Mental Mojo: Building Confidence


Kristyn Pscolka, Staff Writer

Hello and welcome to my podcast! My name is Kristyn Pscolka and I’m here to talk about the real deal with mental health. Anxiety, depression, and eating disorders are all things I have gone through. I am recovering everyday from my eating disorder and I’m so glad to say that I am doing much better! Everybody is struggling with something, so why do we push those feelings away? Let’s dive into some deep convos and help build each other up.

Kristyn is still building her confidence and knows how hard it is to have and show. She bounces ideas off of what she wrote about building confidence (which you can find on the Patriot Press website). She encourages you to listen to it to get more tips on how to build confidence. Maybe some of her ideas that help her will help you too! <3

Confidence: “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.” Nowhere in there does it say anything explicitly about someone’s appearance. 

Gaining confidence is a really hard thing to do. Four years ago, I stopped playing softball. I started counting calories and exercising because I felt fat and out of shape. I thought that becoming thinner would give me confidence. It gave me a goal and a sense of control. I’d weigh myself everyday and see that the number was going down. 

I started losing weight and could not stop. I was happy to see the number on the scale go down and to be able to see my abs. I began getting bruises on my legs. My tailbone hurt and I was constantly cold. My spine turned purple and was popping out. I remember one time after I showered my sister saw my back and told me that my spine was purple and I instantly started crying. This was not confidence. My heart rate, blood pressure and heart were in trouble.

I learned the hard way that losing weight and becoming thin does not give someone happiness. It actually went the complete opposite way. My anxiety was constantly through the roof, I was having panic attacks, crying all of the time, depressed, never joking around, never enjoying my food or time with people, and a voice screaming in my head at all times. The next time you think you need to lose weight to be happy, do yourself a favor and think again. It may not have to do anything with your body. 

I realized that I just needed to find things that kept me busy in a healthy way. Playing softball was fun; it gave me something to work towards and I hung out with my teammates. I stopped because I knew I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I love hanging out with my friends, but I just wasn’t interested in the sport or sports itself. I learned that I am not a competitive person, my eating disorder is, but I always just wanted to have fun and as I got older softball became more about winning and the competition. 

I needed to find something else. I turned to working out and restricting food, as you may know, and that got me down a deep dark hole. 

So, how does someone gain confidence? First, find something you’re interested in. You don’t even have to be good at it. If you have fun with it, it’s a healthy way to pass time and it makes you happy, then it’s worth trying. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Trying new things is difficult for many of us, but you have to remember that what you think is going to happen and go wrong have very slim chances. If you’re scared to do it alone, ask someone to come with you or help you. 

A trick I learned in the hospital was to write down what I thought was going to happen. If I was going to a family function or hanging out with friends and I was scared, I would write down the “what ifs…” my brain created. What if someone comments on my plate? What if someone starts talking about exercising or dieting? 

My answer: walk away, but these things are not going to happen! Write down your thoughts before and after the event to prove that negative “what if” voice wrong. 

Finding hobbies is a great way to find yourself and gain confidence. Surround yourself with good energy. When you try new things, you find new ways to spend your time and experience different emotions. Like calmness, creativity, freedom, relief, etc…

My goal was to always gain confidence and Leanna would remind me that instant gratification was just a short temporary feeling of being satisfied. It would not help me long term. She told me to pull my phone out and search “How do you gain confidence?” Here is what came up:

According to Forbes “10 Ways to Build Confidence,” in addition to my own personal thoughts on each suggestion.

1) “Get Things Done”– Confidence is built off of accomplishments. When you set little daily goals and we check them off our to-do list, we feel more accomplished rather than only working on one gian overall goal (like recovery, which could take years). Being productive makes us feel better by keeping our mind busy, but it does not show our worth.

2) “Monitor Your Progress”– This will help you reach your goals and take a moment to be proud of what you are achieving. Write down what challenges you face today so it’s fresh in your mind. How you reacted and responded. What were you proud of? What could you have done better? 

3) “Do The Right Thing”– this could be tricky, but no one is rushing you to decide whatever it is you’re deciding. Take a pen and paper and write down what you are struggling with and what you can do to make sure it helps you and lights your path.

4) “Exercise”– exercising releases endorphins and it makes you feel strong. Remember to not overdo it. Because exercising relieves anxiety it can easily become addicting, especially with the world we live in. It’s very important to find healthy ways to cope with anxiety, self-insecurities and stress itself. 

5) “Be Fearless”– Practice trying new things. Being fearless isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s called “building” confidence because you need to build on it everyday. Fake it til you make it, right? 

6) “Stand-up for Yourself”– Own yourself. Own your body, the food on your plate, your favorite color, your answer to the math problem (even if it’s wrong), your belief, etc… You are so much more than what you eat, wear or drive.

7) “Follow Through”– Just when you think you are falling apart or getting uncomfortable, keep going because that is where you change. You aren’t going to grow in your comfort zone. If you continue doing what you are comfortable doing, you’ll never know what you’re capable of. 

8) “Think Long”-term– this is very important. Is skipping this meal going to help me long-term? I may feel like I achieved something after skipping it, but acting on this bad behavior creates more of them. “Actions dictate actions” is something Leanna always said. 

9) “Don’t Care What Others Think”– Similar to number 6, this is also tough because it is going to take time. I have been working my whole life trying not to care what others think of me. Put yourself first, but be mindful. Your differences make you, you. There is nothing bad about being different. Believe in yourself; start simple by being kind to yourself. Be your own cheerleader.

10) “Do More of What Makes You Happy”– Like I said before, finding things you love makes you feel important and purposeful. Set small goals of how you can do something each day to make yourself happy. Maybe it’s helping someone, taking time for self care, going to bed early, trying out a new yoga class, cooking a meal. Explore. 

I hope this helps you build more confidence