We have all heard of “liquid courage”, the infamous phrase to describe drinking alcohol to banish social anxieties.
Many recovering alcoholics have expressed to me the concern that without alcohol, they will no longer be able to maintain their social circle or feel comfortable in the presence of others. The truth is, “liquid courage” does nothing more than dull the intensity of emotional scars, fears and trauma briefly. As tolerance grows and pain deepens, more and more alcohol is needed to experience that sense of freedom and euphoria. It is a slippery, dangerous slope. By patiently nurturing our self-confidence and tending to past wounds, we can finally break free of this vicious cycle and just happily be ourselves. Here are 15 confidence boosters far better than liquid courage that are tried-and-true ways to foster a brilliant, empowering self-image.
1. Discover a Hobby
There is a whole smörgåsbord of hobbies to explore; crafting, writing, drawing, hiking, martial arts, dancing and running are just a few possibilities. One of mine is discovering new, quirky words everyday, such as smörgåsbord, which is a Scandinavian buffet style meal. Dedicating time and effort to a hobby will help you embrace your potential and have fun doing it!
2. Look for the Positive
Negative self-talk is a surefire way to tear down your confidence. Everyday, look into the mirror and vocalize something that you love about yourself. If this approach is too much at first, try writing it down in a daily journal. Even if you feel only disbelief initially, the power of visualization and affirmation are powerful. Embrace the power of positive thinking!
3. Accept Compliments
It can be awkward to accept compliments, especially if you’re suffering from low self-esteem. Rather than doubting their sincerity and brushing it off, why not graciously accept them? There is no harm in letting yourself enjoy their kind words. Even if you don’t see for yourself what they see, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong. You deserve it!
4. Dress Sharp
We’ve all heard the phrase, “if you want to be successful, dress the part.” I’m tweaking this just a bit. If you want to be confident, dress the part. Doll yourself up in those dazzling pieces that you’ve exiled to the back of your closet. Everyday is a glorious invitation to be you. I’d never suggest to abandon pajamas and sweatpants, of course. I only urge you discover what a wardrobe that is uniquely you can do.
Exercise is absolute magic for your body and mind. There is no greater way to experience natural euphoria and self-pride. 30 minutes of exercise five days a week lowers stress and improves confidence, health and mood, reports the Mental Health Foundation. Of course, if you’re just starting out, any exercise is better than none. With baby steps you can build a strong fitness foundation and bask in the endless physical and emotional benefits.
6. Eat a Balanced Diet
Exercise and nutrition are a match made in heaven. Here are just some of the juicy rewards you will reap if you commit to a healthy lifestyle: more energy, a stronger body, a glowing complexion, more willpower, longer life and more happiness! It slashes through depression and halts triggers. And of course, with all of these benefits comes self-confidence.
As humans, we are gifted with a precious gesture known as the smile. Psychological scientists report that the simple act of smiling lowers your heart rate, reduces stress and helps you relax. Smile at yourself in the mirror to perk up and smile at loved ones and strangers.
8. Meet New People
It can be daunting to put yourself out there and interact with new people, but it can also be very therapeutic and empowering. If you’ve attended AA or NA meetings, you are fully aware of just how uplifting this experience can be. We expand most beyond our comfort zone, so why not try a group exercise class or local library book club? Ease your way into it. Going head to head with fears is often the best way to conquer them.
9. Look People in the Eye
The people you feel intimidated by are just that: people. They live, breathe, fear and suffer just as you do. Knowing this, try to acknowledge them with eye contact. This will express sincerity and respect. You may also feel it is easier to get your message across through an open channel such as this. It might be difficult at first but with practice and determination, you can break that barrier.
10. Stand up Straight
The proper posture announces to the world that you are ready to succeed. Stand up straight and hold your head high as you walk into meetings, both formal and casual. Try it right now. Square your shoulders and lift your face up. Doesn’t it feel great? The tallest trees enjoy the most sun!
11. Focus on Successes
Failure. Some of us are far too comfortable with this word. It is time to shake free and push our failures away to a safe distance. Acknowledge and learn from them, but stop clinging to them. They do not define you. Almost every dance is composed of forward steps and back steps, so do not allow slip-ups to crumble you to the ground for good. Focus on your goals and accomplishments. Celebrate every small step. Relish in the journey!
12. Practice Kindness
Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “everyone can be great, because everyone can serve.” The benefits of service to others are endless. It enhances their lives as well as your own; you will get a hearty boost of confidence when you realize just how much of a difference you can make. Every little bit helps and you will feel a greater sense of belonging to a better world you helped create.
Quick, shallow breathing always accompanies panic. Try to breathe deeply and slowly. This will soothe frazzled nerves and lay out a level platform for your thoughts. From here, it will be easier to summon positivity and self-assurance.
14. Purge Your Friends
Do you have friends that criticize and doubt you, or perhaps downplay your recovery? Are there people in your life who are outwardly supportive and loving, yet your gut instinct raises a red flag? I urge you to consider the relationships that lift you up and those that drag you down. Recovery is about purging; sometimes that means cutting free from those who make you doubt just how wonderful you are.
15. See a Professional Counselor
Sometimes we just need help. A professional counselor can walk you through social anxiety, emotional pain and other challenges. They will gently delve into the roots that cause insecurity and provide mental tools to take with you on your journey.
The world can be a daunting place, but it is absolutely brimming with beauty and excitement. If lack of confidence is keeping you from truly immersing yourself in life and engaging with people, I urge you to give these tips a try. Are there any suggestions that you would like to make that have helped you? I’d love to hear them. We’re in this together!
By Angela Lambert
Photo by: Brennen Bearnes (Flickr)