Sometimes the only way is down...

I’m in the middle of applying my own model of confidence to myself. It’s a personal situation rather than a work situation, but the model still seems to do its thing. Let me fill you in… I have a group of friends with whom I’ve been through a lot with. We know each other well and meet regularly. It used to be an in-person thing twice a year. When lockdown happened, we went online and met weekly and there were some weekend get togethers too. They’re a lovely group. They mean a hell of a lot to me. Recently though, someone did something that threatened my Sense of Belonging to the group (in self-confidence terms, this is a sub-component of the component Connectedness). It also directly opposed one of my Values (a sub-component of Authenticity). The rest of the group didn’t seem to notice this thing which left me feeling unsupported (Support is another sub-component of Connectedness).

I found myself spiralling down. I can tell you quite clearly what happened. At first, I was quite shocked that this person did this thing. I’m convinced that there was absolutely no ill-intent, quite the opposite. I believe they had wonderful intentions at heart, but there was an unintended impact on me. Then I was angry. Really angry at the situation and impact it’s had on me. Angry to the extent where I felt myself losing my patience with my loved ones who are nothing to do with it. Without doubt I have been in turmoil about it, not knowing which way to go “Should I say something and risk hurting this person who meant well?”, “What if this…”, “What if that…” I also doubted myself. “Am I over-reacting?”, “Shouldn’t I be a big brave Anna and just be OK with this?”. The reality is that this thing triggered some old and not-so-old stuff for me. I had to accept how I felt.

Some of these questions are still ringing round my head, and whilst it remains unresolved for me, I’m in a state of withdrawal. I haven’t contributed to the regular chatty WhatsApp group since this thing happened. I can’t bring myself to be on there, pretending like I haven’t been hurt. That would be so inauthentic, especially for this group where we pride ourselves on showing up exactly as we are. I also don’t want to join back in by having a two-year-old style tantrum shouting “What about me? Don’t you care about me?”

So, I’m pausing whilst I make sense of the whole situation, how I feel about it and where to go next with it. I’m waiting for a shift. I’ve also taken some pro-active action to help move towards a shift. I have drawn on some support to help with that missing sub-component. To help us shift out of the downward spiral and back to a place of levelled confidence, we need to reinstall the missing or broken sub-component(s) that caused the loss of confidence in the first place.

As I haven’t fully shifted out of my downward spiral, I know there’s more work to be done. Interestingly it hasn’t impacted my confidence more broadly. I can see this thing for what it is and am holding it lightly. A shift will come and it is my job to give that the space and time it needs. I am not pushing away my downward spiral experiences, and I’m maintaining an enhancing mindset. Already I am learning something valuable from this experience and have no doubt there’s more learning to come as I work my way through the spiral.

Being able to have awareness of this process as a thing in its own right, and not over-identifying with it, I’m able to maintain more solid ground in the rest of my life. I’m avoiding letting this one incident define who I am, to define my confidence. To do this I’m using tools of mindfulness, self-compassion, focusing, writing and good old chatting!

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