Confidence; it’s something many of us lack in one way or another. Confidence in our abilities, our looks, our choices.
It is often said that if you do not feel confident you should just fake it. Head up, shoulders back, smile plastered across your face; step into the room. With social media being the force it is nowadays that is where many people go to fake their confidence. Love them or loathe them, selfies are sometimes just a photographic representation of fake confidence.
Why Do We Lack Confidence?
It strikes me that many of us, me included, spend so much time putting ourselves down that we beat the confidence out of ourselves! I have been running a Non-Runners Group for five weeks now. I am impressed every week by everyone who turns out to exercise. So far we have bitterly cold evenings for our walk/runs but no-one has complained once.
For the first time this week my Non-Runners covered a 5km distance. No mean feat. Some people stick with a good brisk walk and others intersperse fast walking with jogging. I went all the way round the course with a lady who, I felt , did incredibly well. By her own admission she is not at her fittest but boy, is she determined to work at that! This lady kept pushing herself to break into a run and stick with it as long as she could. We set targets ‘that post’, ‘that hedge’ etc. to aim for. You would think she would be proud of herself, full of self congratulation. But every time we went from walking to running she would say ‘right, shuffle!’. However many times I told her that she wasn’t shuffling, she was jogging, she wouldn’t have any of it.
Why? I think we do this because it is safer. It is safer to be self deprecating than actually appreciate our achievements. That way we can’t slip up and no one can tear us down.
Celebrate Don’t Compare
We also do this because we feel that, compared to others, we aren’t doing that well. The truth is there is no harder place to start than total unfitness. You know it is going to hurt, you know you are going to struggle. But dammit, you are there and you are giving it a go. Each time you push, each time you leave your comfort zone you should praise yourself. Don’t look to others and compare yourself. They were all you once.
Plus, we are all in the same boat really. The fitter you get the harder you push. And the more people you see who are doing more. It can be healthy to have a competitive streak to push you forward. But we should all try to leave the comparative streak behind.
My competitive trigger is often just seeing someone else exercising. We all need days off but I often joke that I am being taunted on mine when various people skip merrily past me on their runs. I call it exercise envy!
Flipping Your Mindset
It is so important that we try to flip our mindset when it comes to putting ourselves down. Now, in my mid-thirties, I am only just starting to learn how. I hate looking at myself in a mirror. My face I’m ok with, my legs too. But the rest of me I have never liked. I have learnt how to dress without catching a glimpse of myself until I know I am wearing an outfit that will look alright. I’m sure there are many others out there who do the same.
When I enter runs and sportives I am usually slightly (at least) disappointed when I see the race pictures. The image of how I looked when running/cycling is never the reality in print. I never buy the pictures.
However, at the yogalates class I attend there is no escape. A wall of mirrors bluntly confronts you as you contort your every inch. I need the mirrors, they help to guide me and give me reference. Is my leg/arm/head where it is supposed to be? Am I actually doing the same move as the rest of the class?! This week my eyes zoned in on my thighs. Not fat but big. Months of ultra run training last year followed by getting back on the bike lately has given me large leg muscles.
This time, as my mind started its usual derogatory monologue, I stopped it.
‘You earned those legs Cadi. You worked bloody hard for them. No, they aren’t skinny like some other peoples but those thighs have pushed you up mountains. They have taken you to beautiful places, with amazing people. They are about to propel you around Cuba.’
I flipped it and it felt like a bit of a revelation!
Accept A Compliment
When our class teacher says ‘Well done’ she doesn’t say it to one person. She says it to us all because we are there and we are trying. When I tell my Non-Runners I think they are fantastic I mean it. We are all pretty amazing in one way or another, we just need the confidence to realise it!