If there is one asset to have in life, it seems the best would be confidence. Real confidence, not the cockiness of a death-wish or the excessive and overplayed “charm” (ego) of the extremely-insecure-at-the-core narcissist windbag.
Real confidence. The kind that comes from self-respect and self-esteem that may be shaken on occasion, but never extinguished. The kind that enables seemingly ordinary people to open all sorts of impossible doors and recover from impossible tragedy.
The kind of confidence that simply wafts off of the people that *everyone* wants to know:
Quirky, interesting, and unorthodox...but always classy.
Kind, but never suffers a fool.
An open book...with an air of mystery.
Accomplished, innovative, energetic, always dynamic and on the move; adventures and “all the right people and circumstances” just seem to find these people like they have a f*cking homing beacon. No matter the wacky hijinks that ensue, they always seem to come out smelling like a rose.
Put together and sophisticated, yet entirely down-to-Earth and humble.
Influential: usually have a crowd of admirers who have only good things to say about them & claim the confident person “changed / saved” their lives, sometimes for something as simple as a book recommendation. They always seem to know exactly what to say, to the right person, at the right time.
Never seem to have anything to complain about (or at least, you never hear them complain).
How? Why didn’t OUR parents make sure we were born in the magic Wizard Hospital where the delivery package included our own Fairy Godmothers to grant supernatural gifts of grandeur and apparent perfection (or at least, unf*ckwithable-ness, which is good too) as standard issue in the Maternity Ward? How else can one be so effortlessly, superhumanly charmed?
Most of my life I have been so utterly awkward, inappropriate, and pathetic that I actively attempted to give myself invisibility so that no one would discover how grossly defective and embarrassing I was. One of the only people I had to confide in...I HAD to tell EVERYTHING to. I couldn’t have been more codependent if you gave me on-the-job training and then paid me. I needed CONSTANT validation and I sought it from someone who loved to keep me small, confused, contained, fearful of the world, and stagnant. With this person, I would attempt to “rebel” (be my own person), only to be shamed, harassed, or threatened back into compliance--compliance with often conflicting instructions where at least one outcome was always failure...and that failure was always used as evidence to devalue and lose all faith in myself.
This person would criticize my appearance, everything from the shoes I wore to my defeated hunch-backed posture (without ever stopping to consider they may have contributed to it), and of course, my hair. But every time I would agree to get layers or whatever they thought best…
Nothing would ever come of it.
They never took me to a professional or taught me the good manners of looking my best; it took me years to stop feeling ashamed and realize the criticism was never MEANT to be constructive. In fact, whenever I would try to dress up or lose weight…
“Who are you trying to impress? Why are you so insecure / vain?” “You are going to get sick [eating less carbohydrates, being vegetarian, water fasts, etc., etc.]!”
“Those clothes are too tight!” [About clothes that actually fit and weren’t one of the dozens 2-sizes too big extra-baggy plain t-shirts they bought for me].
*Obvious disapproval, punished in other, vicious but subtle and non-confrontational ways*
I was reminded of this yesterday when I went to get my hair did. A friend had been encouraging me to do it as part of my renewal; despite just turning 30 last month, I have only been to a hairstylist a handful of times in my life. After it was done, and my friend was admiring the result, they casually suggested I send a picture to this person (this person who so often made me feel worthless, incapable, wrong for normal human behavior, wrong for the brokenness they contributed to, and a disgrace at my lowest and highest points--the person that I had spent decades revealing every bit of my heart to), to show them “how well I was doing”.
I was surprised at the vehemence of the visceral energy behind the
“No, they don’t get to know”
that I replied with. My friend was surprised too.
“Why wouldn’t you want them to know? Why don’t you want to ‘show them up’ after the way they looked down on you?”
I have been taking step after step to improve my life, and with the help of good people, it keeps getting better and better.
And yet...now more than ever, I have lost the urge to “brag”, "explain", and yap (and yap and YAP) about all my plans and accomplishments to anyone within hearing distance in that sad way that I used to, the obvious-subtext-equivalent of a “Please Applaud And Reassure Me” audience-prompter neon sign.
No gratuitous photo-spam and quotes-spam on social media.
No unrelenting emptiness demanding to be filled with golf-claps and gold stars from everyone around me, their dogs, emotionally unavailable people from my past, strangers unlucky enough to sit next to me or click on my profile, and people who really do love me (but whom I felt it necessary to “test their loyalty” by exhausting their Words-Of-Affirmations-Per-Minute stamina and psychic prowess--could they say all the right things at all the right times to make me feel like less of a failing fraud?).
I *have* needed reassurance and guidance, even this very week, but because I sought the time-tested quality of people who have consistently proven their love, care, trustworthiness, and wisdom (from a close friend, and again from my mentor) instead of indiscriminate quantity, I have been able to keep moving forward (instead of feeling hopeless, paralyzed, and having my vulnerabilities twisted back on and weaponized against me to manipulate me into feeling helpless, or oversharing with all the most inappropriate people, manipulating myself into feeling worse and cheap.)
I’m still working on building my confidence and sometimes even my will to live, but how did I get to this point where I don’t need to ride the extremes of trying to disappear completely or to take a poll from everything with a pulse on how valuable I am, how well I am doing, congratulations for doing things most adults should do anyways, or reassurance that I’m not a no-hoper going nowhere?
I was trying to pin down exactly what happened, but like so many changes, it happened as gradually as falling asleep. Can you describe how to fall asleep? Maybe you drink some sleepy-time tea or do things to relax...you kind of try to drift off...and then....you’re dreaming. Or waking up hours later. Getting sleepy can take work. But the actual sleep is effortless. I think changing your life from chaos into your dreams is kind of the same way.
There were changes involved...and then, it just was.
5 STEPS: HOW TO STOP SEEKING VALIDATION AND OVERSHARING WITH ALL THE WRONG PEOPLE SO THAT CONFIDENCE "JUST HAPPENS" TO YOU
1.) Use the pain and patterns of the past to say, “Enough”.
This is taking a mental and emotional memory inventory using the incredible Pattern Recognizing Technology (™) that the human brain comes standard with. The brain is famous for noticing patterns because this is really helpful for physical survival.
You can hack this for emotional survival as well.
When you have noticed a pattern (and gotten a belly-full) of sharing your joys or vulnerabilities, only for unacceptable and unsatisfactory reactions: having them spit on, dismissed, paid back-handed passive-aggressive compliments, met with chilling indifference, twisted and shamed, or weaponized later, and the drip, drip, drip of negativity keeps hurting hurting hurting…
When you notice the pattern of oversharing and begging for approval / cheerleading / inexhaustible, depleting supply of “encouragement” / to be sold by others on your own value, just makes you feel worse and emptier…
They say that what gets rewarded, gets repeated.
But, if so far you’ve been “rewarded” with:
People revealing that your heart and dreams are not safe with them because they are cruel and secretly self-loathing…
An icky feeling of being desperate, overexposed, empty, and like even MORE of a failure…
Disgust, mixed signals, passive-aggressiveness, and the emotional equivalent of eggshells potentially around every topic…
You can allow yourself to feel that pain, have Enough of it…
And allow your Boundaries to use that visceral “Enough” to start enforcing themselves and protecting and prospering you.
2.) Be so busy *enjoying* and *living* that you don’t have time to make a presentation. Let life, your work, your activities, your surroundings, and your relationships be so satisfying that it is enough that YOU know.
We’ve all heard that the best way to criticize is to create.
The best way to be the confident bad-ass you are is to let your happiness do the talking.
Let your growing success do the talking.
Let your healthy lifestyle and body do the talking.
Let your affinity for privacy quietly explain how you have something worth protecting.
Let your decidedly-un-desperate silence explain how you can no longer be the please-choose-me patsy and the salivating-for-emotional-quicksand-"security"-of-familiarity-stuck-in-a-rut stooge.
Let your self-care explain how you should be treated.
Let people notice and comment on your progress organically. It’s much more rewarding than a practically-forced response. And if it takes longer than you like for someone to notice? As Andy Warhol said,
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, 'So what'. That's one of my favorite things to say: 'So what?’”
Get out of the way of your boundaries and let them enforce themselves so that even when toxic people toxic....it’s no longer personal and it’s no longer YOUR problem.
When you take steps every day to have a life well-lived, the pleasure and joy that it is YOUR JOB TO EXPERIENCE becomes its own reward.
When you get high off your own supply, you can unhook from the (very sketchy) emotional life-supports that you were convinced you needed (because when you didn’t make your own fun (and love, and respect)...surprise, surprise, you weren’t having any...but were convinced somehow other people could supply it for you).
If you’re still not quite convinced, just remember:
In the end, the validation you are really looking for is the validation no one can give you and you can’t live without: YOUR OWN. There are lots of people who became famous / appreciated / remembered for something but it upset them and STILL wasn’t good enough because it wasn’t what they wanted validation for. I’m talking legends of by-gone eras whose colleagues / contemporaries are definitely not household names and they wouldn’t be either if it weren’t for people’s adulation of the work they-the-creators considered unimportant, like:
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was distraught that instead of his more mystical writings becoming popular, people knew him for Sherlock Holmes (it so vexed him he even attempted to kill Sherlock Holmes off but brought him back).
Basil Rathbone, who is famous and still remembered today for playing the quintessential Sherlock Holmes on film, who was upset that he wasn’t famous for other acting roles that he considered more prestigious and artistic.
Likewise with Alec Guinness, who played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the original Star Wars trilogy. He would throw Obi-Wan fan mail away unread because he wanted to be remembered for being a trained classical stage actor, not some bit part in a common “space opera”.
3.) Remember that your life is a work in progress, and there are *always* ways to make it “more awesome”. Sharing your growth in a non-gratuitous way that aims to help and inspire others is a powerful way to aid your own healing, education, and find enriching relationships. When you realize (as Esther Hicks says) “You can never fail because it is never finished”, you can get out of your own head and out of your own way enough to be USEFUL and DISCERNING--both about what you share and with whom. Mindset is powerful FOCUSER of energy. Mindset becomes lifestyle.
When you create this kind of journey for yourself (instead of panting after the “destination” of all the external trappings one thinks should *indicate* the lifestyle: praise, status symbols, etc. that always leaves you dissatisfied, not to mention broke), you can be on the lookout for more *actual* fun, clarity, purpose--and cut what doesn’t serve or reward you.
And too, this approach keeps life exciting. Instead of being the benchwarmer hoping to be noticed...when you play “More Awesome!” with your life...there is always something new and exciting just around the next turn. You can be so busy On To The Next Thing!-ing that there simply won’t be time to make sure your entourage of slap-dash psycho-therapists and cheap-o cheerleaders are doing enough to keep you barely afloat.
4.) Surround yourself with reliable, honest, knowledgeable people who have an interest in and loyalty to your well-being—people you never have to beg to feel and be seen by. Let them know how much they matter to you by giving them the respect they have earned.
As for the dummies in your life? They will always be a dime a dozen in the population discount bin. You don’t need to advertise that you will now only be keeping high-quality company. Let your emotional and temporal distance do the talking. Remember why keeping your private life (and next move) private is always a good idea: you’ll never regret less drama, sabotage, and bullsh*t to deal with.
5.) Recognize the participation trophies the Universe has always given you. Use your past successes as the validation you need. This is going to sound an awful lot like “count your blessings”, but the confident person co-creates their validation with the Universe, and that co-creation looks just like gratitude. Think of all the things that you wanted so very very much. Yes, even that ice cream you just ate. Even that awesome article you just read that you didn’t even know you needed. The fact that you are free, and walking around. Having a place to live. Whatever good you have right now, however far you have come, realize that this is proof that you are not only being validated, heard, seen, rewarded, and LOVED by Source, but you are being given ever better and more pleasurable tools to get further along where you want to be going.
And if that doesn’t inspire confidence, I don’t know what does.
It’s like losing weight. It takes sooooo long. BUT…
With every pound that comes off and stays off, you look and feel healthier and more comfortable.
With every toxic relationsh*t and toxic habit you replace with something healthy, you gain more peace and energy.
You are always rewarded and validated by the HIGHEST power, in increments, every step of the way. Never forget that.
Focus on how awesome YOU know your tools to be, and less on if you have busy-body groupies and what they dictate is “cool” or “good”. BORING and NOT HELPFUL.
Build self-respect by keeping promises to yourself and self-esteem by aligning with your values and principles. You will never feel at ease until you do because you’ll never be able to trust anyone or anything if you can’t even trust in yourself. You can learn more about identifying and aligning with your values and principles in the free SELF-ENLIGHTENMENT ENCHIRIDION.
Confidence and validation start when you stop fighting so hard against the hopelessness and hurt (and stop enlisting everyone else to fight with you), and start enjoying and allowing the alive-making things that you DO WANT.
Allow the alive-making things that you do want ALOT.
And do it even more tomorrow.
And even more the day after that.
You are ENOUGH. And it is ALWAYS ENOUGH that YOU know.
All My Love,