We've all heard the phrase "fake it till you make it" when reading up on how to be confident, but for Olympic athlete and Nike female fitness ambassador Kristi Castlin (she took out the bronze medal in the 100 hurdles at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics), this isn't the best strategy. Instead,the "realist" at heart believes the answer to low self-esteem is believing in yourself. Confidence is extremely important to Castlin as a professional athlete. Without a team to back her up, she has to own all her mistakes and shortcomings.
"My successes and my failures—everything is my responsibility," she told MyDomaine. "When you own all aspects of your career as a professional athlete, you can only be as good as your confidence level. If you believe that you're going to go out and be the best you can be, then you will. But if you don't believe in yourself, then you won't. Sometimes confidence is really that simple, especially for me as a professional athlete." We took five with Castlin to find out how to build self-esteem, along with her top tips for boosting confidence.
Give It Your Best
What does confidence mean to you? For Castlin, it means working as hard as she possibly can and giving it everything that she can possibly give. "[This means] that I'm as prepared as I ever could be to take on the task that has been set in front of me," she advised. "When I do these things, no matter what the outcome, I'm always proud of myself, which makes me feel incredibly confident. Why? Because I know that I gave it my very best."
Set (Realistic) Goals
When was the last time you gave yourself a pat on the back for all that you've accomplished? It's probably not something you think of doing daily, but it's a great reminder of how far you've come. Celebrating the small wins will dial up your internal morale meter. "I tend to always acknowledge the fact that I have achieved very high levels of success in multiple areas of my life," said Castlin. "I may not be the fastest on the track that day or even that season, but I have a college degree, I'm a professional, I'm happy, and I have great friends. All of these assets make up a strong and successful me. I constantly set goals for myself in other areas of my life so that if I fall short at one, I'm always reminded of the other powerful pieces to my puzzle of success."
Don't "Fake It 'Till You Make It"
While this popular mantra has been circulating confidence articles and forums for a few years now, Castlin isn't an advocate. "I'm pretty much a realist, so I'm not really into the 'fake it till you make it mantra," she said. "What I will say is that I am a 'be the best where you are' type of girl. Not everyone is going to be an Olympic medalist, or run a world record time in a marathon, or be in a Victoria's Secret fashion show. It's just not realistic to me, but I do believe that everyone has the physical and mental determination to be the very best they can be, right where they are, and that eventually leads to 'making it.'"
If you want to make a strong first impression, Castlin recommends you put your best personality forward. "I feel that your personality is what helps makes the strongest first impression," she said. "I tend to try to be very personable and show people that I care and I've performed and experienced things at every level."
Look the Part
There's something about looking good that makes you feel good too, and Castlin is a big believer in the power of self-image. "If you look good, you feel good and you do good," she said. "There have been a lot of times when I knew I wasn't the fastest girl on the track, but I always felt that when the camera panned over to my lane, I was still shining bright."
But Castlin is careful to point out the importance of not overemphasizing the way that you look. "I do think you can get consumed by external beauty," she explained. "I like the idea of feeling beautiful because of a favorite staple feature—regardless of what others say or think—or a part of your inner beauty that represents being a woman, as well as your innate ability to feel feminine and compete like a beast."
Focus On Yourself and YOUR Happiness
If you're battling with low self-esteem and can't seem to summon that inner power and strength, don't worry because even the most confident Olympic athletes have experienced those moments too. Just ask Castlin. "I really struggled with feeling confident when I was in college and competing," she said. "I came from a situation in high school where I wasn't losing any races, and I never was really challenged. When I got to college, I had a large amount of success very early on, but I had setbacks due to minor physical injuries. I could never be okay with coming in second place or third place; I just couldn't understand it. I just knew that I was capable of greatness but couldn't process that sometimes greatness takes time."
But there came a time when Castlin knew she deserved more and put her inner turmoil to the side. "I also feel that as a woman I tend to always put a lot of emphases on my relationships," she said. "I always put another person's endeavors, happiness, and trials before my own. It's hard because I always wanted to have a family early on, sort of the American dream of happiness, but I had to understand that that takes time as well.
"The best thing that I did in those situations was to truly focus on myself and my own personal happiness and greatness. Patience provides perspective. I had to take a step back to learn and visualize what direction I wanted my life to go in and what I wanted my legacy to be."
Create a Confidence-Boosting Mantra
Castlin has always been a girl with goals, but it's this personal mantra that helps to boost her confidence: I'm already enough. "I've achieved so many things throughout my life and came out of so many trials and tribulations on top," she said. "Any personal achievements or accomplishments that I add to my résumé of success from now on I really look at as just 'extra.'"
Starve Negative Thoughts
We're all privy to it at some stage in our life (sometimes multiple times a day) but if you truly want to summon confidence, you need to ditch those negative thoughts, once and for all. "I was deliberately given a vision, and it is my responsibility to see it manifest," said Castlin. "When I am met with a negative thought, I tend to view it as only a distraction to get me off track from achieving something great. Starve negative thoughts, and feed yourself with positive ones. Everyone will be the best at something."
Make Exercise Part of Your Life
While Castlin has made exercise her career, she strongly believes that doing a little every day is the secret to boosting self-esteem. "Athletes tend to always be in shape so that's always an extra confidence booster," she said. "Exercise not only affects your body on the outside, but it also helps you be very strong internally. When you know you've completed a hard workout (or you got over a hard time in your career), it can really make you feel like you can do anything and get through anything too."
Kristi's Top 5 Tips for Boosting Confidence
1. Focus on yourself.
2. Think about every setback as an opportunity to get better.
3. Always acknowledge that in every aspect of your life you have generated some type of success.
4. Learn to be patient but not passive.
5. Don't try to go after or tackle every opportunity that’s presented to you.
How do you boost your self-confidence? Share your tips with us below. Next up, how to start your day like the healthiest eaters.