At LUMO we joke that becoming a parent is the most ordinary/extraordinary experience a human can have. It’s been done a gajillion times over, all over the world by bazillions of people, but each and every occurrence is unique. Certainly there can be an experiential resemblance, and those experiences can connect us, but overall the transition to becoming a parent can be a pretty insular and confidence-challenging experience.
Confidence is a fickle friend in our estimation. After having had the “confidence” talk with countless parents over the last ten years, we’ve gathered some non-official data on the confidence conundrum.
When do people most often have confidence? When they know what they’re doing, they have previous success with the relevant subject matter that they can rely on, and the overall experience of “feeling like they know” gives them enough momentum—enough confidence—that they trust they can move forward boldly.
When do people feel short on confidence? When they don’t have prior relevant experience. “I’ve never traveled abroad!…I’ve never held a baby!…I’ve never done sales before!….I’ve never performed in front of an audience!” Once they realize they lack experience, confidence packs up its bag, puts on a protective helmet and flees the scene. People lack trust in their ability to adapt, learn on the fly, and improvisationally problem solve and collaborate. They think they have to know it all before they arrive.
So, what makes confidence act all wacky and worried? FEELINGS. (Oh, the journeys our feelings take us on!) Our findings have revealed that a person’s level of confidence is most often based on how they feel at any given moment. Eeek! We don’t know about you, but our feelings are like shifting weather patterns that can just as easily blow through like a tornado or sparkle like light sun showers.
One minute you feel like a million bucks, the next like you’re scrimping for change to close a deal at the dollar store.
Don’t get us wrong, in the land of LUMO, we love our feelings, and we really enjoy unpacking ‘em. We’ve just mastered the art of having our feelings without letting them HAVE US. (Most of the time, at least.)
Because feelings are famously fickle, it’s ill-advised to use them as a confidence barometer.
We are NOT our feelings.
Our feelings don’t predict our success or future. Unless we let them!
As we discussed previously in our post about overwhelm, feelings are dashboard lights that remind us of our needs. Observing our feelings as a request allows us to enhance our well-being, which aids in stabilizing our…
Handing the wheel over to our feelings can be dangerous and scary—for you and others—which is why taking great care of yourself, shoring up well-being, translating the messages of your feelings into self-care, and trusting yourself to live in the present moment and know where you’re going (even without knowing every inch of the upcoming roadway) sets you up with confidence.
But there’s one truly essential ingredient that bolsters confidence and trust:
Once we help our clients discern what their highest commitments are at home, at work, and here on this earth, they have a reliable personal compass to guide them. And while recalibrating the compass is necessary from time to time, by and large true commitments don’t change a whole lot. It’s staying connected to them that takes the most care.
How do we know a commitment when we see one?
Your commitments live in your actions, thoughts and intentions. Commitments are based in our values and our deeply held beliefs as human beings. They represent how we wish to be in the world in thought, word, and deed; they represent what (and who) matters most to us. Our commitments steer us toward what we most want to experience in this life, if we are able to discern them and, well… commit to them.
Unlike the weather of our emotions, commitments are pretty solid and don’t change when we have a bad day. Sure, we may lose sight of them when we veer off our path or take a distracted detour but, by and large, they are consistent.
When our expecting and new parent clients bring the confidence question—“How can I be more confident?”—we ask them what they are committed to. Operating from our commitments is a game that can be mastered with awareness, intention and consistency, unlike playing the arbitrary feelings lottery.
So, as you look at your own life, ask yourself:
What are you committed to?
As a human? As a parent? As a working professional? As a family member, or member of your community? What matters most to you? As you tease out those commitments, get curious. What percentage of your life are you living into those values and commitments? Based exclusively on your actions and behaviors, do you think the people who matter most in your life can glean what your commitments are? The more you can focus on your commitments, the more your confidence will grow.
Now, does that mean that being a new parent is going to be a 24/7 easy breezy cakewalk once you have those commitments pinned down?
Hahahahaha. No. But you knew that already.
Your commitments are going to remind you of your “what for”—a happy, healthy, well-loved child, a connected and supportive family—and help you continue forward, through the pitfalls and meltdowns, into the ever-evolving adventure of parenthood.
You’ve got this. Have confidence in that.