What makes some people so self-assured that they don't second-guess themselves and boldly affirm their requests, likes, dislikes, etc., while others find themselves self-imposing all sorts of rules (aimed at appearing or attempting to be the unattainable "perfect" person), walking on eggshells and worrying needlessly over little things that other people move on from within minutes?
My work in Child Development, experience in the field, and my own personal life experience tells me that if you are brought up in a loving and supportive environment where autonomy, confidence, and individuality are encouraged, you will likely flower into someone with a high perceived self-efficacy that results in a healthy level self-confidence that is felt and often perceived by others.
If you are brought up in an environment in which abandonment was an issue and you were never taught to depend on yourself, you may struggle with a distorted sense that you must have some type of reassurance or reinforcement from others outside of you - especially authority figures (i.e., teachers/professors (If I get straight As, then I'll be "good/loved/accepted"), therapists (I am defective, so I need this person to fix me.), boss (I need to do things perfectly and never make mistakes or else I'll get fired). Do you see at theme here?
A person who is lacking in and needing to build his or her self-confidence may think that she is not whole....that she is broken or somehow defective. She may think that something is wrong with her.
As my yoga teacher and dear friend often says, "You are perfect, whole, and complete, just the way you are, and just the way you are not."
I like to repeat this mantra. I like to remind myself that EVERYONE makes mistakes and that NO one is perfect. I make mistakes and I am not perfect. I need to remind myself - being one of those people who is working on building her self-acceptance, respect, and confidence, that my expectations of myself are beyond reasonable and beyond what most others would deem reasonable.
It is amazing to me that, well into adulthood, one can still experience that sense of vulnerability around the subconscious connections between trying to be perfect - failing because its impossible - then, still unconsciously, worrying that one will be abandoned or rejected for having been "found out." Of course, we see this with children who were abandoned, neglected, or abused as young children. But there is hope.
I have come a long way over the years to where I can now have a laugh over my own ridiculous worries that are disproportionate to the situations at hand. I can acknowledge how TRULY blessed I am to be in a loving relationship, to live in a safe and beautiful place, and to have a job where I am appreciated and encouraged to blossom in this aspect of my life as I pursue my professional career. I have real friends that I love and that love me - people I can count on no matter what - and while I may only be able to count the number of them on my fingers, it's definitely a quality over quantity issue here, and that's more than fine with me. I am thankful for my family.
I am thankful for the chair yoga that I do at work when I need to stretch my neck and shoulders. I am thankful for the beautiful setting at which I work - I can go outside for air and a spectacular view whenever I need to decompress and reconnect with the sky and nature. I am thankful for my yoga home practice - even though I miss the connection with other students during the week, I am pretty sure that somewhere on the planet, someone else is practicing alone (but with me) in that very moment.
I am thankful about how the lessons on the mat about acceptance, pushing a little bit (but not to the point of pain), backing off (and respecting your own limits), and taking time to "just be," are all applicable to the journeys we experience off the mat, including the experience of growing in confidence and accepting that we are imperfect beings...and that we are still Loveable, worthy, and whole, even so.
Debbie aka Sulilo