All Articles Tagged "confidence"
“Danielle, when did AJ start dressin’ like a hippie?”
My aunt asked my sister this question about me with a half-puzzled, half-disgusted look on her face a few months ago. I laughed when my sister told me. Thinking about it now, being able to laugh about it is remarkable.
Here’s the story: ‘Nappy,’ ‘pickaninny,’ ‘Buckwheat’ and ‘wild’ were the descriptors many of my family members met me with when I first decided to give hair straightening a rest in high school. So I went back to straight bangs and low buns to avoid any confrontation.
At 25, I cut my hair. I wanted the relaxed ends gone. I wanted my ‘fro back. Only this time I was scared out of my mind to reveal my ‘fro to my family. And I was met with the same downright mean, almost self-hating feedback from a family who – though God-fearing and most helpful – has always had SOMETHING negative to say about my unique ventures and style choices since I was small. So I tucked my hair away under wigs for the better part of three months, discontent with the short length of my hair and afraid of what they might say. But then, one family member got so incredibly disgusted with that and reamed me out for not wearing my own hair. I reached a boiling point. Internally, I was screaming, frustrated and confused. I craved acceptance from my own blood, the acceptance that an unknown passersby gave me in spades from time to time. I wanted my family to “get” me and I was tired of feeling like I had to adjust myself just to make them comfortable and keep them quiet. So, I took off the wigs and decided once and for all to walk in the glory of my ever-growing kinky curly hair. Eff what they thought. I needed to do what felt right for me. My kinks felt right and I wore them. A confidence I had never known started to sprout in me.
That confidence spilled over from my hair to my fashion choices. I had always dressed conservatively because it was safe. My family complimented the pencil skirts, kitten heels and starched shirts. That was acceptable. That was ‘right.’ Imagine their surprise when along with the ‘wild’ red frohawk, I began sporting gladiator sandals, cut off shirts and long flowy bohemian maxis? I was owning my style, my choices, my ideas. One decision to wear my hair how I wanted to, for MY own reasons, snowballed into my entire life changing. I was figuring out what felt right FOR ME. I wasn’t just agreeing with everyone else’s opinions for fear of being hounded for thinking outside my family’s box. I was proudly spinning their rough sneers into the fine silk of self-acceptance. And it felt darn good.
At first, I didn’t realize that I had stopped allowing myself to be a victim of my family’s criticism and had actually started embracing it. All I knew was that my life was passing me by as I conformed to someone else’s ideas instead of finding my own. I was in my mid-twenties and had no idea what my personal style was. Imagine that. Living life as a reflection of everyone else, always being too afraid or feeling guilty for wanting to look into the mirror and see just exactly who is staring back.
Once I got a good glimpse though, I made it my business to honor that girl staring back at me. Whatever choices I made from that moment on were guided by my God-given intuition and individuality. Sure I would take sage advice from those around me, but to be completely ruled by their opinions to the point that I lost myself? Never again. I had to really get it into my system that not everyone (least of all family, sometimes) is going to agree with the decisions I make. My preferences won’t rub everyone the right way all the time, but that’s all right. God created us to be individuals, not mindless clones of one of another.
So, a nappy headed hippie, you say? ‘Nappy headed’? Okay! It looks good on me so I’ll be that! Hippie? Well, all right! A lost concertgoer from Woodstock anyone? I’ll take that too, because life is too short to be boxed into a life stitched together by everyone else’s thoughts, insecurities, fears and standards. At some point, by breaking free and embracing the suck regardless of how anyone tries to spin it, I know who I am now and I’m comfortable in my own skin, my own ‘fro and my own style.
La Truly is a late-blooming Aries whose writing is powered by a lifetime of anecdotal proof that awkward can transform to awesome and fear can cast its crown before courage. Armed with the ability to purposefully poke fun at herself and a passion for young women’s empowerment, La seeks to encourage thought, discussion and change. Check out her blog: www.hersoulinc.com and her Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly.
Brand New Kind Of Me: How I Overcame My Low Self-Esteem And Negativity To Be A Better Me (And You Can Do It Too…)
Self-esteem is defined as “a realistic respect for or favorable impression of oneself; self-respect.” While it seems that loving one’s self is a basic act that should go without saying, it is often an ability that is taken for granted by those who don’t struggle with it. Being confident and having self-esteem does not mean that you are perfect, but that you have made the conscious decision to love yourself regardless of your faults and shortcomings. If you find that you struggle with self-esteem, know that you do not have to live this way and that you can overcome this poor image you have of yourself if you really put your mind to it. I know because I’ve been there. Here are 10 things that assisted me in overcoming the negative and distorted image that I had of myself and hopefully they can help you, too.
1. Identify the problem
Recognizing the exact source of your insecurity is a crucial step in overcoming low self-esteem. It is impossible to fix an issue when you are unable to identify the root of it. Are you unhappy with some physical feature about yourself? Is there some personality flaw that you believe you have? According to Dr. John M. Grohol of Psych Central, in order to overcome this issue, you have to first locate your “irrational thoughts.” He suggests creating a a duel-sided list where you compile 10 of your strengths and 10 of your weaknesses.
2. Think about what you’re thinking about
This golden nugget was provided by Joyce Meyer’s best-selling book Battlefield of the Mind where she coaches and encourages readers to be triumphant in their battle against negative thinking. One of the tips offered is to become aware of the thoughts that you entertain. Many times negatives thoughts will enter our minds and we allow them to take residence in our thought process for the long haul. In becoming more conscious of your thoughts, you can effectively dismiss those that are self-condemning and hateful. It takes work and discipline, but it is very possible. As we know, our thoughts become our words and our words become our actions. It all starts in the mind.
3. Set a (realistic) goal
Achieving a goal that has significant meaning to you is a great way to give your confidence a boost. It doesn’t have to be something major, but something that you would view as a personal victory. Have you been meaning to drop that extra 5 lbs that you unknowingly picked up? Feeling the urge to go back to school? Go for it. Keep a written record on your victories, you’ll be able to reflect back on them later.
4. Pick up an exercise routine
You don’t have to go overboard and try to be the next Donna Richardson, but even light exercise will have you not only feeling better, but looking better as well. Physical activity has been shown to have a positive impact on mental health as well as self-image.
5. Pick up a hobby
What do you enjoy doing? If you like to sing, think about taking some voice lessons just for fun or joining your church or community choir. If you enjoy dancing try signing up for a dance class at your neighborhood recreational center. Focusing on something you’re good at is a sure way increase the manner in which you view yourself.
6. Resist the urge to compare
The temptation to compare yourself to other people is ever present and a threat to many. Comparing yourself to others will generally leave you feeling down on yourself and it’s a habit that should be broken immediately. Recognize that no two people are alike and that just because another person is strong in an area where you feel that you are weak does not make you any less than they are.
7. Don’t hate, congratulate
I know this is a really corny saying, but it’s true. The green-eyed monster loves to show up when someone else has made a major accomplishment, but before you allow him to overtake you, stop and think. Make an attempt at generally being happy for the person and congratulate them, because I’m sure you would want the same love from your friends and family. You’ll feel a lot better.
8. Add to or upgrade your wardrobe
It is important to realize that confidence comes from within, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling good about the way you look, and sometimes a new outfit or two can do the trick. Don’t put yourself in debt or max out your credit cards, but there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to something nice.
9. Compliment others
I’m not sure what it is about making someone else smile, but it makes you feel good too. The next time the girl in the cubicle next to yours comes in with some fly new shoes, tell her. If you’ve noticed that the usher at church has lost weight, let her know how great she looks. I promise that releasing positivity and positive energy into the atmosphere usually always make you feel good.
10. Meditate on how God sees you
Sometimes it is difficult to see the greatness inside of you, but constantly reminding yourself of how God views you is a great start. Memorizing scriptures such as Psalm 139: 13-16 or Ephesians 2:10 that reinforce the idea that you are a divinely created being who is deeply loved by the One who created you is a strategic way to put a smile on your face.
What are some other ways that you boost your self-esteem on days you’re running low?
All photos are courtesy of Shutterstock
When Rob Kardashian took to Twitter to rant about how his now ex-girlfriend Rita Ora cheated on him with 20 dudes, my first reactions weren’t, “Rob, oh you poor baby” or “That Slore!” No. My first thought was, “Dude, get a grip!” It’s funny how most of the comments I read on social media sites that covered this “story” seemed to echo my same sentiments – that Rob was pretty much acting like a sissy who needs to stay off of Twitter and get over it. He did have some sympathizers but for the most part, folks thought he was acting like a little bit of a “girl.”
Sure, anyone who airs their dirty laundry on a social media site may be considered unstable, overly emotional or plain crazy – but women seem to get more of a pass with this type of behavior than men do. There are certain traits that can be considered gender specific, and a man scorned on a Twitter tirade is not considered to be masculine by any stretch of the imagination. Some women even blamed Rob for being cheated on, saying if he were more of a man, she might not have strayed. It’s not right, and it can be said it’s a double-standard, but sometimes we just don’t expect a man to be this “emotional.” Most women, whether they admit it or not, desire an Alpha male, and they’re are not always easy to spot at first glance. If you’re unsure if you’re dating a man or a mouse, look out for these signs that he just might be a punk.
Has your girlfriend ever suddenly acted distant, needed to take a walk, or not felt like talking? It’s because she’s insecure about something that just took place! Even if you didn’t tease her or raise an eyebrow, sometimes your silence can be worse than anything when you’ve triggered one of your girlfriend’s points of insecurity. We know: you’re silent because you had no idea she was upset. But get with the program and know women need comfort and reassurance in these situations.
There are some things your parents say and do that you will just never forget. I had one of those moments with my mom years ago, when I was in middle school. We were riding around one summer, running errands when Biggie’s “Juicy” came on. If you’re familiar with the song, you already know that Biggie starts the song off with a little shout out.
“Yeah, this album is dedicated to all the teachers that told me I’d never amount to nothin’.”
Now, my mother is far from a hip hop fan; but before Biggie could even get the last word out, my mom was doing something like a Holy Ghost shout. It took me out of my groove as I asked her, “What was that for?” My mother, being a teacher herself, went into a passionate tirade about how teachers back in the day would often tell their students that they would never amount to anything. It was not a joke to her.
And not to a whole lot of other people either. I don’t know if you’re a fan of NBC’s show The Voice, but early in the show’s season, we discovered a breakout star in Trevin Hunte. At only 18, Trevin has a talent that is nearly otherworldly. On his first audition Trevin wowed the audiences with a rendition of Beyoncé’s “Listen.” Then he, and former teammate Amanda Brown, took on Mariah Carey’s “Vision of Love” and kilt it like a Scottish skirt. Despite, his immense, indescribable talent, Trevin struggles with confidence in his abilities of all things. For his last song, he sang “Against All Odds,” as an ode to his discouraging teacher. Despite his talent and even his success thus far, he’s not able to put this teacher behind him.
There are plenty of things that can trouble a person’s confidence, but in Trevin’s case, once again, it was a cruel music teacher who told him that he wasn’t good enough, wasn’t going to go anywhere.
That’s tragic. I’ve never had a teacher explicitly tell me I wasn’t going anywhere. Fortunately, for the most part, I’ve had teachers who were supportive and encouraging. But I’ve seen it done to others. So I know just how important and instrumental a teacher can be in shaping or destroying not only a child’s zest for learning and growing but more importantly their confidence in other areas in life. Teaching is not a job to be taken lightly.
So, to the teachers out there. I know that sometimes your job may be frustrating. I know there are some kids who are true classroom terrorists. But just because you find yourself frustrated or inept in that moment, this is not the time to inform your student that he or she is never going to amount to anything. Even if you’re trying to pull some type of reverse psychology type stuff, that is not the thing to say. While some people like, Biggie, my mom and Trevin, can take those words and use them as inspiration to succeed, there are others who will be devastated by those words for years to come. At the end of the day, both groups will be haunted by them, as evidenced by their referencing these hurtful words long after they’ve achieved success. Instead of “you’ll never make it,” try “you still have more work to do,” “keep trying,” etc. Because the last thing you want to be is the teacher who gets called out for being a douche on the radio, national television or some blog.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.
The second season of Shonda Rhimes’s latest hit show Scandal is generating all kinds of buzz, and that’s largely because of Kerry Washington’s excellent portrayal of the commanding and capable crisis manager, Olivia Pope. Every Thursday, we watch in awe as our beloved heroine make moves and power plays among Washington’s elite. She’s smart, she’s fierce and she’s always impeccably dressed. We love her. We want to be like her. Here is a list of valuable lessons we can learn from Olivia Pope.
Keep Your Friends (and Enemies) Close.
It long has been said that you should keep your friends close and your enemies closer. No doubt Olivia Pope has mastered that. Many times she finds herself on the one side of a scandal, while U.S. Attorney David Rosen is on the other side determined to bring about justice. Olivia is not afraid to convince him to call off the dog, or use her influence to through David off the trail. However, Olivia knows she has to keep him close so she will always gets what she needs.
Say It and Mean It.
The way Olivia Pope seems so sure of herself, you could hardly imagine her fretting over what she’s going to wear every day. She does everything on purpose. When Olivia negotiates with her clients, she doesn’t waiver, she puts reality on the table and tells them what she’s going to do. Olivia Pope takes her promises, threats and decisions seriously, and so does everyone around her. Even when Fitz begged Olivia to keep their affair going, when she hung up the phone, he got the message loud and clear. The next time you find yourself in a situation when you have to make a difficult decision, be like Olivia. Say it, mean it and own it.
Don’t Tip Your Hand…Unless It’s Absolutely Necessary.
Remember when Olivia Pope hired Quinn Perkins? No one knew why, not even Harrison who was sent out to “recruit” her. Even toward the end of Season 1 when Quinn’s real identity was called in to question, Olivia didn’t reveal the truth. She kept Quinn’s secret safe until she felt it was absolutely necessary to tell the rest of the associates. Olivia shows us how we don’t have to put our business out there, but when we do, it should be for a very good reason.
Lead, Don’t Follow.
It’s easy to imagine a young Olivia Pope with pigtails holding things down as the line leader in grade school. She radiates “born leader” in everything she does. We watch her week after week breeze into her office giving rapid-fire orders to her associates, setting the day’s agenda and squashing any opposition. Leaders blaze their own paths. Leaders communicate their vision with clarity. Leaders don’t allow anyone to take over and run things, as they always maintain control of a situation. Olivia Pope as a crisis manager cannot afford to follow the leader. If we channel our inner Olivia Popes, neither will we.
Look the Part.
From the flawless hair to the jewelry to the fabulous jackets, power suits and handbags, Olivia always looks like she means business. When Olivia Pope walks into a room, everyone takes her seriously. Sure we love her clothes and her hair, but for Olivia Pope it’s part of her brand. She can go from the office to the courtroom to the White House, turning heads along the way. If you want the people around you to take you more seriously, take a page from Olivia Pope’s style manual.
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I’d been hesitant to tell my friends. I’d cajoled myself into doing so as a means of accountability that doubled as a warning for those who may see me in six months and say, “I thought she lost the weight. What happened?”
Starting a new weight loss program is exciting for many people, I’m sure. But there was a part of me that wanted to offer a rebuttal at the hint of a positive remark about my changing body, at any comment that I deemed overly congratulatory: “Just don’t judge me if I gain the weight back.” That phrase covered me, I thought, if I failed to keep the weight off. Because I’d already accepted that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep it off.
I know. There are many things wrong with that thinking.
There’s a picture of Jordin Sparks’ Shape Magazine cover saved on my computer desktop. “One day, you’ll flaunt it like this,” I said when I started to shed the pounds. I imagined myself behind an Instagram filter infiltrating folks’ social media timelines, completely aloof and wearing a two-piece bathing suit. Probably jumping off a trampoline or something. Flexing something fierce mid-air all Gabby Douglas-like. And then, because I was too embarrassed to say it aloud, I thought this: No, you can’t flaunt it. Because once you gain the weight back, you’ll be ashamed of what you used to be.
I figured it would be better to keep the body-flaunting at a minimum. Better to let old high school friends serendipitously spot me at the grocery store than in a comb-through of my Facebook timeline, a visual reminder of my ups-and-downs and then up-agains.
Again, so many things wrong with that thinking.
Who accomplishes anything with the belief that it won’t work out? Why get in the game if I thought that I’d somehow regress to where I started? Weight, you see, was the one thing I’d internalized as the thing I couldn’t get right. But now that I’ve started to get right and stay right, now that I’m understanding that managing my weight doesn’t have to be a permanent struggle, I’ve had to recalibrate my internal voice.
I wondered if other people who’d struggled with weight also had to grapple with the fact that self-confidence and self-belief doesn’t automatically come with each stride on the treadmill. It is, at once, a separate and entangled journey to lose weight, love yourself, and trust yourself at the same damn time.
I found an article about phantom fat and how some dieters are “waiting for the other shoe to drop… People who’ve gained and lost and gained again may be less likely to embrace a new image that they worry won’t last.”
And then I read what one of the quoted experts said: “We become numb to how mean we’re being to ourselves.”
Yikes. I realized that this doubtful voice could have belonged to an unsupportive phantom friend. One who lived with me every minute of the day and whose voice taunted me the second I’d get excited about my physical future. The thing is, I long would have banished this homegirl for her negativity, however, I spoke to myself with her voice and I didn’t recognize it. It just was. As much as I exercised, I knew that this voice would need to be exorcised too.
The “love yourself” rhetoric was cute and all, but I needed to know what loving myself looked like in action, in deed, and in conversation.
Marianne Williamson’s oft-recited “Our Deepest Fear” was once taped to my bathroom mirror, office wall and refrigerator. Meant to carry me through professional and spiritual journeys, I reread it as I decided that shift my perspective on weight watching.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
After reading it, I rewrote it. Out loud.
Who am I to be gorgeous, desirable, and hot? Who am I not to be? Why am I not all of these things right now? My insides are pretty dope too, my personality, my smarts. Those things never yo-yo.
Tell me I’m slimming down and all I’ll say is thank you. Ask me what my workout routine is or how I’m eating and I won’t deflect. If I’m up a pound after a rough week, I won’t resign my entire svelte strategy to complete failure.
This new conversation, I think, is the beginning of confidence, the signs of self-belief. They don’t come on a treadmill, but in the things you tell yourself. The physical is fleeting, and even greater than the privilege of wearing a bathing suit, we all deserve a sense of wholeness, one that we prescribe to ourselves and for only ourselves.
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When referring to humans, we usually hear the term “alpha male” when describing a man who is powerful, competitive and is a leader who stands out among all men. But the same term applies to women who possess similar traits – the Alpha Female.
Alpha Females are intelligent, “take charge” women who can be seen as powerful, or aggressive, depending on who you ask. Being an Alpha Female should be looked at as a good thing, but most bold women are sometimes recognized as high-maintenance or even a Itchbay by society’s standards.
So are you an Alpha Female? If so, there may be some pros and cons to possessing strong traits. If you are unsure, read through these characteristics to see if any of them describe you.
I remember my first true encounter with the green-eyed monster known as jealousy. It was summer 2006 and I was one-year strong in my first “mature” relationship. The relationship had been going so well that I was sure I had been living out some Disney fairytale, until this one day, which seemed like any other. I had just gotten home from a job I’d snagged for the summer, I raced to my bedroom to call my Prince Charming whom I hadn’t heard from all day. “Hello,” I said eagerly as soon as I heard him pick up the phone; however, something wasn’t quite right. I heard a female’s laughter in the background. “Who’s that?” I asked twisting my face up, hoping he would say a cousin or relative. “Oh, that’s Shamika, the girl from across the street.” I sat on the other end of the phone silently. My heart sank. I felt like my face was going to crack and I was overcome with an intense feeling that I had a hard time identifying. I’d later come to know this intense and overwhelming feeling as jealousy. My logic told me that there was probably nothing up with this girl from across the street, but my imagination and emotions went running in a completely different direction.
Jealousy is one of those erratic and unreasonable emotions that can transform a fairly mild-mannered woman into a ranting, probing, lurking lunatic. A jealous woman can be like a terrorist to a man in a relationship. You know the deal: checking cell phones, cracking voicemail codes, Facebook passwords, Twitter passwords, cell phone company records, etc. You name it, I’ve done it. Little did I know, jealousy would be a frequent visitor in my relationships.
After my second or third encounter with this feeling, I began to realize that I had a problem. The crazy part is that I knew something about it was off and would’ve traded almost anything to get rid of those feelings. They were practically consuming me. It was as if a “Shamika” had been assigned to every last one of my relationships and just when I thought I had overcome it, the overbearing and suffocating feelings of jealousy would resurface. I would always try to work through it, convinced that this time I would beat this feeling. Each time I failed. I had no peace. After awhile I began to realize that these feelings were stemming from something internal, and if I were to ever truly overcome them, I would have to start addressing the issues that lie within. It was a quest that I would have to take on alone.