Person In Flowing Orange Garb Swings On Wooden Swing Over Lush Rolling Jungle Hills, Looking Free And Happy

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:

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 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 kind of try to drift off...and’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.


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.

How about....

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’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. </