We are strong, confident, independent and beautiful. But we are also fearful. Fearful of what people think of us. The judgements.
We worry about not being heard or if we are being too overbearing. Fearful of not looking groomed or being perceived as vain... We speak a lot about being authentic, about being true to who you are. But, when we've developed a routine of not really thinking about why we do what we do, it can be difficult to switch up the conversations we have with ourselves.
Does the presence of strength mean that weakness doesn't exist? Both, make up who we are, and it is in acknowledging all the facets that makes us uniquely us, that we can remain true to ourselves. And it is only with this authenticity that we can grow and lead fulfilling, purposeful lives!
The Busy Woman Project's Expert, Dr. Anastasia Belikova shares with us her thoughts on this, and how we can embrace our vulnerabilities - our perfections & imperfections - for self-betterment!
What advice do you hear most often? Before a job interview, stepping onto stage, an important business meeting or a photo-shoot, we are told repeatedly 'Be confident'! Great advice - what is less great, unfortunately, is our misunderstanding of what confidence actually means.
Many of us have come to expect that confidence is what happens once you achieve perfection. For some, it might be having a perfect body, others need an Instagramable lifestyle, jaw-dropping Yoga Asanas, perfectly behaved kids, the most creative tattoo... something needs to be impressive before we can feel strong, proud and worthy of admiration. Confidence has become all about being, if not the best, then at least no worse than others.
This is NOT what confidence is about.
Real confidence is what you feel when you are genuinely happy and proud of who you are inside-and-out, mask-free. It comes from knowing and accepting both your strengths AND weaknesses.
But instead of getting realistic and honest with what we suck at, our comparative orientation makes us increasingly uncomfortable with admitting, and revealing our weaknesses, struggles and insecurities. Such avoidance of vulnerability prevents us from living fully!
How often we say to ourselves: 'I'm too shy', 'I'm not good enough', 'It's out of my league', 'I don't belong'... Fear of negative judgement and rejection cost us many personal and professional opportunities, including opportunities for actually improving on the weaknesses that haunt us so much.
There is a term in psychology called goal orientation, which describes how people react to challenging unknown situations. People with learning goal orientation care little about the end goal and view any challenge as an opportunity to try something new and self-develop. Learning goal orientation adopters tend to be more successful, more likeable AND less stressed compared both to people who use challenges to prove or show off their abilities to self and others (performance-prove orientation), as well as to those who avoid unfamiliar situations all together out of fear of looking foolish (performance-avoid orientation).
Unwillingness to be open about our discomforts leads to a stagnant, growth-free life. Worse still, it's a direct road to anxiety, addictions and depressions. As we conceal our true feelings and thoughts, we go deeper and deeper into living a lie. Social interactions become tiring as we always have to be alert, always acting. Relationships with friends and partners start lacking depth and nourishment as we hide parts of ourselves from them.
So what are some ways that can help us to befriend our vulnerabilities and live our best, purposeful lives?
Reframe self-improvement: For example, you are not going to the gym because you are a fat disgusting pig. You are going to the gym because you want to enjoy a healthy body and a long, fulfilling life. You are not using make up to hide your imperfections; you are highlighting your best features.
Practice radical honesty. Starting with people you really trust, try being open about your true feelings and thoughts.
Face your discomforts. Take a tiny step towards what you are afraid of the most.
Embrace failure - my yoga teacher used to applaud everyone who fell down from a complicated pose saying 'if you are falling, it means you are trying'.
Be kind to yourself. Speak to yourself only how you would speak to someone you love, encourage yourself like you would encourage someone you love. What is important to you?
Article contributed by The Busy Woman Project Expert Dr. Anastasia Belikova.
Other resources to check out:
- Great short TED talk by Dr Brene Brown on the power of vulnerability
- Learn from stories of business failure in more than 80 countries with FuckUp events.
- Have you gone so far in hiding your weaknesses that they are turning into dysfunctional shame? Take this test to find out.
Is the human psyche and how we behave interesting to you? What would you like to learn more about? Drop us a note at [email protected].