"Calm self-confidence is as far from conceit as the desire to earn a decent living is remote from greed." ~Channing Pollock
How is a high level of self-esteem or self-confidence different from plain old arrogance?
Submitted by a Reader:
I was a shy and insecure kid and teenager, but the older I get, the more self-confidence I have. It didn't come easy, though. I worked hard to get here and I work hard to stay here.
I work out and eat right, and I have a job I really love. I'm in a good relationship and I'm thinking of getting married and starting a family in the near future.
After years of feeling like I just wasn't good enough, I feel great about myself finally, and I'm not afraid to let my confidence shine through. This is working great for me and I am mostly real happy with life.
So mostly I'm super happy these days.
But here's the problem. My mom and my sister seem to think I've become "really full of myself." They are always making snide comments about how I need to be humble and how I shouldn't "brag:" so much. I don't brag, I just tell them the good things that are happening in my life. I am trying to stay positive, like you suggest, because I want my life to keep getting better.
But these two are always saying I have to "face my issues," which I have done already. I just don't want to focus on them. They are just sooo negative and I don't know how to make them stop acting that way.
What can I do to change the way they treat me? Or do you think I am the one in the wrong here?
First, let me congratulate you on your emerging self-confidence! I know how hard it can be to overcome insecurity, and I applaud you for taking charge and making positive changes in your life.
Now, as far as your mom and your sister go, the first thing you need to recognize is that, most likely, the reason they can't be happy for you and your new-found confidence is that they, themselves, are insecure for some reason. Your success most likely makes them more aware of their own failures or insecurities.
It's also important to know that it's not your responsibility to help them feel better about themselves. You can definitely offer support and compliments whenever possible, but unless they have the desire to make positive changes within themselves, your input will only go so far.
So, my suggestion to you is to focus on your own perceptions, both of them and of yourself. Continue to work on feeling good about yourself and your life, and don't allow anyone else to define you. You get to decide who you are, and you do not have to accept negative perceptions from anyone else.
As I told another reader who was struggling with feelings of unworthiness, your mother and sister aren't alone--approximately 85 percent of all people have felt like they weren't good enough at one time or another. It's a common and unfortunate phenomenon in our society, one that you dealt with yourself in the past.
Rather than let their feelings of inferiority affect you, try just acknowledging them and moving forward. So, the next time you hear a snide remark about yourself, just let it pass. You don't need to defend yourself--this only adds fuel to their unhappy fire. Instead, just focus on something that makes you feel good.
It can be really tough to handle negativity from the people you love, especially when you're on such a positive track yourself. It's human nature to want to share your joy with the people around you, and it can be disheartening when they're not willing to be happy for you.
Just remember that no one else can define you. Not only do you get to do that yourself, but you don't have to accept anyone else's definition either.
As writer Peter Murphy says, “Just because someone is concerned for your welfare does not mean that their advice or input has value."
You can also change your expectations. Remember that we get what we expect--so if you expect your mother and sister to be negative, they're sure to give it to you. Try changing the way you feel about them. While you can't directly change another person, you can focus on the good things about them as much as possible, and you might notice a positive change in them too.
In the end, try to stop worrying so much about what other people think and focus instead on how you feel. That's when you'll truly find peace.
So, how about you? How do you handle negativity from the people you love? What advice would you give this reader? Share your thoughts, ideas and experiences in the comments - let's discuss.