I’ve been exploring the difference between outward confidence and inner security. Many would say I am a confident person, and I agree. I believe I can accomplish anything. If I can think it, I can create it. I have no problem speaking publicly, approaching strangers, and being outgoing. But on a deeper level, the belief and confidence on the outside didn’t match what I was feeling on the inside. I felt there was something missing, disconnected, not whole. I wasn’t ok with who I was on the inside...at my core. It was almost like the outgoing nature was a persona, an act, a different person, an outer disconnect from my inner self at times.
It reminds me of famous entertainers like movie stars, athletes, and singers. We sometimes hear stories about their personal lives and how behind the scenes, life doesn’t look like it does in the press, on the stage, or in the interviews. There are drinking problems, drug overdose, and sadly, even suicides. And I get it; I can only imagine what it’s like to have your life constantly be in the public eye and have millions of people, with their opinions and expectations, as the audience to your every move.
What I DO vs Who I AM
I’ve defined confidence as the outward expression of belief in myself. When I google the definition, it says “a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities and qualities.” The part that is easier for me to accept is the appreciation of abilities because this is the part where I DO and take action. I believe I can DO anything. Where the disconnect comes in, though, is “the appreciation of one’s own qualities”. To me, this means who I AM...at my core. The type of person I am, the type of qualities I possess. And honestly, I haven’t always appreciated that. I haven’t always believed in her. I haven’t always felt secure in who she is. Honestly, I haven’t always liked her.
It surprises many people when I mention this because my outward behavior is quite different from what I just confessed. I unknowingly fooled others into thinking I was that confident on the inside as well. I even fooled myself too because I subconsciously kept trying to change the way I felt on the inside through my actions and abilities on the outside. I was working from the outside in. Trying to “earn” acceptance of myself by what I DID instead of simply accepting myself for who I AM.
This brings me to my definition of inner security: not just being ok with, but LOVING who you are at your core-THEN acting out of this belief. This is what working from the inside out means to me. Appreciating my own abilities AND qualities. When I act out of this love and belief for myself on the inside, true authenticity shows on the outside. Actions and behavior flow from my true self rather than being forced by willpower, approval of others, and a cover up. The motivation of my behavior shifts from exhaustion to energizing, from fear to love, from force to flow.
YOU are the Answer
Inner security, happiness, fulfillment, true connection with others and all the other fun stuff we long for starts with you! YOU are the only person that needs to accept you. Authenticity flows from the love and acceptance of yourself at your core. When you are enough for you, you will attract others that love and accept you as well. You have to accept and love yourself before anyone else will. I like the way my coach puts it. She says, the ability for others to love you is fully dependent on the extent to which you love yourself. If you want the “real” stuff-the authentic, genuine stuff-from others, you start with yourself.
Ways to Move Forward:
-Be GENTLE with yourself. Treat yourself with all the compassion and grace you would extend to a child. In my experience and observations, many times we are the last people on our list to take care of. We wouldn’t treat or talk to anyone else the way we treat and talk to ourselves. Practice being kind to yourself! That kindness overflows to those around you. The difference, though, in being kind from the inside out is that it’s an authentic kindness instead of an obligatory, guilt-based, performance. It’s true, sustainable, and life-giving, not only to others, but first to yourself.
-RECEIVE positivity that comes to you. This may look like a compliment, an accomplishment, or a moment of happiness. Truly receive it, own it, take credit and responsibility for it rather than deflect, downplay, and justify why it’s not good enough. How many times have you taken responsibility for the negative, owned it, and received it all the way into your core and allowed it to shape your beliefs around your identity? If you’re anything like I was, this may be an easier pattern at first than receiving the positive. If you’re going to receive negativity (which I don’t recommend, but that’s a topic for another day) why not at least receive the positive too?
-Be true to yourself. Ask yourself what’s right for you, what do YOU think about this or that, what do you WANT. Notice when you’re doing something out of obligation vs your choice.