If you haven’t had a chance to read A Conversation On Confidence — STOP — and read that post before reading this one!
Prior to becoming a parent I was a collegiate athlete, gifted student, popular, and fit into single digit jean sizes. I was no stranger to praise, my name appeared in newspaper stories, and I won awards. But what happened when all of that was taken away? What happened when the box scores were void of my name and there were no more “Dean’s List” recognitions? Nobody claps when you change a diaper with less than three baby wipes. Nobody cheers when you successfully find time to wash your hair more than twice a week. When I became a mom I realized that my once owned confidence faded with the spotlights.
Determined to find a path back to a confident life, I realized that I could not get to my destination by relying on external forces. True confidence, for me isn’t something I could fabricate by putting makeup on and wearing nice clothes. For me, confidence was built behind the scenes. Confidence was created by embracing who I am and the individualized lessons I’ve learned.
Here are four steps I embrace when building confidence from the inside-out.
Step one: Have the courage to embrace your whole story.
Ten years after receiving my undergraduate degree I decided it was time to apply for graduate school as a twenty-eight year old mother of three. How was I going to convince any school that a wife, mom and woman who hasn’t been in school for ten years deserved a spot in their prestigious program? I decided I was only going to pick one school.
I debated back and forth of what to put in my personal essay. Do I tell “THE WHOLE BROKEN STORY,” or do I just relay the trophy hoisting moments? I quickly decided it that it had to be the whole story. I did it. I pressed submit and I waited three months. I checked my email everyday for a decision. I finally got the message… I was waitlisted. It was like getting fourth place at the olympics. My first thoughts were that I should not have been so vulnerable with my personal statement.
Through a series of really weird and amazing events I was connected again with my old advisor at the university I attended. We chatted and I told her my conclusion for not getting accepted, “I let them see my broken parts,” I said. She stopped me right there. What she said next literally made me cry. In a roundabout way she said something like, “Morgan your broken parts are your whole parts… they are the things that nobody else has. They are your QUALIFICATIONS.” She was right. I knew that if I wasn’t accepted on the premise that I was “too vulnerable” that I wasn’t meant for that institution of study.
That day I felt, really felt like I was worthy of doing what I always dreamed of doing. Being waitlisted wasn’t a message to me to quit. Being waitlisted was a road sign to choose a different path to reach the destination.
Write down three hard things you’ve been faced with in life or rather three things that made you feel broken. Next to those three things write how those things changed you for the better or the lessons you’ve learned by experiencing these things. This list is your list of qualifications. Because you’ve been through these hard things or overcome these challenges you’ve gained experience that qualifies you to reach your goals. These experiences are uniquely yours and they make up an invaluable part of the whole story. By embracing the broken or “unpretty” parts of our story we enable ourselves to pursue a path of wholehearted living which is home to self worth and confidence.
Step Two: Quit being who you think everyone else wants you to be.
We’re not supposed to determine our worth by the amount of likes we get on social media. We’ve all heard the arguments. Sometimes instagram totally boosts my ego. I know how to get the likes. I’ve learned what hashtags to use, what I’m supposed to say, and even what pictures get the most attention, but those things…weren’t always what made me happy. One day I said, enough. I didn’t declare this on social media as some “manifesto,” rather I just opted to let my freak flag fly. I introduced myself as the real everyday Morgan. It was weird, it was quirky, and it was EXACTLY who I am.
Why tell you this? Quit doing things that don’t make you happy. Quit saying things that aren’t genuine. Stop worrying that you are too weird, quirky, awkward, quiet, boring, too ANYTHING. Quit trying to please everyone else. Your voice is unique. Don’t just be an echo, be a voice. Use YOUR VOICE. Show up as you really are and every time you do notice how you belong more fully to yourself.
As we practice showing up as we really are we tell ourselves that we are worthy of being seen, and heard. This leads to an increased sense of self worth which translates to an increased sense of confidence.
Pick a social media platform and re-introduce yourself to your audience, as your true self. Here is what your post should include:
- List five random facts about you.
- Identify two of your goals.
- Combat one misconception people may have about you.
- When you are finished tag us (if you use instagram @abbeykyhl) or copy and paste your post into our Facebook group.
Step Three: Practice Gratitude.
For most of my life I have struggled with crippling anxiety. For me triggers are everywhere. Last year I found myself in a really dark place. So dark that I didn’t know how to climb toward the light by myself. So I sought the help of a professional. This therapist gave me a box of tools to combat the spiraling feelings that often landed me in state of panic, fear, and hopelessness. At first I thought his suggestions were childish and “too easy to work” until I actually put forth the effort to try. I am so very glad I did because in doing so I learned a life changing lesson.
The most influential practice I learned from these sessions was to fill my mind with gratitude, which in turn left little conscious space for the negative counterparts of anxiety to exist (it’s actually real science).
My task was to write down two things per day that I was grateful for. In doing so not only was I recollecting the positive aspects of my day and life but I was also filling up that conscious space I mentioned with things that brought me joy and happiness rather than the things that caused me fear and hopelessness.
Not everyone experiences anxiety in this form or context, but everyone does allow themselves to participate in negative self-talk from time to time. Gratitude is the antidote to negative self-talk, and paralyzing fearful thoughts. When we combat negativity with gratitude we literally fill our conscience with things that validate our self worth.
For two weeks write down two things per day that you are grateful for. After you complete this exercise record how you feel about your worth and your life.
Step Four: Dare to hope.
Hope is has always been a hard concept for me to grasp. I am not an inherently hopeful person, so I’ve had to train myself to be hopeful. For me hope is spelled TRUST. And not just trust in your best friend or even your spouse but in the very being that created us and the world we live in. Trust in God is my foundation for hope.
Knowing and really understanding our divine nature and creation are essential to embracing hope. If we really know who we are, and where we came from, how can we doubt our worth? Faith that God knows our names, cares about the most intimate details of our lives, no matter how small, gives us hope.
Hope, for me is strengthened when I reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve overcome, how I’ve been blessed in the midst of trials, and the personalized lessons I’ve learned along the way. When I reflect on these personal experiences they provide me with a case for hope, and evidence that overwhelming achieves the burden of proof. Evidence that I was built for overcoming struggle, molded to for a specific cause, and continually guided by heaven throughout the journey. Confidence for me is daring to hope for the best all while trusting that I can, with God, overcome the worst.
Look at the list you already created (hardships you have overcome and lessons you’ve learned). This is your evidence for hope.
I hope these insights will help you understand that confidence is intricately connected to our self worth. My confidence was strengthened when I looked INSIDE the girl I saw in mirror and recognized a divinely crafted child of God who are was wired for struggle, happiness, success and JOY. This is not something I need anyone else to validate. These are truths I KNOW. I am confident BECAUSE I KNOW who I am.
Don’t forget to read Abbey’s side of the “Conversation on Confidence” for how to build confidence from the outside-in.