“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” ~ Steve Maraboli
Are you “I am woman hear me roar!” or are you a little more timid, ‘gumming’ yourself through life? Taking an honest look at yourself and answering this question could make all the difference for your future.
Basically, there are two opposing kinds of confidence a person can embrace. One comes from a strong, quiet strength and the second from a fear-based confidence.
Quiet confidence is an inner strength that, when attained, doesn’t have to be talked about or placed on a résumé; it shows in a person’s demeanor.
These are the people who don’t have to shove their opinions down other’s throats. They don’t need to scream from the rooftops their ideas or beliefs; it’s demonstrated in their day-to-day choices, how they handle situations, and how they manage stresses.
When you spend time with these people, you walk away feeling as if you were the only one they came to see. They give energy because they have it to give. They inspire because they are inspired. They are the ones who can find joy in any situation, or at least they can turn a negative into a positive.
Quiet confidence people are on-purpose people. They’ve learned from the past and are moving forward. They have an attitude that says, “Been there; done that; I’ll do it again — IF it makes sense to do so.” They operate from an offensive position.
Things confident women do:
- They understand and embrace their strengths and gifting. They make a daily effort to place themselves in jobs, relationships and circumstances that utilize their specific aptitudes.
- They make a point of assessing their weaknesses and seek out opportunities to build them into strengths.
- They cherish their friends and families, but they make a point of spending time alone. They’ve learned how to be their own good company. There is value in entertaining yourself and being alone with your thoughts. We all need time when we are free of others’ expectations and demands.
- They accept their own body image. It’s one thing to be health conscious and to take care of yourself first in order to be there for others, but more importantly, strong women know how to embrace their own uniqueness. There’s more to worry about in life than hair color and thigh size.
- They may be victims, but they don’t stay there. They actively pursue what it takes to move through the event. They don’t give away their power.
- They take time for themselves. You can’t give away what you don’t have yourself.
- They embrace change. Rather than complain that things are different, they look for the positive in the new adventure.
- They don’t waste time on things they can’t control. They accept the uncontrollable items and make a path around the obstacles.
- They are kind and practice good manners.
- They work hard to have others feel important.
Things confident, strong women NEVER do:
- Gossip. They understand that dimming others’ lights does not make theirs shine brighter.
- Be judgmental. They understand that everyone has a story and even if it’s not the best, they’re quick to be equipping and inspiring.
- Blame others. No one wins at the blame shifting game.
- Participate in self-deprecating talk. Words are powerful. Negative talk about yourself creates a downward esteem spiral. Bite your tongue, if you must, to avoid self-defeating words.
- Control every situation. The need to control every situation means the confidence is originating from a place of fear and is rarely positive.
- They’re not attention seeking. There’s a difference between being outgoing, and enjoying life, and doing things that intentionally draw attention to themselves. They show genuine interest in others rather than talking about just themselves. They engage others in conversation.
- Bragging isn’t their style. If there’s bragging to be done, they let others do it.
- They aren’t drama queens. They’ve learned not to over complicate things. Confident women act rationally and don’t feel a need to run the show by their emotions.
- Attitude down. Confident women rarely project an attitude as their first line of communication. They can give birth to one when a situation calls for it, but they don’t camp there.
- Failure doesn’t frighten them. They understand that failing means you’re trying, so they embrace the effort, fail, adjust and try again.
- They don’t break their word or find it necessary to lie. They’ve assessed the situation, answer slowly, and then respond in order to avoid cover-ups or breaking their commitments.
- Waste time- Confident women understand the true cost of time and that people matter most. They spend their time wisely in order to place people at the top of their priority list.
- They don’t live in the past. Strong women appreciate that there’s nothing that can be done to change the past, and worry doesn’t change anything, so they move forward.
- They aren’t negative. Confident women have learned to avoid negative people, places and energy. They’re aware that limiting their time in negative situations is the best way to protect themselves.
Fear-based confidence operates from a defensive position. A bite-before-bitten attitude. The individual may look like they’re in charge and can handle life or situations, but truthfully, they are scared. This type of confidence tends always to be announcing themselves—they’re often the résumé flinger.
They want you to know that they are capable of handling a job. They often discuss past successes, or may turn most conversations into glowing reports about them. They have a need for you to know how adept they are in a multitude of situations.
Here’s the good and the bad of fear-based confidence for the individual and the people around them. For the individual, they may feel it’s necessary to always over-deliver, which will, over time, be exhausting. For instance, if they are giving 150% at work, they have very little or nothing left for other parts of their life.
That short-changing of energy in the rest of their life will cause them to always be in a tug-of-war lifestyle between relationships and work. When they recognize this imbalance — or when a crisis inevitably erupts in their relationship — their desire to right it will lead them to shifting gears in the other direction, leaving their work percentage out of line. Put simply, they are perpetually out of balance.
The truth is, the most any of us can ever give is 100%. Not having it allocated properly is dissatisfying to the individual as well as the people in their circle of influence. The frustration for maintaining the re-allocation of this individual’s focus can drain their energy and joy for life.
So what’s the solution for fear-based confidence?
1) Take an inventory of your skills, talents, and strengths. It might be a good lesson to humbly ask others you trust what they believe are your character strengths and abilities. Hearing what others think may help you to better understand your place in the world. It might also have the capacity to help you better understand your worth.
2) Stop the negative thoughts and self-doubting. This might be a tougher lesson, and you may need some professional guidance, but do it. We tend to have self-loathing or lack of personal recognition of our strengths and can be quick to see our shortcomings. There is strength in knowing who we are and being comfortable with our real self. Without it, we can doom ourselves to a life that exists on a gerbil wheel.
3) Assess your life: your job, your living situation and your relationships, and ask yourself why you have what you have. Are you accepting less than what is best for you? If so, change it. Be bold and change it! Life is too short to settle for mediocre. That might mean you have to work on your relationships by changing yourself, or bringing new life to it with real communication. You might have to take steps to change your job or where you’re living.
You may be working a job that is either out of your personal gifting, lacks your passion or simply has you in over your head. Don’t just continue because of inertia; evaluate and change. Your passion depends on clarity.
4) Be vulnerable. This step is tougher for fear-based individuals. It means you’ll have to be open enough to put aside all the protection mechanisms you’re used to using. Decide instead that you are enough and this is an adventure to discover new territory within yourself. It won’t be easy and will feel so awkward you’ll be tempted to run back to what you know.
5) Down shift. Slow your life down in such a way that you have time to respond rather than to react. Fear-based confidence tends to react to situations too quickly. Do whatever you can to slow your life down in order to have time to think before answering or following through. Moving at the speed of light will keep you highly charged emotionally. This is neither useful for decision making, your immune system or living a peaceful life.
Confidence is an evolving maturity. Sometimes you may get to the quiet strength type of confidence because you’ve also reached the “I quit” point in your life. Sometimes when you have nothing to lose, you are better able to determine an enhanced life for yourself. However, the energy you’ll use to come to that point can have adverse health effects and cost you dearly in emotional health and/or relationships.
Here are 20 tips to move you from lack of confidence to a comfortable, confident life:
- Learn something new. Read a book, take a class, try something you never thought you would. It will empower you.
- Do something for someone else. Take the focus off of you; the feel-good-about-yourself enzymes you’ll stir up can carry you to the next level of You.
- Organize something. It doesn’t have to be big; it might just be a junk drawer or vacuuming behind the couch. You’ll know it. That’s enough for now.
- Build a bucket list and start checking things off. Hang it where you’ll see it daily. Plan to accomplish one of them a month.
- Write a note of appreciation for someone that you know rarely gets thanked for their job.
- Plan for success. Put your gym clothes on in the morning and place your shoes where you’ll trip on them first thing.
- Keep a diary. Write down your thoughts. Writing has a way of helping you know what you know and bringing facts to emotional thoughts.
- Step out of your comfort zone. If you’re an introvert, go to a book signing, a networking group, or a particular fund-raising event. If you’re an extrovert, practice sitting alone with yourself, book a hotel room alone with just your thoughts, or unplug from all electronic social media for days or—GASP—a week!
- Work out. The movement will kick in the “I can accomplish anything” feel-good enzymes.
- Never make decisions when you’re in a vulnerable state. Make a Ben Franklin list, then walk away from it for a day or two.
- Make a plan of things that matter to you and how you’re going to acquire them.
- Ask yourself who you are, what you stand for, what you won’t tolerate. Then evaluate situations where you are allowing things you shouldn’t and don’t do what you desire and change them.
- When you’re afraid of looking foolish, embrace the idea that if you knew how little others think about others, you could move through mistakes easier.
- Break big projects that scare you into smaller pieces and just do the first step and then the next.
- When it comes to fear holding you back, do whatever it is that scares you before you have a chance to talk yourself out of it.
- Acknowledge your doubts, then train them or prepare better, then move forward anyway.
- Ban the word “can’t” from your vocabulary.
- Stop people pleasing because you’re afraid of ___________ (you fill in the blank). Please people because you choose to, not because you think you have to.
- We all run our lives and values on self-created rules. Make your rules answer to your needs today. They may have been good ideas in the past but no longer serve you anymore.
- Insert yourself into new experiences. Multi-faceted people have more understanding of who they are.
We may move from one type of confidence to the other depending on the seasons in our life we are experiencing. If you predominately operate from a defensive spirit, perhaps understanding why will move you to a confident offensive mindset.
The “why” may not be immediately clear, so move forward by practicing one of the tips above until you can determine the “why.” If nothing else works, build your bucket list, and hit the gym!
What are some things confident people do in your circle of influence that you can emulate?