We’ve been talking about the construct of “Attractive” vs. “Pretty.” I even took a crack at defining Attractive. Since then, we’ve been wandering around in the vicinity of skin, body, makeup, and so on. Which would bring us, in proximity-based thinking, to clothes . But that’s my blog ‘s ostensible topic anyway.
So we’re probably done. Or, more precisely, I’ve probably said what I have to say about Attractive.
Except. Confidence. Bears repeating. Confidence, confidence, confidence. Nothing makes someone more attractive than non-showy confidence.
Of course, the world has mapped out the building of self-confidence already. Just try Googling “How to become confident.” Unfortunately, for some of us, the resultant advice is useless. Tiny Buddha says things like, “Take Risks” and, “Expect Success.” Ahem. One can only do those things when confident. You tell an anxious person to “Take Risks and Expect Success,” she’s going to go back to bed in the late afternoon and watch Say Yes To The Dress marathons on her iPad.
Leo Babauta, who I respect amongst the hawkers of How To Live Your Life, gives us 25 Killer Actions To Boost Your Self-Confidence. Yikes. Anxious people don’t like words like Killer, and Boost. We’re having a hard enough time with Self-Confidence, thank you very much.
No, when you are anxious, those exhortative strategies backfire. So I’d like to present:
The Anxious Person’s Field Guide To Confidence
(Caveat, because natively non-confident people are always going to give you the degree of uncertainty in their statements), the advice below derives from my particular experience alone. I could be wrong).
So. Let’s deconstruct by looking for an example. Please excuse the self-focus, but the only one I’ve got is my own life. As a young woman, I was not confident. Not in my looks, not in my intelligence, not in my social presence, not in my competence. To make matters worse, whenever I thought about confidence, I felt even less, well, confident. But today, at 55, I feel confident about at least a couple of things.
What happened? We can extract some general principles.
Believe the data and expand the model gradually. In some areas, simple time is on your side. For example,in my case, with intelligence and competence. Over the years I tried all kinds of things. Failed badly, here and there. Got fired, got attacked, got worried. Got very, very tired. But I succeeded a lot too. Both failure and success grew my confidence, because they are data. I haven’t forgotten that confidence does not mean blind arrogance. I could always be wrong.
Redefine the standard and find others who endorse your new rules. For example, oddly it was pregnancy and motherhood that gave me confidence in my looks. When I got pregnant, and then nursed babies, I lost control of my body. Gained over 50 pounds both times. Best thing ever. The very thing I had feared gave me two children I love with all my heart. I’d been trying for some undefined standard. Or more likely, the fashion magazines standard. Once I redefined my physical worth to include the non-decorative, I would look in the mirror and think, “Good job, body.” Finding myself a Significant Other who agrees was another good idea.
A couple of personal asides.
- It’s hard to be confident coming from privilege because you perceive success as something you didn’t earn and therefore can’t trust.
- Deriving confidence from failure requires barring the door to shame.
- When confidence eludes you, as in my case with social self-presentation, get comfortable. It is what it is. Nobody’s jailed me yet for blurting out what everyone else was thinking. I’ve learned to apologize, when needed, and to compensate for what I can’t change with universal good intent.
How To Get The Self-Confidence Of An Old Lady?
Data. Data, data, data. Your lack of self-confidence is not your fault. Either someone gave you bad data, or you are so smart that you have an innate sense of the world’s vast uncertainty. Set about making it more certain.
Set yourself up to fail and succeed. Give yourself evidence that you know the right answer, you have a good idea of the wrong answers, and you can learn and correct as you go. This will work best if you fail small and succeed big.
Again, redefine the standard. All that Shoot for the Stars stuff is over-rated. Pick something you can do. Do it. Now you can feel confidence about your both good judgment and your planning skills. It’s a start.
As always, paying attention will be your best approach. It’s difficult to improve what you can’t see, and to defeat monsters that don’t exist.
Right then, let’s all go get dressed. I’d like to wear my J. Crew #2 pencil skirt, but then I’d have to shave my legs. See above, *Blurting Out What Everyone Else Was Thinking, and *Good Judgment.