Every single one of us has stories: stories that define who we are; stories that make us smile with happy memories; and stories that reduce our confidence and keep us from reaching our full potential.
Even people who don’t think they have confidence issues deal with false stories every now and then—it’s part of the human condition.
We go through an event in our lives and we make up a story that says this event proves that we’re not good enough in some way. Then, we hold back from going after all the things we want in life.
Now, for some of us, this is a habit that can begin to develop from a very early age. We go through some profound moment of rejection early on, we leave that moment hurting inside, and we come to a false conclusion about what happened—we make up a story.
Here is an example from real life that I witnessed recently with my son, Zaim:
My friends and I like to get together, and our kids always play when we do. Recently, one of our friend’s daughters who is eight years old (we’ll call her Teresa) brought along her friend (we’ll call her Amanda) who is also eight. Now, even though Zaim is only 5, he and Teresa are always able to get along and have a good time together. On this occasion, though, Amanda was making that more of a challenge: she was regarding him and everyone else with “get away” energy, and generally seemed like she’d rather just disappear with Teresa into the woods.
Being a hands-on parent, I decided to try to facilitate some interaction between him and the girls so they could all play together. Yet nothing I said could crack this girl’s “back off” stink eye. Eventually, I left them to their own devices (he has to learn to deal with these issues on his own), but I kept an eye out to see how things progressed. Long story short: he kept trying to engage them, and Amanda kept blowing him off, usually with some line that included the phrase, “We’re in the third grade!”
Sadly, this culminated with him giving up and coming to sit, dejectedly, with my wife and me.
Now, most of us don’t have mom and dad around to comfort us during these moments when there is a lack of understanding, so we might tell ourselves, “They don’t like me. I’m stupid. I’m not good enough for them.”
We let our little-kid-mind come up with some upsetting story that makes sense to it, and in some cases, we end up believing that story for the rest of our lives.
Unfortunately, getting older and wiser does nothing to put a stop to this negative behavior. We don’t stop creating stories—the stories just get more sophisticated: I’m not cool enough; I’m not interesting enough; I don’t know enough about politics; I don’t have expensive enough clothes.
People can develop lifelong stories about not being interesting just because they tried to share themselves with a group of friends who rejected them.
What we never take the time to consider, however, is that this rejection may have absolutely nothing to do with us.
At any given moment, a person can be dealing with a thousand emotions of their own: embarrassment, possessiveness, anxiety, and even fear.
Think about Amanda, from my story. She was in a strange place with strange people (fear/anxiety), and she was being asked to share the attention of a beloved friend (possessiveness). Heaven knows what else she might have been dealing with at the time, but those emotions were certainly on the surface.
Now, would my five-year-old son be able to synthesize that information to help get him through that experience? No way! Heck, most thirty-year-olds don’t even think to do it.
So, when Zaim came up to Candace and me, I helped him to begin to see things from another perspective. I explained that she was probably giving him “push away” energy because she feels anxious about being in a new place with new people, and she feels safe and secure with Teresa. I told him that it was also possible that some event from her past might make it hard for her to trust new people, so she might have built up some armor around her heart.
Now, this concept took a few tries to sink in—he’s only five, after all! But after discussing it a few times, he became curious about Amanda, rather than upset with himself (or her).
Instead of creating some story about how he wasn’t good enough, he learned to consider things from the other person’s perspective and use empathy to work through it.
Take a moment to consider how a similar situation may have affected you at an early age. What were the circumstances? Who was involved? See if you can play mediator for a moment and filter that event through the same lens of empathy.
Now that you’ve broken down the event, can you take a more skeptical view of the negative story you’ve created? These moments that have so negatively defined how we see ourselves and present ourselves to the outside world really have nothing to do with us.
You ARE good enough. You ARE worthy of love and happiness. These stories you’ve been telling yourself ARE false. Taking the steps to understand that fact won’t just shift how you feel about that moment—it will redefine how you live your entire life.
Take whatever time is necessary to really think through these formative events in your life—journal them if you have to. If you feel that you need additional guidance or support, I am always available to you through confidence coaching, or you can join one of my Mastermind groups. Please visit SocialConfidenceCenter.com to find more information on gaining access to courses, exercises, and countless other resources.
This is a powerful, life-changing process, so I want to thank you for having the courage to join me today and attack it. Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments below. What events have defined your life? How have you cleared up the old misconceptions that led to your false stories? Keep pushing through these experiences so that you can create a more positive mindset for yourself in the present!
Until we speak again, may you have the courage to be who you are and to know on a deep level that you’re awesome.
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