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You’ve Got It, Mom! 10 Tips to Boost Self-Confidence

In my adult life, nothing has sapped my self-confidence like motherhood. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, the kids grow and change in a new direction. And watching other moms only makes matters worse. I spend my days sucking up cereal with a hand-held vacuum while Supermom posts to-die-for pictures on Pinterest. Of course, it is perfectly normal to feel insecure at times. But self-doubt can create a vicious, downward spiral. To lift yourself up, you’ve got to tap in to your inner core of confidence. Here’s how.

1. Know yourself. Over-estimating your abilities will cause you to crash and burn like an American Idol wannabe, says Lynn Kennedy Baxter, B.S.N., M.A., a licensed marriage and family therapist. And underestimating your abilities may cause you to pass up chances to stretch your skills. “Get reality checks from people you trust to give you good, honest feedback,” says Baxter. You may be holding yourself back.

2. Get passionate. Fuel your confidence by investing in your own interests. Take dance classes, start a blog or finish your university degree. “When we’re passionate about something - about anything - we become more attractive to others, and more importantly, we become more attractive to ourselves,” says certified life coach and inspirista Jennifer Tuma-Young. Do what lights your fire.

3. Stop comparing. “If you feel like your life is a see-saw, perhaps you’re depending on other people for your ups and downs,” says communication consultant Sam Horn, author of What’s Holding You Back? 30 Days to Having the Courage and Confidence to Do What You Want, Meet Whom You Want, and Go Where You Want. Comparing yourself to others generates feelings of inferiority or superiority, neither of which is helpful. Be accountable to your own wishes and values.

4. Banish limiting language. Telling yourself,  ‘I can’t,’ ‘I’ll never’ or, ‘I always’ reinforces your flaws and shortcomings, says Baxter, and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Either accept your inadequacies, or choose to develop the trait or skill you’d like to have.” Ask yourself: ‘What words of encouragement would I offer a friend in the same situation?’ Then say them to yourself. Optimistic self-talk inspires confidence.

5. Rest up. “Research clearly demonstrates that even a few days of too-little sleep causes a part of the brain called the amygdala to go into overdrive with fear and anxiety,” says Baxter. Instead of responding to stress with worry and panicked preparation, take a warm bath, then get to bed. You’ll be ready to move mountains in the morning.

6. Affirm your attributes. List your top 10 qualities. “They can be serious - like, ‘I’m a great listener’ - or silly, like, ‘I always call people back,’ ‘I read with my kids every night’ or, ‘My cookies sell out first at the bake sale,” says Tuma-Young. Celebrating your own unique, special skills makes you feel fabulous.

7. Coach yourself. There will be times when you don’t live up to your own expectations, like when you scream at your four-year-old for washing the dog with pricey salon shampoo. “The key to a more productive approach lies in these two little words: ‘next time,’” says Horn. Focusing on how you’ll act differently in the future frees you from shame and self-blame.

8. Speak up. When you’re unhappy, you have three options: You can whine, you can wait or you can take responsibility, says Horn. Be proactive rather than passive. Tell the school events organizer “no” if you don’t want to be in charge of the silent auction this Spring. Staying true to yourself minimizes feelings of burnout and resentment.

9. Make a difference. Giving to others increases feelings of competence and connectedness. Tuma-Young volunteers with Enchanted Makeovers, a non-profit organization that offers inside-out makeovers to women and children living in shelters. “It’s not about giving to the needy,” says Tuma-Young. “We’re all needy. When we help each other, we heal our own lives.”

10. Be positive. It may seem like other people have easier lives, but that’s just an illusion. Pay attention to small victories, like making a home-cooked meal that everyone in the family will eat. Celebrate improvement rather than focusing on perfection. And give yourself permission to feel disappointed when setbacks happen. Just don’t let them stop you from starting again. And again.


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Heidi Smith Luedtke, Ph.D., is a personality psychologist,  former educator and mom of two. She is the author of Detachment Parenting.




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