Welcome to another episode of the Think and Grow Chick Podcast. It’s your girl, Courtney Sanders, here. Today, I want to talk to you about one of my favorite words in the entire world. If you’ve been following me for a while and have been around probably for about two years or more, you already know what this word is. If you’re just savvy and checked out the title, then you probably know what this word is. This word is self-possession.
I have just been thinking about this a lot, especially as a new mom. I’m just really revisiting what it means to be a self-possessed woman, why it’s so important, how to cultivate that now, not just in your personal life or in your family life, but in your career and in your business.
First, let’s talk about self-possession. What is self-possession? The dictionary definition for this is the state or feeling of being calm, confident, and in control of one’s feelings, composure. Some synonyms for it are self-assurance, self-control, self-command, self-confidence, self-contained. I just really love self-possession. I just love this word.
Where did I even come up with this? What? Who says self-possession? It’s not really a popular word, but I came across it maybe 10 years ago when I was in school. I first discovered this word when I was reading one of those” French women are amazing and American women are terrible” books. I know some people hate those books. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a Francophile, but I just love those books. They’re like my guilty pleasure.
One of the first ones that I came across was called “Entre Nous” and it was about life in Paris and the difference between Parisian fashion and American fashion. The author talked about what she noticed about French women and how they seem different from Americans is how they have this air of self-possession about them.
After googling it and talking to my mom about it, I just loved it. I felt like it was something that every woman should strive to be, strive to cultivate in herself, not just self-confidence, but self-possession. Self-possession is so much more than self-confidence because you can be really confident, but you can be confident because of external things. I see a lot of women who are only confident if they are wearing certain clothes or they’re only confident if they’re a certain size.
So many of us strive for self-confidence, but we never ask ourselves, “Where is our confidence coming from?” If your confidence is coming from external things, that’s not real confidence because as soon as any of those things are taken away from you, then who are you? Your self-confidence is totally gone.
I really love this concept of self-possession. I think every woman should cultivate it because it means not just confidence from within, but confidence because of within. You are confident because of just simply who you are. It’s all internal.
I also love it because there’s a hint of rebelliousness in self-possession as well. It’s self-confidence. It’s self-assurance. It’s self-confidence from an internal place, but it’s also this sense of unbotheredness, not giving a crap what other people have to think about anything.
Now why am I back on this self-possession kick? I got reintroduced to it by reading again one of those “French women are awesome, American women are terrible” books, although I didn’t mean to this time.
Listen to the podcast to know what happened and why I am back into this self-possession kick.
For the full audio, please check out the podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.
There’s this sense of a lack of self-trust that we bring to even our most natural and instinctual processes, like giving birth. Being a mother is inherent to you. Once you are pregnant, your body will kick in. Your maternal instincts will kick in. You know what to do.
We’ve been taught for so long and really our whole culture and system is set up for us to not trust those internal instincts. We were set up to not trust that intuition, to not trust our gut, and to always be out here seeking external affirmation or external confirmation for ideas that we have or decisions that we want to make.
We do this in every area, not just in parenting. We feel like there must be some guru out there who knows better than we do and so we can’t even take any action until we’ve heard what they have to say.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t listen to mentors or seek expert advice or whatever, but I don’t think that you should be subordinating yourself to anybody because, at the end of the day, you know yourself better than anybody, you know your child better than anybody, and, guess what, you know your dreams better than anybody.
How to develop an air of self-possession
As a new mom, one of the things that I made a commitment to do is to don’t speak ill of myself in public, to another person or even out loud. Part of how you develop self-possession is finding self-confidence in who you are as you are. Not when you get to a certain weight, not when you get a certain job, not when your credit score is a certain number or any of that. It’s just confidence for the sake of confidence.
“I am confident because I’m confident. I’m confident because of who I am.”
Sometimes I undercut my own confidence in maybe the jokes I make about myself or just the statements I make out loud not even realizing that our words have so much power. As a new mom, it’s very jarring to see how your body has changed.
Breastfeeding has been awesome. I’ve lost a ton of weight. I haven’t even really worked out or anything. My clothes fit. It’s great, but that doesn’t mean things haven’t changed. That doesn’t mean I don’t have stretch marks and all kind of stuff. For the most part, I’m cool with it.
Now that I’ve gone through 36 hours of labor and emergency C-section and all that stuff, I’m just so happy my kid is here.
When we focus on being the best, we often focus on what is the way to be the best. What is the thing that we need to do? Often times, there are many ways to be your personal best. There are multiple things you need to do.
There’s not always one right way to do something or one thing that you need to do. But we get into this mind-set that there’s just one way to go about being the best all the time. And we just get really obsessed with that. We start to feel like we have to correct all of these weaknesses in order to be “the best.”
Then we start focusing on those weaknesses whether it’s from a physical standpoint or from a financial standpoint or from a business standpoint.
Focus on what makes you “You” and focus on your best qualities. When I was growing my Instagram following I focused on what I was good at. I was able to really tell a story through my Instagram with my words and with my captions. People really resonated with that and that’s what helped me grow.
Playing up with your best qualities will really help. If you follow the first tip that I just gave, which is not speaking ill of yourself, it will help you identify your best qualities because when you are speaking ill of yourself all the time, you’re focusing on those weaknesses and on things that you perceive are problems.
The sooner you can get the focus off of that so you can stop speaking ill of yourself, you will naturally start thinking more positively about yourself. Then you’ll start to recognize that you do have qualities and you will figure out ways that you can play them up.
Ignore the rules when it comes to your quest to be a more self-possessed woman. Sometimes we can get so obsessed with the systems and the processes that we don’t give ourselves the ability to really experiment, cultivate our best qualities, come up with something that’s new and unique and really explore in a new way. That could be breaking the rules in terms of fashion and style. Break the rules with business or just ignore the rules altogether.
Many of us are so use to this almost robotic process and having somebody externally tell us what we need to do that when we encounter something brand new that no one has taken advantage of before. Take for instance IGTV, it’s brand new. No one has talked about how to make the most of it yet. We are like, “What do I do?” We’re still looking for a guru even though we know it’s brand new. There is no guru. Nobody’s done it yet, but we’re still looking for that because that becomes our comfort zone.
Again, we really diminish our self-trust by not looking internally and not seeking our own gut and intuition and what feels right. We are not valuing our own ideas and even taking a chance.
Be willing to take confident action based on the information that’s available to you at the time. How many times do we get into analysis paralysis? I have this really bad comes to, and don’t laugh at me, when it comes to figuring out what to eat for dinner. My husband and I would have this conversation round and round and round.
An entire hour has gone by and neither of us has eaten and we’re no closer to figuring out what we want for dinner. Then we wait until almost every place is closed. Then we have to go to Chipotle and get the same sad chicken fajita bowl.
I’m going to practice being more decisive, not just for the sake of my diet and being able to eat food that is not Chipotle, but also to use that in order to practice better decision-making in my business and not being scared to make the wrong choice.
A lot of times we cling to the rules or formulas because we are scared to make the wrong choice. When you become more decisive and you just commit to taking action, based on the available information, you’re just deciding and just rolling with it. Sometimes you will make the wrong choice.
But guess what, it’s not the end of the world. It informs you to make better choices next time. Sometimes we make the best choices because of the wrong choices we’ve made previously. You can’t always be scared of that or always trying to shield yourself from making the wrong choice and always trying to do everything perfectly.
Being decisive really is a huge quality for a self-possessed woman because it really speaks to that confidence, that internal confidence, that self-assurance, that “unbotheredness”, that unwillingness to put your neck out there and make a decision. Being un-bothered about what other people have to say about it and putting yourself out there can be very scary, but the more you do it, the more confidence you’ll build.
These are just my musings on self-possession. Try these different tips. Really start to play up your best qualities and be more decisive and ignore the rules and everything. I challenge you to try that in order to cultivate your self-possession, not just in your personal life but in your business and career as well, and then let me know it works out for you.