Studies have found that some women experience a sharp decrease in self-esteem once they reach 50.
In one study, only 15% of women over 45 said they had high or very high confidence, while almost half of respondents described themselves as having no confidence at all. In contrast, for many men, confidence goes up as they age.
It makes a lot of sense that we’d grow more confident as we age. After all, we’ve been around a lot longer, we’ve grown from our experiences and we’ve sharpened a whole lot of skills.
So why do some women say they have less confidence as they age—and more importantly, how can we change this?
Lower self-esteem doesn’t come from us.
I’m a big believer that the reason why some women report declining self-esteem has nothing to do with the women themselves. It has to do with the unrealistic messages we hear in our society.
We’re inundated with messages that we, as women, lose value as we age. It’s very possible that women are turning these negative messages on themselves. That’s pretty natural, considering we’re surrounded by them all the time.
But the great news is, we don’t have to.
We can take a look at those societal messages—the ideas we absorb through advertising, media and even strangers on the street—and we can start to recognize these ideas as false. These messages don’t have to be true for us.
Once we recognize that, we can practice letting go of these negative messages. We can develop new habits that naturally increase our confidence.
Underneath all those false beliefs, we have so much to be confident about as we age. We have so much experience, knowledge, wisdom, skill and connection.
Here are a few things I’ve found to help me release false beliefs, so I can continue to gain self-confidence as I age...
Detach self-esteem from male attention.
As women, we’re taught from a very young age that our value is tied to how much male attention we get.
The most obvious form of this is attention focused on our looks or “attractiveness”. Even if we define beauty for ourselves, male attention can still impact our self-esteem.
We live in a society where (even though it’s changing) men still call a lot of the shots. Male attention, focus and praise can be a factor in how we perceive our own value, whether that’s in the office, in the work we do, or even from strangers we see on the street.
The same study I referenced earlier found that four in 10 women over 50 said they felt less confident due to missing out on male attention. If you practice separating how you feel about yourself from how men feel about you—your confidence naturally grows.
Ask yourself what your self-esteem is based on!
We’re raised to base our self-esteem and confidence on external things. How much praise we get, how much we’re paid, how much recognition we get or how we look.
Even when we don’t base our self-esteem on external praise, we’re still absorbing messages all the time that say we should.
Your opinion is the one that matters here. Try asking yourself what traits you really value—in others, and yourself. Do you value caring? Strength? Perseverance? Humor? Creativity? Kindness? Then find examples of those traits in yourself and your own life.
Make a practice of reminding yourself which intrinsic traits and values are important to you—and remember which traits you have!
Define beauty for yourself.
Everyone wants to take pleasure in their own unique beauty.
From childhood, we are bombarded with messages about what makes a woman beautiful. Almost every single one of those messages tells us that a beautiful woman is a young woman. Of course, youth has a very special beauty! But so do all the other phases of life.
For the most part, in the media, women in those other phases of life are ignored. So it’s pretty easy to unconsciously equate “beautiful” with “young.” That unconscious belief can wreak havoc on our self-esteem.
Ask yourself: do you really think only young people are beautiful? Probably not, right? I bet you can think of a ton of examples of exquisitely beautiful people in all phases of life.
Just the practice of purposely looking for examples of beauty can do wonders for your confidence. Once you define beauty for yourself, it becomes a whole lot easier to see your own uniqueness as beautiful.
What do you think of these tips? Do you already do all this? Are you inspired to try? We’d love to know in the comments.
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