Here’s what confidence looks like...
Before I make a big leap in my own self-development or when I hear news that is going to take me on a leap, I lie down.
I learnt, from recovering from anxiety, that when I feel a surge of emotion through my body I need to acknowledge it. Listen to it. Accept that it is there rather than trying to block it or hide myself away from it. Avoiding and suppressing keeps me in an anxious state. I talk more about that here.
So when I make a decision to do something that is a jump out of my comfort zone, I check in with my husband that he’s not on a call, ask if he’s got the space to listen and if it’s a yes, I lie down in his office and I put my feet up.
I stay there and breathe into it. Is it worry? Worry that I might get it wrong or what people might think? Is it fear? Fear of doing well and having to maintain that reputation or idea of me? Sadness? Sadness of what I might be leaving behind in the bid to move forward? Surprised? Surprised that I have been acknowledged for what I do?
I connect to what the story is I’m telling myself about the situation. What are the wounds that this is bringing up for me? Am I worried about ‘not being enough’? Maybe the story is that I will be rejected by someone or a group? What am I making this new leap mean? And I observe it. I notice what is coming up for me, but rather than attach to the story and let it run off, ions create even more heightened emotions in my nervous system, I just observe it. ‘Oh yes, there’s that internal ‘program’ running again’.
I also tune into the emotion. I breathe into the experience and what I can feel happening in my body. I breathe into the sensation I’m experiencing, bringing my awareness there. As I breathe out, I may sound the sensation and give it a voice.
Having lived with anxiety for many years, I am still learning to connect to sensation in my body. Most people might get the sensation of butterflies in their tummy or a ‘dropping’ feeling in their pelvic floor or a tightness in the chest. Unfortunately because my body spent years dissociating from these sensations, when I feel an emotion it is the same sensation that I experience for all emotions, which is pressure in the chest and a restriction around the throat. I’m learning to reconnect, but that’s for another post.
As I take myself through this process, my husband continues to work at his desk until I’m ready to talk. By now my husband has learnt that when I talk, I do so to get things off my chest - literally. So I am no longer holding onto them. I pay attention to how I talk to him, that I express how I feel or I may ask for his opinion or advice. Being careful not to emotionally dump on him.
When I’ve finished I may lie there a little longer to see what my body wants to do or if there is anything else to say, after that I ask for a hug.
I then go and do whatever it is that had triggered that reaction in me in the first place. I do it. The first time and maybe the first few, for sure I am constantly working through these emotions. It’s after doing something a few times that I begin to have any feeling of ‘confidence’ about doing it.
Without a doubt the confidence does not come first. The confidence comes from doing it.
This is how I tend to approach everything new - OK, not all new things require that much regulation, some new things I do are a little bit uncomfortable so just being with the discomfort rather than trying to avoid it. I also have this innate knowing that everyone, and I mean, everyone feels like this at some point. That really helps me. When I go to a new place for the first time to meet new people, I know that everyone will be feeling a little nervous, with their own personal reasons for feeling that way. When I go on a date, I know that the man I’m meeting will also be feeling a little apprehensive. When I stand in front of a group of people talking, I know many of them will be looking at me thinking ‘I couldn’t do that or talk about that, she’s so brave’. So for me, knowing that we are all feeling a bit nervous and a little bit uncomfortable, helps me to settle into my discomfort too. If it’s appropriate I will say how I feel and I always get a good response. People soften, they relax, it takes the pressure off everyone. My vulnerability enables others to drop into their own vulnerability and appreciate the situation we’re in or recognise that maybe they too once felt like that the first time they did it.
I have friends and peers who say how much they admire my confidence. That I decide to do something and just go for it. What most people don’t see is the doubt, the fear the questioning. The difference is, I just allow myself to be with that and see it as a new opportunity to grow. That somehow, I’ll learn from it.
So what holds us back? Just ourselves. We can choose to recognise our own nerves and do it anyway or we can stand watching people around us living a life that we would like to live.
So am I confident?
As confident as you are!
Carla Crivaro is a trauma-informed and certified Sex, Love & Relationship Coach, she works with men and women internationally to reach their goals in delicious sex, profound love and authentic relationships. Carla helps men and women understand themselves and each other, sexually and relationally, in and out of the bedroom. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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