She walked into the seminar room with her head held high. She was wearing a grey business suit with a white button-up blouse. Her hair was a unique hue of copper and blonde. Her stride to the podium was confident and graceful. If she was nervous about speaking in front of 100 people, there were no outward signs.

She opened her portfolio, looked up and smiled. As she began to speak I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, this woman is fierce.” She wasn’t the most attractive person in the room. She certainly wasn’t the youngest or the thinest. But she seemed so comfortable in her own skin, so confident and it radiated everywhere, leaving us all in a state of awe.

We all know about non-verbal cues. Her body language spoke loud and clear. It said I know my value. I know who I am and I know I’m important. I’ve got something to say, so you better listen. She had captured our attention before she even opened her mouth. We were riveted.

A couple of years ago, I wrote about watching a very provocative commercial for a plus size clothing store that featured a woman, who exuded sexy. She wasn’t skinny. She was curvy as hell, even a bit…dare I say it – chubby. My mind had been programmed, since birth, that only perfection would do, so it was hard for me to look at this non-perfect woman with admiration, but I just couldn’t help it. As it would happen, this model’s career exploded after that commercial and now Ashley Graham has become a household name and her courage to proudly be herself is changing the way we look at body image and the standards of beauty.

Codependents are taught to feel shame for who they are. Not good enough is the cross we’ve been taught we must bear. This shame often stops us from going after our goals. It makes us accept less than we deserve. It makes us not want to stand out in a crowd. It makes us believe that we shouldn’t even try. I’ll do it when I’m more this, or when I’ve lost that. All we know, right now, is that we just couldn’t dare.

Shame is very powerful. It has the ability to destroy hopes and dreams. It crushes our will and our self-esteem and it’s one of the biggest road blocks to healing and living our best lives.

Chances are if you believe don’t deserve something, you very likely won’t attain it. It reminds me of a poem I read years ago, in a book by Napoleon Hill called, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, that goes like this:

If you think you are beaten, you are;

If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but think you can’t
It’s almost a cinch you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you’ve lost.

For out in the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will:
It’s all in his state of mind.
If you think you’re outclassed, you are:

You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You’ll ever win that prize.
Life’s battles don’t always go

To the stronger or faster man,
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
Attributed to Author Napoleon Hill circa 1973

It makes me think, if the redhead had walked into the hall with her head down, shoulders hunched and been nervous as hell, would we have been so intrigued? Probably not. Would we have been so receptive to her message? Probably not.

This tells us that what we believe about ourselves matters. Our attitude matters, partly, because whether we know it our not, these things are palpable to the outside world. If we’re shy it’s usually obvious, if we’re insecure, it’s obvious in the way that we carry and present ourselves. If I’m an emotional predator these are some of the non-verbal cues I’m looking for in my targets.

Finding Confidence 

The first step to getting to a place of confidence is to release the shame you’ve been carrying about – your appearance, your abilities, your intelligence…whatever it is you been taught that wasn’t up to par. Shame is just our programming. It’s not something that has been etched by the Gods. It’s not part of our DNA. As Ester Hicks always says, “A belief is a thought we keep thinking.” So start thinking something else.

Put simply, shame is a choice we can either accept or not accept. If we choose not to accept feeling shame about something, we are choosing to look at it another way. We’re choosing new thoughts to think and the more we keep thinking these new thoughts, the more they replace our old programming.

Take a good look at yourself and identify all the areas in which you’ve been taught you weren’t good enough and see them with a new pair of eyes. Celebrate those things that make you different. Don’t hide them, don’t feel bad about them, put them front and centre and own them with pride.

Notice the shame you immediately feel. Many are probably saying, “No I couldn’t.” I know people who feel so much shame on account of their weight that they are always fully covered in the summer time. Do it. Take off the extra covering and see how you feel. I’m not endorsing the continuation of an unhealthy lifestyle – a good diet and fitness should always be a part of everyone’s life, but let’s just try, as you’re becoming more healthy, just to get in the habit of accepting yourself. Dip your toe in the waters of discomfort. The more you dip, the faster you’ll be able to dive right in and the easier it will become.

Living Your Truth

You may have never heard about the story of an African-American model named Winnie Harlow had she been ashamed about the skin condition that turned the parts of her skin around her eyes, nose and mouth white, giving her a blotchy, two toned complexion. She could have tried to hide it and covered her condition with make-up, but instead she wore her uniqueness with pride and has brought attention and acceptance for millions who suffer from Vitiligo. To boot, she’s also been featured on the cover of many fashion magazines, courageously sporting her differences for all the world to see.

What her story tells us, is to embrace your uniqueness. Love those things that make you different. Be bold and courageous and own them with pride. Instead of thinking about yourself as not good enough, or lacking,  spend your time thinking about all the qualities, all the abilities, all the ways in which those things you were taught to hate about yourself are actually your opportunities to stand out.

One person’s flaw is another person’s reason to envy. It’s all in how you look at it.

As you change your mindset from shame to pride and if you focus on what your talents are, instead of what you perceive you’re lacking, you will slowly, but surely, see the transition to self-acceptance and self-love.

Celebrate your curves if you have them, celebrate your ancestry, your heritage, your appearance, because no one else in the entire world was put together exactly like you. No one has your unique skill set, gifts or talents. Be fierce. Be a warrior. Wear your true self like a badge of honour. You’ve earned it.

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