My #1 Tip when it comes to Self-Confidence
I was talking to my friend the other day about the voice in our heads. You know her, the one that says, “You could NEVER wear that,” or, “Who do you think you are for dreaming big like that?” or my personal favorite, “They don’t know you though, you’re awful, a failure, etc.” That voice.
And we all have one. We all have this separate stream of consciousness in our brains that tells us who we are, can never be, and better ought not to dream about becoming. It’s this alien voice called inner critic, ego, mean girl, worst bully, sometimes even smaller self, limited thought line, etc. Suffice it to say, whether it's a smaller self or not, sometimes this voice runs the show and runs the show aggressively.
I used to be the victim of this voice in my head. I used to listen to her a lot more than I spoke to her and as I went throughout high school and college, I began to believe that she would always be in charge, but also that everyone agreed with what she was telling me. Everyone thought I was ugly or stupid or a failure. Everyone thought I looked goofy in that headband that I bought or that I for sure ate too much cake at dinner. Everyone thought that I wasn’t happy enough or determined enough or worthy ENOUGH, but little did I know… only she thought those things.
I was recently laid in bed with my boyfriend and we were talking about this voice. How wild the things it will tell us! Things no other human on Earth ever has! It knows when to bring up your deepest insecurities, or how to make you shake in your shoes when you’re about to present to the class or ask that cute boy on a date. This voice is always there, but even louder when we wish it was the most silent.
And then it hit me, “You don’t hear the voice in my head.” He looked at me and said, “Well of course I don’t, Em.” WEIRD! I truly jumped up in bed and shouted weird! That meant that no one in the world heard her except me. That meant that she only whispered in my ear… that meant that people saw me for what I said, did, and looked like, but they never heard what I thought about.
And it was at this moment I knew I had to write this blog because here’s the thing, my girl, think of your deepest insecurities right now, go ahead, write them down on the closest piece of paper, I’ll wait. Then, ask yourself this, “Has anyone TRULY ever said these things to me other than ‘Her’?” My list looked something like this:
My thighs are too wide
I have broad shoulders
I talk too much
I tend to be impulsive
I’m super emotional
I dream too big
I am never good enough when it comes to helping other people
Now, our lists may be night and day different or we may be quite similar, but when I wrote my list I sat in silence… no one has ever said a SINGLE one of these things out loud to my face. Ever. Perhaps some of your insecurities people have said to you out loud and for that, I am so sorry, my sweet girl! But, I would bet my last dime that at least ONE of the insecurities on your list has only been whispered in your ear by Her.
This was so nerve-wracking to me! You mean to tell me that almost everything that held me back in life, almost everything that kept me up at night, almost everything I constantly worried about during my commute to work or dinner date or family event came from Her? And do you want to know the best part?
She is not you.
When we think of this voice in our head we forget two major points:
We experience this voice as a third party
Meaning we can talk back to it. We can observe what it’s telling us. We can listen to it as if it was another someone or something having a conversation with us. She is not constant. She comes and goes, yet, she tends to be mostly negative. All of this means that you are judging this voice, you think something about her, you observe her from a distance. You are not Her.
Like I said above, and this is the best part, you can talk back to Her. You can! Try it! I hear in my voice, “You can’t eat that much pasta.” I respond with, “I can eat as much pasta as I want.” Maybe she gets upset or angry. Perhaps she throws a tantrum. Trust me, you’ll know when she does that! But go ahead, let her scream and squirm, we don’t listen to her anymore.
This voice is your smaller self. For me, and many of you reading this, this voice is the part of Emily that got hurt when she was young through judgment or criticism and she now sees the world as dangerous. She thinks that everything and everyone must ALSO think the way that one human did when I was 12. I went to the doctor for a yearly check-up and my doctor said I was too heavy and needed to lose weight. And in that very moment, when I was young and impressionable and vulnerable, I felt a lot of pain. I felt a shit ton of pain. I felt called out and attacked. I had never thought anything was wrong with my weight or body before, but if my doctor thought that SO MUST EVERYONE ELSE. Tada, the voice is born. She came from a need to protect me. So, love her for trying her best. But, what she didn’t realize was that NOT everyone thought this way, therefore we didn’t have to PLAN that everyone would think we were too heavy or needed to lose weight. And she didn’t understand that as we grew older, we can handle opinions, but they don’t define who we are. She didn’t understand that my doctor gave his opinion and that I don’t have to live my life based on other people’s opinions. So, she rose from my sweet noggin and for the following decade played this old tune of, “Everyone will always think you’re not good enough especially when it comes to your body.”
That’s not true.
In fact, no one has ever told me that sentence.
It was an assumption based on pain and rooted in fear.
Fear that I couldn’t handle everyone thinking this about me, so I needed to change.
Pain caused by the misunderstanding of opinions being universal truths when we are young.
My inner voice came to make sure that I never felt that sort of pain ever again, but she didn’t realize one final piece of the puzzle: by planning that the world would see me and respond to me this way, by preparing that every single person I met would think these thoughts about me, by sabotaging myself before others had the chance to form their own opinion of me… I guaranteed that I would LIVE my life with this pain and fear in my head coming from myself because I feared it coming from others more.
Think about that.
I lived a decade of my life believing that every human thought I was ugly. No one told me that. She told me that. She told me that everyone thinks your ugly. This then made me BELIEVE that “well if she says so, then it must be true.”
She is another opinion.
She is another doctor or parent or ex-boyfriend.
She is a school teacher or friend from kindergarten.
She is another opinion that we adopted as the universal truth.
She just stuck around longer.
And the more we think that what she says is the universal truth, the longer we are living a lie.
I challenge you to speak back to her. To think about this blog and then read it again. I beg you to please work on building your OWN opinion of yourself and not just relying on the one she tells you.