3 steps to discovering an unshakable inner confidence in who you are.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking at the launch of the Power Women Project in Johannesburg, South Africa. It was such a beautiful day filled with a stunning group of women, committed to making a difference, growing as women and living fuller lives.
The topic was Inner Confidence, a quality we all desire. We all want to be the woman that walks into the room and owns her space. She is someone who seems effortless in her movements, comfortable in her skin and is someone that people want to be around.
Like many people, I am not a naturally confident person and have looked into the topic many times. I’ve been in a room of people psycho-analyzing myself, wondering why I feel so inadequate; I’ve read a variety of books, watched videos and tried to find how to solve this problem. How do I feel and exude confidence?
Over time, I realized that there is no fix, magic formula or switch that would perform a Cinderella-like transformation and make me confident.
The truth is that you cannot feel truly confident until you know who you are. It is in knowing your core, deepest truths, what you stand for, what you don’t stand for and what feeds your soul that you are able to accept it all. Once you accept yourself for all you are, you begin to feel comfortable in putting yourself out there.
In other words, it’s when you know, love and accept yourself that you find your personal truth and your confidence within.
But how do we get there? I mean, it is pretty obvious that this is not an overnight/ quick fix solution. Rather, it is a consistent and life-long practice of self-discovery that yields an ever-deepening connection to self, which automatically strengthens your inner confidence.
So, while there isn’t a one-size-fits-all super-fix, below are the steps I have taken and continue to practice towards developing my connection to self and thereby, building my confidence:
Let go of expectation and comparison
Comparison and expectations are a major cause for feeling less-than, inadequate and even anxious. We look at other people who have some similarities to us and we see all of the ways that they are “ahead” of us. We think, “Oh no, she is so creative… so beautiful… she’s already done it… she’s natural at it… blah blah blah.”
What we are doing is seeing a portion of their story (mostly what we think is the whole story) and then automatically deem it superior in every way. We see her as having an advantage and ourselves at a disadvantage.
Comparisons also lead to us creating arbitrary expectations for ourselves. We define a set of criteria we should meet in order to “be successful” or to simply give ourselves permission to be who we are.
Well, allow me to burst this metaphorical bubble right here, right now! Comparing your story to some one’s else’s is a waste of time. I mean it is a completely redundant exercise.
Let me give you an example by looking at popular actresses, Jennifer Lawrence and Emma Stone. They are both stunning actresses who bring something special to the silver screen. Each has their own story that led them to their success. They have played very different roles and learned different lessons, worked with different people and all the while, they have arrived at a very similar place to share their gifts with the world.
Comparing them is irrelevant. Their stories, personalities, and presence are unique. If they tried to be like each other, they would lose what makes them special and likely fade into the background. It is because they celebrate who they are and their own stories that they command the attention of audiences across the globe. They do not compete, rather their individual success builds the career opportunities for each other and countless other actresses.
How does this apply? I can’t look at your path for guidance as it will only show me how to be like you. I must look at my own lessons, my own victories, the things that bring me joy and get me excited to be alive. Because it is when I focus on my own path that I achieve my dreams my way, the way intended for me.
Let your heart lead the way
Being unclear about your path can cause all sorts of havoc in your life. For a long time, I bounced around between careers, searching for that perfect job that would give me purpose. It was only much later that I recognized that I was really looking for a connection that I could only find within myself.
This was a difficult time for me. I constantly felt like a fraud and like I wasn’t going anywhere. I would be terrified of telling people what I do because I thought they would judge my indecisiveness or my lack of experience or purpose.When I started my journey towards my true self it was like opening a magic door. Click To Tweet
When I started my journey towards my true self it was like opening a magic door to understanding myself and what I bring to the table. Early on, a yoga teacher of mine shared Gaia cards with us and I pulled the card entitled, “Sacred Mother Earth.” When I read the message on the card I became emotional as it was exactly what I needed to hear:
Sacred Mother Earth:
“We travel the endless corridors of our mind until one day we find a pathway that leads us to our heart.” Who we truly are has nothing to do with your personality, or your achievements, success or failures. The “you” you think you are is an actor, playing a role that your soul has chosen. The essence of you is “soul” – “light” with no beginning or end. You are an eternal spark of pure creativity, unlimited potential that yearns to be expressed and fulfilled. Your potential is your destiny, it awaits your call.
Trust your heart and apply its love and wisdom to all you do.
In this way, all you create or do will be a true expression of your soul. It is through expressing your truth that you create things of lasting value. Be true to you.
This blew my mind and awakened me to the absolute fact that as long as I am true to my soul (my values, my integrity, my joy, my love) I can do anything. I immediately let go of the expectation to be that one thing and started writing. At first, it was just journal entries to somehow give movement to what I was feeling. Over time my musings became more structured, more focused and this blog grew out of that.
I also stopped looking for the pigeonhole career path and instead, focused on what I want my life to look like. (A very different perspective that allows you to choose your career path/ business style so that it feeds your ideal life, rather than picking a career and living for Friday.) Once I was clear on that I designed my business (offering, craft, and model) to make that a reality. I am still in transition towards that goal, but unlike my former self, I celebrate what I don’t know. I celebrate the process of discovery because I trust that as I grow closer to my truth, I am guided towards my vision.
Confidence in practice
Another beautiful soul I met recently, Caroline Hopkins, shared a profound truth about discovering confidence. We instinctively stay in our comfort zones, afraid to stretch. However, it is when we do stretch ourselves into what we don’t know that we grow our confidence in that space.
Why I love this so much is that it encourages you to try, to jump, to risk and subsequently grow. Every time you take a step out of your comfort zone, you learn about yourself. You learn what works for you, you learn about your interests, passions, and things you don’t enjoy. You gain skills and confidence in your abilities, knowledge. Ultimately, you enable yourself to grow into your vision while grooming yourself to be ready for its challenges and achievements.
In this way, you develop an unshakable confidence that is anchored in your abilities and a knowing that you can overcome any unknown challenge. You became more optimistic and willing to take risks.
So next time you want to do something, whether it’s a new career, learn a new skill, take on a project, start a family; and you feel a little fear. Don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, embrace the risk with a few small steps. You don’t have to jump all at once. Practice moving closer. Before you know it, the small steps will become big leaps as you realize just how strong, capable and courageous you truly are.
As you learn about your interests, where your passion lies and what you want to know more about, lean into that. Follow the spark of your joy with curiosity to learn more and delve deeper. This is where you find your calling, your purpose that will lead you towards your dreams.