Taking charge of your thoughts, especially when it's feelings about yourself, can be one of the toughest things to do when you don't feel confident. Sometimes you critique yourself and feel shy around others when you can't find ways to feel comfortable in your own skin, rather than embracing yourself for who you are. But why put yourself through that kind of stress when you're already perfect? Even though it can be hard to feel beautiful in your own skin, there's a way to overcome your negative thoughts and learn to accept yourself for who you are.
"It all comes down to self-worth — feeling that you are truly of value, no matter how you look or act or think or what others think of you. Not feeling comfortable in one’s own skin means not accepting who you truly are—seeing your strengths and weaknesses and learning to embrace them and work on personal growth as needed. Too many of us think 'If I just looked better, were skinnier, were more successful, then I’d feel comfortable in my own skin,' but it’s not about that at all. None of those things will help until you learn self-worth," says clinical psychologist, speaker, and founder of AZ Postpartum Wellness Coalition Christina G. Hibbert, Psy.D. in an interview with Bustle over email. Rather than filling your head with thoughts of things you wish you had, find beauty in the things you already do have — whether that pertains to the way you look, your career, or personality. Want to be more comfortable in your skin? Here are 15 ways for you to do just that.
1. Stop Seeking Validation From Other People
Rather than validating your worth via others' opinion, find self-worth within yourself to become comfortable with who you are. "If someone is a perfectionist or a people-pleaser and lives for others' validation (as we all do, at least from time to time!), these factors can really prohibit someone from being comfortable in their own skin and living in accordance with their own wants and needs (instead of others')," says psychotherapist and LGBT+ affirmative counselor Kristen Martinez, M.Ed., Ed.S., LMHCA, NCC in an interview with Bustle over email.
2. Fake It 'Til You Make It
Believe it or not, no one has all the answers. While I'm not saying you should try to pretend to be someone you're not, forcing yourself to be comfortable in your skin can allow you to eventually be comfortable for real. "Sometimes it can help to 'fake it 'till you make it,' in the sense of putting forth the confidence you need to just get out there and tackle that new goal, even if you don’t feel like you’re comfortable yet. Sometimes we need to push ourselves into those uncomfortable situations so we can discover the strength we really have and see it in action. But, I do not encourage faking who you are. That will not work, and it’s something we have to work on in order to overcome," says Hibbert.
3. Build Your Self-Worth
"The only true way to be comfortable with who we are is to work on building self-worth, and that’s going to take much more effort than a 'trick' or a 'hack,'" says Hibbert. So how do you build your self-worth? "Work on building self-worth by using 'The Pyramid of Self-Worth.' I've developed this model to help my clients (and myself) overcome those feelings of insecurity, self-doubt, and discomfort. It gives us something we can actively DO to feel greater self-worth, and it doesn’t focus on false external solutions, like trying to tell yourself you love yourself when you really don’t—yet," according to Hibbert.
4. Become Self-Aware
Becoming more self-aware usually doesn't happen overnight, but even the slightest baby steps to be more aware can allow you to be more confident. "The first step from 'The Pyramid of Self-Worth,' is that] we must be aware of who we really are. We must be willing to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the exceptional in us. Look for your strengths and weaknesses, and list them. Don’t judge. Instead, just gather information about who you are and how you are in this world," says Hibbert.
5. Accept Your Weaknesses
While you're learning to be more self-aware, try to accept all of your characteristics, even your "bad" ones. "[The next step is to] practice self-acceptance. Focus on accepting each quality you’ve discovered about yourself. For some, accepting the weaknesses will be toughest; for others, accepting strengths will be a challenge. As you work on self-acceptance, one quality and experience at a time, you will begin to feel more comfortable in your own skin, no matter what the world says or does," says Hibbert.
6. Practice Self-Love
Stop being so harsh on yourself. Everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Instead of punishing yourself, brush it off and make fun of your actions whenever you can. The more easygoing you are with yourself, the better you may feel. "Finally, practice self-love. Be kind to yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Be compassionate when you make a mistake and tell yourself 'it’s okay.' Let others love you," says Hibbert.
7. Work On Current Personal Issues
While it's never easy to dig deep into your insecurities, one of the only ways you're able to feel comfortable in your skin is by fixing those problematic thoughts and feelings. "Work on the issues that are making you feel uncomfortable with yourself. Ask yourself, what you need to do or change to be a person who likes and respects themselves more. This can lead the way to discovering what you need to do to be more comfortable with who you are," says psychotherapist and author of Your Best Age is Now Robi Ludwig in an interview with Bustle over email.
8. Ask Your Friends For Their Opinion
"[You] need to find what's unique and lovable about [yourself] first. And if [you] have difficulty with this, ask some friends who love and support [you] to weigh in and help them point out what's special about [you]," says Ludwig. Great friends love you for who you are. Don't feel shy when asking for their input; it can help put things in perspective and may even give you a confident boost.
9. View Your Thoughts From An Outsider's Point Of View
Imagine if your friend was saying all the negative things you're thinking about yourself. Would you tell them to stop? Would you agree with what they're saying? Try to view your negative thoughts from an outsider's point of view so you can stop yourself from saying those not-so-great things inside your own head. "They might need to ask themselves what they need to do and change in order to be the type of person who can love and feel good about themselves. It's always best to put yourself in the driver's seat," says Ludwig.
10. Don't Listen To The Media & Make Your Own Rules
Sometimes it's not easy to be comfortable in your skin when you're constantly surrounded by magazines and movies that emphasis on what the "perfect human body" is. Rather than trying to fit that type of image, learn to appreciate your body, because you're beautiful just the way you are. "The culture and media tell us that we 'should' look, act, or feel a certain way, and if we don't (which we invariably don't all the time!), we feel self-conscious, insecure, and uncomfortable with ourselves. Worse still, if society, the culture, and the media don't even give representations or examples of people like us, there is erasure of our identities - our 'skin' - and we can't feel comfortable if we aren't sure that we even have a place in society!" says Martinez
11. Surround Yourself With Positive People
While not everyone is perfect, surrounding yourself with people who put you down, or are constantly negative won't help with your self-esteem. "If someone is surrounded by friends who aren't comfortable in their own skin (especially if they exhibit disordered eating, body shame, negative body talk, or eating disorder behaviors), it can be hard for them to foster self-acceptance while hearing all of these negative messages," says Martinez.
12. Stop Worrying About What Other People Are Thinking About You
"When we place too much value on what others think than we do on what we think, feel and believe about ourselves, we will feel more uncomfortable with who we are. As we work to develop self-worth and self-love, we will find we can let others’ opinions go," says Hibbert. You're using too much of your precious energy stressing out how others are viewing you. Just be yourself and the right people will be attracted to you for the right reasons.
13. Find A Support Group
Surrounding yourself with loved ones who appreciate you for you can remind you that your personality and characteristics are perfect just the way they are. "Seek out people who are similar to you or are struggling with similar issues. Find support groups, or create your own! There is immense power in realizing that you are not alone," says Martinez.
14. Engage In Cultural Critique
Be critical of the dialogue that's going on inside your head, and analyze why it's happening. "Engage in cultural critiques of what exactly you being uncomfortable with yourself does for society: does it keep you silent/voiceless? Does it keep you a consumer, searching for the perfect product to 'fix' yourself? Pull back the curtain to see what society may be doing to be telling you that you're not okay the way you are, and live radically by telling society that you are absolutely okay the way that you are," says Martinez.
15. Practice Gratitude
Sometimes it's easy to take our ourselves for granted, even when we don't mean to. Try to remember all the wonderful things you already put into the world and learn to be grateful for what you already have. "Practice gratitude for all of the things that you can — and do — contribute to the world: all of the things that you can do with your body, your mind, your personality, your spirit, etc.," says Martinez.
While it might take some time to overcome your insecurities, as long as you're true to yourself and love all your flaws and strengths, you can hopefully become comfortable in your own skin sooner than later.