Why Is It So Hard for Women to Embody Confidence?
There is a major difference between being a person who has confidence and a person who can embody confidence.
It’s the difference between having a quality and being/personifying that quality. In other words, it’s the difference between having a lion and being a lion. And when you learn the secret to embodying confidence you can do what Shirley Chisholm recommends, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”
What does it mean to embody confidence?
If you’re new to embodiment, it’s a practice of becoming fully aware of how you feel as your body and mind talks to each other, discerning why you feel the way you do, and mindfully choosing how you want to respond to those feelings in a healthy and resourceful way, as you maintain internal harmony.
Your body is the instrument that interacts with the world and creates sensations that your mind interprets. Over time, experiences become memories or shortcuts that your brain uses to guide your present interactions. The body and mind are inseparable. To be confident, to embody confidence, you form a strong bond of trust between your body and mind. You know your own power. You avoid the trap that Alice Walker warns against, “The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any.”
Your awareness of your inner state at any given moment, gives you the tools to manage it skillfully, so you’re better equipped to walk into situations with confidence. You don’t need to know all the answers, because you have the flexibility to adapt as things change, which makes you more relaxed and calm.
Notice how the experience of one of my clients illustrates that healing her disconnect between body and mind helped her not just have confidence, but embody confidence.
Meagan (not her real name) is a beautiful businesswoman with everything going for her. She knows how to dress for success. Her presence is impeccable…she’s that person who never has a hair out of place and always seems to be in control. People look at her and want to live her life. She has it all — career, family, respect, possessions. She is definitely a person who oozed confidence, but…
As her coach, I quickly saw that it was a façade she put on everyday. It wasn’t how she felt about herself. She saw herself through a very different lens. The irony of it was that she had been faking it for so long she didn’t realize that she had made it years ago! So I helped her to face it, not fake it. Long story short, as she understood why she had destructive feelings, she was able to become comfortable in her own skin.
How can a person, women especially, be so confident outwardly and yet not embody confidence?
It’s so important to understand our own embodied experience. Our body is built through a lifetime of experiences. Whether through positive or negative experiences, we embody our sense of self, others and the world around us, from how we are raised and how we make sense of that experience. These experiences create muscle and tissues that hold these memories in place.
If we’re trying to work around these internalized experiences, rather than with them, we create a disconnect within ourselves that needs to be healed. Studies show that women are genetically predisposed to do this.
For example, Louann Brizendine, MD, a neuropsychiatrist at the University of California, San Francisco, reveals in her book, The Female Brain,
“It turns out there’s an area of your brain — the anterior cingulate cortex is actually larger and more influential in women — that’s assigned the task of negative thinking.” “It’s judgmental. It says ‘I’m too fat’ or ‘I’m too old.’ It’s a barometer of every social interaction you have. It goes on red alert when the feedback you’re getting from other people isn’t going well.”
Plus, estrogen and progesterone washes through the brain monthly making a woman more sensitive to emotional nuance, such as disapproval or rejection. The way you interpret feedback from other people is influenced by where you are in your cycle. “Some days the feedback will reinforce your self-confidence, and other days it will destroy you.”
For a comprehensive list of studies, read the article by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman who have spent years researching the confidence gap between men and women.
Your Body Tells Your Story …
Throughout our lives, our bodies adapt to our environment. We adjust to fit in, to belong and to survive. Different parts of our bodies—often our backs, necks, and stomachs—may hold unresolved emotions from our past. This may be experienced as tightness, pain or even a disconnection with our bodies and our spirit.
Rather than numbing yourself to uncomfortable circumstances and powering through them, you can mindfully choose to respond in a way that leaves you feeling whole and at peace.
Embodiment means there’s harmony between your intellectual thoughts, emotional state and your body organization. And you only achieve this harmony through practice. For example, when you learn to model confidence behavior, you’ll feel confident. And as you repeatedly practice it, you will become confident. You will have learned this new skill so well you embody it in all you do. It will come to you easily.
As a Somatic Coach, I help you access a deeper understanding of self, as you develop greater intuition, vitality, and personal power. Ultimately, a new way of inhabiting your body and relating to the world is revealed. Sounds good? Then I invite you to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with me, so we can get acquainted.
Photo by Drop the Label Movement