Don’t shrink, don’t puff up, just be yourself.

Brené Brown

Achieving self-confidence and self-esteem is all about doing the inner work. The work that makes us more self-aware, brings us closer to ourselves and listen. So that we can take our needs seriously, commit to get them satisfied – because we deserve it – and finally achieve the inner peace that comes with loving ourselves. It’s about building a solid base to a glorious life.

If you experience low self-confidence, probably you’ve already tried to overcome the problem getting more information. Of course reading books, learning new skills and going to workshops helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem. Information is useful to understand the issue and get clarity, but it has limitations. Ultimately, it’s not enough to overcome the problem because it can’t touch the core of our relationship with ourselves. It’s intellectual. I used to read books and expect results. Results that didn’t come until I actually did the work on myself.

There’s no quick fix to low self-confidence, there’s only real work.

The real shift happens when we dare to change our relationship with ourselves, because once we do that, we also change the way we relate to others. We even change the “others” in our life. We stop choosing people who don’t respect us and our needs, who treat us as if we’re worth less. Once we value ourselves, we choose only people who value us.

THE POSTURE

Your actions speak so loudly, I can not hear what you are saying.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In this post, I talk about how low self-confidence influences our posture and how our posture deeply impacts the quality of our personal and professional relationships. Because there’s one thing to know: low levels of self-esteem and self-love lead people to connect and bond in an unhealthy way (that leads to more suffering). And the feelings we have towards ourselves are very visible. The way we consider and treat ourselves is present in everything we do (or don’t do), in what we think and how we feel.

So what happens when we are low in self-confidence or self-esteem? We are in need of recognition or approval.We want to be approved, liked, recognised and we’re afraid of being rejected.

We want to satisfy our need and act with that motivation. Subconsciously, we create a tension in the relationship – because we want to get something out of it – that is reflected in how we behave and how others react. We wear a mask, to avoid a potential rejection and the consequent pain.

The mask will be one of the two:

  • Shrinking or collapsing
  • Puffing up or posturing

When we relate to others wearing a mask, we don’t allow them to see who we really are. We protect ourselves, we don’t make space for connection and real intimacy. We don’t trust others – because we don’t trust ourselves in the first place. As a consequence, our relationships are not authentic and disinterested. They are interested. There’s a hidden agenda.

We shrink when we go into people pleasingThe hidden agenda here is to be liked, recognised and approved. We want to be liked and in that effort we give away our self-respect. At a first sight, we can look flexible, generous and kind. Caring to the point of sacrificing ourselves for others’ happiness. We can make big compromises and tolerate behaviours that we should never tolerate. And what’s worse? When we do that, others perceive us as needy, self-sacrificing and dependent. People start feeling uneasy around us because they feel they owe us. And since we spend most of our energies to please others, we may feel that they’re taking advantage of us and sometimes we feel resentful for that.

The opposite of people pleasing is puffing up. We do that when we go into posturing, showing off, making efforts to look more successful than we really are. We want to be respected, so we behave like badasses. The hidden agenda here is to get recognition and importance. In this posture, we want to impress. We fake it. We are sick of people pleasing and we want to finally “be respected”, so we intimidate.

Both postures put people off, that is exactly the opposite of the desired outcome. In both postures, we wear a mask and close to any possibility to have an authentic relationship with ourselves and others. So how can we avoid these two postures and being finally ourselves?

BEHIND THE MASK

The truth about who we are is behind the mask. It’s accessible. It takes compassion and acceptance.

It may feel hard to do it. We can be scared and worried because we believe that if we go there, we’ll have to deal with our wounds and we won’t be able to do it. But the truth is that we are able to heal ourselves and love ourselves exactly the way we are. This is the base for a great relationship with ourselves and others. It’s the key to being independent – which doesn’t mean to be alone.

It’s only when we dare to go to that tender space behind the mask that we can feel good in our skin and naturally confident. Because when we heal, we can relate freely. Small things won’t hurt us anymore and others will feel free to say yes to us. We’ll be able to experience true connection and real intimacy.

This is where I wanted to come, to the place of true confidence. When we don’t need collapsing and posturing anymore and we can choose composure: we can feel calm and relaxed and finally good in our own skin. No pressure, no tension. When we sit comfortably in this place, we are able to say what we think, to choose what we want, to say yes or no freely. As a consequence, we won’t tolerate disrespectful behaviours anymore. We’ll be able to choose people who respect us and develop healthy, fulfilling relationships.

That’s what a successful life really looks like.

If you feel you’ve recognised yourself in this post, and you’re ready to do the work to achieve confidence and inner peace, you can check out my Confidence from the Core Coaching Program. This is all it is about.

Love to you,

Diana

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