How can I become more confident about who and how I am?

Well, congratulations on knowing who and how you are, that alone is a pretty amazing achievement. It´s also a lot of work, minding the fact that we, like all living things, are constantly changing. And yet, knowing ourselves does seem like the key to self-confidence, knowing ourselves and gradually accepting what we find within, maybe even to the point where we love it, giving us self-reliance.

How does one know what traits are good and which ones are bad? What is lovable and what is not? Normally these assessments have been suggested by our environment, especially by the people surrounding us when we were little. We have learned to appreciate or dislike our qualities following the reactions of our parents, other family members, our neighbours or through the statements we experienced in mass media, as they communicate the societal norms etc. What we didn´t know when we were kids and often forget as adults is that those suggestions, these assessments, only were exactly that, suggestions of people, and yes, even „the media“ is made by people. These judgments on our unique sides and shapes and whether or not they are good and fitting or were condemned were made by other people, themselves made of unique shapes, themselves having experienced praise and damnation. If you look at a puzzle piece, only that one, unique piece itself, can you say if it is a good puzzle piece? If you want to, you can judge the colours on it, maybe there are even shapes you like or dislike, but no one can give or deny it worth and value been looked at individually. Only when you try to fit that puzzle piece into a certain spot in the puzzle and it doesn´t fit, one can state, that this particular piece is no good for and at this particular spot of the puzzle.

Every quality a person has can be judged as positively and as negatively in equal measures. Is someone reliable or boring? Energetic or hyperactive? A dreamer or creative? It´s the same thing, just seen with loving or with critical eyes. The problem is, that in the stress of surviving day-to-day life, we often are not very conscious about our thoughts, not even about the messages we are sending our loved ones like our children. That leaves them and us as adults with the quest of understanding and getting to know our traits, especially those that were labelled as not lovable, in a new and more objective light later on. Unloved traits are more often than not normal trades that were not understood or not wanted or even feared by the people surrounding us when we were children, they are very rarely traits that are generally evil or dangerous.

We are social beings so there are extreme traits that can not be lived (fully) in social settings to protect us and others. But what I have experienced is that most things that are lurking there in the shadow of a persona, are not even half as bad as one would think. You don´t necessarily become a killer if you are sometimes a bit angry. In fact, it is quite normal and in times of trouble a pretty helpful emotion. But for an overworked mother, a child that throughs a tantrum might be a threat in the sense of needing attending, time and energy that she simply doesn´t have. One is not incapable of protecting their family when they are having sensitive and caring fragments in their persona, even as a man. In fact, connecting to our family emotionally makes it more likely that we will be able to push through in times of crisis, giving us the motivation when protection is needed. But sensitive and caring traits in his son might seem a threat to a father who himself is unsure about what a man is supposed to be.

The difficult task of finding new interpretations of how and when our unloved traits are very much of value can be an agonizing and burdening one but it is a very rewarding mission. Understanding that these traits in themselves are lovable but, for their own reasons, had to be condemned by more or less loving parents or protective social systems is an important part of that mission and task. Be the parent that you would have wanted or needed, for your children and yourself. Be as accepting and kind to yourself as you would have wanted your parents to be. Be as supportive and protective over yourself as you would have wanted your parents to be. There are very effective meditations on the so-called „inner child“ involving visualisations about oneself as a child and standing beside that child we once were as the adult that we are now. If you were to imagine a child standing beside you, what would you say to it, how would you react if a third person would criticise it like you are criticizing yourself in your mind? I think only very few of us would join in, most would be way kinder or even protective of that kid.

You are a wonder. Even if you don´t believe in anything spiritual, just look at your body. You once were a cell, tiny, not capable of doing anything but segmentation. Now, look at yourself. Think of all the obstacles and challenges you successfully overcame to be what and where you are now, to know what you know now and to be able of doing what you can do now. Even if it isn´t perfect yet, let’s face it, of cause it isn´t. If it is perfect is it is dead, done, over. You made it so far, there is a good chance that you will keep on growing, evolving and succeeding until you are done permanently. Is all of that not special enough? Everyone around you obviously made it that far too and some even further? There are still more than enough cells and piles of cells that didn´t. If you have to compare yourself, compare yourself to them.

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