Friday, March 6, 2009

Questions About Confidence (Originally published on 11.20.2008)

Ok, so this has been bugging the hell out of me and I must ask for your feedback because I’d like to see different viewpoints on this subject.

Self confidence.

This has always been an elusive trait for me. I can’t quite seem to grasp it. I used to be painfully shy but some people that know me now would never assume that. When I’m introduced to new people or when I enter a party, depending on my mood, I either immediately begin a conversation with whoever is closest or shrink into the wall thereby becoming a flower.

Is self confidence just a front? Is it something that you have to practice and then maybe you’ll eventually believe it? If I pretend to be confident wouldn’t that make me a phony? Wouldn’t that make me a fake? You see I really, really, REALLY despise myself. I have never once wanted to be me; I have always wanted to be someone else. My envy of people comfortable in their own skin has actually lead to the termination of friendships. I get frustrated that they can love themselves while I’ve broken mirrors due to my self resentment. They get fed up by my constant self deprecating comments and inability to believe them when they compliment me. I don’t know how much of this is from being bipolar or from being raised by people that also hated who they were. I used to cover up the mirrors in my room and my mother would just laugh at me and think I was being ridiculous instead of really being concerned as to why her 18 year old daughter can’t stand to look in the mirror. Up until recently, I only had one mirror in my room and eventually a good friend got me a full length one for my birthday just so I could see what my outfits actually looked like.

I don’t even trust my own brain to make a decision so I usually base my decisions on other people’s words. I can not even begin to describe how many relationships were ruined this way. I am so wishy washy that it disgusts me. I can’t make up my own mind so I greedily suck in the ideas of others. Maybe I’m scared to just be myself because I could get rejected so easily. I’m a people pleaser; I always put everyone else’s needs in front of my own. I’m getting a tad better at actually sticking to my beliefs but I feel so inadequate when people ask me to back up what I believe or ask me where I got the source from some fact. My memory has become so horrendous that I only catch snippets of things. Perhaps I should just stop relaying things at all. But then I would just crawl in to my shell once more and close it.

People say I’m too hard on myself. Yeah, I’m aware of that. I don’t know how to stop it. People get so disgruntled at my inability to change. I DON’T KNOW HOW! So does it just take practice? If I feign self love will that make me love myself?

Sometimes I do think that I’m ok. I look over my list of accomplishments and feel a bit proud that I’ve made it on my own with almost no support from my family or a man. Sometimes I think I’m strong but then that horrid little voice kicks in and assures me that I am not strong, that I am weak because I can’t let a man in and love me. That I hide everything until it festers then explodes. That I am a waste of space that I am a coward because I can’t just be myself, that it’s too late to start anything new, that I’m lazy and everyone secretly snickers at me behind my back, that I’m selfish and a phony. Etc, etc.

Oh what a vorpal tongue it has.

So I ask you, what is self confidence? Is it a front? Is it something to practice? Or do you genuinely have to love yourself? If that’s the case…. I feel I’m fucked.


chelsea said...

Hey Heather! I totally get where you're coming from on this self confidence stuff. I think that it is one part bipolar, one part your upbringing, and one part, yes, lack of practice.

I recommend: sign up for the Notes from the Universe. Surprisingly helpful to receive a daily note about how awesome you are, sent with love from your creator. Sounds corny, but these notes have helped me for a year to learn to feel better about myself.

Do that first. Then, every day, check your email and read that note, and (you have a powerful imagination: use it) pretend that it is REAL.

Second: When you receive a compliment of ANY KIND, do this: Just say Thank You. I know that this is the HARDEST thing to do sometimes, and might make you feel extremely squirrely and awkward, but just do it. Just practice saying Thank You. That's it, that's all, no explanations about why this person who likes your shoes is on crack because you only paid eight bucks fro them at Target when clearly, she is rocking a sweet pair of Jimmy Choos. Just. Say. Thank You. And smile.

One of the hardest things to do when you can barely even like yourself is to let anyone else love you. It's definitely a wall we put up to deter the impending possibility that the someone who is trying to love you will soon find out that there is something WRONG with you. I have a habit of sabotaging good relationships with great guys in favor of total jerks. My sick reasoning, I know, is that the good guys deserve better, and the jerks, well the jerks deserve a physcho like me.

Anyhoo, this has now become a novel. But you can build it up, by practicing basic good manners - just say thank you- and by getting those notes every day. Also, what is it you see in the mirror that you find so offensive? The outside of you, or the inside?

Post a picture of yourself, and let us tell you what we think!

I already know that you are one fab & talented gal, who is simply wrestling with a wicked, wicked, yes VORPAL TONGUED Jabberwocky.
That doesn't make you unlovable. That makes you tough and strong and capable of a lot more than "regular" people.

Bert the wonder hog! said...

the only mirror I have in my room is a little 6"^2 one, but thats because I'm a hobo!

And I dont know, I think confidence can be practiced. Also studies have shown that self confidence isnt always neccesary. There are a lot of self loathing people that have accomplished amazing things (hemmingway, poe, and thompson for example.)
But I think it does have a big effect on happyness.

Not trying to pick on you, but your insecurities sometimes make it rather hard to be your friend. I think you know that. I dont know how it works in general, but I know for me I just had to think about myself differently. Of course its different for everyone and Im not trying to say it would be easy for you, but I think it is like a skill you can learn.

I know you want to be happier than you are, and self confidence is part of that. It is possible and you can do it. I know you can.

Paddym22 said...

I used to be annonyingly self confident and now I am just of puddle of self doubt and hatred. I look ok, its not my looks that have escaped me. It is the power of the untamed mined usually in a depressed state that and I think it is a lot to do with leant behaviour( we spell certain words differently in Europe Colour - color, centre - center, theatre - theater)My experience with learnt behviour stems from years of peer abuse and bullying so I know my confidence in a public setting is very poor. However in previous jobs I was a very confident individual and did well because people knew nothing about me and I was dealing with situations that had nothing to do with my early life. However now I am a mish mash of all the self's (doubt, hate etc.) How to come out of it, I dont know....I thik the first step is to differentiate which elements of the lack of confidence comes from ie. early psychological traumas etc. and more presently cleaning up the mess after your mood swings out of control. My therapist keeps saying to me "its not your fault, forgive yourself" But I didnt do anything to me I reply.......tough call. To me to go to the vegetable market and ask for a kilo of courgettes at the moment takes up as much of my self confidence that Obama will need on January 20th to deliver the inaugural addresss.

+/- said...

I think you need to level the playing field a little here Heath-bar. Chelsea is a god damn genius by the way. I love those tips.

You need to remember that everyone has something they are insecure about. I'm sure there is something that oh.. Keira Knightly (sp?) doesn't like about herself. I think there is a difference between "self confidence" and well... the opposite of "self loathing". I believe, even if one loathes oneself, they may still be confident.
I asked Elfie about this the other day, do I seem confident? Is there really a difference between "self-confidence" and just exuding confidence? I'd generalize and say I don't feel confident about 60% of the time, yet to others, I seem very confident.

I think part of confidence is being sure about things. Being able to tell someone without a doubt, some inane statistic, quote the source, or whatever. I think it's easier to feel smart that way, as well.

There is definitely a correlation of feeling smart, and self-confidence. And looks don't have anything to do with it. You know it looks more "confident" to sit- or stand-up straight, rather than slouch. There's a way to carry yourself with confidence, and you've always pulled that off well, even if you don't FEEL it.

And, who the hell cares if you fake confidence? Who's going to know? Fake it and see, what's the worst that's gonna happen? (In case the answer here isn't obvious, it's: NOTHING! because no one will know just how uncomfortable you are unless you tell them!)

And, follow Chelsea's advise. Please.

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