Published in The Huffington Post
I remember years ago when I told my mother I wanted to take an ESL teaching course in order to expand my employment opportunities.
“What will that do for you?” she asked with negative overtones.
“Well, I think I can segue-way the classroom teaching skills I’ve honed for over 20 years in theater and apply them to teaching English to foreign students and corporate executives who come to the U.S. to become more proficient in business. Besides, I can’t go back to teaching drama in high school or in college in California. I don’t have credentials.”
There was dead silence on the phone. Then: “How much will this cost?”
“I’ll pay you back, Mom,” I replied with conviction. “You’ll see. It’ll be worth it.”
And I did pay my Mom back and I did teach for 6 years at the language school. That position gave me a confidence boost, positive energy and an opportunity to rise in the administrative ranks with success that I couldn’t otherwise have received in any other environment at that time in my life. I was first and foremost a teacher and teaching is what I was born to do. It was a perfect fit.
I gave my best every day in my new position. Sometimes the outcome may not have been what I wanted, but every day I came away feeling good about myself as a stronger and more competent person in the workplace.
I had to stand up to my mother for what I believed to be the right decision. Yet, it is not always easy to turn other people’s negativity into a positive possibility and give yourself a confidence boost.
Whenever you’re pursuing a dream — whether it’s a business, a relationship or a decision to take up a yoga practice — people are going to give you their opinion even if you didn’t ask for one. The positive opinions validate your decisions and choices. The negative remarks, the doubting Thomas remarks tend to disable your core belief and detract from your enthusiasm and vision.
What do you do when other people’s negativity conflicts with what you believe to be good for your life? After all, your choices are the life-blood of who you are.
Here are five ways to give you a confidence boost when you are feeling doubt or too much negativity:
1. FOCUS ON ACCEPTANCE
When your friends, family or significant others begin to dismiss your decisions, they usually talk about risks and negative “what ifs” and pie in the sky ideas or dismantle your dreams by suggesting that you stay in your own comfort zone.
Here’s a great tip: don’t react. Acknowledge with a silent “these are your ideas and not mine” and keep the negativity at bay. Put their negativity outside your positive energy field. Don’t fight back. It’s wasted energy to do so because it disables your positive momentum. Putting up a defense usually ends in hurting yourself with pain or doubt. Simply accept the other’s resistance to your ideas, acknowledge their reality and then move your mindset firmly into your decision-making lane. Your reality and the perception of your reality are the real focus.
2. FOCUS ON YOUR SUCCESSES
You have had many successes in your life. These successes are based on your own decisions. Perhaps you have had mentors or others who encouraged your dreams, but you, nevertheless, own your successes. When others put doubt in front of you or resist your ideas, put your “wins” in full view so you can see them every night before going to bed and every morning when you wake up.
Remind yourself to be proud of your visions, dreams, choices, awards and good deeds. Never let a day go by without giving gratitude for being who you are and congratulate yourself for what you have achieved.
3. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU ARE PROUD OF
We all have a list all the things we are proud of. And most of them are probably not on your resume. Find activities and deeds you did that took personal courage. I left Los Angeles after 30 years and moved to another city. Perhaps you, too, moved away from your family, struck out on your own, or left a relationship that caused you pain. Recall things that others would be afraid of doing, but you did them.
And most importantly, consider all those people you helped, mentored or reached out to when they needed a friend. Did you stick up for someone who was maligned? Did you stand up to the bully? Were you confident in the middle of difficulties and faced your fears with courage?
4. FOCUS ON SELF-RESPECT
How you think about yourself, how you view yourself in your environment, how you give your best in all situations gives you the opportunity to feel good about yourself. The decision to respect yourself makes you a stronger person. The outcome of the activity does not matter as much as your overall intention to build on your confidence. Confidence reflects your core beliefs and standing up for your beliefs gives you an authenticity that people will remember and admire. And in return, self-respect earns the respect of others because they see your truth.
5. FOCUS ON SPREADING HAPPINESS
There is no better way to boost confidence than to spread happiness to everyone you encounter in life. The Buddhists say we are born with all the happiness we will ever need in life, but somewhere along the path of life we decide not to be happy. What are we afraid of? Is happiness unfamiliar? Are you fearful of being happy? Push out of that comfort zone of feeling blue and get into the habit of spreading happiness. It might seem unfamiliar to spread happiness at first, but after doing it as a practice, you’ll get over the fear of being “different” and you will see it is in your best interest to make that effort to be happy. It’s contagious.
If you are having trouble being happy, boost your confidence by taking a dance class, going to a movie alone or starting a conversation with a stranger. And don’t forget to share your life with others. See how it makes you feel after. In truth, happy people are more successful people. They are less resistant and more resilient and strikingly more personally successful.
Finally, as you boost your confidence, please take care not to compare yourself with others. The achievements that boost your confidence are unique to you and are as important as anyone else’s. You will find that creating your life with confidence builds positive energy and personal growth.
Joan Moran is a keynote speaker, commanding the stage with her delightful humor, raw energy, and wealth of life experiences. She is an expert on wellness and is passionate about addressing the problems of mental inertia. A yoga instructor and an Argentine tango dancer, Joan is the author of 60, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer. Her new book, I’m I’m The Boss of Me! Stay Sexy, Strong & Smart at Any Age, is now on Amazon.
Visit her at her website: www.joanfrancesmoran.com