Have you ever felt absolutely fantastic in the morning, only to have your enthusiasm about yourself crushed by a wrong look or facial expression from a coworker?
I once felt extremely confident in my new outfit, and stepped into work with a spring in my step. When I greeted a coworker to ask about her weekend, her whole response was distracted, as her eyes danced over my outfit. A pit formed in my stomach, as my mind scrambled frantically for a reason to her actions.
Am I wearing the wrong color? Is my shirt cut too low? I wondered, mentally checking myself out. After our conversation, I scurried into the bathroom only to discover nothing wrong with the figure reflected in the mirror. What was so fascinating or offensive to her?
The truth is, you have no control over what people think, and frankly, you have no idea what they’re thinking anyway!
One thing I had to learn was not to allow the way I perceive other people’s reactions to interfere with my own reality. My coworker could have just been admiring my new outfit, or trying to decide if forest green was her color, too.
My overactive imagination created thoughts for her, and my confidence took a blow for the day. Because this was an all too common scenario for me, I learned a few tricks to keeping my self-confidence from being crushed by a word or glance.
Here are 4 quick questions to ask yourself before you make up stories for the looks people are giving you.
1 – Who is doing the offending look?
Some people just aren’t happy with themselves! Think about who is making you self-conscious or trying to ruin your enthusiasm; if this person is typically a “Negative-Nancy,” then you should shrug them off and carry on.
2 – Why do I feel the way I do?
Always ask yourself this when you feel your confidence dropping. I know my self-confidence suffers when I feel uncomfortable in my own skin. This is something that manifested itself when I danced in a ballet company, where looks are everything. I always force myself to remember: there are no Sugar Plum Fairies in the banking world, and my appearance has no impact on how well I do my job.
3 – Does this person’s opinion really affect my day?
Chances are the person that sparked the negative thoughts about yourself doesn’t actually have any impact on your day. Unless you’re getting a disapproving look from your boss because your outfit blatantly violates dress code, there’s no reason to let someone else’s facial expressions dictate your day.
4 – Reflect on why you felt positive in the first place.
Have you been working out lately and feel buff? Did you recently buy a new outfit that you feel flatters your figure? Or maybe it’s a mental victory that’s boosting your self-confidence, like feeling empowered because you solved a difficult problem, or excited about achieving a goal.
Remember: only you can control how you feel. So shake off the negative glances, recall why you felt good in the first place, and create your own great day.
Alexandra is the creator of Real Simple Finances, a personal finance blog for real people. Alexandra will be receiving her Master of Arts in English this December, after which she hopes to become a professor and instill good grammar and a love for Virginia Woolf in all her students. Alexandra can be found on Twitter @RSFAlexandra.