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What is confidence?

posted 10 May 2015, 05:04 by Tim Elliston   [ updated 14 May 2015, 04:36 ]
By Louise Jensen

I am writing this lying on a blanket in the glorious sunshine at my local (ish) lido. A cloudless sky, clear blue water and lush green grass make this a lovely place to be. Add a pen and paper to the mix and I really am in heaven.

Although I am happy and relaxed, looking around it is clear that not everybody, particularly the women, feel the same.

A few ladies are wandering around unselfconsciously in bikinis, seemingly at ease with who they are. Others are hiding under towels or sarongs, constantly checking how much flesh is exposed and adjusting themselves accordingly. A small proportion remain clothed, even whilst in the pool.

This has led me to question what is confidence, when do we get it, how do we lose it and, most importantly, how do we get it back?

We are born with confidence, the inner knowing that we can, that we are enough. A baby believes it can learn to crawl, a toddler believes it can learn to walk. We all believe we can until we are told we can’t, we shouldn’t, it’s not a good idea. It’s only then we start to question ourselves and the self-judgement starts. Nobody analyses the way they look until they encounter spiteful taunts at school or unrealistic media images.

Our belief system, the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us is formed during our formative years. Being told we are wrong, bad, can’t, will never be etc. is something many of us, subconsciously, carry into adulthood. Even if we come from a loving, supportive family it can be a throwaway comment that stays with us.

It is only recently I have linked my self-conscious nature and inability to speak publicly with a statement made to me by a teacher when I was 7. Wanting to appear in a school play she told me “Louise, you are so softly-spoken no-one will want to listen to you when you speak”. My brain registered “no-one wants to listen to you speak”, and consequently I have, until recently, spent the vast majority of my life hiding in corners, trying to make myself invisible.

So what can we do to raise our self-image? Thankfully lots.

Firstly, if you have any negative memories like I had above can you now look at them with fresh eyes? I think now that the teacher was trying to be helpful, wanting me to project to enable both me, and the play, to be of a high standard. This knowing came as a huge relief to feel I was not being personally criticised, that there was, in fact, a loving intent behind her comment.

Secondly, think of yourself in a more positive, loving way. When was the last time you paid a friend a compliment? When was the last time you paid yourself a compliment? Exactly. While it can feel a totally alien concept to be kind towards ourselves initially, the more we practice this, the more we believe it to be true. Personal empowerment cards which pick words for you daily (available here in our shop) are a great tool if you struggle with this concept.

Thirdly, stop waiting. Confidence won’t magically appear when you lose weight, change jobs or alter relationships. Write a list right now of 10 things you are happy with and carry it with you. Refer to it often and add to it when you can. Gratitude leads to love, and when we are experiencing self-love it is impossible to be self-critical.

Now excuse me, it’s kind of hot and I’m going to make my way over to the ice-cream kiosk without my sarong. I believe no-one will really focus on my wobbly bits. After all, the most noticeable curve on a woman is her smile and mine is pretty big right now :o)

Louise Jensen