Welcome back! The first habit to self-confidence is being proactive. What is being proactive? Easily summed up, it’s taking responsibility over our choices and controlling the way we respond to our circumstances.
I love the equation E + R = O, or Event + Response = Outcome. Outcomes are not directly linked to the event. In reality, no even is good or bad, it’s our response, our attitude, that changes the outcome for us. Cool, right?
Until you acknowledge that you are in charge of your own life, you will not start making the choices that can help you be a more self-confident and effective version of yourself. We need to change the belief that what happens around us makes us the way we are.
You don’t have to respond in anger to everything. The abnormal teenage mood swings we all get will definitely tell you to cry, scream, and kick a wall anytime something terrible happens. But, the healthier (not to mention safer) alternative is to let go and move on.
Reacting is making choices based on impulse. Immediately going for the fight or flight response to try and fix situations. Losing control may seem like the easy way out, but it harms you, others, and your confidence.
Being proactive is thinking before you act. Recognizing that though we can’t control every situation, we can have self-control and manage what we do and say.
Speaking about what we say, our regular everyday conversation can be proactive and reactive, it’s not just about when things go wrong. Here is a short (but accurate) list of reactive and proactive language examples.
- I’ll try
- That’s just the way I am
- There’s nothing I can do
- I have to
- I can’t
- You ruined my day
- That’s just the way I am
- If only I ___, then I’d be happy
- If ____, things would be different
- I’ll do it/I’ll do my best
- I can do better than that
- Let’s look at all our options
- I choose to
- There’s always a way
- I’m not going to let your bad mood rub off on me
Any of these sound familiar? By recognizing how you respond, you can alter your language so it’s more positive, and your language also affects the way you act.
Some more differences between reactive and proactive people are listed below:
- are easily offended
- blame others
- get angry and say things they later regret
- whine and complain
- wait for things to happen to them
- change only when they have to
- are not easily offended
- take responsibility
- think before they act
- bounce back when something bad happens
- always find a way to make it happen
- focus on things they can do something about
It’s not always going to be easy peasy lemon squeezy to take control of your choices and choose not to lash out. To promise you that would be like saying pigs can fly. When I get angry or frustrated, I literally feel like punching a wall or I feel like sobbing. If I always chose to react, let me just say our house would be flooded, and there would be no walls left.
But, since I choose to be proactive (most of the time), our house is dry, and all the walls remain intact. Even better, I have more confidence in myself and it helps me feel better. I love this poem by Portia Nelson from “There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk”. It beautifully illustrates how we can be proactive in even the most hopeless and depressing situations.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in, I am lost… I am helpless. It isn’t my fault, it takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it; I fall in again, I can’t believe I am in the same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there, I still fall in. It’s a habit. My eyes are open. I know where I am. It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
We can also take responsibility, and when we realize that we have habits that are not helping us, we can avoid making the same unhealthy mistakes over and over again. We can succeed.
I also wanted to share about 4 tools we have that allow us to make our own choices: self-awareness, conscience, imagination, and willpower. These power tools are what make us different from animals, they help us think about our choices and consequences.
When we use these four tools together, we can help ourselves become more proactive and it’ll help us come up with solutions to our problems.
So, as you can see, the choices we make affect our lives, and what we choose will affect our future. Acknowledging this and taking power over our choices is the key to proactivity.
Thank you for reading the 1st part of the 7 Habits of Self-Confident Teens Series. Subscribe to our blog so you never miss and update and we’ll see you next week!