I wanted to write this piece after having a huge aha moment a few weeks ago at The Radiance Retreat.
Jen Sinkler and I were dressing in our hotel room, getting ready for our evening festivities at Neghar‘s house — dinner and mingling with the 50 women in attendance at the retreat. I put on a one-piece jumper I bought in Australia, aka a “playsuit” and Jen immediately said, “OMG you’re wearing THAT! It’s amazing.” The jumper was a printed veeeery short shorts-version with long sleeves on top. In other words, my meaty quadzilla thighs all the way up to basically my ass would be on display for all.
I wasn’t as sure as Jen, though. I was all, “I dunno, can you see my cellulite on the back of my legs?” and “I don’t know if I’m at my most comfortable in this,” and “Well, I would wear it if it were a sit-down dinner but we’re going to be standing up and my thighs will be on display all night.”
And then Jen just said, “Exactly. That’s why you’re wearing it. It’s a service.”
TOTAL LIGHTBULB MOMENT.
Holy shit, if I can’t wear something proudly and confidently that shows off my hard work in the gym AT A WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT RETREAT THAT I AM HOSTING, then when the heck can I???
Of course I would wear it. And I would do it to prove to myself that self-consciousness is all mental aerobics and working to get over those last few fears about my body is completely worth it, in the name of my owning my message dammit.
Unfortunately this pic doesn’t quite get across the glory of the thighs, but here’s THE PLAYSUIT
See, Jen had it nailed:
Your confidence is a service to others.
I never thought about it that way. I guess because I always thought of confidence as an inside game — which it is. But how about working on yours in order to help others feel it’s okay to be comfy in their skin, too?
I still have a lot of work to do in this arena, and moments like this help me to stay on track and introspect when I begin to get into my head, and allow for my insecurities to hijack my power. I want to always remember that as a woman, I have an obligation to both myself and others to come with the confidence. It creates a ripple effect in the world.
A Case for Confidence
Confidence is such a fascinating topic to me, especially as it relates to women. I am fascinated how other women respond to it — for some it’s inspiring and for others, it can even be threatening. I’m fascinated with it from the perspective of how men view a confident woman. Again, most appreciate it, but also I think because it’s often so rare, some men don’t know how to respond to it.
But the point is not to cater to others’ responses, but to find a way to boost your own so that those who are inspired by it can use it as permission to own their power, too.
This is also tricky, because we sometimes feel like confidence can come off as cocky, self-righteous or “better than.” I get that, and honestly, that’s a sensitivity of mine, especially writing in the online space. For some, my writing can come off pompous or condescending, which it’s obviously not meant to. But it’s funny, because I tend to see arrogance and confidence as opposites. Those who are the most confident are usually the least arrogant, and also the least likely to broadcast their achievements. They let their actions and accomplishments speak for themselves. One thing I try to remember: If I have to announce it, chances are I’m not it.
So … why is confidence a worthy pursuit? Why should we care? And how do you do it?
I want to share with you some of my own insights and experiences. Feel free to take or leave any of it. See what you think and then let me know on the JillFit Facebook page:
1) Remember, you never have to earn your confidence.
I have heard people say, “Well, she can afford to be confident, look at her!” like confidence has to be earned and only some people can afford it because some arbitrary standard or level of status has been reached. Yuck. Nope. That’s not the way it works. And furthermore, I’m willing to bet that gal you think can afford to be confident didn’t get that way because of her accomplishments, but instead her confidence served her in the process of getting there. It comes first. It’s not earned, it’s assumed. And anyone, anywhere has a right to it. It’s not a product of achievement, it’s the reason for it. Each person has just as much “right” to it as the next person. WHY NOT YOU.
Also related: when someone’s not as confident as you think they “should” be or they’re more insecure than you think they have a right to be, it’s also time to check yourself because everyone deserves their own journey when it comes to the physique and body esteem process. Just because you deem someone as having a right to it, doesn’t mean they have to be there yet.
2) Confidence breeds humility.
The most confident people I know are also the most humble. They don’t have to talk about their successes all the time. They are quick to compliment and praise others. They don’t have to announce their confidence because they just are. But, one thing that they are also very good at is knowing what they are good at, and not deflecting praise when it’s given. Confident people will accept compliments graciously, not trying to pooh-pooh them or explain them away.
3) Be open and generous with genuine praise and compliments.
Confident people are also the most likely to GIVE praise. They understand that offering praise and acknowledgment to others does not take away their contribution. In fact, it lifts both them AND the other person up, and gets everyone to the next level. Confident people know there’s enough to go around. They know that life is not a zero sum game and they freely support others. They’re not stingy with their generosity, and it doesn’t depend on the other person’s status, ability to help them, who they know, and how far along (or not) they are in their journey. To me, Jen Sinkler does this better than anyone–treats everyone with equal respect, kindness and attention.
4) Own your physique.
I don’t know that there’s anything more powerful than seeing a women completely at home in her own skin. I’m not quite there yet, but I am grateful for the progress I’ve made, and I try to celebrate the wins. But I am still trucking, as evidenced by the story above. How can you spot someone who is confident about their body? Usually, they aren’t TALKING about it. They just show up, as is. They walk tall, they square their shoulders, they wear what they like and they don’t feel that constant pull to bring attention to their body. They don’t apologize for it when they meet up with a friend or acquaintance (“I’m not in the best shape right now…” or “I’m still working on this belly!”). And though they might still be striving to get stronger/leaner/whatever, they aren’t apologizing for not being there yet. My friend Liz DiAlto is someone who inspires me in this way.
5) Don’t apologize for the way you do things.
You’re a grown-ass woman who can make her own decisions, thankyouverymuch. You never EVER need approval and affirmation to follow your own path, do what makes you happy and live a life you enjoy.
We see this a lot when it comes to making food choices. For example, you might know that for you to stay on your healthy eating path, you need to eat dark chocolate every day. YOU KNOW THAT. So don’t let a friend, family member, personal trainer, fitness “expert,” whoever make you feel like you need to explain yourself. Don’t ever defend eating the way that you know you enjoy and what works for you. The same thing applies to healthy eating. You never have to change the way you do things just so that someone else will feel comfortable or accepted. You don’t have to be pushy about the way you eat or self-righteous, but changing how you do things because you feel as though you have to constantly consider others is misery. And it can become a trap. You want to start your own business? Don’t pay attention to those preventative thinkers in your life, follow YOUR OWN possibility mindset. And then fully own the consequences–good and bad. You want to start a new eating routine? DO IT. No one needs to know why, how or what it is.
Your own stories can never be wrong. Your experiences are always valid. And apologizing for anything that you know in your heart is where you are supposed to be takes away your power. Resist the temptation to justify anything.
6) Check yourself when you find yourself excessively seeking approval.
We are human, so it will always feel good to get approval and affirmation from others. We crave it. And sometimes our brain is on a constant search for those dopamine hits (hello, how many Facebook likes did I get???), and it’s natural to want feedback. It’s how we’re raised–we take exams in school and are immediately given feedback that we are “good” (A+) or “bad” (F). We operate on feedback from the outside. And so the idea that we will never register those feelings is short-sighted.
But. Buuuut, what we can do is check yourselves when we feel unworthy or inadequate without that praise. I often think about this when it comes to my blogs. I think, “What if I press Publish and get complete crickets? Would I be okay with that?” My hope is that I would be, and I am working on doing things Imm passionate about, not for the praise but because I genuinely want to do it FOR MYSELF, regardless of outside outcomes. Regardless of external affirmation (or lack of), each one of us is worthy and perfect. Our self-worth is inherent, it cannot be taken away. The key is appreciating the praise when it’s given, but working to feel affirmed and good-enough all on our own.
7) Be an independent thinker.
The most confident people I know are not afraid to ask questions. They’re not afraid to think for themselves or be a skeptic when something feels off. In other words, they don’t often follow the pack, not because they need attention but because they value understanding and knowing themselves, and uncovering their own truth. Think about it. Its scary to speak up against the grain. It’s uncomfortable to stick your neck out and be unapologetically inquisitive, especially considering it’s much easier to appease, placate, keep the peace and not stir trouble, put your needs aside, etc. That’s why you have to be confident to do it. You have to have some level of trust in yourself to endure the discomfort and allow yourself to be vulnerable, because you know that being unapologetic about your values, viewpoints, truth and life is THAT important.
8) Eyes on your own paper.
When I see a woman who is so very unaffected by The Comparison Trap, I know that her confidence is through the roof. Confident people don’t see the world as a zero-sum game, so they don’t register the finiteness of success or money or happiness or leanness or whatever. They know there’s plenty to go around. And furthermore, they know that no two people are one the same journey. So using benchmarks like money, success, relationships, kids, happiness, weight, leanness, etc. as a tool to either boost or deflate your confidence, when measured against others, is completely absurd. Our world is relative–things will always be more or less than something else–but to use status in different realms as a means to justify confidence (or lack of) is shortsighted.
Finally, one distinct quality of confident people is that they’re comfortable with what they don’t have. Because, get this, they like who they are and where they are in life! Mark Cuban was asked, “If you could be anyone in the world, who would it be?” And he said, “I’d be me.” Some may call that arrogant or self-important, but think about it, if we are truly confident, shouldn’t we all choose to be ourselves when asked that question?
Because life is too short to constantly force yourself to be someone you’re not. Because life it too short to withhold praise. Because life is too short to go with the crowd. Because life is too short to wait until you’ve sufficiently “earned your right” to be confident. And note to self: life is too damn short to hide your quads, when what you should be doing is owning what your mama gave you and putting all that hard work on display!
Excuse me while I go back to online shopping for more playsuits … xo
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