6 Ways to Empower Yourself to Meet Life’s Challenges With Style and Confidence
November 17th, 2012 by Katie Morton
Even the most poised and confident people can sometimes feel like they’re bumbling through life. Everyone makes mistakes. We all occasionally feel uncomfortable or like hiding away to save ourselves the trouble of facing difficult situations.
However, in order to live our best lives possible and to fulfill our purpose, it’s necessary that we get out there and meet life’s challenges head on; here are 6 tips to do it with style and confidence.
1. Find yourself, be yourself, and love yourself, warts and all.
Photo courtesy of Library of Congress
When we were growing up, many of us were faced with a seemingly constant stream of corrections and criticisms from parents, teachers, coaches, and friends. So we adjust our behavior and tweak our personalities in ways we think will cause the least amount of attention or conflict.
As adults, one day we wake up and realize we don’t know who we are anymore. The first step to recovering yourself is to remember the things you loved to do as a kid without pressure, whether it was drawing or writing, pretending to teach a classroom full of dolls, or serving tea and sandwiches to your stuffed animals. See how you can pick up old beloved activities in a new adult fashion that will reignite your passions.
The next step is to learn to love yourself unconditionally, to accept all of your traits and therefore yourself as a whole and complete human being. What you might have been taught was a flaw when you were a child might be a strength or a neutral quality that makes you uniquely you. This “flaw” might be a perfect complement to the puzzle pieces that make up your personality. Let yourself be you. No one can beat you at that.
2. Believe you are ready to take a risk.
Photo by Philip Choi
We often think we’re trying to protect ourselves from life’s lumps by playing small, but our field of vision can be narrowed by negative past experiences. We can’t predict future failures, as much as we like to think we have some control over what will happen.
We sometimes try to hold back, fearing that we aren’t wise enough or tough enough to take the lumps that come from living a big, fulfilled life. Know this: you will learn lessons you need to learn, when you need to learn them. Opportunities will present themselves, so go ahead and jump on them. Don’t discourage yourself or harbor a lack of confidence in your own abilities to handle difficulties and failure. If your abilities are indeed lacking and you make mistakes, this gives you the chance to learn the lessons that will bump your abilities to the next level. When you try and fail, you can compensate by focusing on the development of other skills that you might otherwise never know you have.
3. Choose action over worry in tough situations.
Photo by spaceodissey
Human beings will face difficulties; that we know. To pretend otherwise is nuts. However, enthralling in doom and gloom while we wring our hands is counterproductive. We might think that worrying about what might happen leaves us better prepared, but we can’t predict the future.
In the 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferris encourages those who are paralyzed by worry to go ahead and imagine your worst-case scenario in detail. If your nightmare scenario came to fruition, would it have a permanent impact, or could you reasonably recover? The pleasant reality is that people are resilient and can bounce back from most of the things that keep us up at night. On the flipside, ask yourself how your fear is holding you back. What are you putting off, and what’s it costing you? What is the worst case scenario that arises if you don’t take action?
The beauty is that we can control our perspectives and our reactions when times are tough. Remember the Serenity Prayer:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Take away whatever lessons you can from negative experiences in order to grow stronger, and then don’t dwell on the past or what could have been. Onwards and upwards.
4. Validate your feelings.
Photo by Vic
It’s beyond obvious to state that negative emotions are unpleasant. Too many of us will do anything in our power to avoid feeling bad. We might turn to TV, facebook, alcohol, spending, or overeating in order to escape bad feelings. Many times, this is a result of having our feelings invalidated as kids – we were punished or ignored for having negative emotions.
Here’s the problem with always overriding our emotions with distractions: feelings are supremely useful to human beings. You need feelings to guide you throughout life, to recognize when situations are right or wrong for you, and how to make adjustments so that you can feel better. If you don’t let yourself simply feel what’s going on, you will never learn to cope with feelings or experience simply riding them out. When we take a moment to understand what’s bothering us, often the feeling will dissipate, or we can quickly come up with a solution and simply fix the root of the problem.
4. Take responsibility for yourself.
Photo by Andrew Steele
While it may be easier to blame our problems on something outside of ourselves – whether that’s our upbringing, the lousy dating pool, the portrayal of women in advertising, politicians or the current economic climate – this is not an empowering stance to take.
When you accept accountability for your circumstances and the choices you made, you can then take the steps to recover and improve. When you allow yourself to feel self-possessed and self-actualized, you can enjoy feeling challenged, capable, and in control of your own circumstances. This is a huge contributor to feelings of happiness throughout life.
When you allow yourself to grow and learn from your mistakes, it gives you the opportunity to feel secure enough to act from your own strength and for your own best interests and peace of mind. It’s not easy to step up to the plate and start swinging. But it’s better to learn tough lessons and live a better life rather than pointing figures at everyone else for your unhappiness.
5. Discover your sanctuary activity.
Photo by Lucia Whittaker
It really helps to have strong feelings of value and inner worth that can’t be shaken in the face of unkindness and insensitivity from other people. Nurture one activity, talent or release that you can turn to and practice on your own, far from the fray and tumult of life.
This might be a solitary sport like yoga, running or swimming, it could be an art like painting or piano, a means of expression like journaling, or it could simply be hanging out with wildlife, exploring on foot or on a mountain bike. Allow yourself to engage in activities that give you a reliable inner sanctuary you can recreate wherever you go. Try to practice daily or as close to it as you can.
6. Run experiments on yourself.
Photo by gogoloopie
Imagine this scenario: You are trying to eat healthier. One day, you miss breakfast and you’re starving by lunchtime. You’re so hungry that you decide to go out and order a decadent, unhealthy meal. Afterwards, the guilt sets in and you start criticizing yourself and thinking about how you have no self-control. You decide to punish yourself by not eating anything else until dinnertime, and you tell yourself you’re only allowed to have grilled chicken and salad for dinner. You dutifully skip your afternoon snack and by dinnertime, you are starving again and all your healthy dinner plans go out the window.
A lot of us would respond to this scenario with a heap of self-criticism and more punishment. But what if you just look at what happened with a scientific mind and stopped abusing yourself for making mistakes? In this particular example, you could learn that skipping meals and snacks causes you to overeat later.
The next time you oversleep, procrastinate, or do something else that disappoints you, face your lapses of self-control with curiosity rather than castigation. You’ll learn a lot more about yourself and how you operate if you problem-solve and learn as opposed to criticizing and punishing yourself.
If you follow even one of these 6 tips, you will be better on your way to facing life’s challenges with style and confidence.