Remind yourself daily (and until you believe it) that no amount of bad feelings or bad days negates the things about you that are inherently good.
Let's say you're at an interview. You've put on your best outfit and shellacked your nails but still, your stomach gurgles when they ask, "What is your best quality?"
You could say uber organized or that you're dedicated to a fault (which are both good interview answers) but you and I both know that neither of those things is the very best about you. So what is exactly? And why is that such a hard question to answer? It's safe to say we all need a little more self-love. We need to be able to have a long list of things that are great about us, rather than reaching for silly platitudes to pull out in awkward situations.
Seriously---what is the very best thing about you?
If you can't answer fast (and trust me, you aren't alone!), try these along with me:
decide who you'd be if the world never told you differently
So much of the negativity we believe about ourselves is a result of unrealistic ideals. Who says we have to believe the voice that says we need more clothes or more money or bigger boobs? Is it the opinion of someone we know and love? If not, try saying: I am enough, I have enough. I learned this from Anna Quinlain and it has been life-changing. Keep it on repeat because it is truer than true and before you know it, the feelings of lack will grow smaller by the day.
put some weight in your dreams
The stirrings in your heart are there for a reason. Those dreams you have way down deep might feel big and out of reach, but something within you knows you have what it takes. If you've been longing to be a career coach, it likely means that you are a good problem-solver, that you are caring, and that you have great planning skills. Always wanted to raise horses? Maybe it's because you're hard-working and empathetic. Pay attention to heart flutters---they'll tell you a lot about the good things inside.
let go of the things you've been carrying
The time the teacher made you feel small in seventh grade - it's time to let it go. The jokes they made behind your back? Time to say 'goodbye' to them too. The day you failed and told yourself you'd never put your heart on the line again? You've got to leave it behind. I know that some hurts are too big to forget. Honest, I do. But you owe yourself the gift of setting them down and moving forward. There's nothing to be gained from holding on to past hurts. Stop taking the bad along with you so you don't have to crane your neck to see the good.
think about the times you are most carefree
When are you the happiest? Least self-conscious? Enjoying every bit of life without thinking about your lovehandles? Go there. Is it playing with your pups? Crossing big things off the to-do list? Imagine yourself in these moments - how do you look? What feelings radiate from you when you're on cloud nine? Look at the end result of those happy memories and resolve to draw confidence from there.
take a poll
Ask your closest friend or a trusted colleague to help you identify your positive contributions. If told that you can be counted on to take the lead in a crisis or are always actively listening when someone needs you, that will help you recognize those great qualities within yourself. Instead of wishing for more time with those you love or bemoaning your small salary, you can see the good that others see in you, and take that to heart instead.
surround yourself with confident people
We've been trained to notice our faults. We point out or short-comings often, especially in groups with other women, because we think it's better to be bashful than bold. But maybe being with other women who feel good about themselves can rub off on us too. Make an effort to spend time with a friend or coworker who seems comfortable in her skin. You can ask for tips or just observe, and by simply being around her, you'll likely get used to the idea of being proud of what you've got.
get some fresh air
Sun on your face, wind in your hair---it's easy to shake off the tough stuff go when you're out in the elements. And take it from me, an inside-on-the-couch kind of girl through and through: there is no cure for the blues (or self-doubt) like some sun-induced endorphins. And bonus points if you're particular wallflower-y: you'll feel doubly good about yourself for conquering something you didn't feel like doing in the first place. Go for a jog or a brisk walk, put some air in the bike tires, or just walk out to the mailbox and breathe deeply.
give yourself compassion
Here's the ultimate in feeling better about yourself: Recognize that it's OK to have negative emotions, feelings, or experiences. Remind yourself daily (and until you believe it) that no amount of bad feelings or bad days negates the things about you that are inherently good. Compassion will last you through the most trying of times. So just like you would seek to do for others, be kind instead of critical. Give yourself some grace.
So yeah, feeling good about yourself will take some work. But it is worth every minute you spend. Invest in working against the things that pull you down. Make time to infuse your life with positive images of yourself. Give yourself a break from seeking perfect, stop carrying around your hard times, and learn to forgive yourself when things don't go the way you planned.
You should love the person you spend the most time with. So do it. Go and love yourself.