There’s this line in my book that I cling to often and it says: “The way you rise up to your battles is linked to the kind of warrior you believe you are.” These words come up for me often. And every time I think about them, I am reminded about how much “confidence”, or “what we believe is true about ourselves”, can absolutely transform the ways we show up in every area of our lives: in our work, our relationships, our communities, our creativity, our conflict. In the thoughts we hear in our heads day in and day out! And even in the dreams we have at night. WHO we believe we are directly affects what we do.
In today’s episode, I want to get into just how intertwined confidence is with your sense of success, your sense of peace that you carry with you, and how to get really clear on the kind of warrior you are. You’ll learn 4 ways to rewire some of the internal dialogues that aren’t serving us in any way, so that we can experience a real, effective, and joyful mindset about ourselves.
First You Must Pause
Think about this: when was the last time you really considered how you FEEL about who you are? Pause for a second to just think about that. It’s easy to think a LOT about what we do, or what we think we’re supposed to be doing, being, or becoming. The past and the future realllyyyy know how to occupy our thoughts, don’t they?
When was the last time you halted the hurry for just a moment and asked yourself some important questions about your identity? Have you had a moment to take a look at those self beliefs you’re carrying? When was the last time you asked yourself, “How am I, really?” …and waited long enough to hear the response? Yep, that part is the piece most of us don’t want to wait for. Little did I know that finding the answer meant listening to myself!
For many of us, or probably most of us, our brains work faster than we can keep up with. They flip from task to task out of necessity or responsibility, or even distraction. In those “inbetweens”, day in and day out, they continually weave elaborate stories about who we are or what we’re capable of. I mean, we’re always picking up or dropping off a little bit more of the story of Who We Are. That’s just it though… they’re stories.
Some are fact, some are interwoven with fiction, some are based on the chapters we’ve written before. They are stories written from our own experiences but they are also filled with borrowed pieces we pick up from the lives of others, what we see on social media or TV, what we check out in the mirror, or what we pick up from how other people see us.
We come up with narratives that may not even be true. And our brains, bless them, tend to keep us focused on what’s “wrong” with us or where there is potential for failure as a means to protect us. Just like how it’s so much easier to remember EVERY single little thing from a cringe-worthy moment in middle school— than it is to remember every single moment from all the far better days of our lives! Thanks, brain. Like, I love ya, but can we prioritize the memories we keep maybe?
So how do we change all of this if this is simply how we’re wired? The way to approach transforming the way we see ourselves might be a little counterintuitive. It sure was for me. Because I thought that I just needed to get a little bit LOUDER than the negative thoughts in my head. I mean, that’s what a warrior would do, right? When it screamed “Jenna, when you fail at this, it’s going to really hurt!”, I would just scream something back in my head!
And yeah, sometimes a good scream, literal or figurative, feels really good, but turns out, I was really just inviting those false narratives to yell right back at me. Instead, I came to that screeching halt. I paused. I got quiet. I asked myself what I’ve been believing, like REALLY believing about who I am and what I am capable of… and listened long enough to hear the answers.
1. Rewrite the story you’re telling yourself.
A lot of times when we are lacking confidence it’s because we are leaning on past experiences to predict our future. It’s our human tendency to look at what we’ve experienced and lean on that to help us predict what will happen next. While this can be a helpful tendency, like remembering how last time I chugged a smoothie right before a jog was NOT a very fun time for me —- it can also be detrimental in our ability to grow our confidence or to show up in a new way. It’s almost like our brain goes on a loop telling us what will happen without us even imagining a different outcome.
Your confidence, or lack thereof, in who you are, will influence whether or not you take yourself out of a race before even trying, before knowing the whole truth about yourself. Which means you’ll stay stuck where you are! Being aware of when you’re telling yourself stories that might not be accurate is a HUGE first step… and then it’s up to you to rewrite that story by asking different questions, getting out of your comfort zone, being honest with yourself and those around you, and ultimately recognizing what’s TRUE and what is fear or trauma or insecurity.
Ask yourself questions like: What do I know to be true about me or this situation? What am I feeling and can I identify where those feelings are coming from? What is the story I am telling myself? If I had zero fear, what would my ideal outcome be? If someone I love was in this scenario, what would I tell them to do?
You can literally rewrite the outcome of what you’re imagining. You can rewrite the story you’re telling yourself, craft a narrative that casts you as the lead and let that become your visualization and the story you play on repeat. Start by knowing the stories you tell yourself about who you are. Begin with the ones you’re the most familiar with, where you’re the main character. How do these stories usually go? Do you feel like you’re lost in the background? Maybe you feel villainized? Are you the quirky one? Loved for what you can DO, rather than who you are?
When you sit with how you feel about yourself through the stories you tell yourself most often, you are pulling out the stories that have been dictating the way you show up in the world. The kind of battles you think you’re built for. Step one is to cast yourself not only as the lead of your life but as the director too.
2. Write a letter to your fear.
We all have fear. It’s natural, it’s real, and it’s a part of being a human. Being a mom of a toddler, it’s interesting to see how fear grows and where it stems from. Think about it: no kid is born afraid of the dark, they don’t even know it’s something they should potentially fear… in fact, most kids sleep in entirely blacked out rooms. But somewhere along the way, the idea that they should be afraid of the dark sets in whether it’s through media, stories, or peers, and that influence then invokes fear where it once never existed. Beyond being afraid of the dark – there are a lot of fears that we hold as adults: that we’re unloveable, unworthy, unqualified, or uninteresting— just to name a few.
So how do we combat those fears and shift them into confidence? Now this is NOT my idea but it’s been enormously helpful for me and so I want to share this exercise with you. Elizabeth Gilbert encourages people to sit down and physically write a letter to their fear.
The point is to name your fear. Talk to it like it’s a companion almost, because most of our deepest fears ARE our constant companions, always there whispering to us to stop or slow down or or be careful or do something else. Our fears are meant to protect us or keep us safe and so they aren’t really all that bad, but you can benefit from calling them by name, thanking them for the protection, and letting them know how you plan to move forward in spite of them.
This activity lets you address your fear head on, and Elizabeth even says to THANK it for wanting to protect you, but to let it know that you’re going to move forward and be bold and try the thing anyway.
Naming it and understanding why it exists can help you to release it and move forward with more confidence and it can allow you to show up in a bigger and bolder way because you’ve already thought about all sides of the coin!
3. Shift your self-talk narrative.
I’ve found that so much of my confidence doesn’t actually come from other people — what they’re saying to me or even how they treat me — but more so from how I speak to, speak about, and see myself. Just like you can create these narrative loops or tell yourself stories about who you are or what you can do, your daily inner dialogue with yourself can absolutely shift how you show up in every aspect of your life.
The first way to do this is through noticing. A lot of times our self talk becomes so much a part of our lives that we fail to even notice the inner dialogue or how it affects us. I’ve used the app “Headspace” in the past to work on making meditation a part of my daily practice, and as someone with a very busy mind, I literally had to learn and think of my thoughts in a different way. The example they gave to help learn how to meditate is to pretend you are a spectator on the side of a busy road and your thoughts are the cars going by. You want to just sit as a spectator to your thoughts, not judging them or trying to stop or change them but just notice them.
Shifting your inner narrative starts with you paying attention to and noticing your inner dialogue for a while, before you try shifting it, or adding any ‘positive’ dialogue on top of it. I’ve always heard that you can’t control the first thought but you can control the ones that follow. So if you’re ready to change your confidence and shift the way you think about, speak about, and speak to yourself, first notice those thoughts and then focus on what the follow up will look like.
If your first thought is: “My thighs are too big to wear these shorts.”
The second thought might be: “My cellulite isn’t holding me back from climbing mountains or dancing a tango,”
If the first thought is: “I could never go for that new job, there’s no way they would choose me.”
The second thought could be: “I have to choose myself and believe that I am uniquely qualified for this role and I have a lot to offer!”
4. Create boundaries that support your own idea of success.
Boundaries usually aren’t a comfortable thing to share because it requires you to advocate for yourself regardless of what others might think, but people actually respect boundaries more than you’d expect. Peace about WHO you are, what you’re capable of, and what you deserve — is a true confidence that multiplies. The invitation for others to do the same for themselves tends to show up when you do this!
Once I decided what my boundaries were, I spent WAY less time wondering if something was right or wrong for me. My decision fatigue disappeared, my confidence went WAY up because the things I was doing every day, whether or not I made some mistakes and learned as I went, were aligned with ME. They were what I wanted to be busy doing, trying, learning, failing. And the narrative in my head towards myself became more kind, because my boundaries guided my context.
Boundaries don’t create a life of perfection. They create a safe space for you to BE you, DO you, and HONOR all of the things you are— and a space to reshape yourself and rewrite your stories, too.
The Four Pillars
First, you need to know the stories you’re already telling yourself, see what role you’ve been playing, and recast yourself into the role that you really want. Then, you’re going to take a closer walk with your fears, name them, and write a letter to the fears that are no longer serving you. Next you’re shifting that inner-self-talk by hearing that first thought and creating a new habit of following it up with a second, more true thought about yourself. And finally, you’re writing your own definition for what a good life, success, and peace looks like for you right now, by creating boundaries for what YOU say yes and no to, even if it’s just for the chapter you’re in right now.
As you move through this process, you’re turning your mind and body into that safe space you need that will move with you through every next chapter, every battle, every win, and every lesson you’ll face. I’m convinced the greatest kind of warrior isn’t one who sees everything as a battle, but that carries their confidence and peace with them into every moment as if the battle has already been won. Keep up the great work, my friend.