourself to others.

The media constantly makes us feel like we have to look a certain way, so it’s no wonder that most of our insecurities are focused on the way we look. It’s even harder when we scroll through Instagram and only see perfect selfies and faces that look alike. There are so many editing apps at our disposal today that, with just a click, you can slim your face, plump your lips and get rid of your pores. So, whenever you find yourself comparing your looks to those on social media, start repeating these three words like a mantra — IT’S NOT REAL! 

One thing that’s helped me is following Instagram influencers who focus on confidence and body positivity — and unfollowing those who make me feel worse about myself. A couple of my favorites are @grayhairandtattoo and @selfloveliv. They have helped me see that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes and ages, and that what’s most beautiful are the things that make us different.  

Focus on things you like about yourself.

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses — things they like about themselves and things they don’t. Stop giving so much weight to the things you don’t like about yourself. Instead, make a list of the features and traits you like about yourself. If you’re struggling to think of things, then ask the people closest to you, “What’s something you like about me?” and write those things down.   

Keep the list close to you – maybe in your wallet or hanging on the refrigerator – and add to the list whenever you do something that you’re proud of. Whenever you’re feeling particularly self-conscious, get out this list and read it over.  

Wear what makes you feel comfortable.

Did you know that feeling uncomfortable significantly reduces your self-confidence? I can attest to this. I have a problem with letting go of clothing that doesn’t fit me. I will force on my too-small pants and feel awful about myself and uncomfortable for the rest of the day. But, you know what? There’s an easy fix to this problem. Stop wearing/holding onto clothes that don’t fit and allow yourself to spend money on outfits that are your current size. 

Identify triggers and thought patterns.

Identify the conditions and situations that tend to affect your self-confidence. The Mayo Clinic identified these thought patterns that erode self-esteem: 

  • Jumping to negative conclusions with little to no evidence to back it up, such as “My friend didn’t reply to my text so they must be mad at me.”  
  • Having an all-or-nothing view, such as, “If I don’t succeed at this task, I’m a total failure.”  
  • Confusing feelings with fact, such as, “I feel like a failure so I must be a failure.” 
  • Undervaluing yourself, putting yourself down or using self-deprecating humor.  

Practice thinking of logical and positive explanations when you find your thoughts drifting to the negative, like, “My friend didn’t reply to my text because they’re busy right now,” or “Just because I’m struggling with my self-confidence and I feel like a failure, that doesn’t mean I’m actually a failure.” 

Let go of the people in your life who don’t support you.

Studies show that people with low self-esteem tend to surround themselves with people who put them down. They think, “This person views me the way I view me.” Instead, evaluate the people you surround yourself with, and give your time and energy to the people who make you feel loved. Life is short, so stop wasting your time on people who make you feel bad. 

Learn to accept compliments.

When you’re complimented, do you automatically blurt out something like, “Ugh, no I’m not.” By doing that, we’re denying ourselves the pleasure that can come from a compliment. Someone is saying something nice about you and trying to lift your self-confidence, and you’re just swatting it away. Instead, force yourself to say, “Thank you!” and suck those self-deprecating words back into your mouth until, one day, it will feel natural to accept compliments.  

Let yourself have lazy days.

If I spend a Saturday binging Netflix, I will berate myself for not accomplishing anything. But the thing is, letting yourself be lazy is a form of self-care. It can be a way of treating your depression or recharging after the work week. So, take the time to let yourself be unapologetically lazy. 

Talk to a professional.

Sometimes, no matter what we do to try and feel confident, our body dysmorphia won’t go away. That’s because it stems from a chemical imbalance in your brain that won’t just disappear with positive thinking. And that’s where making an appointment with a psychiatrist or a counselor comes into play. A good place to start is seeking advice from your primary care physician, who can treat mental health issues or refer you to a psychiatrist or therapist for additional help. You can also find resources by visiting bcbsm.com/mentalhealth 

Opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan or its subsidiaries and affiliates. 

Find more mental health news and information from A Healthier Michigan here.

Photo credit: Monica Drake

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