Confidence

I’ve been thinking a lot about confidence lately.  All of the individuals I help want to feel more confident with food, most of them want to feel more confident about their body and many of them want to feel more confident in their relationships (with themselves and others).  So this begs the questions:  what IS confidence?

The world would teach us that confidence comes from having more - things, money, attention, applause, likes, followers, talents, popularity, time, intelligence, etc.  But in reality, if we put our confidence in outside possessions or in the opinions of others, we are constantly chasing it rather than being grounded in it.  It’s a pretty sneaky sales pitch though - try this diet, do what I do or look like this and you’ll be confident.  It’s like an elusive unicorn and as a collective whole, it seems we just keep going back for more and more.  This actually breeds insecurity and leads us further and further away from true confidence.  

Instead, I have found that confident people have these characteristics in common:

  • They don’t talk about themselves.  They are more interested in listening to others.
  • They stay true to themselves and what they value while having respect for that in others.
  • They have a healthy self-respect, which means they speaking positively about themselves without arrogance. 
  • They don’t waste time talking about people.  They’ve got ideas, goals and plans and are too busy working on those.  
  • They work hard.
  • They look for ways they can help or solve problems instead of complaining, justifying or rationalizing.  
  • They know true happiness comes from finding joy in small, everyday moments rather than  waiting for _______ to happen.  
  • They can take feedback and constructive criticism with grace and approach life as an opportunity to learn.  In short, they know they don’t know it all and welcome growth.
  • They are patient with themselves and others.  
  • They have excellent boundaries and while they are endlessly compassionate, they also hold others responsible for their own actions.
  • They don’t make assumptions.  They also say speak with integrity.  
  • They don’t worry about what others think about them, but do think about how they can help others.  
  • They don’t need to toot their own horn.  These are the people who’s work speaks for itself. 
  • They don’t compete - it’s not a matter of who did it best; it’s a matter of seeking and promoting truth and goodness.  They want to inspire rather than impress.   
  • They are willing to help you learn, and these are the people you want to turn to when you seek answers.  They will help you be the best version of YOU, not a version of them.  
  • They know their appearance matters very little in the grand scheme of things.  They live life to remembered for who they are and what they did rather than what they looked like.  Interestingly enough, they are usually the people I find the most beautiful (but my standards are a lot different than traditional beauty standards).  

There is probably a lot more I’m missing.  Essentially, I feel that cultivating these habits are what build confidence, rather than the other way around.  

In regards to my work, health and wellness seem effortless to these people.  It’s because they trust themselves to make wise decisions rather than relying on external validation.  In general, they've got a strong inner compass.  They also realize that health is multifactorial, so while nutrition and exercise may be important to them, it’s one small part of their day.  Essentially, I’ve found the healthiest individuals don’t talk about their health.  It’s not what defines them; they consider it a blessing.

I guess what I’m saying is that true confidence comes from thinking less about yourself and more about others.  This might seem at odds with my message of self-care and anticipating your own needs, but I assure you it’s not.  Confident people take care of themselves so they can take care of others, not so they can tell everyone about it.  Make sense?  When you become your best self, you give others permission to do the same.  That is what breeds true confidence.  Get out and get busy living YOUR life!  I think you’ll find that confidence finds YOU.  

Related:  
Musings on Body Image, Take Offense and Sensitive Superheroes
Body Confidence - Blog Roundup

Emily Fonnesbeck RD, CD