In today’s SEASON FINALE, two listeners ask about finding confidence and self-love again, and finding positive communities when all people want to do is bond over negativity. There’s a common theme in the answers to both of these – and it has to do with how you become the first-best version of yourself instead of the second-best version of someone else.
**This is the SEASON FINALE of Season 4! Thank you so much for helping the WANTcast grow and evolve over the last almost-four years. We’ll be taking a break over the summer and coming back stronger than ever in August with Season Five.**
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For the final episode of Season Three, it’s all about you and YOUR questions. After a quick recap of 2018 and Season Three, we dive into five questions from YOU, the WANT community, having to do with boosting your confidence (especially when you’re simultaneously trying/needing to uplift others) achieving your goals while staying charged up and energized, “trusting the timing of life” and releasing control when it’s the most frustrating to do so, how to deal with hurtful/toxic social media interactions, and – the big one – why so many of us are SO damn lonely and how to find those friends and communities we crave as adults.
Stay tuned until the end – there’s a special announcement about the future of the WANTcast and what 2019 has in store for WANT (hint, it involves you)!
*Thank you so much for everything you give to WANT, and to me, and to each other, on a daily basis. I appreciate you and adore you more than I could ever even begin to express. So happy we’re in this together. ONWARD!*
I recently discovered your website through the Well/Away podcast you were featured in and I wanted to tell you that I am so inspired by what you are doing. In the last year or so, I have been very focused on self-exploration. I have been a yoga practitioner for 7+ years, (try to) maintain a steady meditation practice, and consider myself a pretty self-aware person.
However, over this past year, I have come to realize that I display a lot of negative self talk. I was actually quite surprised, when I looked, how negative my unconscious reactions were – and how much they affected the way I feel about myself and how I approach the world around me.
After poking around the site for a bit, I was struck by something that you said in your bio – you mention that you are a confident person, but still struggle with negative thoughts and self-doubt in a very real way. This was a bit of an ‘ah-ha’ moment for me. I consider myself a confident person – my confidence has led me to be successful professionally, personally, and socially. There is a lot I know I can do, no questions asked – and, yet, there are many things I automatically and unconsciously assume I can’t. To me, this seemed so counterintuitive.
If I am confident and truly believe in myself, then why do I fall into negative talk patterns and question certain abilities? Even though I am still working through it, it is comforting to know that another innately confident person has dealt with (or is dealing with :)) this challenge.
Again, I think what you are doing is so fantastic and I am so inspired by it – it takes a lot of bravery and a lot of courage, and I think it’s wonderful.
First off, thank you so much for your kind words – I’m so glad you found WANT and have become a part of our community.
Oh, the paradox of the negative self-talking confident person.
As the WANT manifesto says, “Confidence is not synonymous with vanity.” But even if we don’t feel we’re being narcissistic or vain, there can still be this little voice inside us that tells us we are not allowed to have it all.
Grounded, inclusive confidence is a rarity these days. The confident female tropes we see in movies and on television usually come with a caveat – either the woman is perceived as selfish and snooty (see pretty much every boss lady on film), or more often, she’s a lovable mess behind the scenes. Confident in a crowd, self-depracating and stumbling behind the curtain, questioning her every move. The “mess” trope is to make the character relatable, of course – it’s the on-screen version of those “Stars – They’re Just Like Us!” articles we see in the tabloids. Oh look, so-and-so wears yoga leggings to run errands! No way, watch such-and-such balance two coffee cups while simultaneously walking her dog and answering the phone! Can you believe that, just like us, pop-star-of-the-moment eats burgers and gets ketchup on her shirt?
So rare is the woman whose confidence has a firm back bone of kindness towards both others and herself. It’s only sometimes we see a character who is self-confident and self-respecting. Once in a blue moon is the “sweet, pretty girl” confident in her intelligence, her creative powers and yes, her looks as well. Every now and then is the leader of the pack shown as empathetic, gregarious, in a loving relationship, AND self-loving on top of that. We’re taught that to be relatable, we should show our underbellies, which way too often is mistaken for “finding what’s wrong and bonding over it.”
Using negativity as a bonding tactic can make the confident gal feel isolated. And that extends way beyond interpersonal conversations. We start to believe that self-confidence is a balancing act and too much would be overstepping our quota. We’re not allowed to be good at everything, and if we are, we definitely need to undermine ourselves about it. As confident women, we strive to be leaders – but how can we lead if we don’t belong? Because being the only positive in a sea of negativity means we’re the ones who are on the outside.
And so the negative self talk comes in. We question certain abilities and put limitations on certain successes. We fear that if we’re too confident – too “perfect,” as the world would have it – then we’ll be too much to handle. For others. And for ourselves.
There’s a quote I love by Marianne Williamson in her book A Return To Love that I repeat to myself often when those negative questions, doubts, and statements come flooding into my brain:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
When I am feeling inadequate or unsure of myself, I ask one question of myself:
Do I believe this to be true because I don’t feel prepared, because I don’t feel on par, or because I don’t feel like I have permission?
If you’re feeling unprepared (say, for a new project), the answer is to seek out knowledge and experience. If you’re feeling that you’re sub-par to your own vision of yourself (say, you’re fatigued and sick all the time), the answer is to make proactive lifestyle changes to get you feeling good again.
The toughest question to answer is if you’re feeling like you don’t have permission to do what you want to do, be who you want to be, or feel how you want to feel.
It can feel like a sigh of relief to gain permission from someone else to do something or be something, because the ball isn’t entirely in our court. Someone else saw something in us and gave us the green light, so we don’t have to shoulder the entire responsibility or weight of the decision.
Waiting for permission is no way to live. Click To Tweet
Being what Jeremy calls a “big wide open heart” empathizing all over the place, I KNOW how tempting the urge can be to wait for someone else to be in on the decisions you make. Because if it’s a group effort, then it’s definitely not a selfish or ego-driven act.
The thing is, we so rarely get permission from others to be ourselves, nor is that really permission – it’s validation. It’s someone else saying “I bless you to do this or be that, because it’s what I deem acceptable and how I can guarantee my support.”
And so we must courageously move into our own greatness, despite others’ thoughts, and grant ourselves permission anyway.
By repetition. By feeling the fear of judgement, disconnection, loneliness, and moving forward anyway. It might feel awkward and your greatness might knock you off your feet. Keep going. Keep your kindness at the helm, your courage at the mast, and your heart at the forefront. When you come from a place of radical empathy and self-love, others can’t help but follow suit. Like Marianne says, As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
Let your confidence shine in all areas of your life, L. You don’t have to be a “mess” and you don’t need to apologize. If you’re waiting for permission, it’s you who holds the key to the other side. Guarantee yourself your own support. Then move forward. Fearlessly.
I’m kind of possessive over my iPhone – namely, the “Photos” app. No way is anyone allowed to scroll through without my finger at the helm, no chance anyone’s going to catch a glimpse of my photo library without my consent, because I’ll be shielding it from view like I’m hiding a top secret government code (or hoarding Quest bars, either or). Because my phone is a vortex into a land of emotional duress, a land of unseen joy, a land of pleasures and painful moments documented and catalogued into Years and Collections and Moments. Yes. A land full of selfies.
Social media allows even the most inconspicuous of us a certain level of visibility, whether you’re Joe Shmoe working at the local convenience store or Jessica Simpson on a yacht in St. Bart’s jet skiing like a boss. With visibility does come responsibility. But I’d like to argue that it’s not a responsibility to show our most ethical, morally sound, G-rated selves. Rather, with social media comes a responsibility to show our most fiercely authentic, actualized selves – the darkness AND the rainbows.
So let’s talk selfies. Selfies showcase one of two things: They’re either an authentic expression and representation of someone’s full self, or a plea for validation and a representation of someone desperately trying to belong.
Just like body image campaigns tell us to love our bodies, period, I’ve seen commercials and essays and advertisements telling us we need to unplug and live in the moment, period. Some of them are actually quite moving; they’re great – but just like there’s a lot more to loving your body than just saying you do, there’s a lot more to living in the moment than just unplugging.
For some of us, technology, and therefore selfies, help us live in the moment. Instagram Culture, at its best, gets us noticing beauty in a whole new way – allowing ourselves to be so moved that we want to catch it for later. Where we get in trouble with technology is when we’re tied to what’s going on outside of our immediate surroundings: checking Facebook, scrolling through SnapChat, liking and retweeting instead of raising our heads up to face that world that’s right at the tip of our noses.
Selfies can help us live in the moment, helping us document a moment of sheer bliss or even utter confusion at the world around us. Maybe even the days we feel “fat” or “dumb” or so confused by life we can barely make sense of which way is up. Selfies can help us look for the beauty in ourselves, and can even help us analyze our darker moments or the days we’re not feeling so great. Selfies can give us permission to be so moved by who we are in that moment that we want to catch it for later so we remember what that feels like.
The flip-side of selfies comes when we’re so tied to what is going on outside of us and we post trying to prove a point, get more likes, or get social proof that we are doing something right…instead of doing it right for us, and feeling confident in that knowledge.
I am an unapologetic selfie-taker. They’re a tool I use to help me stay authentic. I use them not to fabricate a character out of myself or to show only my “pretty” days. I use them to keep me honest, and keep me remembering what it feels like to be in awe of who I am, rainbows and darkness, all-inclusive. Maybe some people won’t believe that. Maybe some people will choose to judge me for it. But that’s okay – because those selfies aren’t really for them at all. They don’t have to believe. *I* believe it.
I’ve heard people say that selfies themselvsies (see what I did there) are the problem. But they’re not – they’re just a vehicle for whatever the selfie-taker is experiencing inside of them. When artists started to paint self portraits, did their contemporaries say their society was turning into a culture or narcissists? When men and women started experimenting with flash photography and brownie boxes, did their peers deem them shallow and vain? (I mean, maybe, but it obviously wasn’t the end of human connection.) It’s not about the image itself – it’s about the intention.
If we shifted the way we approached selfies, both as participants and as voyeurs, I honestly think we could make a big shift happen in this tech-heavy world. If we viewed selfies as a vehicle for empowerment – of others and of ourselves – can you imagine the example we’d be setting for younger generations who would grow up knowing no differently?
Next time you take a selfie, ask yourself: Does posting this empower you, fascinate you, make you feel something inside – or does it carry the weight of likes and follows you hope you’ll get on the exterior?
There is nothing wrong with craving love and attention. Don’t we all just want to feel seen?? The judgement around selfies is at the level of unnecessary catty-girl-shit: our lens focuses in on what’s “acceptable” and what’s not “acceptable” instead of what might really be going on under the surface. I don’t think it’s helpful to do away with the selfie…I just think we need to find other ways IRL to address that very human need for connection and belonging. And when we’re brave enough to share our fullest selves, we’ve got to let that shine, for us and us alone.
The reality of our world is that not many people are going to set this example – it’s a small minority who have the courage to share their full selves and full authentic expression. It’s our job, rather, to BE the example. Not just for others – but for ourselves. Because in those darker moments of our days, it’s helpful to have a solid practice of full authentic expression already there in our toolkit.
A selfie, whether you share it on social or hoard it on your phone like I do, can be a visual reminder that you’ve been through the good and the bad before, you’ll be through it again, and you have the ability to turn things around for yourself where you see fit. It’s not our responsibility to be perfect, but it is our responsibility to be raw, vibrant, and 100% unfiltered-ly real.
WANT Action Plan:
Get on board. Post your selfies with the hashtag #selfieempowerment and #WANTyourself – and let’s see if we can help make social media a more authentic, more vibrant place for everyone else following along. Join me?
I am scared. Of what exactly, I’m still figuring that part out. But what I know is that when I grab a quiet moment in the day or evening or at 3am when I inevitably wake up for no reason at all, I am scared.
I’ve had way too many awkward and intrusive moments with men today. I hate it. I hate it so much I could cry. I did a little. It makes me doubt my brain and it makes me doubt my talents. It makes me doubt how worthwhile I truly am, if at the end of the day all I am is merely a walking, breathing object.
I see myself as Me; I am the same little creature who liked to dress up in dresses with puffed sleeves and couldn’t see her bed under her mountain range of stuffed animals and cherished her Barbie dolls probably for a little longer than it was cool to do so. Who is this object you bark at – what about me gives you the green light to push aside my soul? Is the external physical experience of me the apex of who I am?
I hate that I can so easily put my guard up. It’s become routine now, perfunctory. I walk around expressive, wild, inquisitive – and then just like that I can tranquilize myself.
Not when it comes to cause and effect actions – with work, with tasks, with tangible goals – if I know what I want and I work for it, I usually get what I want, so it goes. Because I tend to want what’s in my grand plan, nothing more. I know in the deepest depths what is right and what I can and should do. And if I don’t get what I want, usually what I get is even better (this sometimes takes a bit of hindsight, but it is always is the case).
What scares me is that I don’t do this with Things but rather with other people, and I’ve become so accustomed to it.I don’t expect to be disappointed per se, I’ve just trained myself to see all the tiny particles of the potential warning signs – I see them right along with the eyes that don’t care to see past my skin, right along with the looks and words that affirm that Yes, I am apparently just an action figure to grab at like a child in Toys-R-Us. And I am scared that it has become so routine that I don’t even think about it any more. I am scared that I have become so attuned to the hints of sparks of warning signs that I shut down instinctively. I am so incredibly scared of disappointment because it’s what I am used to experiencing. I see the hurt from years away, I see the storm in the one cloud, I see the speckled-yellow leaves on the wide-ringed tree just by holding the unidentifiable seed. I’ve trained myself to hear the slightest change in tone, to latch onto the timbre of a sigh, to dig up the distance.
Unfortunately – a day like today does nothing to help this.
I suppose the silver lining, when it comes to the cat calls and the blindness, is that yes I shut down and separate, but I simultaneously work harder to disprove that image. My worth is not dependent on my body, nor what I wear, nor the weight I’ve gained or lost or the way my legs are shaped. My value is not how they see me in their simple mind’s eye, which frankly makes me sick to my stomach. I cannot eradicate the stubborn hurtful rudeness of the world, but what I can do is focus my energy elsewhere, on the people who matter and the people who are open.
My struggle lies in knowing when to shut down and when to breathe through and know that sometimes the small clouds just mean a prettier sunset awaits in mere hours…
I’m working on it.
This post was originally published on Dec 28th, 2012