Postive Aging: Tips for Rebuilding Your Self-confidence
After publishing “Becoming Who You Were Meant to Be,” I received a response from a woman who said, “Being unemployed has had an enormous effect on me. Now I find myself in a very similar position that you were in while you were a high school student. While you grew stronger and more self-confident, I find myself losing all the confidence I ever possessed. I am in a position I never expected to be in. I don’t like it and I don’t know how to become myself again…I wonder which is more difficult—to be an insecure teenager or an insecure [woman over 50].” My slightly edited reply to the woman follows:
“Which is more difficult? They’re both hard, but in their own ways. I’ve often talked with groups (in my role as Coordinator of an Employee Assistance Program) about the value of a job. It means so much more than a paycheck, as you well know. It provides relationships, status, security, a sense of self. And a paycheck certainly makes you feel like you’re helping support the family unit. It ALL matters.
Some ideas to consider:
1) Consider reading Flourish by Martin E.P. Seligman, PhD. He wrote Authentic Happiness in 2002 which was a tremendous resource for me when I was writing Second Blooming for Women. Flourish updates and adds to his concepts. He has great self-assessments online – free – which you can take. I especially recommend the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. Go to www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu to find several assessments which are fun, revealing, and helpful.
2) Another good book is Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0. It has a code inside which you can use to ID your talents/strengths.
3) Exercise as much as you can. Not only does it strengthen your body, it’s a natural anti-depressant.
4) If you belong to a church, your minister may be able to recommend a good retreat. (They’re not all created equal, so be picky.)
5) Betsy Smith and I wrote Second Blooming for Women: Growing a Life That Matters after Fifty for women in transition – whether by death, divorce, job loss, or just a desire to live fully. We coach you step by step into self-reflection and self-discovery. You’ll have a complete picture of yourself and a sense of direction/purpose if you DO the book. (It’s not made for bedtime reading!) It’s available at any bookstore, online, or from www.secondbloomingforwomen.com
6) Keep a gratitude journal. This is hard when you’re feeling insignificant and lost, but every night before you go to sleep, write down three things for which you were grateful during the day. You may have to look under the bed with a flashlight to find something on some days! Be persistent. No matter how small, write down 3 things. It’s been proven this WILL work on your behalf.
7) Volunteer at something that catches your interest/passion. A woman who was laid off from her marketing job for the Girl Scout Council when two councils merged volunteered to help Betsy and me market our book. Because she did such a good job and I got to see her specific skills, I was able to connect her with a job opening, write her a great letter of reference, and she got the job! Down side: we lost her help.
8) Make a list of all the things you have accomplished in life, including education, family, jobs, volunteer work, etc. Review the list daily, adding to it as you recall positive efforts.
I don’t know what, if anything, you’ll choose to do, but I do wish you well. Given your many successes, I can’t help but feel this down time is a “blip” in your life, a time for reflection and renewal. You have much to offer. I do care about you and what happens, so please keep in touch.”
I haven’t heard from the woman yet, but I still think of her and expect she’s on the path to regaining her confidence. Please let me know what you do to keeps yours up, too, so we can share with each other.