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Confidence in the New You

Contemplate this. Maybe you're just better at things than you used to be. Need help having confidence in the New You? Then read on...or click the link below and scroll down a little bit for the audio file if you'd rather listen.

A bumble bee exploring its territory, Hood River OR (Photo Credit: Robin Pool)

A client recently said to me, "Oh my daughter thinks she's terrible at math. She had a bad teacher in 5th grade, and her confidence has been shot since then." Once I started working with her, I discovered that, whatever her 5th grade math ability had been, her skills for 10th grade math were just fine. Her real problem was that she hadn't adjusted her self-image to match her new skills. She wasn't in 5th grade math anymore, but she still thought of herself as that confused 10-year-old. More importantly, she still felt like that confused to 10-year-old.

There's an old story about a tiger who spent its life pacing the perimeter of a small cage in a zoo. In its old age, the tiger was moved to a beautiful, expensive nature preserve, but instead of exploring it's new territory, it continued to pace in a rectangle that was exactly the same size and exactly the same shape as the cage.

Think of all the things that you've gotten better at. Human beings are programmed to get better. Anybody who's watched a child between the ages of nine and fifteen months knows how determined kids are to learn to walk. Who ever heard of a 17-year-old still asking for help reaching the kitchen countertop? I have a little friend whom I've known since she was born. Now she's five years old. I remember that, as soon as she was strong enough, she stopped asking and started dragging her own step stool to the counter and reaching over with the tippy tips of her fingers to get at those chocolate chip cookies. Did it set her back to witness her sibling's now notorious Monkey Bars Accident (don't worry, it all worked out fine)? No. Once her arms were long enough, she stepped right up, and now she's a monkey bar genius. Kids are highly conscious of changes in their abilities, taking advantage of every bit of growth. But somehow, as we get older, we can lose this sense of adventure, the confidence that we're not the same people that we were last month or last year or even last week.

So do you have any areas that you've been anxious about for a long time? Have you put effort into improving? Are you getting better results? Are you more experienced, perhaps more automatic or more fluid? Consider that you actually are better and that maybe you don't have to be stressed about those things that were hard when they were new but now are practiced habits.

I used to worry that I would collapse into a puddle of tears someday and not be able to get up (yes, I cry a lot, now you know.) Then at some point, it occurred to me that had never actually happened. At some level, perhaps my obsessive fear was like always carrying an umbrella to make sure it didn't rain. But I realized that fear, that emotional umbrella, was taking up a lot of room in my arms, making it hard to carry other things that I really wanted to bring with me. So I changed out that fear, left my umbrella at home, and I haven't worried so much about my tears since then. I still have other fears, but I'm working on them, too. (More posts later about overcoming my fear of learning to curl my hair, put my credit card into the auto-pay machine at the parking garage, and go into the grocery store by myself - yes, I have a lot of fears, now you know.)

So how about you? Can you pat yourself on the head for having improved and move on from your stress, anxiety, and compulsive need to carry an umbrella? My recommendation: have confidence in the New You. You don't need help to reach the cookie jar anymore.

Hope you're having a beautiful week. Please forward this on to anyone you think could use a vote of confidence today.

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