“Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.” – Lao Tzu
Did your parents regularly demean or criticize you? Ignore your feelings and desires? Say you were the reason for their unfulfilled life?
My mom left behind her home in the Philippines to marry a man she loved in Malaysia. They moved to a country where she didn’t speak any of the languages, practice the local religions, or have any friends.
She felt miserable and lonely. And she decided that I, her firstborn child, was the reason for that misery…
She projected the pain of her isolation onto me, regularly telling me:
“Nobody likes you.”
After a while, she didn’t need to tell me these things. These words became my regular self-talk.
Read More: The Importance of Cultivating Self-Love & Self-Compassion
If something like this happened to you, you may experience low self-worth.
Maybe you act in self-defeating ways like compulsively shopping, abusing alcohol, or date love bombers. On the other hand, you may have become the star athlete, the influencer, or the high-achieving leader.
In any case, whatever you did, your parent was never happy for you.
And even if you’re an adult now and don’t see them that often, you carry their voice within you. That inner critical voice is always saying: “You’re not good enough.”
So how do you boost your confidence when you feel unworthy?
If you’re like me, knowing my inner critic is wrong doesn’t change anything.
All the cognitive behavioral therapy and affirmations in the world didn’t make me feel better, end my eating disorder, underearning streak, or toxic relationships.
That said, I found things that worked for me. Here are my practices to increase self-confidence:
Accept that you were not the cause of your parent’s unhappiness. As a kid, you had no control over their feelings or actions.
Accept that no one you date, no amount of money you make, and no awards you achieve will change their view of you.
Because their unhappiness was never truly about you. They were wrestling their own demons.
Grieve the fact that you didn’t get the parent you needed or deserved. Sit with the feelings – the sadness, anger, loneliness, or shame.
Notice the bodily sensations that arise – the tightness in your shoulders, the coldness in the pit of your stomach, etc. Honor those feelings that arise.
First, extend compassion to your inner child. Imagine yourself as a little kid who first heard their parent calling them names. Validate their feelings, eg. “I’m sorry mom was so mean to you. You didn’t deserve that.”
Remember to talk to that kid the way a kid would understand. Care for them. Usually, kids want something simple, like a hug, or to be taken away from the mean parent, or to hear that you’re there for them now. Give your inner child the love you didn’t receive.
Second, compassion for your inner critic. Recognize that they are also trying to help you in their own way. Thank them for their input and let them know it’s safe for them to rest now.
This step is about connecting with the energies of Love, Wisdom, Truth, or other needs you wish to embody.
It may help to imagine a Loving Parent, Best Friend, Shaman, or Spirit speaking to you. What does it feel like to be in their presence?
Notice the bodily sensations that come from receiving love, understanding, and support. Often, this feels like a lightness, a sense of expansion, or warmth.
Notice the images that arise. What does this Loving Inner Guidance tell you? Listen to them. This is the voice of your true self-confidence; the voice of your authentic self.
My inner critic still loves to chime in but these practices have helped me shift away from her and towards my loving inner guidance more quickly.
By practicing the above consistently, I’ve not only gained more self-confidence, but also healed my eating disorder, increased my income, and developed healthy relationships, including the relationship I now have with my mother.
Read More: 10 Powerful Quotes to Boost Your Confidence
This post was contributed by Mei Li Ooi. She’s a relationship + mindset coach at Rebuild Connection. She has helped people gain self-worth and healthy boundaries. Want to learn more about how she can help you? Connect with her here.