I have been fascinated for years with self-confidence. It sometimes seems that those who you think should be overflowing with confidence actually struggle, and others who don’t seem to have a lot going for them are actually quite self-assured. I have struggled at times myself with confidence, and as a parent, sometimes I just wish I could give it to my children. But the thing with self-confidence is that it comes from within. No matter how many compliments you receive, how much “success” you have, or how much another person tries to infuse you with confidence, self-confidence is self-made. So how do you build it?
One of my favorite ways to think about confidence was introduced to me by my sister-in-law, and is from Sean Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens. He relates self-confidence to a bank account. Every time you treat yourself with love, dignity, and respect, you make a deposit into your personal bank account (or PBA). And every time you treat yourself poorly, you make a withdrawal. So, just like with an actual bank account, your PBA can grow and grow, or can be extremely low or even bankrupt. And it has nothing to do with how other people treat you, what they say, or what they do. It is all about the thoughts, feelings, and actions YOU are taking. (Isn’t that a relief?! You have the power to be confident!)
In the past year, I have realized that this same concept applies to our body image as well. In addition to our PBA, each of us has a BBA, or body bank account. Just like we might have a healthy checking account, but our savings account is suffering, I believe it is possible for somebody to have a lot of self-confidence in most aspects of their life, but to still be struggling with a poor body image.
Here are some signs that your BBA might have a low balance (or even be in the red):
- You struggle with feelings of inferiority based on your appearance
- You think everyone is making judgments about your body
- You are constantly comparing your body to others’
- You are easily jealous based on body size or shape
- You put down women who you think look better than you
- You yo-yo diet and exercise sporadically
- You are waiting for your body to change before you go after goals in your life
- You have stopped caring at all about your body
- You feel ugly, unattractive, unsexy, and unlovable
- You feel like your ideal weight is unachievable
Here are some signs that your BBA might have a healthy balance:
- You can see the beauty in your body
- You can see the beauty in other women
- You regularly feel grateful for your body
- You don’t think about others judging your body
- You feel confident in your body
- You eat healthy and exercise as part of your lifestyle
- You believe that you are at your ideal weight, or that you will be
- You believe that you are beautiful just as you are
How are you doing? How is your account? I think it’s good to take inventory–to do a balance inquiry now and then. This account is important, and it will never close. Now, as with a checking or savings account, there are times that you will make a withdrawal. That’s OK! Because as long as your deposits are more than the withdrawals, even by a little bit, slowly but surely, your account balance will increase. Deposits of ANY amount are worth making. And you can make deposits every single day.
So what are some ways to make deposits into your BBA?
- Exercise! Any amount of exercise sends the message that you love your body and want to treat it right.
- Make healthy nutrition choices. Feeding your body the best fuel lets it know you care.
- Drink your water! Our bodies need water, but we often try to fill that need with unhealthy alternatives.
- Sleep. Our bodies need time to recover in order to feel their best.
- Acknowledge the things you appreciate about your body.
- Pay attention to what is beautiful about your body.
- Replace a negative body thought with a positive one.
- Notice the beauty in another person without comparing yourself to her.
- Dress your body in something you love.
- Have empathy for yourself when you have made a withdrawal. (And instantly pay it back?!)
- And there are many, many more!!!
What things might you be doing that are making withdrawals from your BBA?
- Overeating, undereating, and any disordered eating.
- Oversleeping or not sleeping enough.
- Neglecting your body by not moving it.
- Ignoring its nutritional needs.
- Not hydrating.
- Berating yourself for making a withdrawal.
- Thinking cruel thoughts about it.
- Comparing it to other bodies.
- Never dressing it in a way that feels like love.
- Destroying it through drug or alcohol abuse.
- Harming it in any way (cutting, etc.)
I can’t tell you enough how much I believe in this concept of the body bank account! About a year and a half ago, I was making a lot of withdrawals. I wasn’t exercising as regularly as I usually do. I wasn’t fueling my body well. I was overeating regularly and not even thinking about hydration. I started thinking more negative thoughts about it, and got caught up in noticing what I didn’t like about it to the point that I was verbalizing these thoughts in front of my kids. I made lots of excuses. I didn’t have the time or energy to take care of my body. My account, which had once been pretty healthy, was quickly running low. I knew I needed to do something.
Since then, I have changed my habits, my thinking, and the way I feel about my body. One deposit at a time, I have resurrected my dwindling body image. It is possible to feel confident and beautiful. And it isn’t anybody else’s job to make you feel that way. In fact, nobody else is listed on the account–they aren’t even allowed to make deposits or withdrawals. You are the only one who can, which is really the best news ever, because you are the only person you can control. So take control of your body bank account. Make a deposit today. Make two tomorrow. And as the balance rises, notice how you feel. You will feel stronger, more energized, and more confident. You will feel as amazing as you already are!
“If you’re still looking for that one person that will change your life, take a look in the mirror.” –Unknown
Love your body, and your body will love you. ♥