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Have you ever been called, “too much?”

How about, “too quiet,” or “too sensitive?”

Those judgements from others about how we should be can erode our confidence.

Especially when they come from people we love and admire.

Still, it can be hard to remember that in the moment, or when those words begin to fill you with self-doubt.

By knowing and owning who you are, you can begin to build confidence in yourself that withstands hurtful criticism from others.

Because when you stand strong in who you are, no one can take that away from you.

Here’s how to have confidence in who you are:

Identify your core values

Core values are the fundamental beliefs you have about your life.

They guide your behaviors, decisions, and actions. They bring about a sense of purpose and self-worth. They remind you what’s important to you and what you want more of in your life.

When you know what’s important to you, you can live in alignment with those values. This leads to greater fulfillment, clarity and self-awareness.

This self-awareness allows you to build confidence in who you are. In this world of comparison, it’s so easy to look at other people’s lives and want to be like them. Or, if you’re in an organization where you feel out of place, it can be tempting to try to act like the other leaders just to fit in.

Here’s the truth: you were never meant to be like anyone else.

There is only one you. There will only ever be this one you. No one else will ever come close to the unique experiences, strengths, values, skills, and gifts that you possess.

Why give all that up to be like someone you’re not?

Your core values help you stay true to who you are and how you’re meant to show up in the world. Acting like someone you’re not is robbing the world of your brilliance and generosity and caring and compassion.

To identify your core values, start by thinking about the times you were the most happy, proud, or fulfilled: what were you doing? What contributed to these feelings? You can also start with this list of common core values for inspiration.

You can also think about times or situations in your life that create conflict. If you’re working more than 50 hours each week and you feel frustrated or wish you could spend more time with your family, maybe your values are family or work-life balance. If your boss is a micromanager who constantly looks over your shoulder and pushes you on deadlines, and you feel trapped or discouraged, maybe one of your values is autonomy or independence.

Start to make a list of the values you identify from these stories and this list of common core values. Write down everything that comes to mind.

Once you have a good list, see if you can combine any of the values on your list to start narrowing down to your top 5. For example, if you value philanthropy, generosity, kindness, and community service, you could combine those into a single “giving back” or “serving others” value.

Why 5? Well, if everything’s important, nothing is important. Keeping your list to five core values allows you to easily weigh options, make decisions, and align your actions with your purpose.

When you have the five values that feel the most aligned or resonate most with you, write them at the top of a fresh page in your journal.

Once you’ve written down your top values, it’s time to define them. Sure, you could google the definition or look it up in a dictionary, but defining your values in your own words is a powerful way to connect deeply to what’s most important to you.

For example, one of my values is Courage. The dictionary definition of Courage is: “the ability to do something that frightens one.”

And my personal definition of Courage is (from my Core Values Statement):

“Courage is about taking action, even when it’s scary, even when it’s unpopular, even if everyone else will think I’m crazy. It’s acting anyway, despite my own fears and insecurity, in service of others. Acting in the face of self-doubt, uncertainty, and hesitation. Courage is about making a statement with my action, leading with my heart, and showing up in fierce alignment with my purpose. It’s about being strong enough in my inner wisdom that I can tell my brain, “no thank you,” when it invites me to stop. Courage keeps me aligned and focused on my path and purpose.”

Which version sounds more meaningful? Which one sounds more personal?

Creating your own definition makes each of your values more real to you. Even if others have the same value as you, it’s unlikely that they’ll define their value in the same way you’d define yours.

Defining your core values also helps you remember what each of your values means to you. Sometimes, we have the tendency to take our values for granted.

But writing down your own definition helps to solidify each value’s meaning in your life and reminds you to align back to your values when you want to better understand who you are.

Matthew 9:20-22

He sees you...and you matter.

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