The Happiness Connection  

Thinking about the past

I’ve found myself being introspective this week.

  • What have been my greatest challenges?
  • What have they taught me?
  • What do I still want to accomplish?

Perhaps the timing comes from my years of teaching where September represented the new year more than January did.

The question that has captivated me the most is: what do I wish I had learned earlier in my life?

That’s a good thing for everyone to consider, and I encourage you to take a moment to come up with your own answer.

We can’t change our past, but that isn’t the point of this exercise. This question allows your brain the opportunity to dig a little deeper so your conscious thought can understand you a little bit better.

When I began this process, a few answers sprang to mind.

Instead of criticizing the way I looked, I would have loved to have developed an appreciation for my body earlier.

Perhaps understanding how resilient I was, or not believing my sole purpose was to be the person everyone else thought I should be.

As I examined each idea that bubbled up, I realized they were all leading to the same answer. I wish I had learned self-confidence a few decades earlier.

For many years, I resembled a chameleon. I morphed into a version of me that fit the environment I was in and who I was with. Many people considered me shy, but I wasn’t. When I was around those people, I had chosen to be an invisible chameleon.

I was insecure about letting people see me in case they didn’t like what they saw. Maybe this is the real definition of being shy.

I am not unique. In fact, I am a common-variety human.

I meet people every day who suffer from a lack of self-confidence. How many people do you know who don’t feel they measure up to what is expected of them?

Perhaps you are one of us, too.

The first step to increasing your confidence is to take a closer look at who you are. Not who you want to be, or who you think you should be, but dig down to find your authentic self.

No one knows you better than you know yourself, but that doesn’t carry a guarantee that the person you think you are is really you. Perhaps nobody knows the real you.

In last week’s column, I talked about the importance of revisiting things we believe about ourselves. They may no longer be true. Maybe they were never true. You may have become the person you felt you were expected to be and hidden the real you.

Exposing your authentic self can be challenging if you subconsciously believe that being perfect is the level you need to attain. You may resist seeing your warts.

An activity I remember from junior high involved us looking into a mirror so we could see the shape of our face. I decided the perfect shape was oval and because in my mind it was important to be perfect, that was what I saw.

My face is far from oval. It is round. Although I was tall and slender — this was the age of Twiggy — I associated round faces with being overweight. I couldn’t possibly have a round face. It wasn’t until many years later that I was able to admit my face was round and not feel ashamed of that fact.

Self-confidence isn’t about hoping people will like your face, it is about loving what you look like, and not caring if others agree with you or not.

Owning at all the aspects of your personality, values, beliefs, physical abilities and attributes, is the first thing to work on if you want to increase your confidence in you.

Take special care to examine your guilty pleasures like the occasional pop and binge-watching Netflix.

It’s the things you are afraid to admit to that you really need to expose to yourself.

Once you can see yourself authentically, the next step is to accept those things without judgment.

I tend to only see the good things about myself. I sweep all the undesirable stuff under life’s carpet. If I don’t dwell on the negative, it will disappear. I do this so well that it is like those events never happened.

This is a useful skill in some ways but doesn’t do anything to build self-confidence. If you don’t acknowledge the tricky experiences and challenges, how do you know that you are resilient?

If you have a temper, admit that. Own it. Work to lessen its grip on your life, but don’t pretend it doesn’t exist because you want to be perfect.

Flaws and imperfections are what give things character. They make you unique.

The last step in building self-confidence is learning to love your authentic self, warts and all. I know from experience that this is the most challenging stage.

Being able to stand naked in front of a mirror, or your partner and not feel negative emotions about your extra pounds, less than ideal stomach, or other perceived imperfections, is tough.

Being with a group of your peers and voicing your opinion, even if it’s an unpopular one, takes strength.

Remember, self-confidence isn’t about wanting everyone to like you and agree with you.

It’s about liking yourself, and believing you are speaking your truth. It’s OK if other people don’t agree.

You are enough for yourself.

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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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