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Been wrong all along - its all about confidence and self esteem :(

(23 Posts)
furryfriends57 Fri 07-Dec-12 13:33:51

Oh knowledgeable MN ladies
You probably all knew this already but as usual I am late to the party sad. For years I have tried everything to improve my dress sense, been to style advisors, colour advisors, read magazines etc etc and tried to lose weight (even though I was never chronically overweight) just to improve how I dressed. I always seemed to be looking for the magic cure but never found it and never feel happy with what I wear. After all this time its finally clicked that its all about confidence, I see ladies at work and out and about who aren't stunningly gorgeous but they have a presence and can turn heads no matter what they wear. So now my question is how to go about becoming more confident and better self esteem. I have tried counselling a few times for recurrent miscarriage but it didn't click with me so I am wondering has anyone done it for themselves or tried any other support mechanism (for example Neuro LInguistic Programming).
Looking forward to your opinions .......

tak1ngchances Fri 07-Dec-12 13:36:50

Hey furry. I suffer from terribly low confidence and self-esteem. I do CBT on an intensive basis, but the thing that has helped me most is getting a personal trainer. The exercise really does give a big boost to your energy and confidence and I carry myself better & feel brighter in myself.
I hated gyms with a passion and actually disliked my first few sessions. But now I love it.

Spookey80 Fri 07-Dec-12 14:21:12

You are so right! Some people can make any old thing look amazing just by the way they carry the self.
In my very personal experience I have finally found my own style, (that sounds so naff), don't try to be too trendy, just stick to stuff that makes me feel nice, and suits me. Regular exercise very important, stop trying to be something else, but look after yourself. Do your hair, makeup.i believe these are the things that help. ...but I am we'll aware it is not always as simple as that.

garlicbaubles Fri 07-Dec-12 15:45:00

Well spotted, Furry smile Daft as it sounds, you have it cracked already!

If you're thinking about how to be attractive - rather than the deep-down healing stuff, which is related but more subtle - I agree with tak1ng that physical confidence is key. When I went to live in Brazil, it was a massive revelation to realise that all those beautiful people were not beautiful in the strict sense; they had marvellous confidence. It shows in the way you carry yourself and the way you expect others to respond. We're crap in this country: we put people down for "showing out"; Brazilians tell each other how beautiful they are from birth onwards. (I'm not setting this up as an ideal; there's plenty not to like about their obsession with beauty, but they have something to teach an awkward Brit.)

The shortest routes to physical confidence are, imo: Pilates; Alexander technique; dance classes. Alexander's very expensive and probably most needed by those with back trouble. Taking Pilates will give you poise. Dance will add fluidity & charm to your movements smile

Forget about fashion but start making notes of what you really love about a look. Don't limit yourself to clothes - seek out colours & shapes in architecture, for example, that move you. When you find a plate of food especially lovely, take time to identify what attracted you. Try on loads of different outfits of all sorts - texture and drape are just as important as cut and colour. Feel how you move in different styles; pick something that seems 'you' and expect your style to change over time smile

Have fun!

DonaAna Fri 07-Dec-12 16:06:27

Yep - confidence is a big part of it.

And yes - I too learned to really love my body in Brazil (teetering around highly pregnant in bikini - every day, for two pregnancies) wink

Can I share another part of it?
Be interested in people around you. Smile, ask them questions, listen to them intently. They will find you are one of the most fascinating people they've ever met...

furryfriends57 Fri 07-Dec-12 20:49:21

Thank you all for your replies ..... sounds like I should be moving to Brazil! I would do anything to make this better not for me but for my DD because I'd hate for her to live life in the shadows like I have, she deserves so much more.
Furry xxx

Clumsasaurus Fri 07-Dec-12 20:52:58

I had NLP 6 yrs ago, just 3 sessions and it restored my life to me. Confidence, health and happiness.

Good luck and you are already more than halfway there by identifying what is maybe holding you back x

libertychick Fri 07-Dec-12 21:00:00

I went travelling a few years ago (well ten!) and decided that for the year I would say nothing negative about my physical appearance. No chats with other women about weight, no moaning about my hair, no saying 'what this old thing' when someone complimented a dress. It was difficult at first but it really made a difference...if a negative thought came into my head I would make myself think of something positive to counterbalance it - made a huge difference to how I felt about myself. And if other women said anything negative about themselves I would just say something nice and change the topic.

TravelinColour Fri 07-Dec-12 21:30:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

garlicbaubles Fri 07-Dec-12 23:06:11

I LOVE your self-positive year, liberty! Am going to emulate that (minus travelling, unfortunately) starting this very minute smile Thanks!

Oh, and I'll do some solo Samba practice in the mirror. I can picture my teacher - a massive, and sexy, Brazilian woman - going "Open! More open! Show yourself, sing out: This is MY body! Look, here, it's ALL MINE!!"
They were a good laugh, those classes: exhausting and exhilarating. I've never been to Zumba but I gather the good ones are pretty similar.

Meggles76 Sat 08-Dec-12 07:20:58

The past 18 months have been tough. My self confidence and self esteem have nose dived. But I'm getting there and this is what helps me:
2 Running and strength training - I run 2-3 times a week, more in the summer. Not only has this had a positive impact on my physical appearance, it has also improved my emotional well being.
3 Eating a balanced diet - I feel far better when I eat regularly and eat enough.
4 Knowing what I feel comfortable wearing - Slim jeans, stripy tops, scarves, jersey dresses, blazers, vintage blouses - all work for me so I stick to the formula. I often get compliments at work about my style and I used to get embarrassed and do the 'this old thing'. Now I smile and talk about the items. It feels good.

KristinaM Sat 08-Dec-12 07:38:26

Another vote for exercise. It does boost your mood and does wonders for your self confidence. Like meggles I run and do weights. Somehow just knowing that I can go out , even on a bad day with bad weather , and run a reasonable distance in a reasonable time, makes me feel like less of an old crock.

You need to find a form of exercise that suits your personality and lifestyle.doesn't matter what it is, as long as you do it regularly , you will get the health and psychological benefits .

KristinaM Sat 08-Dec-12 07:45:39

Oh and by the way, you've not " been wrong all along" !!!! Being a healthy weight, wearing colours that suit you and clothes that flatter your figure DO help you feel better. Yes there are few very confident women who dress like bag ladies and still feel great but us lesser mortals need all the help we can get.

Don't be so down on youreslf smile

AlwaysWantingMore Sat 08-Dec-12 10:26:23

Great thread!

I struggle with self esteem as well but think I have almost cracked the 'fashion' aspect of it by - only buying things I really like, will wear, suit me and I feel comfortable in. Not just the latest fashion or something I 'think will make me look thin' confused I have also lost a wee bit of weight (about half a stone) so that I'm comfortably in the healthy BMI range. I feel miles more confident, even though I'm the same dress size (12) things just fit better.

I think the other advice re positivity, smiling, listening etc is great and I'm going to try that. Negativity gets you nowhere, with yourself or others. But it's a tough nut to crack!

AgentProvocateur Sat 08-Dec-12 10:37:41

I'm not at all stylish (small, overweight and dumpy) and nor am I the most confident person, but I do attract people - tourists ask me to take their photo all the time, and people always speak to me on public transport - and I think it's because I'm quite smiley and friendly looking. At least, that's what I've been told. I see it in my DC. One Is like me, and has loads and loads of opportunities and amazing experiences. The other is more introverted, like DH, and has fewer.

It's a really interesting subject.

DolomitesDonkey Sat 08-Dec-12 11:49:38

I think it is partially confidence, but it is also the je ne sais quoi - some people just have style - and style is not fashion or rules or following a collection or shop religiously.

KandyBarr Sat 08-Dec-12 12:09:15

Great thread, though I have to disagree with garlicbaubles: I don't think 'we're crap in this country'. I think we're just not aesthetes - we're careful to value intrinsic qualities over physical beauty - as this thread proves. And that's a good thing.

British women are far too eager to compare themselves unfavourably with women from other countries, and I fear it sets us up to feel permanently inadequate.

Meggles76 Sat 08-Dec-12 13:41:04

Good point AGENT - I too am a short arse - albeit a skinny one! But I try to be warm and smiley and yes, I get attention from strangers. People often strike up conversations with me on public transport or they ask me for directions in the street... Interesting point you raise!

garlicbaubles Sat 08-Dec-12 14:34:41

I tried (in a lazy way, admittedly) to highlight that it's important to recognise there's more to life than beauty, Kandy, and Ana added a crucial part of the Brazilian thing: that it's also about relationships ... looking more outwards than in.

It is natural to feel proud of one's own body and appearance. This is something we actively discourage here; I think that's a big mistake. Being fit somehow gives one permission to feel good about oneself - perhaps we 'allow' it when there's been some pain involved confused I can't exercise now, due to health, and need every ounce of Brazil-style feelgood to love the body I have ... weak and out-of-shape as it is, it's MY body and I'd be a fool not to celebrate it.

Aesthetics enhance everyone's life. Again, pleasure in the senses is entirely natural and tends to be knocked out of us by our culture. We can nurture it, though, by taking frequent moments to cherish whatever we find lovely. That's even part of the treatment for depression, so it truly does improve our experience of life and how we feel about ourselves smile

I've had to think about this quite a lot, as my illness compromised pretty much everything about me. If I gave the impression I was saying "We're shit, they're better", I wrote my post badly. What happened was more like "Wow! I get it! I want it!" I went there with the standard bundle of self-dislike and negativity. I came back with a whole different kind of confidence, openness and joy in life. If I can share that around, I will!

libertychick Sat 08-Dec-12 16:26:53

There is something about the way we see our bodies almost as separate to ourselves instead of realising that we are our bodies and that when we rubbish our looks we are rubbishing ourselves in a very real way. I think the key to a healthy body image is embracing our image because once we realise 'yes, this is me' you will take better care of yourself naturally and that will probably result in a 'better' body.

It pains me that I wasted years feeling bad about myself and wasted good years for that matter. I held myself back from all sorts of things because I was so self conscious - I was 14 stone when I was 18. I didn't do my year away travelling until I was 28 and one of the major reasons I didn't go was because I would look like a freak on beaches in Thailand and thought that people would laugh at me in a wetsuit if I tried to dive etc. I literally forced myself to do it. I have photos of myself in my first month travelling looking hugely uncomfortable in long shorts and baggy t-shirts and then have photos at the end of the year, about a stone lighter - so not suddenly skinny, but tanned, relaxed, in shorter skirts and vests and so happy - I look like a different person. I now weigh about 10 and half stone and ironically all the same bits are a problem, my legs are still chunky and I am hairier than ever but I genuinely, genuinely do not give a toss!! I have a note that I wrote in my journal at the beginning of the year away when I decided to stop speaking negatively about myself and in this note I start at my toes (too big and hairy!!) and list all my faults from my toes to the top of my head. I read it now and am amazed that I had the time to be so introspective and feel slightly embarrassed at how ridiculous I was.

And on a final note - we owe it to our daughters to come to terms with ourselves and be positive role models. there is a world out there conspiring to make women feel completely shit about how they look and our girls need a safe place with a normal looking mum who lets them know they are ok simply by being ok themselves. (can you tell I feel quite strongly about this? smile)

ISawMummyAbroadKissingSanta Sat 08-Dec-12 16:30:17

I found the book "Healing Your Emotional Self" by Beverley Engel really helpful. I read it at the same time as doing counselling, so I got the added benefit of being able to talk through all the things it bough up.

furryfriends57 Sun 09-Dec-12 21:36:32

Thank you all so much for your helpful replies, its so nice to see some people have felt the same way and managed to escape. I think I will try NLP as its like my brain has a "blockage" that holds me back because I can be quite creative sometimes so I know I can do it if my flipping brain would just leave me alone. I am glad so many commented that it was an interesting thread because sorry but sometimes I feel like a unique freak when I read threads here where everyone seems so comfortable with themselves and their style choices ....

Sandlewardle Thu 13-Dec-12 18:26:48

Interesting blog post: "I started telling my daughters that I'm beautiful".

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