Last week I gave you a little task designed to help you begin to quickly get grounded in your right to feel and think as you do and to ask for what you need without guilt, shame, or insecurity and become self confident.
I’ll recap the core message, since I know it’s been a busy 7 days, and some of you may have forgotten, or not have yet got around to reading last week’s article, The Fastest Path to Self-Confidence.
The short version: If you’re using food to cope, you’re out of touch with reality.
There, that about sums it up!
Have a great week.
Just joshin’! There’s more.
Let me fill that statement above out a bit for you and then let’s move on to answering the question: “What can I do to feel more confident in my life as quickly as humanly possible, and in so doing, stop feeling so overwhelmed that I harm myself with binging, purging or restricting?”
The core point of last week’s article and the beginning of the answer to this question is that, without knowing it, you’ve been trained to make assumptions that assume the worst about you and about what others are thinking/feeling/saying about you. This old training undermines your sense of confidence greatly and diminishes your ability to be the best you can be in this life. Therefore, it’s gotta go!
The assumptions that you make about what others are thinking, whether they are accurate or not, creates great and unnecessary distress for you. It is imperative that you begin to challenge these assumptions, in the moment, at which point, I guarantee you one of two things will happen:
1. You will be given the gift of hearing/realizing that your assumptions were inaccurate and that you misunderstood the person and/or they didn’t communicate clearly what they were trying to say – which was not a criticism of your overall character or an outright judgement of your actions as you initially interpreted it. The result? You feel stronger and more solid in yourself immediately; your relationship with this person is better and closer; you feel more confident in your ability to challenge those old stories and those old automatic assumptions. This is a fabulously positive pay off for holding steady for a few seconds and asking a question rather than defaulting into self-criticism and contempt and creating unnecessary insecurity and stress between you and this other person.
2. You will be validated that your assumptions were accurate; that person meant to put you down or manipulate and shame you. This is very important information for you to have because it lets you know something about what this person can and can’t be to you at this time. Ie. They are not someone you want to go to for advice or lean on in times of need. (At this time – I’m a great believer in people’s capacity to grow and I encourage you to be as well.) At the same time, through your questioning of their intention, the other person will have learned that you are now going to hold them accountable for what they say and that they can no longer make passive-aggressive zingers or wimpy, manipulative comments about you and expect you to fill in the blanks. If they want to insult you, blame you, or guilt you, they’re going to have to come right out and do it which, they now realize, will make them look like the wimpy jerks they are. Yay! The outcome of this, without exception, is that you come away feeling better about yourself because you held that person accountable for their actions, and in so doing, let them know that you are not going to be manipulated or ruled by guilt and passive-aggressive behaviour as you once were. This person is highly unlikely to ever speak that way to you again and will either avoid you – definitely a boon for you if they aren’t open to changing – or speak to you with greater respect and less manipulation in the future. Either way, you have a greater sense of confidence in yourself and you are no longer afraid of this person and their crud.
You see, if someone didn’t mean to be hurtful or manipulative and you respectfully let them know that that’s how they came across, they will immediately apologize and let you know what they meant to say. And if they did mean to be manipulative they will feel embarrassed, as they should, and since passive-aggressive people are that way because they are too cowardly to speak directly, they will forever avoid doing or saying anything around you that you could call them on. They will also immediately have greater respect for you and, the power in the relationship will have shifted in your favour. I encourage you to be benevolent in this circumstance and work to create an equal relationship rather than a one-up, one-down connection. You will benefit so much more from this choice than if you choose to take advantage of your newfound power. As long as you communicate clearly and respectfully and hold others accountable to do the same, you will never be the low person on the totem pole again.
So you see, it’s a total win-win for you.
All you have to do is stay steady. Notice when you feel criticized or judged by someone and do an external Drill Sgt. dialogue that sounds something like this:
“What is your intention is saying X?”
(Here you simply repeat back exactly what the other person said, keeping your tone as neutral as possible to allow for the possibility that you misunderstood them and to give them a chance to save a little face and apologize gracefully if, in fact, they meant to be a poophead!)
If it’s a misunderstanding, the person will either say, “Oh, no, you misunderstood me. Here’s what I meant…” or “I’m sorry, that came out wrong. Here’s what I meant to say…” If they meant to be mean or manipulative, they will say, “Um….well…” and then say something quite different or fumble about a little embarrassedly.
Whatever you do, don’t rescue them. Don’t jump in and try and suggest what they meant. Don’t offer them an out. Let them do the work of explaining what they meant and what their intention was.
To jump in and put words in their mouth is to be co-dependent. Instead, stay steady and simply ask “What is your intention in saying that?”
Breathe, and let the other person show you their true colors.
So, in summary, for Part II of the fastest path to self-confidence, do this:
Whenever you feel at all:
- Shut down;
- Like buying into the old co-dependent approach of filling in the blanks for others;
- Like responding to requests that others have not clearly articulated;
- Like you want to run away and hide (i.e. embarrassed or humiliated);
Don’t just react in anger or join with the other person against you by not saying anything or by agreeing with them through your actions (not holding them accountable for communicating directly and respectfully). Instead, just breathe – always breathe. You have at least a second to breathe – and then just ask, calmly and neutrally:
“What is your intention in saying that?”
In moments, you’ll feel very different about yourself and others, and after just a few of these courageous conversations, you’ll realize something very, very important:
Most of the time people aren’t judging you, you’re just misunderstanding each other, and in those rare instances where people are trying to manipulate you, you very quickly see them as insecure, frightened people who lack the confidence to communicate directly and just ask for what they need.
Now you get to decide whether you’ll feel empathy and compassion for this person and teach them how to communicate directly and respectfully and show them through your responses that they can do that safely with you, or you may decide that you’ve had enough of this meanie and feel quite entitled, without guilt, to step back from the relationship, and in so doing, free yourself to have more healthy and respectful people around you.
Have fun with this people. This is emancipation. This is stepping into yourself fully as an adult. This is beginning to truly live.