Confidence Games

I used to have a ton of confidence. It used to ooze out of my pores and fall out of my ears. At one point, I think I would have made an amazing con-artist (or maybe a spy) because I was so friggin’ confident in my abilities to schmooze and network and engage.

I think the key phrase in that paragraph is “used to.”

This is not the case anymore. Life has worn me down and stripped me of the confidence that used to come naturally to me. In many ways, I was probably destined to lose at least a modicum of that confidence because of my natural tendency to seek approval. Even as a little girl, I would look to my parents or grandparents or whoever was nearby to get a clap or a cheer when I did a little dance or told a little tale. That praise just made me glow and gave me the sense that not only did I do well, but I could do even better if I just tried.

I see Pineapple doing this now. I see her throw a ball or put a circle in its proper slot and I see her look at me for that approval. And it just makes me shudder. I can’t always give her the approval I know she deserves. I won’t always be there. And life is a harsh mistress. Someday she will be looking and hoping for approval and it won’t be there – maybe even sometimes when she really needs it and really deserves it.

I think I need to work on helping her understand that she doesn’t need my approval – or anybody else’s for that matter. She needs her OWN approval. She needs to set standards for herself. Standards she can live by but aren’t too high. Standards that challenge her but don’t ask her to sacrifice the important things in life – like family and sanity. She needs standards she can believe in so that NO MATTER WHAT, she can look at what she has done and pat her own tiny back if nobody is around to do it for her.

I just wish I could teach this to myself.

4 thoughts on “Confidence Games

  1. Well, if you figure out how to teach kids that, write a book because it’ll be a bestseller. Good for you for having confidence in yourself, and I hope you haven’t lost it for good. It’s a hard thing to learn. I feel like I get more confident in tiny little hardwon increments, but that it can get knocked out of me way too quickly and easily. We really should ALL learn to look to ourselves for approval and not measure ourselves by others’ response to us. You can never win that way.

    • This is a real struggle for me. And now that I’m in my mid-30’s – a time when I thought confidence would be something I wore like a shirt – I’m totally disillusioned to find that I have so little of it when it really counts.

      But, I’m officially stepping up to the plate – if not for my own sake, then for Pineapple’s. I don’t want her to be at this point in life and ever think “maybe if I’d had stronger role models” – I want her to be confident. I believe in her – I want her to believe in her, too. 🙂

  2. There’s a video from the Mom 2 Summit that really hit home with me – it is a letter from a mother to her daughter. There is a line that says, “You have to be brave with your life so others can be brave with theirs.”

    I think we’ll always need approval from others – it is in our nature. But confidence comes when we dare to truly be ourselves, to stand up for what we know is right, to confront our fears. When we do these things and survive, I believe that is what gives confidence. When others acknowledge what we’ve done as well, well, that’s icing on the cake.

    Here’s the link to the video http://www.phdinparenting.com/2010/02/19/mom-2-0-a-defining-moment/

    • Standing up for what is right…why is it so easy to stand up for others and so hard to do it for ourselves? And what sort of message do we send our children when they see us stand up for causes and champion the little guy but “suck it up” for their benefit…these are the questions I’m struggling with…hmmm. Parenting is tough – but thankfully, it just builds more character…and I guess, ultimately, more confidence…right? 😉

      Nice hearing from you Holly!

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