When I picture confidence I picture Elle Woods and that scene in Legally Blonde where she had been invited to a party and told to dress up. She went all out and dressed up as a bunny, she walks in and finds out it wasn't dress up. Where a lot of women would have quietly slipped out, she took a deep breath and walked in with her head held high. And she said "I just felt like dressing up".
If you know me, then you know I'm a fan of that movie, and of good old fashioned girl power, and of Reese Witherspoon. But what inspires me so much about that scene is I picture myself there. I think if that was me I would enter like she did, I would tell Warner I decided to dress up... but I would also be clear to tell everyone else that I was tricked, and to point blame. It's called justification. I would justify my actions. But something I've learnt is that the need to justify yourself and to point fingers in an embarrassing moment actually shows your own insecurity.
I'm a bit of an awkward person, and at times I justify my actions, I point blame, I run and hide... but I'm also someone that has come a long way. Growing up for me was tough and I was taught to doubt my own intuition. I was discouraged, misstated and made to feel alone. When I left home I connected with a good crowd of people, a lot of which I'm still close with today, some who have become family. I changed my life style and I was able to make my own decisions. I set out with goals on who I wanted to become, and I am far from achievement but number one on that list of who I wanted to be was "confident like Elle Woods". Only a small number of people are in my life now that knew who I was in school. You need to cleanse your life of people who hold you back, who label you or don't believe in change.
I'm not the most confident person on the planet but I am ten times more confident than I used to be. So here are some strategies that helped me on my path to greater confidence.
1. Be Mindful of the Words you Speak
Think for a minute about this scenario. You meet someone for the first time, they ask you who your favourite sports team is. The words that come out of your mouth next will help set how that person perceives you. You could say their favourite team and they'll take a liking to you, you could say their opposition and open up a conversation. Or you could shut them down and say "I hate sports" which will quickly shut down the conversation.
Your words can determine a smile or a frown for someone else. Bosses words can create, when they say go on a project and their employees make it happen. Your words can change someone's life or even save someone's life. Therefore, imagine the effect you could have over yourself by speaking truth over your life. Imagine if you were able to see yourself the way your loved one's see you. Imagine if you acted like that.
This is why when I look in the mirror and think to myself "my arms are getting kind of chubby" I will say out loud "I am so glad I have arms, that they are strong, and that I am beautiful". It might sound stupid to someone listening... that's why I only say it to myself. But this leads into our next rule.
2. Three positives to every negative
I can't remember who taught me this, but I've been doing it for a long time. Here's the thing, sometimes you just need to rant... so do that. But afterwards, name three positives for every negative. If it's too hard then do it about something completely unrelated. Maybe you're ranting about your boss at work or your annoying sibling, so name positive things about how you're glad you did well on your assignment, how beautiful the unicorn shaped clouds are and about how you're glad you got to eat cake today. It can be totally random. But it will balance out your perspective. Pain is an important aspect of life. But you will learn to be more content when you realise that there is 3 times more joy than sadness in the world.
3. Drink water, eat well, exercise often, sleep enough and breathe
I am not the only blogger to talk about this. And you've probably heard it before, so get it in your head. Your physical well being effects your mental well being. If you're feeling stressed, go for a walk. If you're angry, go to a boxing class. If you're upset, have a nap. It's important to listen to your body. Push yourself, meet your potential, but don't burn out or over exert yourself.
And it comes back to more wise words from Elle Woods "exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people don't shoot their husbands... they just don't". But it's true! So look after yourself.
4. Don't worry about judgement
Life. is. too. short. It's just too short to be hung up on other people. So just don't worry about it. To some measure it's up to you how people take your words. For example you can't just say "you're ugly" with a total straight face and blame them for not taking it as a joke. But apart from common sense, don't let people project their problems onto you. You have enough to deal with.
This is something my husband taught me: "if it's their shit, let it be their shit, don't make it your shit." You can help people, and I'm not talking about being an asshole. But I'm talking about when people try dumping their judgement on you. Everyone has different opinions and perceives their world differently. So do the best you can, and realise that a lot of the time it's not a right or wrong, it's just people doing things their best way. In the words of Avril Lavigne "just put up a middle finger to the sky". Learn to shake it off, let peoples opinions and judgments be their problem. Nothing slows down success faster than anxiety.
5. Prioritize Good Relationships
I once heard someone say "you are a mixture of your 5 closest friends". It held weight with me. The people that you let influence you is so important. If your friends are unmotivated procrastinators then chances are, eventually you will be to. No one's perfect so you can't have 5 perfect friends. But if you want a family, choose friends who are great role models, with amazing family dynamics. If you are a career person make friends with your peers and climb to the top together. Meet mentors, surround yourself with successful, happy, healthy people. These people will inspire you, they will lift you up. There are three types of friendships: where you give and they take, where you take and they give or, where you both give and take. The third type is the best type. Those friendships have the potential to last forever, because you both give and gain energy from it. Having good people in your life will give you happiness and freedom and make you more confident with yourself as a person. Negative people have the reverse effect. So cleanse yourself of people who give your life negativity and judgement.
6. celebrate ACHIEVEMENTS
Life is made up of challenges, obstacles, pain and plain old hard things. So when you rise above that and conquer that... it's something to celebrate. No matter how small it might seem to other people (remember the no judgement thing). Everyone is on their own journey. Getting out of bed in the morning is easy for me but some people find it so challenging, and they deserve to celebrate when it's 2pm and they are up and dressed. For me getting past the first trimester of pregnancy was an achievement. I would watch people around me loving pregnancy. But there I was, practically bed ridden for the first 12 weeks, tired, fatigued and scared about what was to come. So I celebrated when I got past that, when I could get on my feet again and eat without it coming back up again. I could drink coffee again. Taking this time to acknowledge to yourself how far you've come is important. Remember when you could only get out of bed at 4pm? Remember when all you could lift was 5kg now you're doing 10kg? Remember when you had to take the cleaning job to pay rent and now you're quickly climbing the corporate ladder and have a savings account? Celebrate the small achievements and the big achievements. Just celebrate because it will give you gratefulness and that will give you confidence.
So there you have it, it all seems so obvious but sometimes we need a reminder. When you speak good words, stay positive, take care of yourself, have good friends, celebrate and leave other peoples problems behind then you might begin to see yourself the way you are. And when you know who you are that gives power and... confidence! So go be yourself, be powerful and be an Elle Woods.
Thanks for reading,