Our fitness editor considers challenging questions around confidence and power.
“What makes you feel confident?”
If my face were a real-life emoji, this question would’ve transformed my eyes into bulging question marks and my mouth into a perfect “o” shape. Me? Confident? Luckily, the query was delivered via email and my questioner, resiliency expert, and author Jenny Evans, BS, CPT, CFT, couldn’t see the initial confusion cross my face.
Jenny emailed me late last summer asking me to participate in “a video interview series of women I think are confident and powerful.” We’d become recently acquainted through a mutual friend, writer (and EL’s November 2016 cover model) Nora McInerny Purmort, and instantly connected. Over the course of a work meeting that rolled into a friendly dinner, Jenny confided in me that after years of focusing on resilience — during which time she authored a book on the subject, The Resiliency rEvolution: Your Stress Solution for Life, 60 Seconds at a Time — she’d become increasingly inspired by questions of confidence and power, especially among women. Women would often ask her about the confidence she exudes, looking for tips and tricks to build up their own. As she examined her own views on the subject, it occurred to her to reach out to other women she considered confident and powerful for their takes.
“Of course you immediately came to mind,” she wrote to me.
I blushed, flattered and confused, and immediately responded “YES! Whatever you have in mind, count me in!” Never mind that “confident and powerful” were not words I’d ever used to describe myself. Not because I didn’t think I was those things — they just weren’t part of my personal lexicon of self-descriptors.
Jenny promptly sent me the questions she imagined would guide the to-be-recorded conversation. They were interesting for me to consider and sit with, and they engendered ideas that keep bubbling to the surface for me now, five months later.
Here are Jenny’s thoughtful questions, along with the answers I journaled back in August. If you’d like to answer them and share your thoughts with me, I’d love to hear them!
Jenny Evans | What makes you feel confident?
Maggie Fazeli Fard | For me, right now, feeling confident is akin to feeling grounded — physically, mentally, emotionally. It’s having trust in what I know I can do, and faith that I can handle the things I don’t. This is a real shift for me. Before, confidence was something to exude to the world, a means to an end. As a result, I put a lot of energy into how I presented myself outwardly. Now, confident is less something external and visible and more of a feeling, something inwardly focused. That confident feeling is centered and calm, even in hectic situations; in other words, when I feel “confident” I don’t feel flustered or insecure. I guess before, confidence was a mask I wore to hide my insecurities, fears, and feelings of not being in control. Now I feel confident when my insecurities and fears and lack of control aren’t dictating my actions. All those feelings are still there, but they’re just along for the ride — they lose their navigational powers when I’m feeling confident.
JE | How would you describe your personal power and confidence?
MF | Power is such a fascinating concept! People usually define it using other concepts, like strength, control, influence, confidence. That doesn’t really resonate for me, though. Those ideas almost set power outside of me, and as you could probably tell from my description of confidence, I’m in a very inwardly focused phase of life right now. So, I guess for me, “power” is my fuel source. Energy is an aspect of “power” we don’t often think of. But in physics that’s what it describes — a source or means of supplying energy. That definition places my power expressly in my hands.
JE | What do you do on a daily basis that builds your confidence and power? (Habits, routines, rituals, etc.)
MF | If we look at my somewhat nebulous working definitions of confidence and power — power being my internal energy source and confidence being the expression of this energy — I guess it makes sense to answer this by talking about things that fuel me. Focusing on self-care is really crucial. For me this includes a daily movement practice, a balance of solo time and social connections, writing every day, doing work that I’m passionate about (and making sure a portion of that work is unpaid or volunteer), eating a vegetable at every meal, getting enough sleep, calling my mom on a regular basis, cuddling with my cats, hugging people I love for slightly longer than feels comfortable (ha!), and trying something new. Honestly, even really simple, basic acts like brushing my teeth — and focusing on the act of brushing — make me feel more confident and powerful because, for those two minutes, my attention comes back to me.
JE | What takes away your confidence and power? What do you do when this happens?
MF | Slacking on the things I mentioned above robs me of my power, which in turn affects my confidence. Coming back to any one of those things helps restore it. When I’m feeling particularly bad, my “quick turnaround trifecta” is: 1) Do something hard that makes me sweat. 2) Eat a salad. 3) Share a long hug.