Dear Red: I Have No Confidence

Dear Red,

I was wondering how you managed to have such confidence and self esteem. I can't seem to conjure any up. Whether it be because I spent four years of my life being told I was useless, and worthless by the people who should've been supporting me, or because I will never be as in shape as I want to, whenever my boyfriend comments on how sexy, beautiful, gorgeous, adorable, or amazing I am, I can never believe it. No matter how much I desperately want to.


Wishing to be Confident


Dear Wishing to be Confident,

Oh man, I wish we lived near each other, because I would take you out for a cup of coffee, and we could talk about all of this in person. After I'd make an awkward and probably inappropriate joke, I'd settle in, get serious, and tell you that...

...there is no certain date or birthday or timeline that you just have to KNOW things by.

In fact, I would say that right now is the most confident I've ever been in my life. And I'm OLD (well, "old" compared to some of you:). Sure, I've always been very confident in some things...but those have only been tasks or actions, and not necessarily reflective of the confidence I've felt about myself.

But I feel like your issues go a little deeper than that. You are NOT worthless. And you are most definitely NOT useless. Those things that people told you?

Those are lies.

I know this sounds like a hard task, but don't add fire to their lies by believing them yourself.

Obviously, that's easier for me to say here on the other side of my screen than it is for you to put it in practice. So, I'd suggest a few things:

1) Talk to someone

Therapy is not bad, and it's not a sign of your own weakness if you go talk to a professional. In fact, I think it's the brave individual who says, "Well, I've done about all I can do on my own, and I need help now."

The reason I'd suggest therapy for you is that you may find that you have issues and resentments deeper than just a lack of confidence. I know what it's like to feel like you have no support from the people you love. I can't imagine what it would be like for them to also not only not support me, but then to also verbally send the message home by telling me lies about my worth. That'd probably fuck me up really bad (even more so than the non-support did).

The cool thing about talking to a professional is that it gives you a neutral party to hash things out with...someone who knows how to ask the right questions to help you reach your own conclusions. It's incredibly empowering and helps you to sort through the chaff, and rebuild trust in yourself and who you are. I say go for it.

2) Engage in activities that will help boost your confidence

Is there something new you want to try? Is there something you used to do in your childhood that maybe you haven't revisited in awhile, like piano or swimming lessons? Or, how about something you really, truly enjoy but just haven't made time for lately?

Putting time and effort back into these activities that bring you joy will help boost your confidence when you see what you can do. For me lately, it's been the gym. I'm on a strength training program that really is pushing the limits of what I thought I could do physically. It's so cool to see how I've progressed from that person who could barely do ten whole pushups, to a person who now tugs a ten pound weight on her back for a little extra pushup challenge.

3) Keep a journal

Yup, I'm one of those people who believes in the healing power of soul puke. "Soul puke" the art of training yourself to chronicle EXACTLY the things you are feeling and thinking onto a page.

Do you know how much we really self-edit? It's a whole fuck-ton (Canadian measurement). When you use phrases like, "I can't seem to conjure any [confidence] up," that's only part of the story. Learning to soul puke means that you write that down on paper, with exactly WHY you feel that way, in all its grittiness and harsh reality. You write honestly about what you're feeling until you can write no more. That can be 5 minutes, or an hour.

And then you step away.

It'll be a hard read the first time you look back on your soul puke. A really, really hard read. BUT, the reason that it's hard is because it's so stark...and if you've really been honest, you can start to tackle what you've been feeling head on. You might even learn something about yourself that you didn't know before.

I want to say that "journaling is not for everyone," but I don't really believe that. I think it's always worth a try. If anything, it's healthy to get that shit out of your brain and share it with a notebook (which, by the way, doesn't judge and certainly doesn't give a shit about your handwriting).

Anyway, friend, confidence can be tricky. I think it's something that's learned, then claimed by the individual who seeks it. Of course, it gets a little easier when you have people in your life like your boyfriend, who can see things in you that you can't see for yourself. That's some awesomesauce. Give him big hugs for me, k?

Keep working, you'll get there.



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