Believing In Yourself as a Body-Mind Practice
“Confidence is the ability to see yourself as a flawed individual and still hold yourself in high regard.” – Esther Perel
This simple statement above is a lifetime journey for many of us.
The idea that what we do and what we accomplish determine our value is woven into the fabric of our society. Perfection (although impossible) is highly regarded. On top of that, some of our primary attachment styles have left imprints on us that there is something inherently wrong with us. Attachment if formed in our preverbal world, from the moment we born up until around 18 months of age.
Add on any trauma or abuse and we’ve got an insecurity load that can feel insurmountable. Those of us that can shake this shame are a fortunate lot. It takes finding security within us and within our relationships. It comes through awareness and practice.
In order to create security, we have to believe in and trust our self.
But what does this mean, really?
How We Got Here
Some of us had folks around us that believed in us before we were aware of our surroundings. Many did not. If the folks around us were insecure, that was all they had to pass down to us, regardless of their intentions. It helps if they said the words that they believed in, had confidence in us, and loved us, but if they didn’t have that as an embodied experience—literally settled into their nervous system—they had a mismatch of energy we picked up on. Energy doesn’t lie.
You cannot pass on security if you are insecure in who you are.
Storyteller and researcher Brene Brown talks about insecurity and confidence in the terms of shame and wholeheartedness. Shame is passed down through generations. Shame is the belief that something is inherently wrong or flawed within us and because of this we are unworthy of love.
If we had a caregiver that was sometimes emotionally available and met our needs, but other times was emotionally unavailable, we often internalized this as something was wrong with us. We often become uncertain. We often become tentative or unsure of ourselves. All of this happens preverbally.
Wholeheartedness and believing in ourselves as worthy is attainable. It is the confidence of holding ourselves in high regard. It is knowing we are worthy of love—even with all of our flaws, mistakes and imperfections. Believing in ourselves requires we find trustable ground in who we are as an individual. Through this trustable ground, we create security.
Many of us believe we are capable in our abilities, but have that inner or unspoken voice inside that tells us we are imposters, charlatans, and flat out not good enough. Some of us took that voice as a challenge, over compensated or over-achieved to shut it up. Others of us knew we had abilities, but just couldn’t get past that feeling that something is wrong with us, so we only strove so far. The rest of us were defeated by this voice before we even started.
We can only go so far on the beliefs of other people. At some point it has to come from within. Confidence doescome from having successful endeavors. We build confidence as we build ability. Yet underneath this, in order to have a true belief and confidence in ourselves, regardless of what we achieved, we have to find a way to know ourselves as worthy. We have to find a way to believe that simply by being who we are is enough for love, care and high regard.
How do we do this? With practice.
We are dependent on love and care from others from before birth. We are reliant on this care for our survival. Many of us got mixed messages (at the very least) around love and care. We found ways to attach to our caregivers for survival—sometimes this meant becoming more confident in our abilities, and sometimes it meant becoming less confident.
No matter where we are in terms of self-regard, with practice we can cultivate a deep and abiding esteem for ourselves. Not an overblown or imagined perfection of who we are, but a here-and-now based regard for who we are as a person even with our imperfections and flaws.
Most of us know what feels like to love unconditionally.
Take a moment to create a space where you will be uninterrupted. Get Comfortable.
Now move into your inner world and remember a place, time or experience where you felt deep care, love and openness in nature, with a beloved pet or with another human that you feel completely safe. Feel what it feels like to experience this space. Notice what it feels like in your body. Notice what it feels like in your heart and chest. Notice if there are any words, colors or images that come with this feeling and experience. What do deep care, ease and love feel like?
Now take this feeling, literally these sensations you remembered, and now imagine you can send this felt-sense back into your heart or chest area. Any words that you heard, also send them back into your heart space as well. Do this a couple times to let the felt-sense experience of this land in your heart space.
With this feeling still present, still turning it back into you, perhaps put your hands on the center of your chest. Silently say to yourself, “I believe in you,” or “I have confidence in you,” or “I trust you.” Maybe say all three.
If you get pushback from yourself arguing for what’s wrong with you. Pause. Take a breath.
Then go back and find that feeling of ease, comfort and care again, the one with your pet or place in nature, and let the felt-sense of this come to you again. Once you have it, turn it back into your chest and say, “Even with all of your flaws and insecurities, I still believe in you.”
Ironically, you may not believe yourself at first. In fact, you’ll probably dismiss it pretty quickly. But, if you keep finding that feeling—that felt-sense direct experience of comfort and love—then send it into your chest or heart area, it will start to have an effect. You can also imagine your shoulder blades as two palms holding the back of your heart while you do these exercises.
This is a beginning of re-parenting, re-patterning and holding onto yourself deeply. It is the beginning of creating trust and security within. We are interconnected and interdependent on other human beings, that’s how we’re wired. Yet, when we find love, confidence and an inherent belief that we are worthy, respected and valued, this is believing in our self. This creates confidence, belonging to our self and deep, trustable security.
When we do this, we create inner security and stability. This evolves much of our original insecurities and uncertainties. It is a resonant field. We may still have doubts and moments of uncertainty, but at our core, we know we are worthy of love. When we believe in our self and feel this directly in our body, even with our uniqueness and flaws, our relationship to the entire world shifts.