Behaving and acting in accordance to my confident self
June 21, 2015 3:52 PM   Subscribe

How to check in with myself so I speak/act/behave from my confident self rather than my insecure self? Any good rules of thumb? I want to avoid behaving in ways that badly affect my friends and family and also, myself rather than acting from anxiety and insecurity and drama and then regretting it.

I am trying to live my best life possible, putting my best foot forward with the best attitude, choices, actions, etc. I have not lived this way for the last 23 years. I grew up excessively insecure, feeling depressed, rejected, ugly and like a bad apple. I was also very extroverted, sensitive and dramatic, and still am, so it was so easy to read me as 'Obnoxious attention seeker' which no doubt I was.

Now, especially in the last few months, due to both therapy but also just consistent reminders, I feel much more confident, strong, secure, mature...I feel like a good, special, independant person. Insecurities like my stretch marks or my nipples have not bothered me in months (you can read my old questions about this) whereas I used to have weekly, several hours' long cries about them that were horrifically abusive and awful time-wasters.

Everyone that knows me/meets me after some time seems to see a very big change in me as well. I'm not *as* easily upset in social situations where I feel ignored, I trust people more, I have largely stopped putting people on pedastels or ranking people as inferior or superior.. It's an improvement

However, my very deep rooted beliefs and mindsets obviously have a very deep effect in my behavior. Sometimes I can be completely blind to a situation, react to the situations impulsively or even after having thought things through and then realize that my reaction was awful, hurtful, insensitive, embarassing, displaying naivete and lack of awareness, etc. At that point I feel very blind-sided and disappointed, but it seems I missed warning signs that I was taking my mind somewhere I shouldn't. What are some questions I can ask myself so that I can respond to a situation maturely, gracefully rather than from my insecurities? What are warning signs I can look out for?

for an examples of situations:

Going to a party and none of the guys seem that interested in me/I'm getting ignored. I used to feel very sad about that, even LOOKING for that kind of situation to beat myself up, but now if I get that insecure feeling I think: damn they are missing out on a sweet young lady. I try to remember the times when I have been given lots of attention. I overall tell myself this doesn't mean anything about me, is more about them, and who cares? But after 2-3 hours, it seems to lose steam, and then later I end up inappropriately telling the girl that's getting male attention at the party that I feel jealous, ask her if I need to lose weight...before saying it, I tell myself I'm giving her a compliment, but I know I'm just engaging in insecure behavior to beat myself up. I'm also making her massively uncomfortable. NOT GOOD.

OR, going to a party and its going great for a while but someone rolls their eyes or it seems people aren't 'getting' me or everyone else seems to be having fun other than me..I'll later find myself engaging with the least likeable person, the biggest jerk and inevitably get hurt by their comments etc. I realize later I was doing this to self-harm / to get proof that I am unlikeable in this sick way, but I was not aware of doing this, and even though I tried to talk myself out of the funk, it doesn't always work.

OR, not getting a text back from a friend for a day or three and getting so anxious I can't stand it, wondering what I did to them, paranoid that we aren't friends anymore... even when I tell myself that I sometimes am slow with texts too, or they could be busy...I drive myself crazy. And then when we finally do talk I end up acting insecure, defensive or something like that.

What are questions, rules of thumbs, guidelines, etc. I can ask myself / check in with myself before acting in a way that I'll later regret? Sometimes I am so confused if I am speaking from my insecurities or if I have a valid point or what the alternative is. What do you do, so that you don't feel blind-sided by your own reactions/behaviors?

posted by rhythm_queen to Human Relations (6 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I don't have answers for all of these situations, but when I'm at a party and not having a good time, I go home. 2-3 hours of feeling ignored would get old for just about anyone. I used to stay, drink more, seethe, say snarky, jealous things to people and somehow hope that things would get better. Now, when I'm not having a positive experience at a party, I politely say goodbye and go home and get some sleep.

I've come to realize that I'm usually not going to get the kind of social engagement that I find most satisfying at a party, so I try to make sure I have other types of events on my calendar - quiet dinners with close friends, small class in something I really find interesting, volunteering.

I'm glad you shared this question and I'll be reading the other answers with interest. Good luck.
posted by bunderful at 4:27 PM on June 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: When you perceive that someone's rejected you, or you feel compelled to talk to someone you see as high status to confirm your beliefs, are there identifiable bodily sensations that go along with your behaviours? I feel like thoughts are fast and slippery in the heat of the moment, but feelings/sensations are somehow more graspable.

When I feel good, and like I'm speaking from myself, I feel centered and grounded. When I'm out of my element, I feel off-kilter and jittery, inside and out. Like I'm actually moving around more than I normally do - shifting my weight, and making bigger gestures with my hands, more often. And my stomach's doing a lot of stuff. My voice doesn't feel right, either, it comes from my throat (as in it's not coming from lower down, it's not my ordinary chest voice; throat feels tight) and it sounds higher in pitch than usual. So one question might be, "what is my body saying and doing right now?".
posted by cotton dress sock at 5:40 PM on June 21, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Another thought - do you do positive things that build your self-confidence? Building skill or knowledge is good, as is surrounding yourself with positive, low-drama people and building solid friendships with them. IME the more I am feeling awesome because I did something I am proud of, the less I am concerned about whether other people think I'm okay.
posted by bunderful at 6:00 PM on June 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

It sounds like you've made amazing progress. I'm hesitant to recommend this, in case you've done it already, but it sounds like what you're looking for is more strategies for talking back to the voice in your head that produces the emotions of anxiety and insecurity (and the behaviour that goes with it) -- i.e. CBT. If you don't want to go to an in-person therapist, but just to fine tune your skills a little bit, that moodgym website has some useful exercises. Feeling Good by David Burns is focused more on depression than anxiety but you may find some of the exercises in there useful as well.
posted by Aravis76 at 11:41 PM on June 21, 2015

Best answer: One question I use: "Will I be proud of myself for saying/doing/handling this challenging situation this way when I look back and ponder this time of my life tomorrow, 10 years from now?"

IME, one trick to achieving true confidence from within, to the point that you become oblivious to things like getting ignored at a party, etc. is to focus working on becoming the woman of *your* dreams. Build the life you want, make a concrete life to-do list and feel personal triumph as you cross off each item, be your own best friend, give yourself unconditional love. Eventually you will internalize that your only obligation to the world is to be kind, decent, genuine -- and the only approval that truly matters in the long run is your own.

Good luck!
posted by tackypink at 12:40 PM on June 22, 2015 [5 favorites]

Disclaimer: This is going to sound silly.

If I can catch myself starting to do negative self-talk or slip into an anxious thought spiral, I visualize that emotion/behavior as a dog. My insecurity is a jittery beagle that's afraid of the water. My negative self-talk is a territorial bulldog. My anxiety is a Labrador that really, REALLY wants to play fetch. It depersonalizes the thought/feeling and gives me enough breathing room to gain awareness over my actions. Plus, since it is a little silly, it takes the edge off of whatever I'm worried about.

It seems like you're putting a lot of pressure on yourself to have the "correct" thoughts or feelings. You've made a tremendous amount of progress in a short period of time. It's going to take some time to undue the habits you've made in the past 23 years. And honestly? It's okay to feel insecure. It's even okay to behave in a way that you're not proud of because of that insecurity. It's part of the human experience. It's normal.

I like the dog analogy for myself because it forces me to have more compassion for myself. The dogs aren't having the wrong thoughts. They reacting instinctually, much in the same way we've instinctually learned to have these negative/insecure thoughts because of shitty parenting, trauma, etc...

Go easy on yourself.
(I know, easier said than done.)
posted by joeyjoejoejr at 3:58 PM on June 22, 2015 [3 favorites]

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