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10 Tips for Finding Your Confidence

10 Tips for Finding Your Confidence

It’s so freakin’ easy to play it small. And no wonder! From the time we’re children, we’re encouraged to let the guy win so we don’t make him feel bad, to minimize our beauty so our friends won’t get jealous, to tone down our genius so others won’t feel threatened, to dim our light so no one feels dark in our shadow.

My 7 Year Old Daughter Is Adorably Confident

My seven year old daughter thinks she’s brilliant, innovative, artistic, gorgeous, popular, and wildly lovable. And all of those things are true. At this age, she gets lots of support for being confident. People agree with her when she tells them how awesome she is.  But the sad truth is that sometime in the next few years, no matter what I do to try to counterbalance the pressures she’ll be subjected to from all sides, my superstar child will start dialing it down. She’ll shade her sparkle. She’ll get socialized to fade.

She won’t be alone, of course. Her friends will all be trained to do the same. They learn playing small in school, right along with the reading, writing, and arithmetic. And we tend to reinforce what they learn.

Humility Vs. Narcissism

We dress up the tendency to play small with words like “humble,” “modest,” and “unpretentious.” Those who don’t play small get labeled with supercharged words of criticism like “arrogant,” “cocky,” “full of herself,” “conceited,” “egotistical,” and “narcissistic.”

Sheesh. None of us want to get saddled with that kind of baggage, so we dial it down and then wind up middle-aged, having lost touch with our pizzazz.

What nobody tells you when you’re twelve, learning how to be humble and unpretentious, is that we’re giving up one of our greatest gifts when we agree to dim our light for the sake of being accepted into the world of unremarkable people.  I’m not suggesting you can’t be simultaneously humble and sparkly – just look at Jesus! But when we step away from our greatness in order to fit in, we dig our own coffins, especially when it comes to our professional lives.

I’ve learned the hard way how to navigate the loneliness of being a bright, shiny light (you can read about how I felt as a child here). But the older I get, the more fearless I am about stepping into my own greatness and embracing my light.

Others have reinforced that lately. Nia founder Debbie Rosas encouraged us to all step into our brilliance as we danced at the Nia White Belt Intensive. Mama Gena in her School of Womanly Arts encourages us to brag. In both programs, I got to practice – in tandem with hundreds of other women – stepping into my own greatness and being held in loving arms, rather than being rejected.  It felt liberating, like unhooking that too-tight bra and flinging it to the high heavens. When you step into your greatness, you finally feel the lightness of flight, rather than the burden of the weight of diminishing your brilliance.

With all the lessons I’ve learned from others that are stepping into their greatness, I’ve learned a few things I’ll share here.

10 Tips For Stepping Into Your Greatness

  1. 1. Nobody can dim your light but you.
  2. 2. Dialing it down doesn’t really make anyone else feel better. It just makes you feel worse.
  3. 3. Confidence and narcissism are not the same thing. Narcissists lack true confidence and overcompensate to make up for the lack thereof.
  4. 4. When you step into your greatness, you attract more people than you repel.
  5. 5. The confident know they will always land butter side up. Those people take more risks, fall down more often, and wind up shining the brightest.
  6. 6. All you have to do is your best. Stepping into your greatness doesn’t mean achieving some unattainable benchmark. When you do your best, you let your light shine.
  7. 7. Being confident means managing your fear. When your fears outpower your confidence, you dim your light. Stepping into your greatness requires facing your fears head on and making the choice not to let them rule your decisions any longer.
  8. 8. Within your vulnerability lies your strength. Stepping into your greatness doesn’t mean tooting your own horn. Sometimes your greatest strength lies in your flaws, frailties, and foibles.
  9. 9. It’s okay to brag. Yes, your vulnerabilities can be your strengths, but it’s also okay to shout your triumphs from the rooftops. Imagine if we all gave ourselves permission to say “I rocked it today!” What if we started every conversation by asking “What’s awesome in your life?Wouldn’t life be grand?
  10. 10. You can’t claim credit for your greatness. Within this wisdom lies your humility. We are all vessels for the Divine to shine through us when we get our egos out of the way. Why would you want to dim your light when it’s merely Divine light shining through you?

Do You Consider Yourself Confident?

Or do you dim your light so nobody will think you shine too bright? Do you frown upon confident people or label them arrogant? Have you figured out how to step into your greatness without cutting yourself off from the brilliance of Divine light? Share your stories here!

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Lissa Rankin

Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and other health care providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself.  She is on a grassroots mission to heal health care, while empowering you to heal yourself.  Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities - HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. Lissa lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband and daughter.

41 comments

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6:11AM PST on Dec 5, 2013

Yes, this is an important article and most of us could probably benefit from exploring the concept of "inner light" and how it relates to confidence more deeply.

10:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2013

Great points! I do consider myself confident most of the time. I don't feel better than anyone else but I also don't feel below anyone else either. I try to stay centered and grounded but to also do and be my best at all times. It is actually strange when I wake up feeling insecure or down, but I try to do self care and get myself back straight again as soon as possible. I guess that's just part of being human.

8:19PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Yes, yes, this is so true Lissa, you don't have to worry about your 7 year old daughter: you have much wisdom to share with her and I'm sure you are a good role model. Just share it with her. Especially true with daughters, isn't it? - We are taught to be humble by society, meaning set the bar low. Heck with that. I say let them shine with all their brilliance. The world could use a lot more of it. And especially if they don't claim credit for their natural talents, their egos will be out of the way.

6:37PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thought-provoking article with some good advice.

Back in the 70s, many thought women burned their bras because they were man-hating feminists. Not so. Those who did were publicly saying that they were taking back the parts of themselves that society had chipped away at and got left by the wayside in order to "fit in".

I was not one of those free spirits because I was married and a mother and thought, as such, followed the role set up for me by society in general. Sometimes I wish I had jumped up and yelled from the highest point I could find that I was not going to be that woman any more.
I'm afraid of heights so the highest point for me would have been a stepstool - height is relative.

To this day I am still finding bits and pieces of what was given up. I made my choices and can't have regrets - that is a waste of time. Time I spend finding those flashes of brilliance here and there - in a quilt design of mine, in cross-stitch designs that got published, in making my great grandson smile for me...the pieces may be scattered but they are slowly coming back and I feel blessed with each one I find.

1:34PM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thanx again Lissa, I have dimmed my life myself as well as being trained to do it...
Gives me food for thought on what to do nxt!

9:39AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thank you :)

2:25AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

1:35AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

12:59AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

I refuse to dim my light, I have worked too hard to get here. Being confident at job interviews have negative outcomes for me. Sick of being told I am over qualified (yes that's the excuse they use in feedback) Most employers want young low self esteem people that they can tread all over. I am 56 years old, jobless and proud of my achievements to date. I have now chosen to volunteer and wait for retirement.

12:44AM PDT on Jul 20, 2013

I wonder if children even hear the word "humble" as they grow up.

Unfortunately, I hear many people speaking very loudly in the course of their daily conversations and often raise their voices to shout to the person they're communicating with. Why would it be normal to hear people having a conversation when they are half-a-block up the road?
Admittedly, the better educated people don't do that - but there are not many of them !

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