Confidence is not something that has always come easy for me. In fact, for most of my life, I severely lacked confidence. I relied on feedback from others rather than my own confidence in myself.
Life wasn’t easy. I was always hurt or stressed. I never felt enough. I always felt like I was in a constant state of lack.
I thought the only way to have confidence was to grow up having it instilled in you by your parents and other family. I didn’t think confidence in myself was ever achievable.
Until I actually started on my personal growth journey. Then I realized you could learn how to develop confidnence in yourself. But, again, I was wrong. I thought that once you developed it, you would ALWAYS have confidence in yourself.
You can’t just develop confidence over night. You have to work for it. And once you develop it, you have to work to maintain it.
I had got to a place where I was feeling really good, I was generally confident in myself. Then I was assigned to projects that left little time for myself and we started going through fertility treatments. I stopped working on myself. For a couple years I just went through life getting from one meeting to another, one appointment to the next.
It all came to a head when IVF was unsuccessful. We have no reason why we can’t get pregnant so I felt like a failure. I failed. It is my body that refuses to grow a tiny human. What confidence I had left was shattered.
But I did nothing about it. The shattered pieces of my confidence that I hung onto were because I was getting to feeling physically good again with working out almost regularly.
I had confidence in my ability to workout and lose the fertility treatment weight. I was confident in my performance at work because of the constant feedback from my customers. I put all I had into being successful at work.
But I was done working the schedule I had been and being valued so highly, but paid so little. I switched jobs to an amazing job where I get paid really well.
I finally started working on my personal growth again. I was working out, eating healthy, and nourishing my mind. Work was good. I was rebuilding my confidence. I felt great.
Then my hips started hurting more and then my back joined in. I stopped working out thinking my body just needed a break, after all, I had been pushing hard.
That wasn’t the case at all. My back and hips were in a downward spiral and my spondylolisthesis was showing its ugly head. No more working out. Barely any walking. No major household chores. Cooking has got to be quick.
My confidence was taking shots everyday.
The difference this time is that I’ve generally kept working on myself. I can identify when my confidence is teetering.
Most commonly right now, it teeters at work (I’m not doing enough, my performance sucks, I’m abusing the freedom allowed), in what I wear (I can’t fit in many of my clothes so I feel fatter, I can’t wear heels, I have to dress down to fit in at work), and at home in our family life (always apologizing for Eddie doing more, even the simple stuff).
My personal growth journey is what is saving me from completely losing my confidence and going into a deep depression. One major tool that I learned was from Brené Brown. In one of her books, she presented the idea of adding “the story I’m telling myself” to what your thinking. This would sound like “the story I’m telling myself is that I’m a shitty, lazy wife and I need to deal and get my shit together and not ask Eddie to do all this stuff” or “the story I’m telling myself is that I’m going to get fired because I’m not meeting expectations of my boss”.
These stories aren’t true. They are the thoughts we think when we are not confident, when we look to others to validate our feelings or fix them, or when we let our thoughts rule our world.
These are things that our mind goes down rabbit holes of negatively with. We will never be able to completely extinguish the negative thoughts. Our mind relies on them to assist in our fight or flight defenses.
But we can stop them in their tracks. We can take charge of our mind. We just have to pay attention to ourselves. Instead of letting our mind wander into the negativity, we need pay attention and stop it.
This isn’t easy to do. We don’t just decide to stop our mind in the negativity track. We have to actually get into the thoughts that we think and recognize what is harmful.
Sometimes I don’t catch my negative thoughts. Sometimes it’s minutes. Sometimes it’s days. And then I get stressed and can’t figure out why. But one thing is certain, once I just let my mind go, it keeps that reel at the forefront of my mind. That’s how I catch it later.
I’m not perfect at controlling my mind and my negative thoughts. I never will be. Hell, when my period is here, I have a much more difficult time catching my negative thoughts. Stupid hormones.
What matters is that I do catch them. If I have learned one thing in all my personal growth study, it is that the mind and the inner me take over when I don’t work on them. I lose myself. I don’t like losing myself.
“The story I’m telling myself” is the best tool I’ve been able to implement in helping me take control of my confidence and feeling of lack. Confidence is hard. But once we learn tools to build our confidence, we need to keep using them. Build your mental toolbox and you’ll be able to build and hold onto your confidence a lot easier.