Tonight someone told me I am one of the boldest and most confident women they know.
When I saw those words my first thought was “What, me? You think that of me?”
If you asked the people who only knew me prior to a few years ago, they would probably be just as shocked as I was with those words. I spent most of my teens and 20’s being completely insecure. Terrified of what others thought of me. Dreading wearing shorts to school because of having to sit in the chair and my thighs being a little fluffy. Never talking to boys out of fear of rejection. Holding myself back from amazing opportunities because of fear of failure. Not telling people in my life if I was upset or how I truly felt because I assumed if I did they would just leave.
And the funny thing is, a lot of those insecurities are still a thing for me. I still look in the mirror in morning and catch myself critiquing my body. I still compare myself to other girls and how much more stylish they are or bubbly or wonder if friends really want me around as much as them. I still doubt my abilities and fear not being enough to make my dreams happen. I still fear rejection from guys and wonder if I will be too intimidating or intense for everyone.
But the difference now is I recognize those insecurities and fears and I don’t let them run my life. I realize they are a part of being human and they think they are keeping me safe, but really they are just trying to hold me back. I recognize when they are popping up and altering my actions and I have learned ways to move forward despite them. Not always perfect, but I recognize I don’t have to accept them as my reality and therefore I show up as a different person in the world.
So what are my tips for feeling more bold and confident in your life?
1. Start to recognize your disempowering beliefs (I am not organized enough, I am not a good public speaker, I don’t work out enough, if only I could drop a size or 2). The first step in being able to change any behavior is to be able to notice when it is happening.
2. As you begin to notice the disempowering beliefs write them down on a piece of paper. Then for each disempowering belief you write down as you recognize them, write a more empowering belief on the other side of the paper. At the end of each day say to yourself that you are letting go of the negative thoughts and choosing the more positive ones and read the positive ones to yourself.
3. Listen to pump up music (such as the champion by Carrie Underwood) that gives you a feeling of confidence and power.
4. Give yourself pep talks. No seriously, go stare in that mirror right now and tell yourself you are beautiful, capable, worthy of love, and going to do amazing things. We truly have to be our own biggest cheerleaders. It might feel weird at first, but with time it won’t and it will start to sink in. Our thoughts create our reality so you need to take back control of what you are telling yourself.
5. When you are thinking something about yourself, ask yourself if you would say that thought to a friend? If you wouldn’t say that to a friend then don’t say it to yourself.
6. Get support to rewire your thinking patterns. Because trust me, our ways of thinking, even if we don’t like them, are what we are used to and what our minds will naturally revert back to unless we reprogram our thoughts. And that is not always easy or quick, but with the right support (think life coach or therapist perhaps) it can be so worth it.
7. Take leaps of faith even when you don’t want to. Wear that outfit that is a bit more revealing than you are used to. Go to that networking event that kind of intimidates you. Take one step in the direction of being uncomfortable because with each step you will get more comfortable. With each step you will feel more empowered.
One of the most important suggestions I can offer though is to stop comparing yourself others. The friend that said she sees me as bold and confident see’s one version of me, and I am so glad she does see that version, but she doesn’t know that I also have my fair share of fears and anxieties. She doesn’t know how often I am scared or doubt myself.
So remember, just because someone else appears to have it all together or be doing something you aren’t yet, doesn’t mean that is the reality. We don’t know someone else’s world so don’t put energy into guessing. Put energy into loving yourself, finding things you can be confident in, and setting a new thermostatic setting for how you think about yourself.
It starts with one step at a time. Waking up and asking yourself what is one thing I can do in this moment to love myself a little more and show up more confidently? Those little steps will begin to add up and before you know it, you will be showing up as a more bold and brave version of yourself.