Unleashing your inner confident toddler
I spent a lot of time with my granddaughter this week and loved watching her get lost in activities. Whether she was dancing, playing or admiring herself in the mirror, she never once worried about what anyone else thought of her. She did everything with such confidence and enjoyed every moment. She didn’t dwell on the fact that she tripped and fell in the middle of her dance. She had a little moan but then got up and started dancing again, with as much enjoyment and confidence as the first time. The fall was in the past and there was no point mulling over it.
And then I thought about the pre-teen stuff my daughter is dealing with. I know and everyone else knows that she’s a brilliant dancer. I know and everyone else knows that she’s a pretty girl with a cute body. But she refuses to believe it. She’s struggling with her own ideas of perfectionism and nothing she does comes close to them. If she trips during a ballet performance, she will beat herself up over it for days. Even though she knew that she couldn’t change what happened. Her confidence takes a major knock and it takes everything in her to get up and keep dancing.
If only we could make it through life with the confidence of a toddler. If only we could honestly believe that we were shit hot all the time. But as we journey through life, little by little, bit by bit, our confidence is chipped away at – by society, by peer pressure, by our family and friends – exposing a rough, unpolished surface that we don’t want anyone to see.
Think for a moment, what is the one thing you enjoy doing so much that you don’t care if anyone else sees you doing it?
For me, it’s Pilates. Whether on the reformer, on the mat or just doing deep breathing exercises, when I’m practising Pilates, I immediately feel more confident in myself. I get a self-esteem boost, it gives me more self control and helps me tackle life with a renewed energy and focus. It’s no wonder that I do my best work after a Pilates session!
I try to keep this theme of renewal and starting over and not dwelling on the past in all my Pilates classes – whether my own or for my clients. It’s not always easy, especially if I’m having a bad day. That’s when it’s easy to choose the simple exercises because I’m tired or unmotivated. But if I shake off the day, quieten my mind and remind myself why I’m doing this, what my goals are and what my clients’ goals are, and let that inform my lesson, then sometimes I even surprise myself with what I come up with.
I firmly believe that you cannot focus on your family or work or anything else unless you have a healthy body and mind. And you cannot have a healthy body and mind if you’re dwelling on the past and things you can’t change. What you can change is your here and now. You can block time out in your diary to focus on you and no-one else. Make it a habit. A daily habit. Do something every day that you love and that gives you a confidence boost, regardless of what happened that day.
Yes, it’s hard. But you have to force yourself. You don’t need to be a martyr but when you do something every day for you, it becomes a habit, it becomes part of who you are and amazing things start to happen. You’ll start to love yourself and, best of all, you’ll rediscover the joy and confidence you once had as a child. We can all admire ourselves in the mirror and dance with abandon. We’ve just forgotten how.