Declaration of Confidence
For a very long time I thought wearing a sports bra on a hot summer run was reserved for women who had lean, fit bodies. And I wasn't one of them. I really wanted to be able to ditch that top layer, that feels like a weight vest sometimes when the humidity is suffocating. Mostly, I wanted to be confident enough to pull it off, even if my body wasn't lean and fit. And I seriously lacked that confidence.
If you were to chart my confidence though my life thus far it would look a bit like a reversed bell curve-there was a serious valley in my teens and twenties, where I didn’t just lack confidence but I loathed myself. You could say that my confidence has made a recovery, although it is not so much a recovery as a discovery. I feel as if I've discovered what it really means to be confident even when the circumstances around you or your experiences don't make you feel confident.
I can tell you:
It's not about the number on the scale.
It's not about the size on the tag.
It's not about how you want to "feel" in your clothes.
It's not about how what you eat makes you "feel."
It's not about how lean you are.
It's not about how fit you are.
It's about you.
It is about what you believe about yourself. Not what you feel.
So often we tell ourselves that if I can weigh XX then I'll feel confident.
If I can fit into size X then I'll feel better about myself.
If I can only feel confident in my clothes then I'll be content.
If I eat clean then I'll feel better about myself.
If I can just be more fit and more lean, then I'll be happy.
We can certainly make changes based on these feelings. They are effective motivators because we keep thinking that if we just get there then we will feel confidence we’ve been striving for.
[Tweet "Does your confidence waiver with your circumstances? "]
The thing is that you can have ALL of that. You can be the weight you always wanted, wear the size that eluded you for so long, feel small in your own clothes and control every bite you eat and still lack confidence. Maybe you'll feel a sense of pride in the accomplishment, but confident? Probably not.
There was a time in my life when I weighed 20 lbs less than I do now. When I had not only reached the number on the scale I thought would make me feel happy, but I had lost far more than I ever thought I could. I felt small in my own clothes. And controlled every bit of food that crossed my lips. When I looked in the mirror all I could see were flaws and everyone else saw a shadow of who I once was. I walked around loathing my body and fighting against it. I was the furthest thing from confident. My pursuit of weight-loss didn’t land me the confidence I longed for...it landed me in the hospital. And then spiraled into a nine year battle with bulimia.
There was a time in my life that I weighed 40 lbs more than what I weigh now (and I wasn't pregnant). And I cringed when I looked at the scale. I felt big in my own clothes. But I wasn't obsessing about food anymore, or how it made me feel. I wasn't quite confident yet, but I was getting there. I had seven months of “sobriety” from bingeing and purging to encourage me that maybe, I could put this demond disorder behind me and finally be the confident woman I longed to be.
And here I am today. The weight that I am. In clothes that are sometimes feel comfortable and sometimes don't. Eating food that tastes delicious to me. And I am confident. Sure it waivers from time to time, but my confidence isn't affected by the number on a scale or the size on a tag or how my clothes feel or how my food makes me feel or what other people think of me.
It has been a long process to find out what it really means to be confident, to shed the layers of self-doubt and loathing that dogged me for most of my adult life. It was a long, slow process of transformation. And it started with going back and finding “the hurt.”
The only way to really be confident is to find out what made you doubt yourself in the first place. And when you find out what that is you have to take steps to heal that hurt. Maybe it was a coach that made you feel like if you were only fitter or thinner you wouldn't ride the bench, or that state title could be yours. Or maybe they didn't even let you on the team? Maybe it was a family member who struggled with their own unhealed hurt, and whose off-hand comments trickled down to you? Or that group of kids at school whose comments made you flush red with embarrassment and run into the bathroom fighting back tears. Maybe it was a boyfriend, who was everything you didn't need but whose words stuck with you? Maybe it was the fact that the only thing you were ever praised for was your appearance? Maybe you felt invisible? Maybe your parents divorced and you found yourself caught in the middle wondering if anyone saw you, if anyone loved you? Maybe the hurt wasn't just verbal? Maybe the hurt was physical?
And in that moment you feel like if you were just good enough, none of this would have happened. That if somehow you were thinner or faster or could wear the clothes those kids wore or if you were smarter or more clever or had a better sense of humor or if you just kept your mouth shut that all this hurt could be avoided. And so you think that if I just change then it will all be better. If I can just be X then I will feel confident and this hurt won't hurt.
[Tweet "Often past hurt lies at the heart of our lack of confidence. #bodyimage "]
And so the lies that take away our confidence are bred and over the years they can grow. And then you're not a girl who feels like she isn't good enough, you're a woman who doubts herself--who questions her own value, who makes up rules about what she can and cannot wear or what she can and cannot do because somehow you aren't "good enough."
And maybe wearing a sports bra on a run seems impossible, not for any logical reason but because wearing that sports bra is wrapped up in all those lies that you believe about yourself. I feel like wearing a sports bra on my run is an act of defiance, a big old "f*ck you" to the way I used to think about myself. A declaration of confidence.
But how do you find confidence when you don't get it from your weight or the size of your clothes or what you eat (or don't eat) or how fit you are or how fast you are? How do you go from feeling like you aren't good enough to feeling confident? Seriously, though--where is the road map? How can we go from not feeling like we can "pull of" wearing a sports bra on a run to being confident in our own skin?
Grab a notebook because it's time to do some work to move you to CONFIDENT. It's time to change the thought patterns that have made you de-value yourself all these years. It's time to heal the hurt that started it all and find out how to be confident so that you don't have to rely on your weight/clothing size/shape/food/job/significant other/family to feel confident. It’s time to be confident.
Think of all the things that you think other people are thinking about you and write them down (Like "They will think that I'm too fat to wear a bikini." or "They will think that I am too young for this job." or "They will think that I'm incompetent.")
Now go through those list of other people's thoughts and replace "They" with "I."
Often we project our own insecurities onto other people and get caught up in "what other people think" of us, when really it “what other people think” is just our own thoughts in a different context.
Go back through that list of things of “I” statements and circle the ones that elicit the strongest reaction inside you.
Where did these lies come from?
What was the hurt that caused that lie to take root?
What purpose does this lie serve?
What is the truth?
Write that truth on a index card and paste it somewhere where you will see it on a daily basis.
Go back through the list of negative thoughts/comments and write the rebuttal for each. What is the truth, here? This is your declaration of confidence. Embrace these truths. Own them.
We have the privilege of existence. We live. We breath. Don’t waste it letting lies run the show. It’s time we stop lying to ourselves. It’s time to make a declaration of confidence.
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Email: RunFarGirl [at] gmail [dot] com