Life can be tough. Rolling with the punches as they happen can be hard enough, but long-term effects on our self-esteem can cause real damage. It’s all too easy to stay down when your confidence is shaken, but the good news is that it’s never too late to pick yourself back up and rediscover your true self.
In my culture, a woman’s place is by her husband’s side. Your success is judged not on your own achievements but on those of the man you marry. Finding a good husband is everything. Just typing those words makes me laugh, it sounds ridiculous, right?! But that was my reality for many years.
I married a good man who loved me and treated me beautifully, even though I didn’t really love him back, at least not in the way he loved me. I did what was expected of me and thought it would make me happy. How was that ever going to work?! I had an OK marriage and a ‘good job’ but nothing was setting my world on fire. I tried to tell myself that I should be happy, that I was being ungrateful, but nothing worked. Why? Because I wasn’t living life true to myself.
I can’t sugar-coat it; the journey from that place to where I am now was hard, but I look back with gratitude for the lessons it taught me. My own struggles mean that I can help other women get through their own dark times – and so far I’ve helped over a thousand women start living life true to themselves. So how did I do it?
The first thing I had to do was stop pretending I was OK. It’s so easy to bullshit yourself and shove your most painful feelings away. There are women everywhere doing this right now – you might be doing it yourself. We try to make ourselves feel better with food, alcohol or even shopping trips. It’s true! Ever thought that you’ll feel better if you just buy that cute sweater in the window of your favourite shop? I think we’ve all used those tactics at some point in our lives – it’s so easy to do.
For me, I knew something was wrong, even if I didn’t know what it was. What I did know was that I didn’t want to live my life unhappy. That’s the first step we all need to take – accepted that something is wrong. Once I realized this, I decided I wanted to fix it and would do whatever was necessary to live a happy life full of passion.
I started to take myself seriously and invest time and money in myself. If I didn’t how could I expect others to? I read motivational books, listened to inspirational coaches and even got a counsellor for few months. If that’s too big a step for you right now, why not commit to watching a new TED talk every morning? Two of my favourites are Isabel Allende’s Tales of Passion and Brené Brown’s The Power of Vulnerability. What I learnt was that I needed to start doing things for me.
I decided to take care of myself, instead of waiting for someone else to do it for me. I got a personal trainer, read books on nutrition and learned to eat better. I found a great hair stylist and started to get facials and massages. I treated myself to few sexy dresses and shoes to go out feeling beautiful. I got my finances in order and and even created a beautiful, peaceful bedroom so that I could have my own personal retreat.
Take time to create your own pamper evening, just for yourself. Buy a face masque, light some scented candles and soak away in a luxurious bath. Or sort through your clothes – if there’s anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t make you feel gorgeous then let it go! You’re amazing just as you are – don’t settle for second best or wait to feel good about yourself when you’re a size smaller!
Not only did I decided to pursue my passion for photography, but I taught myself to become a sensual creature. As well as doing my own boudoir photoshoots, I took pole dancing lessons, bought some very sexy lingerie (just for me!) and studied burlesque. It can be scary to get to know our sensual personalities but I promise you that it will free your life like nothing else. A lot of women I work with are frightened about feeling confident and sexy – they fear rejection or ridicule – but once they face their fear and see how incredible they look in my boudoir photographs there’s no stopping them!
I made a conscious effort to make more eye contact with people and smile more. I also started complimenting others when the opportunity arose. This was definitely a great thing for my self-esteem as well as theirs – and it’s given me the confidence to thrive in any social situation, even the most awkward ones.
So next time you see a woman with a great hairstyle, wearing a dress you love or rocking a pair of killer heels tell her! Imagine how great you’d feel if someone did the same to you!
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘fake it till you make it’? It’s great advice! Being confident didn’t come naturally to me so at the start of my journey I had to fake it. What I learnt was that over time it did become second-nature – the more I practiced the easier it became. Now my self-confidence is truly authentic and I really do feel great about myself!
If you’re inspired to rediscover your true self and live a life full of confidence, then try this exercise, taken from my eBook ‘7 Days to Self-Love’.
Take a moment now to write about the life you dream of living – really feel it. Describe your surroundings, the people around you, how you feel and what you’re achieving. Now think about the details in that life. If there were fresh flowers on your bedside table then go buy some! You can’t change everything overnight but there are small steps you can take to get that life right now – so go ahead and take them!
Want to start your own journey to self-love? I have the perfect place for you to start and it’s all about ‘women empowering women’! My new women-only support group, Daring Greatly Diva Network is for women just like us who are committed to living courageously and authentically. Group members offer support and kind advice to help others see themselves for the strong, beautiful women that they are right now.
It’s a safe place where you’ll meet likeminded, supportive people who’ll help you meet your goals, whatever they are. Sign up now to receive supportive words of wisdom from other women – and share your own wisdom too.
I can’t wait for you to start living the life you’ve always dreamed of!