I tell my clients all the time that the lives we experience are a result of the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. For example, if I worry about my weight and beat myself up about not being slim enough then I will look in the mirror and see something I don’t like. The opposite is also true. Its all a mindset.
People can be beautiful regardless of their size but if a person doesn’t believe that then they won’t be able to see that in the mirror or in others. All kinds of media hype helps us along with this idea because that is how advertisers sell things… they use our natural human fear of wanting to be accepted and belong to drive us to buy things. Its a simple truth and there is plenty of evidence to back that up, but that is a whole other article.
I’m sure we have all had a friend whom we may not have found extremely aesthetically appealing but we observe that others treat that person as though they are. And, the friend in question seems to respond as though they believe this feedback is realistic. Hence the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. Could it also be true that believing you are attractive to others in and of itself can be a draw? Confidence does seem to beget confidence.
Clients often come to me asking me to help them find that all-to-allusive “confidence”. The first thing I ask them is what are you currently telling yourself about your self-worth. What are your life stories around that? Low self-confidence is invariably linked to negative stories about self. That is, that many people, in an effort to not be overly self-confident (heaven forbid), err on the side of self deprecation. Our North American culture seems very geared to being overly humble to the point that many people are telling themselves that if they own almost anything awesome about themselves then they are arrogant, conceited or a diva.
As a result, there seems to be a very high level of self-doubt bread into our culture. I think this really is a painful side-effect of trying to make sure no one thinks we might be a braggart. Is it really so bad to just own what you do?
The beginning of raising your self-confidence starts by considering changing your personal stories to include what you know you are good at based on objective evidence and feedback from people who’s opinion you respect. For example, a good friend of mine observed that after I graduated from University with my Masters degree in Counselling Psychology I was quite shy to talk about that achievement. He said he saw me downplay that fact when asked about it and when he asked me why I didn’t give someone my business card for my private practice after such a conversation I said I didn’t want to be pushy. He boldly said to me, “Dawn, you went to school for 6 years to earn your credentials and worked for several more to be able to open your practice, this is no small thing and you don’t need to be shy to talk about it”. Ironically, it took him saying that for me to realize how I had been selling myself short in my enthusiasm to not brag. It felt a little uncomfortable in that moment but I realized that he was quite right and decided to practice owning my hard-earned achievement. I find this is a very common story.
I decided to change my story from “if I talk about my achievement I will be a braggart” to “Hi, I’m Dawn and I am a registered clinical counsellor”. I feel very differently when I say each of these statements and, by consiously choosing my stories, I change the way I feel and the direction of my life as well as how others relate to me. Try this yourself at home. See how you feel.
Here is a Canadian Living article that talks about some of the power of what we focus on and/or tell ourselves. And, here is another link to an article about a neurological study supporting the idea that thinking about ones self more positively before hearing a suggestion from your doctor for better health care (e.g., walk more) will increase the likelihood that you will do what your doctor suggests.
For more information contact Dawn at:
firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-216-9422