50 Is The New 30 – Confidence As We Mature

In a meeting the other day the comment was made that “50 is the new 30!” which was a reflection perhaps of how in the space of no more than a couple of generations what we expect of ourselves has definitely changed. If I think back to my own parents at my age then they certainly approached life in a very different way to how we find ourselves behaving, dressing and indeed working today.

That set me reflecting on some of the discussions with “mature” people I have had recently. Some of them also talked about how in the face of the seemingly relentless change they have felt a loss of confidence at times leading some to feel like an “imposter.” I have written about the imposter syndrome before (see here) but in this post I want to look at how, as we contend with the world which expects more of us, we can retain or re-discover our confidence.

In the glossy magazines and on websites we are told that we can do it all and have it all. That can seem quite daunting if you are at a stage in your life where you are struggling with being confident. The reality is that everything is a balancing act, and the best way to stay happy and confident is to make a list of priorities and stick to it.

Who Are You?

When it comes to prioritising, you need to know who you are and what you want in life. With a purpose-driven life, you are in control, setting your goals and taking action to achievement.

There are only so many hours in the day, with one-third supposed to be reserved for sleep, and one-third of your weekdays (usually) reserved for work. However, as a partner, community activist or caregiver to elderly parents or relatives, the work day increases and the sleep often decreases. It can seem almost impossible to find “me time” in which you can relax, de-stress, and work on self-improvement.

Good Self-Care

The truth is that the happier you try to make others, the unhappier you will usually be yourself. You will never be able to take care of others well unless you first take care of yourself and ensure as many of your real needs as possible are met. These include food, rest, money to pay the bills, supportive relationships and so on.

Good self-care is empowering and will boost confidence. You won’t feel as if you are running on an empty fuel tank all the time. Instead, you can give all your important tasks your best effort. You might even have time to take classes online, learn new skills, and more.

Lifelong Learning

You are never too old to learn. Gaining new skills can increase your self-esteem. They might even help you get that promotion or raise you’ve been longing for.

Surrounding Yourself with Positive People

Positive people exude positive energy. You can tell who they are because you feel good whenever they walk into the room. Spend more time with them, and try to become more positive yourself, so you can network with like-minded people.

Do Self-Confidence Exercises throughout the Day

Start in the morning by telling yourself you are going to have a great day. Try a “power pose” in front of the mirror, stretching your arms and leg out as widely as possible until you feel like you are filling the room. Don’t be “small” or think small.

Work physical activity into your day for at least a few minutes at a time. A 10-minute workout session four times per day is just as effective as one 40-minute session, and exercise boosts your energy as well.

Come up with affirmations, positive statements that fill you with energy, such as “feel your power,” “You can do it,” and so on.

At the end of the day, journal about your successes, and what you can do even better tomorrow. Again I have written about the benefits of reflective journals elsewhere (see here.)

Cross Items Off Your Bucket List

Regularly do things you’ve always wanted to do. They will get you out of your comfort zone and increase your self-esteem.

Follow these tips to increase both your confidence and self-belief.

Painting Yourself in a Positive Light

The topic of personal presentation is one that has come up in a number of articles of late and is also a question which several people have asked me about – especially those who like me are currently looking for a new role. For me it is about much more than just wearing the right clothes and goes much deeper which is why I want to take a look at it in some more detail.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase, “painting yourself in a positive light.” If not, this particular saying has a great deal to do with the task of presenting yourself to others in an upbeat fashion. You’ll find it to be extremely important, especially in a business setting.

There’s no way around it. The way you act around people definitely influences how they feel about you. To be polite, when negative feelings are involved, some individuals choose to keep their opinions to themselves. This is acceptable, because they are well within their rights to do so. Unfortunately, others won’t hesitate to tell you what they REALLY think about you. Sometimes, it’s a vicious world out there! You need to be prepared.

In addition, there’s the possibility of the uncomfortable issue of rumors and gossip. Once one or the other gets started, it typically spreads like wildfire with no end in sight. Presenting yourself in a positive way helps to reduce the chances of these problems popping up.

The good news is this. It’s entirely possible to change a person’s first impression of you, simply by altering your personal presentation. This won’t work 100 percent of the time, of course, because nothing is guaranteed. However, you’ll no doubt see a change for the better the vast majority of the time.

Your Level of Self-Esteem

Your level of self-esteem is vital when it comes to how the public views you, in all kinds of situations. It’s important to remember that self-esteem requirements aren’t static. In other words, different scenarios demand varying levels of this much-needed attribute. Underlying personal stress (if any) and the specific audience you interact with both play a role in the outcome of the day’s presentation. No two will ever be the same.

If you feel as though you have low self-esteem, you’re certainly not alone. Millions of individuals share the same opinion of themselves. The good news is this: it IS possible to raise your self-esteem. Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Self-worth has little to do with a person’s abilities or talent. Don’t be afraid to frequently remind yourself about all of the things you excel at. Better yet, do something that you’re good at, something that holds your attention. This allows you to relax and to feel more competent about things to come.
  2. As surprising as it may seem, low self-esteem is often the result of thinking about yourself too much. Finding something else to focus on when you’re feeling a bit down, just might be all it takes to put you in the kind of cheery mood audiences appreciate.
  3. Learn relaxation techniques. Relaxing magically makes your brain less emotional. Consider taking up meditation or self-hypnosis. If you want to try something a bit more strenuous, tai chi is a great option. Devoting as little as an hour a day to relaxation can really make a difference.
  4. Don’t fall prey to the comparison trap. You’re not doing yourself any favors when that happens. There’s always going to be someone else who has more than you. Focus on you and any recent accomplishments you’ve made instead.
  5. Promote kindness; it’s guaranteed to boost your self-esteem. It doesn’t have to be a huge gesture in order for you to feel the boost. Holding the door for someone, paying for a stranger’s cup of coffee, or taking a minute to encourage a friend are just three of many ways to make kindness matter.
  6. Everyone occasionally makes mistakes. When it happens to you, try to handle the situation in a positive way. Do your best to find the upside of your dilemma. Many times, the repercussions of making a mistake are not as bad as you envision them to be.
  7. Transform your home into a personal oasis. Fill it with your favorite things… music, books, candles… all of the things that relax you and shut out all of the hastiness of the day.

Just to be clear, never confuse self-esteem with confidence. Both are extremely important. But, they are two different things.

Why It’s Good to Stand Up For Yourself

How often do you feel like your needs are met? People who are unable to stand up for themselves often find that they feel unfulfilled, frustrated, and even victimized. When you develop a pattern of letting other people take advantage of you, it can impact your mental and physical health.

Conversely, those that are always insisting that their demands be met and bully others until they are, are also just as unhappy. They alienate those around them. They’re too aggressive. Somewhere between aggressive and passive is a happy medium that most people refer to as assertive. To assert yourself is to stand up for your own wants and needs. However, you do so with the consideration of others.

Standing Up For Yourself Is Good for You

Being assertive and standing up for yourself helps you feel more empowered and less stressed out. Instead of constantly tending to other people’s needs, you’re taking care of your own. Then, and only then, are you in a position to help others. Standing up for yourself improves you and your life in many different ways.

1. You Become a Better Communicator

When you stand up for yourself it’s not a, “Hey, give me that.” It’s more like, “Hey, I see you have that and I would like some too. Do you mind sharing?” See the difference? You ask for what you want in a pleasant and collaborative way. And when someone asks you to do something for them (something that you don’t really want to do), instead of saying “sure” and not really meaning it, you can simply say, “I don’t have time.” Communication becomes much easier when you are assertive.

2. People Respect You

How much do you respect someone who is constantly agreeing to do things that they don’t want to do or someone who lets others take credit for work that they did? Or someone who says, “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” all the time. It happens. Passive people live in this world. It’s difficult to respect them. If you are passive then you may feel like others in your life don’t have respect for you. Start being more assertive and standing up for yourself and watch that change.

3. Stay True to Yourself

You have opinions, thoughts, goals and needs. When you don’t stand up for yourself, those get pushed aside and other people become the priority at your expense. Standing up for yourself means that you make yourself a priority and that you acknowledge that your wants and needs are important. Your opinion is valid and you deserve to follow your own path.

Standing up for yourself isn’t always easy. Start small and gradually increase your confidence. Learn to say no to things you don’t want to do and yes to yourself.

Be Aware – Be Assertive

How assertive are you? People with low self-esteem often have difficulty going after what they want in life. They fear judgment, ridicule, and failure. They’re not assertive. Being assertive and having healthy self-esteem go hand in hand. When you increase one, you automatically increase the other. Learning to have better self-esteem and learning to be more assertive will help you both personally and professionally.

1. Start Small

Assertiveness is like a muscle. It gets bigger with exercise. However, you don’t want to go out and try to deadlift 500 pounds. You won’t succeed, it’ll hurt, and the disappointment may keep you from trying again. Instead, start with something that you know you can do. For example, if the host at a restaurant places you near the kitchen, practice assertiveness and ask for a different table. As you begin to use that skill and you learn to process the response you receive from your requests, you’ll become more comfortable and more confident – it’ll boost your self-esteem.

2. Release Guilt

One of the reasons that many people justify not asking for what they want or need is that they feel guilty. They worry about being a bother or annoying someone. Let that go. Asking for what you want is essential to your wellbeing. It’s not greedy or pushy to ask for what you want and need. If you feel guilty, stop and think about why. Then ask yourself if that guilt is healthy for you and productive. If the answer is no, let it go.

3. Practice Awareness and Assertiveness

Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings. As you find yourself wanting something, pay attention to your thought process. Do you think, “Oh, I can’t ask for that? She’ll think I’m…” If you find yourself worrying about what other people are thinking about you, ask yourself if those thoughts and concerns are reasonable and relevant. If the hostess thinks you’re high maintenance, does it really matter?

Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to yourself like you talk to a friend or a beloved family member. What would you say to them if they were afraid to ask for what they wanted? Tell yourself the same thing! Treat yourself like you’d treat a loved one. Healthy self-esteem is a process of paying attention to what you want and need, and honouring that.

How To Stop Taking Criticism So Personally

How do you feel when someone criticises you? If you’re like many people then your reaction and response depend on a number of factors. It may depend on who is criticizing you. Your mood that day and disposition can also play an important role. Of course it can also depend on how they criticize you and what they’re commenting on.

Regardless of the situation, you can change your reaction to the criticism. You can learn to control your emotional reaction to criticism and not let it impact your self-esteem.

1. Evaluate the Source

When you’re receiving criticism it’s important to evaluate the source. A perfect stranger posting a comment online is much different than hearing something negative from your significant other. The deliverer of the criticism is important. What’s equally as important is the motivation for their criticism. Are they trying to help or hurt? Understanding the source of the criticism can help you frame it better.

2. Look for the Benefit

Assuming that the feedback is coming from someone who is trying to help, then focus on what you have to gain from the criticism. For example, a writer who hears from their editor that the dialogue feels forced can take that information and improve their dialogue. They can become a better writer. There is power in listening to criticism.

3. Detach from the Feedback

What other people think about your skills, characteristics, knowledge and so on actually has no impact on who you are as a person. Their opinion isn’t your reality – it’s theirs. And vice versa – just because you think someone is cruel doesn’t make them cruel. Detach from the feedback and remember that it doesn’t define you. You define you.

Feedback and criticism can be difficult to take under any circumstances. Remember who you are. Learn from the feedback and remember to pay attention to the person delivering the criticism. How much does their opinion really matter to you?

One characteristic of good self-esteem is the willingness to be assertive and to go after what you want. In my next post I will take a look at how to be more assertive.