in: Intentional Living

How to Cultivate Confidence in Life & Love

Confidence. For those who have it, life looks easy. For those who don’t, it seems like an elusive, mythological force. Good news: we can change all that.

Confidence: (n) belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities. 

The definition looks simple. It isn’t always. But it’s one of the most important factors in life—whether in a relationship or single

Confidence comes from many different places—the two most common are affirmations from other people and, the one that’s a bit more difficult, ourselves. Confidence affects every aspect of our decisions and how we handle problems in our personal lives; so whether we have it or not greatly affects relationship success. 

Truthfully? It’s never been one of my strongest attributes. Sure, I think I’m capable of a lot of wonderful things. I know my friends love me for a lot of reasons, but convincing myself of those things is a little more difficult. 

When life is going well and we’re happily in relationships and fulfilled in that part life, confidence is easy. Because it feels like we have everything. And if we have everything, we’re obviously doing something right. It’s easy to feel good about yourself when you think you’re doing (most) things right.

But when relationships and life don’t work out the way we envision it will, it’s easy to internalize that as something we did—what went wrong has to be someone’s fault, and for me, it’s a lot easier to say it’s mine than figure out someone else’s motives or actions

This is such a dangerous cycle, because it doesn’t go away. It sticks with us, and moves into each new relationship.

I’m going to interject a little bit here, and say this article came at an interesting time. It’s been a bit difficult for me to write, as confidence isn’t coming too easily to me at the moment. Or wasn’t, before today. 

The last several guys I’ve been interested in dating haven’t been terribly emotionally available. In fact, they haven’t been emotionally available at all. Perhaps because I’m so happy with being single right now, I think I was attracted to this because it seemed easier for me. But it’s not. It’s been a terrible idea, for the reasons I mentioned earlier. It’s all a cycle

The thing that happens when people aren’t emotionally available is they disappear at the first sign of anything resembling conflict or commitment. If you’re lucky enough to have never experienced the feeling of someone simply falling off the face of the earth, stay as far away from it as you can for as long as possible. It’s not a great feeling, and tends to leave you wondering what you did wrong and why someone stopped talking to you out of nowhere.

The truth? Nothing. I’ve done nothing wrong except give guys a second chance who never deserved a first one. But I’ve taken these feelings and moved them into new relationships, because I started believing other people who shouldn’t have had a right to affect me the way they did. 

The reason it’s dangerous to let people like I have in, is they’re broken and lack confidence themselves. A lack of confidence often leads to thinking you’re not capable of the things that a relationship thrives on—expressing your own thoughts and feelings, accepting issues a partner is having (and trying to fix them) or adequately satisfying a partner.

So, here we were: two people honestly lacking much confidence. He was doing what he was doing for whatever reasons he had, and I was accepting what I was given because I wasn’t completely sure I was capable of giving any more to anyone—all because I lacked confidence in myself and what I have to offer. Had I gone into any of these situations thinking, “I am woman, hear me roar (but I’ll still compromise when it’s appropriate),” I would have wasted a lot less time. I also would have felt much better when things didn’t work out. 

Things started to change a little today. I woke up happy. I wrote down a list of reasons I’m great—those reasons my friends are in my life and my family loves me. The reasons I make coworkers laugh. How I would do anything for virtually anyone, whether a friend or foe. I made a list, and made sure it was in front of me. Because sometimes it’s just important to remember how great you are.

So, where do I go from here? I move on. I embrace single for what it is right now, and enjoy the reasons I’m wonderful, even if the right person hasn’t yet found out about those things. I work on exuding confidence, because it’s important to have for my potential mate, but it’s also important for me. It’s imperative for me to understand the great things I bring to a relationship, so when things don’t work out I don’t take it personally. Sometimes the future isn’t meant to be.

Eventually, I’ll start dating someone who deserves a million chances—not because he’ll use them, but because he won’t need to.

And that confidence will be a wonderful factor in our relationship, because it helps in every area of building a life together. When you know what’s important to you—without a doubt, no questions asked—and you’re not afraid to say those things, relationships work much easier. It also makes it so much easier to understand when a partner needs you to work on something. Relationships are never flawless, but one worth working on is pretty much what we can all hope for. Something worthy of our attention. 

The greatest part is confidence is noticeable. It drips from your pores and seeps into every part of your life. Having it means attracting someone who finds it attractive, and appreciates you for all that you are. 

Me? I’m working on it, and looking forward finding those things. 

[image: via James Kendall on flickr]

About the Author:

Sarah Frost

Sarah Frost thinks life is one big adventure—and should be treated that way. She grew up in Texas and quickly realized humidity is no one's best friend. Somewhere along the way she fell in love with words, and wanted to write as often as she could, so she does that as often as she can. She believes there's good in every day and the world was made for traveling, so she spends her time laughing as loudly as possible and looking for her next adventure.


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