No, I am not talking about Chunky Monkey or Rocky Road Ice Cream. I am talking about the way confidence is built after a blow, a series of blows or just plain life disaster. When life runs you over like an out of control ice cream truck at a local park knocking over patrons and passerby alike, you have to recover. It doesn’t matter if the truck was aiming for you. Good people get knocked down all the time.
For some of us that means burying a loved one, moving on from divorce, losing a home or recovering from financial ruin… For some like me, you have to do that all at once. But a different thing happened on my life journey recently which knocked me down again. The first few times I was hit, I crawled around in the dirt whining and moaning until I could lift my head up. This time I was knocked flat on my behind and, you know what, I just got up, dusted myself off and moved on.
You see, by now I am a pro at bouncing and I think that just like sometimes you have an unlucky car that gets dinged and banged up over and over, times in your life can feel like that. As a result I have had to reconstruct my self concept, my identity and my confidence brick by laborious brick. I read confidence books. I challenged myself. But the one thing that boosted my confidence up and over the hurdle was learning to say No. Yeah, I know you have heard this a million times, but you need to chew it, swallow it, digest it and make it part of you.
There is great power in saying “no” and for someone who spent the last 40 years saying yes to pretty much everyone and everything for the fear of not being liked, I found those two little letters very empowering. Here is a sample of the use of the word no in recent memory.
No, I will not watch your dog for the 50th time because you have a husband and older children, and I’m a single mom making my way in the world alone and on her own dime.
No, I will not call you. Nor will I answer your booty call afternoon text to come to your office and meet you. I won’t do that and I never will.
No, I will not allow you to take my ideas, my writing and my musings and call them your own no matter how much you pay me.
No, I will not get a fourth pet, no matter how much you thrown yourself on the floor in Petco and wail.
I am me. This is my life. And it matters what I want – not what you want or think I should want.
The one thing that helped me push my confidence over the roof is to take back my life, live it on my terms and finally say no. That is once I figured out what I wanted.
And figuring out what you want after lots of life changes isn’t easy. It took me years to get to where I am. I didn’t wake up one day and like a video game all the parts fell into place. I also found that as I work on myself – meaning spend time with myself, try new things, have new experiences and create my new life – I am a work in progress. Like creating David, that magnificent piece of Renaissance sculpture by Michelangelo that my kids point and giggle at because he is naked, I am creating myself.
I started by chipping off 20 pounds of my own block of marble which gave me the power to start saying no, to start defining my life. And like weight loss, which came off not evenly a pound at a time, but in chunks so has my confidence built.
Bouncing with Style is not about failing or getting knocked over, it’s about what you do to pick yourself up, dust yourself off and stand tall – even if you’re naked in a museum where kids point at your privates and laugh.