Confidence: It’s an Ongoing Process

This week I had a conversation with my longtime friend Diane von Furstenberg (in front of 600 other new friends who’d come to the Skirball to hear us). We were there because Diane released a new book, The Woman I wanted to Be, which takes a look back at her very interesting life — even though she’s at the top of her game and still living it.

During our talk I asked Diane about a claim she makes in the book: that she can sell confidence. I didn’t know if that was something I could subscribe to. Can you actually BUY confidence? She maintained that you could — saying her iconic wrap dress can make a woman feel instantly more confident on the inside just by feeling better about the way she looked on the outside.

[Read all of Maria Shriver’s ‘I’ve Been Thinking’ Essays]

“Everything is confidence,” she said. “Whether it’s for work, whether it’s your private life, whether it’s how you raise your children, everything, everything is about confidence.”

I agree. Self esteem is of huge importance in our lives. And so many of us are lacking it.

Even Diane. The next thing out of her mouth was this: “But that doesn’t mean you sometimes don’t feel like a loser. I felt like a loser half an hour ago in the car. It’s an ongoing process. But the biggest advice I can tell anyone is that the most important relationship in life is the one you have with yourself.”

I have written about it before, but Diane’s comments got me thinking about sharing it again: I used to think that only grand gestures and ‘powerful’ people could be important.

[Read: The Top 5 Ways Your Life Will Grow When You Follow Your Heart]

I hear similar sentiments all the time. ‘I’m not smart enough to be able to do that.’ ‘He’ll never like me, I’m not pretty enough.’ “I’ll never be successful enough to make a difference.’

‘I am not enough.’

The truth is, there’s not a lack of ability in this world. There is a lack of CONFIDENCE in our own abilities. We are all important. We are all valuable. And we all have something to give. That’s the simple idea behind my ‘Architects of Change‘ philosophy. We can all make a difference and that starts on the inside.

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But it takes confidence to believe in yourself. It takes confidence to spend the time it takes to get to know yourself and learn to like yourself.

As women, often times we think we’re being selfish if we take time for ourselves. Instead of taking “me time” to look inside and take our own mental, emotional and physical temperatures, most of us feel like we need to be more focused on parenting, volunteering and careers while our minds, our bodies, our own wants and needs take a backseat.

Diane had a great thought on that too: “You could be a good mother, you could be a good daughter, you could work very hard, but when you go in the middle of the night and you see yourself in the mirror, make sure you can wink at yourself.”

I still don’t believe that you can BUY confidence. I think, as Diane admitted, you have to teach it to yourself. It’s an ongoing process, but it’s worth the work. And it’s not selfish work. By making yourself better, you’re making the world better.

[Read: 5 Reasons You Need to Detox and 5 Ways to Do It & Still Feel Good]

How great is it when you’re happy enough with yourself to show it? Who doesn’t love to be winked at?

I’m going to keep working on my personal self esteem, and I hope you will too. And the next time I catch my own reflection, I’ll be winking. Will you? #PassItForward

About the Author

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Maria Shriver is a mother of four, a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning journalist and producer, a six-time New York Times best-selling author, and an NBC News Special Anchor covering the shifting roles, emerging power and evolving needs of women in modern life. Since 2009, Shriver has produced a groundbreaking series of Shriver Reports that chronicle and explore seismic shifts in the American culture and society affecting women today. Shriver was California’s First Lady from 2003 to 2010 and, during that time, she spearheaded what became the nation's premier forum for women, The Women's Conference. Shriver's work is driven by her belief that all of us have the ability to be what she calls Architects of Change -- people who see a problem in their own life or the community around them, then step out of their comfort zone and do what it takes to create the solution. Like her page on Facebook or follow her on Instagram.

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