“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerability is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy – the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light”
We often think the problem is how we feel about the things that happen to us. We then try to avoid, suppress or medicate our emotional pain and we tend to miss the inner wisdom held within the emotion. We end up spending so long in our addictions and avoidance of how we feel, that we become disconnected from ourselves and unknowingly cultivate a deep pervading sense of shame. Then, when we feel an emotional reaction with any intensity we also feel the familiar shame and guilt associated with feeling bad about feeling. Finally, we lose confidence in ourselves and discontinue seeing value or worth in ourselves. This is a common cycle that most women experience to one degree or another. So how does it happen and what can we do about it?
The three stages of loss of confidence and self-value
The first stage of loss of confidence and self-value for women is when we are in some sort of relationship, either in our family, an intimate relationship, with a friendship group or at work, and we believe other people who dismiss or illegitimize how we feel. If we allow it, these overt or subtle messages corrode our belief in our normal emotional responses to the world. We begin to feel edgy, unsure of ourselves and insecure. We learn that our feelings are not trust worthy and that our perspectives are not important.
In the second stage our self-doubts grow stronger and we feel increasingly anxious. If we cannot trust our emotional responses to the world, we cannot gauge what is safe and what is not. We tend to automatically think it is our fault if someone has a go at us and we lose our sense of healthy boundaries. Fear becomes disproportional because it is like we are walking around a booby-trapped room with the lights out.
The third stage is where we fall into symptoms of depression, as we become stuck in anxiety, mis-trust, disconnection and isolation. The anxiety from feeling unsure of ourselves and ashamed of our emotional selves solidifies into depression because an extremely important aspect of our adaptive self has been systematically dismantled. Depression tells us that there is something very wrong with how we are operating in the world and perhaps in the relationships that surround us.
The solution is to clearly see the mistaken belief that there is something wrong with us when we feel emotions. It is important to find a safe healthy relationship, such as a therapeutic relationship and begin to work through what our feelings are really telling us. We need to identify the psychological patterns that lead to this mistaken belief and explore our interpersonal relationships to see what is emotionally safe and what is not.
This all may sound like a journey, and it is! However, it is a journey that holds the key to rediscovering our inner confidence and self-value. Our adaptive emotions help us establish and maintain healthy boundaries and discern what is right and wrong for us. Self-confidence IS confidence in our emotional selves. It is all about trusting ourselves that we can understand our emotions and follow their inner-wisdom to create a safe and secure life.
Embracing our Inner-Woman
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Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.