• Elizabeth Payne

Living Well: The Meaning of a Truly Confident Woman

Updated: Aug 10


Thanks to my bestie, Alyssa Magyar, for the photo

Something happened after college graduation and I was suddenly extremely unsure of myself. Gone was the security blanket title of "student" and in its place was... pretend adult? Where I had once felt secure in my roles and abilities I was now uncertain.

It was a confidence crisis.


Maybe you've been there. The insecurities in your roles, whatever they may be, continue to build. More often than not a little whisper of surrender echos in your head I can't do this. Before we know it, as I began to realize first-hand, this mentality seeps into every area of life. I'm not sure about you, but this is not how I want to be. If there's one thing I notice about the women I most admire and revere in my life, it's their confidence. And this is not a one demential brand of self-assurance almost anyone can broadcast to the world. No, this is special.


Self-assurance, by definition, simply means a confidence in our own abilities. This is a problem because MY abilities don't always cut it; they fail me a lot, actually. The confidence we're talking about here is a deeply-rooted level of security and freedom that means dynamic growth and maturity. Here's what that kind of confidence means...


Confidence Means Self-Control

When is the last time you just lost it? Just straight up crazy eyes, cartoon-like steaming ears, forehead-vein-popping lost it? Mine was just last week in the car with my husband. Looking back it seems dumb now, but in the moment when I'm losing it it seems like tectonic plates have shifted and suddenly the ground is shaking under my feet. I'm working on this. Ever since I grasped the term, calm confidence, that's been a long-term goal. Exuding a calm confidence in the moments of volcanic emotion means we can remind ourselves that the ground we're standing on is ultimately secure.

Having confidence to manage a wave of emotions means exerting self-control. You don't need to get in the last word because you already hold the knowledge that your thoughts and feelings are valid. You don't need to loudly inject your opinion in a conversation because you're able to rest securely in the quiet knowledge that yes, maybe you know you're right and they're wrong. You are able to pick your battles effectively without transforming into a rage monster because you see beyond the current moment.



Confidence Means Learning to Let Go

Imagine running a race with a backpack full of bricks. This is like carrying around guilt and shame over things of the past. If this is you, it's time to throw off the burden you've been lugging around and march into the future with confidence. Easier said than done, I know. I'll never forget something a dear friend once told me. To paraphrase, she said, "Guilt is being sorry for something you've done; shame is being sorry for who you are, and you should never be sorry for who you are." You are, in fact "...more precious than rubies" (Prov. 3:15), chosen and unconditionally loved (Rom 5:8.) If you believe this fact, shame is not yours to bear, my friend. Here's a great reminder of Whose you are if you need that right now.


“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30


Confidence Means You Can Be Vulnerable

Think of the people you admire most in your life. What qualities stand out? The ones I look up to the most actually don't have it all together and I love that about them. They are the real and vulnerable ones. They don't try to paint a pinterest-worthy picture of their lives but instead readily reveal some of the mess. Why is being vulnerable so hard sometimes? It seems easier and more appealing to wear a happy face, one that indicates to the public that you are FINE. I'm not saying you need to walk around spilling your deepest struggles with every stranger you encounter, but it's being willing to be real. You know what? I'm not fine today.


Something happens when you start to unveil some of the not-so-pretty aspects of your life. You get to know (or become reacquainted) with parts of yourself that aren't advertised on social media. Vulnerability also creates space for deeper, more satisfying relationships. Nobody wants to sit around the table at your Bible Study or small group listening to how everything is just perfect. They want real and this is made possible by a self-confidence that is not stolen away by fear of rejection or what others will think of you.


Confidence Allows You to Pour Into Others

One thing I've noticed about a lack of confidence in yourself means that your focus IS yourself. Little energy is left to look around you for opportunities to bring light to someone else. True confidence promotes the desire to seek and point out positive qualities in others. It is a joy to do so, even. You know your strengths and abilities and are willing to use these things to love someone else, however that may look.

A misconception I've fallen prey to is believing that I had to have it all together before I was able to pour into others. I've delayed service in multiple arenas in the past due to the notion that "nah, I'm not ready. Someone else will be better at that." Confidence doesn't mean that you are always successful in what you're doing. Sometimes it means you're not amazing at it and you're still going. You're still willing to try, despite the possibility of failure or not meeting your own expectations.



Confidence Minimizes a Need to Compete and Compare

A competitive edge by nature is not a bad thing. It might be God-given and adds a little flavor to life, in my opinion. Nor is comparison by definition wrong either. We enter dangerous territory when the competition and comparison is preceded by doubts and insecurities that prompt us to look for approval from others. We start to compete because we feel as if there's something to prove. We compare to reassure ourselves that we're okay or to confirm that I'm better off than them at least. Social media is a big culprit here and if you've been following for awhile, you know my thoughts on that topic.


Part of building confidence is not the lack of insecure moments or feelings of doubt, but knowing where to go when it happens. Another component is learning how to show yourself some GRACE. Fortunately for me, this is my middle name and a constant reminder. One of my close friends will often say to me in a moment of duress, ”Have some of your middle name.” I need daily reminders sometimes that I am my own worst critic.



Confidence Accepts Accountability

Confidence is not to be confused with pride. Quite the opposite, actually. An online source informs us that "Confidence and humility can easily co-exist. One requires we embrace our strengths, the other that we are aware of our weakness" (Lisa Prosen.) I'm convinced that a confident woman allows herself to be influenced by others, inviting people of differing views to share their thoughts and perspectives. Her mind doesn't jump to a place of insecurity when someone disagrees with her opinion. She humbles herself to listen and takes care to gain feedback from people who care about her. This is not the same thing as changing an opinion because someone thinks you should, but instead allowing yourself to be challenged and stretched outside the old comfort zone. She is one who is eager to learn from life.


Another respectable quality along the lines of humility is being able to apologize when necessary. This is tough, especially when your stubborn heart insists that you are right. There was almost nothing worse than the bitter medicine of the forced apology to one of my lowly siblings as a kid. Now I'm thankful our parents instilled this mentality in us at a young age. Learning to acknowledge and confront a hurting individual, even if your role was unintentional, screams the confidence of a woman who is secure enough to admit her wrongs.



Confidence Is Assurance of What You're About

Just to recap, you don't need to have it all together or act like you do. It's okay if you don't have all the answers. In fact, I don't think that's possible. What is does mean is that at the core of your being, you know who you are. Or, more importantly as I've said before, you know Whose you are. Years ago while on a summer vacation, my dad had us all write our own mission statement. Any successful company has one; why shouldn't we? That mission statement of an eighth-grader Is long gone, but I think the exercise is practical and beneficial for us all to be able to articulate what we stand for, our purpose, hopes and desires for the future.


This is what allows one with confidence to stand boldly or, as google offers, hold a "firm trust." We are dynamic beings, ever growing and changing, and goodness knows our circumstances ebb and flow unpredictably sometimes. But to cling to an anchor of truth- this offers the ultimate security. This is something I do not know how to find apart from Christ. I love Hebrews 11:1...


"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see."

You don't acquire these qualities overnight. I bet if you interview the most confident woman you know she could share troubles, trials, and harrowing experiences she's had on her own journey. Here's a practical resource if you're looking for some tangible tools to build confidence. I was also introduced to The Assertiveness Guide for Women: How to Communicate Your Needs, Set Healthy Boundaries, and Transform Your Relationships a couple of years ago. If you're working on growing in this area, you're in good company! Keep on living well and blossoming in the art of true confidence.



 

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