When I was a kid I thought I could fly. I have actual memories of flying, floating really, down the stairs in the home I grew up in. As children, most of us felt invincible, we could do or be anything, we had no sense of mortality or limit. Remember how high we would swing? What happens to that sense of wonder, that knowing that you can do anything, even if it seems impossible? Did we even know what unstoppable was? Sometimes we revisit that place, that sense in our dreams so why not while we are awake?
As we move into our teenage years, we develop a strong outward appearance of confidence which is often a mask of sorts...teenage bravado! The teenage years were so fraught with change, uncertainty, hormones and strange feelings, it’s a miracle any of us make it out unscathed...but we do. My teenage years were a mix of rebellion, reclusion, and nurturing my beliefs, most of which still hold strong for me today.
I feel that our real sense of self is born from those years and comes into it’s own during our early 20’s. The world is our oyster, or not, but either way, we are ready for what lies ahead, the adventures, careers, great loves, we anticipate all of it. Our confidence levels are high, we once again feel a little like we did when we were kids, invincible and immortal! I call this the Confidence Curve, but it’s more of a wave really…because, for most of us, this feeling doesn’t last. Life gets in the way. There are rejections and heartbreaks. Highs and lows. We don’t get the job we wanted, or the love we deserve. We get treated badly at work, or worse, ignored completely. All of these things can have a negative effect on our confidence levels.
So now what!
But all is not lost! Remember the confidence wave? That means it gets better. We have all heard someone of a certain age (maybe ourselves) say “I don’t care anymore what people think”, and mean it. This is great news right? At some point, likely in your late 40’s or early 50’s this will happen to you, you will be on the other side of the confidence wave and back on the upswing. You only have to wait a couple of decades! OK, that last part is not true, you don’t need to wait. The great news is that you can grow and maintain your confidence all through life. You can be ready for those inevitable rejections and setbacks that can knock you off your feet. They will still happen, but they don’t need to derail you. You can be so strong in your self-appreciation and self-esteem that you can take negative events in stride, even learn from them. Will they hurt? Yes. Will the suck? Absolutely yes, but they don’t need to devastate you or your life.
Empowerment by Discovery
One of the best places to start is with a real understanding of who you are. Find your voice, your authentic voice, and use it. There are many tools out there to help you gain insights into yourself. A quick search online for “self-discovery” brings upwards of 17 million results... so where to begin? One of my favorites is VIA Character Strengths. This free test assesses you on 24 character strengths that are central to all cultures, all geographic regions, all people. Their researchers dug into 2,500 years of documentation and found emerging themes. The 24 strengths of the VIA characterizations showed up over & over again, proving themselves to be universal. So it doesn’t matter where you live, what your financial status is, what your cultural background is, this test is relevant to all of us. The test results you get are the 24 strengths in rank order for you, from highest to lowest. Once you take the test & have your results, you may have a lot of questions, you may not even like your results. Working with a coach who is knowledgeable in VIA can help you.
Have, Do, Be vs Be, Do, Have
Many of us think we have to “Have” what we need (time, money, influence etc.) in order to “Do” what we want (fulfill our dreams, start our own business etc.) so that we can “Be” who we want to be. But what if the opposite were true? What if we start with Be, then Do, then Have? Don’t wait until you have everything in place. Start with being that person now, whatever that means for you. Some people call this “acting as if”. I don’t mean fake it ‘till you make it. I mean really embody the person that you want to be. Then take action, do something, anything, that will take you closer to your goal. You will then be moving in the direction to have what you want. I teach some of this in a class called “You CAN Build Your Dream Life”. Dream again and maybe you’ll remember how to fly!
I sign off a lot of my emails with “Take Care”. It can mean a million different things but, for the purpose of this article, it’s meant literally. Take care of yourself, your mind, body, and spirit. I took up meditation a couple of years ago and it has changed my life! I am calmer, funnier, more authentic, more confident, and all around better person. Frankly, a lot of things factor into this change for me, but meditation is a big one! So is working with my life coach. Meditation helps me take care of my spirit, my coach helps me take care of my mind and, if I’m being honest, my body and spirit too! She helps me find the right path for me in any given situation, and helps keep me on track, or helps me shift to a different track when it’s the right thing to do.
You’ve Got This!
This is your life, you deserve to live it on your terms. If that means waiting until your 40’s or 50’s for that lightbulb “I don’t give a shit” moment, good for you! If you don’t want to wait, and want that feeling now, do something about it. There is help you there, all you have to do is reach out, take a leap of faith and fly again!
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