How do you build self-confidence at midlife? It’s a popular question that has provided the basis for an untold number of articles, videos, and podcasts. And yet even with all this knowledge on the subject, people still struggle with it and have difficulty believing in themselves.
Lessons from a bird
There is a story about a bird who, while flying, decided to land upon a small branch. The branch was stable and held the bird. But while the bird rested there, the wind started to blow and the tree began to sway. As the bird’s foundation wavered, however, the bird remained unconcerned because it understood two valuable truths. First, the bird knew that it could fly. No matter what happened to the branch, the bird could always rely on its own ability. And second, the bird knew there were other branches upon which it could settle if this one happened to fail.
This story reveals some valuable insights into healthy confidence, about ability as well as resilience. At midlife, it is a time when our confidence can waver. How can we live forward with courage?
You gotta believe in yourself
Are we what Lady Gaga would say, “born this way”, or is confidence something we learn over time? As women at midlife, this question is one that comes up often in conversations. My definition of confidence is an acquired trait that takes shape as a child and continues to develop into adulthood. I don’t think it is necessarily age-related, it is when we can turn our lens inward and see ourselves in a loving way, filled with gratitude.
At this stage in our lives, we are armed with the power of experiences, and at times it’s easy to allow your confidence to be overshadowed and hidden by feelings of self-doubt, by not taking time to savour our accomplishments. You should give yourself permission to pause and reflect on your journey through the years. Career changes, moves, raising your children, your kids leaving the nest, the committees you’ve volunteered for over the years, the friendships you’ve have been able to forge: all of these experiences you created are your highlight reel. It’s easy to move onto the next thing and not take the time to realize that your choices along your path and your stories can propel you to move forward with confidence.
Taking on the challenges of midlife and feeling confident comes with acceptance. Accepting the fact that we are not 30 anymore. Things may be different physically and emotionally than they were even ten years ago; but at this phase in our lives, we have more technology, at our fingertips than ever before. We are living longer, and healthier lives, which creates a perfect time to grow our confidence by engaging in lifetime learning, training our brains in new and different ways.
Enrol in that class you’ve always wanted to take. Volunteer for that organization that is near and dear to your heart. Travel to a destination that has been on your bucket list.
It’s also easy for us to look in the rearview mirror, and adopt a ‘should have, could have, would have’ mindset. ‘Oh, remember when we were all around the table at holiday dinners?’ or ‘Oh, remember when I was able to ski the black diamonds with ease’? We need to shift that lens and recalibrate allowing ourselves to realize that things change, but it doesn’t mean that things were better in the past. As women, we have to do what it takes to be healthy and strong. When you feel great, you exude confidence. Don’t get caught in the ‘busyness’ trap and not carving out time for you as a priority.
Become aware of your feelings, and your emotions. Don’t tell everyone: ‘oh, I’m fine‘ or ‘everything is good‘ if it’s not. Be honest with yourself and find those friends with whom you can be vulnerable and show your true emotions. Choose the people you spend time with wisely. Look at your relationships as your portfolio, and it’s better to have those that deposit into the tank and not withdraw.
Most importantly create excitement around each day. When you wake up, even on those mornings that you want to pull the covers back over your head, start the day with a heart full of gratitude. You will stand tall and feel more confident taking on the day.
Get up, get dressed, get going are six powerful words to incorporate into your daily routine. Get up and learn something new. Get Dressed and challenge yourself in a new way, and get out of your comfort zone. Get Going and retry something you did before and didn’t do well, or do something by yourself.
You got this! Climb to the highest rung of the ladder of the high dive. Run to the edge and don’t stop. Wrap your arms around your legs and cannonball with confidence.