The topic of confidence has featured quite a bit in my reality in the last few weeks. Partly, because I’ve gotten clear on the fact that I’m in the business of creating confidence and partly, because I’ve been questioning my own sense of confidence.
How Not to Accept a Compliment
This morning I was at a networking breakfast organised by Xtraordinary Women and afterwards one of the other attendees approached me with a comment that took me by surprise. She referenced my elevator pitch – you know, that nerve-racking 30 seconds when you have to stand up and deliver a few sentences that accurately and self-assuredly describe how your business improves the lives and businesses of others. I had rattled off yet ANOTHER iteration of my semi-practised prose, at a speed of knots, so as to get it out before the words disappear into the black hole of my brain.
My first response to this woman who had just complimented me on my delivery, was to ramble on down a path of self-deprecation – instead of thanking her for her kind words and accepting her admiration with quiet humility.
Why do we do it?
Why do we, as women, do that?
Why is it so difficult for us to accept a compliment?
Whether it’s about our abilities, our personal qualities, our achievements or our appearance, why is it so easy to dismiss someone else’s kind words in a moment of, what should be, self-appreciation and affirmation?
And yet, when the opposite is true – when someone says something less favourable about our abilities, personal qualities, achievements or appearance, then suddenly, we have no trouble believing them!
What’s with that?
Caring About the Opinions of Others
When I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed and inadequate, I like to turn to sources of inspiration and encouragement. TED Talks are always a good source of positivity boosts for me. A couple of days ago, I stumbled across this talk by Meaghan Ramsey of the Dove Self-Esteem Project:
It’s astounding what kids, and girls in particular, are subjecting themselves in the online space. No wonder they grow up having a distorted sense of self-worth when their measure is based on the opinions of thousands of faceless, anonymous trolls, who actively aim to degrade others in an attempt to make themselves feel better.
I love that Dove is challenging this ‘social norm’. Go Dove!
Imagine if the opposite could be true. Imagine if women and girls could not only accept a compliment and believe it, but imagine they didn’t even need it. Imagine not giving a damn what other people think about you. How would that even feel?
Or imagine that the opinions of others actually teaches you something about yourself and helps you to step closer to the person you are. How refreshing, no?
When the Opinions of Others Matters
On Sunday, it was Mother’s Day and I spent the day with my Mom, over-indulging in food, wine and talking crap. By the end of the evening, the topic somehow turned to a personality trait of mine, which took me rather by surprise.
Both my Mom and my husband told me that I’m very strong willed, (almost to the point of bullying, according to my husband). It was rather a strange sensation, because I guess I’ve known that I have this trait, but I’ve never consciously acknowledged it to myself and I never realised the degree to which I imposed this trait on those around me. In my mind, I’ve always been this mousy, people-pleasing wallflower.
I laughed at their insistence, but actually it got me thinking about how I see myself vs how others see me. Sometimes it takes someone else pointing out something about yourself, that you perhaps weren’t aware of, and this realisation can be completely empowering! Of course, if they’re highlighting a trait which is not a pleasant one, and they’re doing it from a place of love, then rather than taking offence, use this feedback to work on this area. Turn it into a personal growth opportunity.
So I’m gonna own my newly acknowledged strong willed-ness! I’m a strong-willed kinda gal, and I like that about myself!
And although this ‘new’ personality trait of mine may be viewed as a bad thing by some, I’m choosing not to care what others think. I’m sure my Mom and husband gave me this feedback from a place of love, but even if they didn’t, now that I’m aware of it, I’m embracing it and not apologising for it. I’ve been made aware of a side of myself, that I wasn’t fully cognisant of.
What Does Confidence Mean to You?
So for me, confidence means – accepting every aspect of yourself, honouring every aspect of yourself and using the opinions of others only as a source of personal growth and affirmation.
I have 2 challenges for you:
- List what you LOVE about yourself. In particular, which abilities, personal qualities, achievements or physical attributes.
- Ask people that know you well, to describe 3 things about you. Ask them to be completely honest, good or bad, and then own that feedback. Either agree whole-heartedly and bask in the compliment, or use it as an opportunity for growth.
Ultimately, practice walking your own path of self acceptance & self-celebration & accept compliments and ‘growth opportunity’ feedback from others with grace!