How to Regain Our Confidence

How to Regain Our Confidence

When you go through something traumatic like divorce or the death of a spouse, or the challenge of being an unwed mother, your sense of confidence can take a serious hit. As single parents, many things can erode our sense of confidence. 

In today’s episode, we talk about how you can get to the bottom of things that erode your confidence and work to regain a sense of confidence when you feel vulnerable, broken and weak. 

What are some things that can erode single parents’ sense of confidence?

There are so many messages—more than ever because of social media—about ways you should be performing, who you should be, and the things you should do as a single parent—especially single moms. All of these social media voices can absolutely erode your confidence.

There’s a dichotomy—you need other people's voices to speak into your life. You need encouragement. If you focus on your independence and being self-sufficient you get discouraged when you don’t have encouragement from other people, but at the same time, you can't do it all. It’s easy to beat yourself up when you’re not doing it all and when you feel you’re not doing enough. 

The voices that tell you you’re less than erode confidence. As a single parent, you don't have anyone else in the house to give you any feedback or praise which can make you want to isolate. It affects your self-esteem, confidence, and even your identity.

Fear is a loud voice that can erode your confidence. Fear may make you doubt yourself and ask “How am I going to do this on my own? I don't know how to parent two young kids on my own. I don’t have a backup.” Maybe because I came from more of a traditional mindset where it was like a mom and dad working together. And the mom was the nurturer and the dad, played the heavy, and all of a sudden, both of those roles fell onto me. I didn't know how to play both.  And so the fear escalated and the shoulds, or the supposed to’s, I should be able to do this better. I should be able to keep all the balls in the air and fear became an underlying current. And at that time I wasn't self-aware enough to recognize it. And so that played out in some ways that were not good for me or my kids.

Comparison—when you compare yourself to others, whether it be on social media or not can erode your confidence. 

Another confidence killer is toxic shame because it's buried in all these things. It’s the voice behind the feelings of “supposed to’s.” Shame and pride too. When shame takes over you may feel “I should be able to do this.” If pride comes you may think “I can do this.” It’s both sides of feeling not good enough, feeling like you have to measure up. 

How do you measure confidence?

First, you need to know what confidence looks and feels like. You need to have a definition of confidence, which is a real sense of knowing who you are, knowing who you're not, and having a genuine acceptance of all of it. 

Confidence is feeling you don’t need to measure up as much as you’re needing to show up and be who you are. Confidence is feeling peace inside knowing that God loves you and your family loves you. It’s the sense of being loved and accepted and that you’re here for a purpose. And confidence is when you have genuine, amazing relationships built on safety and trust and know that you have a handful of people that you can go to for anything. 

Instead of thinking you need to be all things to all people or measure up in specific ways that society demands or any standard demands, you can be who God says you are. This is the best measurement. 

True confidence comes from being and belonging instead of doing. Being a human being versus a human doing. Your value is not what you do for people. 

What are some practical things you can do to regain confidence?

Change your boundaries. Take a moment and ask yourself, “Why am I doing this? What's the motivation?” Is your motivation to perform for love and acceptance? Or is it an opportunity to feel loved and accepted as we are? Be honest with yourself; try not to trick yourself. Pray about it and ask God to show you your motivation. If you’re a performer, you may be doing things for the wrong reasons.

Also, set boundaries around the voices that you listen to. This doesn't mean you dismiss people all the time. It means letting some things go in one ear and out the other. You don't have to give the same weight to everyone or every voice, including yourself. You can have boundaries with who you listen to and what opinions you accept.  

Don’t compare yourself with other people. Whether it be on social media, whether it be characters in the Bible, or intact families that can keep a household running seemingly better than you can.

Think about the measuring stick. Instead of focusing on what you measure, focus on the measuring stick. What are the good questions you can ask yourself, instead of asking the same questions? So much transformation happens when you change the questions. You start believing different things about yourself. Outcomes that used to be important just aren't as important anymore.

Set realistic expectations
. You can't use the same measuring stick now as you did when you had a partner who was helping you with everything at home or if you were never married, you cannot do the same things a couple can do. And that's okay. How you relate to your kids and being able to do the things that mean a lot to you is far more important than the measuring stick of having a perfectly clean house. 

Do a self-belief exercise. Whenever you face an experience that starts to erode your confidence, you get shaken and you need an opportunity to be grounded again in some truths and some new realities. There's a simple self-belief exercise. It's a way of examining yourself internally and externally to regain your confidence. It involves three prompts that you can write about, journal or talk with a friend. 

The first prompt is, “I am.” You list all the internal resources that you now have and, that you can bring to the table. For example, “I'm smart, I'm resourceful, I'm practical, I’m hardworking.” List those out. 

The second prompt is “I have.” What external resources do you have? For example, “I have a supportive family. I have a stable job. I have a comfortable place to live.” List all the resources that help you do life well now. 

The third prompt is, “I can.” It’s turning the resources you listed out into action steps. For example, “I can now move forward with confidence. I can pursue new training to help me in my job. I can adjust my expectations and not feel less than if I can't do all the things I used to be able to do. “I am, I have, and I can,” can be powerful statements to regain belief in yourself whenever you're facing a new path.

If you are a Christian you may feel having confidence is pride. It's not. It's an honest appraisal of what you value and who you are, your identity. Questions are the most important thing that you can do to move towards a sense of confidence. It’s something in your tool belt.

Be kind to yourself when you stumble
. You're going to stumble. It’s not going to all go great. Be good to yourself. You're going to let yourself down and you're going to let your kids down. You're going to let people down. You're going to embarrass yourself, but you can pick yourself up. Just keep going. It's not your identity. Don't get stuck. No one likes failing. Remember, you aren't how you perform, you're so much more. It can be difficult to accept the limits of your humanity but it’s necessary.

. You've used strategies to survive, but you don't have to anymore. And so being able to, the antithesis or the fighter to that, that bloody knife of shame that's coming after you trying to kill your confidence is humility. And that's what'll come out of it. But you have to be able to look at those things and say, I've really been struggling hard to survive. I don't have to do that anymore. So let's knock out the perfectionism. Let's knock out all the ways that I'm beating myself up so that I can carry forward and know that I am fully human. I have a God who loves me and a God who supports me, A God who's teaching me and showing me all the ways. And, I can learn from my mistakes. And I can do the things that I'm meant to do in this world. And if I make a mistake, it has nothing to do with that. Like, it has nothing to do with my value in this world and what God's put me here for.

Rely on your community for strength. And another beautiful part about laying down those things is being able to pick up strength from your community. Being able to develop a safe support system and a network around you that will help you. That you don't have to be self-reliant. And community is a huge part of being confident. Sometimes your confidence is in yourself. But you can gain confidence by knowing you are safely protected by God and by His family. And you are seen and known by others. That's why I'm glad you brought up community because I think that is a major part of it. And it's not people just saying, great job, Amber.  It's people that know you authentically. It's people that know you and still think that you're awesome. It gives you a sense of confidence. There is an incredible transformation that happens in our groups and helps all of our confidence just being in a community of love and support.

Practice, practice, practice
. You have to practice and practice and practice this. You don't hear a podcast, change a couple of things, and then find yourself with just incredible self-confidence. This takes practice. And allow yourself to stumble and please find community while you're doing it.  

Listener Question
How do I manage screen time with my teen when she has her own phone?

Talk to your daughter about what healthy self-care looks like so that she learns to self-monitor her screen time. Ask her how she feels after she’s on the phone for a while. Does it drain her? Ask her to make a list of things that make her feel good or give her joy other than screen time. Talk to her about doing the things on her list to replace some of the screen time.

Putting some limits around the phone is a good idea. One example is having a policy that her phone is not allowed in her bedroom to charge at night. 

For more tips, there's a great resource called “Taming the Technology Monster” by Sissy Goff. It’s a short booklet that could be helpful for you.

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