It is funny how confidence can waiver like the wind. Maybe not funny, but true, at least for me. One moment I feel buoyant and competent. Moments later, I gather data that counteracts this sensation and I waiver, as if my confidence is elusive and situationally dependent.
Thank goodness during these moments my wisdom foundation kicks in. This is the part of me that does not waiver and is proud of all my mistakes and successes. It is the deep, old and wise part of me, that feels love and admiration from people, sees the truth in my actions, understands my intentions and values life as a continual, unfolding experience. This is the palpable true me, accessible all the time. But what prevents access? I do! Let’s unpack why.
This fluctuating part is, well, what I call my teenager. We all have them; either literally in our life, watching them go through all the same stuff we went through, or figuratively with our confusion and doubt about ourselves.
Questioning ourselves is what makes us human, it is consciousness. It is a normal part of our brain and body function, but given our societal influences (magazines, tv shows, clothing stores, etc.), has gotten out of balance with reality.
How to cure the teenager? Well, I am not sure about the real ones (my kids are still young), but I do know a thing or two about the one inside my body and brain. Hormonal or not this teenager holds me hostage at times, questioning my value, and trying to keep me safe, by playing small and hiding. What it does not understand is that I am already safe, and strong and smart, etc. Maybe not as smart as him or her, nor pretty, nor rich, but I am simply perfect the way I am (with lots of room for growth and improvement as I move through my life, no big heads here!)
Case in point: The other day, I was feeling a little not confident. I had a zit on my nose; nothing can bring me to my teenage years like pimples. I feel exposed, kind of like I felt throughout my teens. Exposure equals vulnerability. When I am vulnerable, I think (and I believe this is the plight of most teenagers) that everyone can see all of my faults and mistakes on the big picture board I am dragging along behind me. That day, I was talking to a few people, told them about the pimple on my nose, they looked closely, said they had not noticed it and kept talking.
This tiny little interaction befuddled me. How could I see the thing every time I looked in the mirror (you name your flaw of the day, physical or behavioral), yet the people in my life did not notice? It was the first thing I thought of or looked at but I was the only one looking. And this narrow focus limited my ability to see other things, as well as be my full self. I was locked up inside myself looking through a faulty lens. What a waste of time!
How frequently do we lock ourselves inside because we perceive we are not good enough, smart enough, etc. Our gift of consciousness is running amok! We assume we should be free from being human, we think we should be perfect. When we are not we lose our confidence. We lose our firm trust in ourselves to be us, flaws and all. Our confidence to be our full selves is what brings joy to other people. It relaxes them and gives permission that they may be full too.
Want to feel firm trust in yourself? Try these three experiments:
- Look at yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you. You will realize that the you they see is perfect, not flawless, but perfect.
- Do something that makes you feel confident. It can be anything: knitting, climbing, painting, running, teaching, walking, nature, etc. When we do something that fortifies our confidence we can often turn the tables on the teenager. After step two, do step one!
- Make a list of all the good you have done in your life, NO QUALIFIERS!! Qualifiers undermine our confidence and are unnecessary for this exercise. See what it feels like to simply acknowledge your successes. Period. Then, back to step one: share the list with someone who loves you!
If you are having a hard time sustaining your confidence, come in and see me. I have a few helpful tricks up my sleeves. Invite perspective, stop wasting time!