How To Feel More Confident And Beautiful, According To Dove's Women In The World Summit Panel

Dove is on a major positivity kick the past few years, and this Friday they sponsored a panel at the Women in the World Summit where four experts explored how people can actually go about choosing to feel beautiful. And from neuroscientist Dr. Stacie Grossman Bloom to Thandie Newton, an actress and activist, to Dr. Renee Engeln to Gabi Gregg, the body positive style blogger behind GabiFresh.com, they all had lots of ideas about to how to choose to feel not only beautiful, but also to feel more confident and better about yourself.

As Dr. Engeln pointed out during the panel, "deciding to be confident makes us feel good." And although all of the panelists were under no illusions about the fact that it is hard to feel beautiful and confident and to love ourselves in a society that tells girls and women we should feel confident while giving us every reason not to, these women also stressed that it is possible to get out of that mentality and to feel better about yourself.

So how can you do this? Well, there are a bunch of suggestions. Here are just a few.

1. Know That It Is Possible

According to Dr. Stacie Grossman Bloom, the way that our brains are wired is very much changeable. The thoughts you have are all the results of synapses, connections between neurons in the brain. When you make an effort to change your thinking patterns, you slowly change the synapses, and eventually you won't have to try to make yourself have more positive thoughts, they'll just happen. It isn't always easy, but it is possible. The negative ways you think and feel now are not set in stone.

2. Find Your Community

As both Gabi Gregg and Thandie Newton stressed, many young girls feel isolated growing up, especially girls of color. But really anyone who sticks out can feel like they don't belong, and as though they are therefore less valuable. But there are people like you out there. If you can't find them in real life, find them in online communities. Gregg, for instance, says that finding the body positive movement was what allowed her to know it was possible for someone like her to be stylish and beautiful.

3. Step Away From the Mirror

As Dr. Engeln pointed out, so many women feel held back by their beliefs about how people perceive our bodies, and we spend a lot of time obsessing about what we look like. She suggests we step away from the mirror altogether. Stop fixating on your appearance, and you will probably feel happier.

4. Get Out Of Your Head and Enjoy Your Body

Going along with that, Thandie Newton spoke at the panel about how dance saved her, giving her a way to just enjoy being in her body instead of focusing on what she looked like. Your body doesn't exist to be looked at; it exists to be lived in. Try to enjoy the many wonderful things that your body can do, rather than worrying what it looks like.

5. Go On a Media Diet

Newton also pointed out that many women's magazines benefit from our insecurities. When we buy such magazines, she says, we are literally spending money to feel bad about ourselves. She and Gregg suggest you go on a "media diet" rather than any sort of food diet. Choose which media outlets you want to consume based on which ones make you feel good about yourself.

6. Try to Stop Seeing Other Women as Competition

Amazing things happen when we stop worrying whether other women look better than you — or are more successful or better liked or anything else. You don't have to judge yourself based on other people. You don't have to feel bad because someone else seems to be "better." You aren't in competition with other women.

7. Imagine Yourself Being Successful — It Rewires Your Brain

Dr. Bloom explains that there are lots of small things we can do to not only stop getting bogged down in negative thoughts and instead feel positive instead. And one of the big ones is to imagine yourself being successful or happy or doing well. Doing so not only helps you form new synaptic connects, as we mentioned earlier, but engages the reward centers in the brain. Imagining yourself as happy makes your brain respond in such a way that you start to feel happy.

8. Be Your Own Friend

One of the thing all the women on the panel very much agreed on was the problem of negative self-talk. We are often so much harsher on ourselves than we would be with anyone else. Would you ever tell someone else they were lazy or ugly or horrible? Of course not. You probably don't even think that stuff about most other people. But you do think that about yourself. So when you catch yourself being cruel to yourself, try to stop and redirect your focus instead. If we change the way we think about ourselves, we can change ourselves.

Images: Giphy (5)