Just be yourself! We’ve heard it a thousand times, as though it really is just that easy. As we explore this idea of being unapologetically confident, I can fully understand both the popularity of wanting to come off this way, while also subconsciously not acting on it. Unapologetic confidence is NOT safe, and pours gasoline on the proverbial fire of criticism. I actually applaud folks who avoid pretending they have this quality, and just admit it’s too much. For those who FEEL they embody living unapologetically confident, answer these 4 questions as honestly as possible.
1. Are you ok when others label you quickly and easily?
Scared of being pigeon holed as “Just another (vegetarian, Trump supporter, liberal, fundamentalist Christian, gay, feminist, man, trust fund baby, etc.) You should be, it’s scary to be in a room filled with people who hate whatever category your beliefs might be in just to answer honestly and feel excluded as they scoff.
I’m not talking about shouting out your views, but we all have been in those moments where we truly are the only outlier, and find it paralyzing to disagree. The fear here is exclusion by others. Most people will claim they don’t care what people think, until they do. Until it’s uncomfortable. Then most of us crack, don’t speak up, or just agree to things almost subconsciously by responding, “Yeah.” or nodding our heads as someone talks.
Notice the next time you do this, and ask yourself what the consequence would be if they knew how you really felt. It’s ok to keep your views to yourself, but being true to your own integrity can be really uncomfortable, when the risk is exclusion.
2. Do you say Yes to things you later regret?
Or worse make up excuses for why you CAN’T do something? In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), it is a practice for people to change the word can’t into won’t. Try it…. it actually does take practice, and it’s the TRUTH! Physically there are few things you can’t do that might be requested of you. For instance, we are asked “Can you meet up Saturday?” What is the truth? Can you? Of course! Even if you already had other plans, the truth is that it’s not impossible.
The truth, in this case, is that you’re choosing to prioritize a prior commitment and don’t want to make time. The truth isn’t that you can’t, it’s that you won’t. How mind-blowing is it that the truth sounds terrifying? Who are we when we make an excuse for not doing something we authentically don’t want to do? Who are we if we tell the truth? If you have a rough time telling the truth, you are not being unapologetically confident, but that’s not wrong!
3. Do you have “Me too/I know/yeah/mm hm” syndrome?
Not the abuse phrase, the natural tendency to agree as people talk as though you either know the details of the subject they’re discussing, can relate, have had a similar experience, or generally agree. This is a rough one, because asking for clarification, or making it known that you’re uneducated on a subject matter unveils you as an outlier. Subconsciously our environment teaches us to protect our psyche by auto-piloting our responses to general agreement. Fascinating!
4. How often do you say “Sorry” without noticing?
In our culture it has become a prefix to almost any sentence. Another subconscious idiom that when investigated deeply almost is NEVER true.
“Sorry, can you say that again? I couldn’t hear you.”
In this sentence that is used so often, let’s explore the truth. Are we really apologizing for our inability to hear someone? Or do we assume it’s offensive that someone would have the burden of repeating themselves? The true sentence reads, “Could you speak up? I can’t hear you.”
Looking at these introspective questions, it might give us more compassion for those who do have a difficult time “just being themselves.” We may want to live with unapologetic confidence, but do our actions match our desire? The key is to keep out of judgement while answering these questions. The work is just awareness of the truth. Good Luck!