I couldn’t possibly care less about getting my last ex back. We were only together for five months, but it felt like forever. Now, don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy, but I don’t want to have people in my life that don’t want to be there.
However, if I see him out and about, which is highly likely seeing as we live in the same small town and spend our time doing the same things with the same groups of people, I wouldn’t mind making him second-guess his decision to end the relationship.
You see, when we make decisions we automatically start looking for reasons that support the decision we’re leaning towards.
So, despite the fact that he knew me very well, when he started listing the reasons that we shouldn’t be together, the person he was describing wasn’t even close to being me. He had literally altered the way he saw me simply to make his decision make sense in his head.
You may have gone through something similar or maybe you lost your identity in the relationship. Maybe, like me, you just want him to realize he made a mistake and feel crappy about it.
Now, whether you want him back or you just want the satisfaction of knowing that he knows that you’re much, much better off now that he’s no longer in your life, it’s easier if you have something factual to ground this on.
The Best You
What do I mean when I say something factual?
Well, in business, the best sales person buys what they sell.
However, if you look into psychology throughout the 20th century, psychologists believed it was important to have an accurate representation of ourselves and where we stood in the world.
In 1950 Abraham Maslow wrote a paper titled “Self-Actualizing People: A Study of Psychological Health”. (You may recognize his name from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.)
In this paper he argued that the,
“Fully self-actualized human must perceive reality efficiently and accept herself, with all of her quirks and ways, no matter how much reality might deviate from her ideal vision of herself. Only then will she have reached her fullest potential as a person.”
I’ve always taken this to mean that you can’t get where you want to be if you can’t plainly and clearly see where you are currently.
Basically, what I want you to take away from all of that is that in order to make someone see you differently, especially someone who knows you very well, you’ll actually have to be different.
After going through a breakup, it is imperative to establish a period of no contact. If you’ve read any of the other articles on our site, you know that you don’t spend that time just sitting on your thumbs, so to speak.
You spend that time becoming what Chris calls the “Ungettable Girl”.
This “Ungettable Girl “is an uber-version of yourself, the best version of you that you can be.”
Which just makes me imagine those old ARMY ads.
If you’re interested in reading more about the “Ungettable Girl” you can do so here.
So, before you do anything else, I want you to take out a sheet of paper and draw a line right down the middle.
On the left, write “where I am”. On the right, write “where I want to be.”
It should look like this:
Now you’re going to fill out the two columns. I find it’s easier to start with the right column.
Fill it with your goals, aspirations, and anything you want to achieve.
These can range from “get in shape” to “get a degree”.
Try and keep them realistic.
Save the “solve world hunger” for another time.
We can’t all be Mother Teresa.
In the left column, you were going to list all of the things that you let go of while you were in your relationship. For example, when I was in my last relationship, I was so wrapped up in spending time with my ex that I stopped reading as much and my education came to a standstill.
So, I would write “not actively pursuing education” in the left column.
The reason for doing this is to give you a clear vision, and a visual representation that you can use as a reference, of where you stand and where you want to be. Knowing this will clarify how far you’ll have to go to accomplish these goals.
Feels good, right?
Now, I know moving forward with your life can seem like a daunting task. And you could very well skip this part and fake the rest if you really wanted to.
However, if your ex is a part of your life even though you aren’t together or if you plan on trying to get back together, faking the rest of these steps might prove difficult and pointless.
That’s why it’s best to go ahead and put in the time, make the changes that need to be made, and then go forward making a great second first impression.
Not to mention, your life will be better for it anyways. So, why not?!
If you ask any man what they want in a woman, they might give you a list of physical attributes, specific interests that line up with theirs, and almost always confidence.
Confidence is the key player in making a good impression, not just with your ex but with anyone.
It isn’t something that can be taught.
It can be developed though.
This is when the whole “fake it till you make it” thing that you hear all the time comes into play.
Yes, you can fake this part…for now.
Confidence is not self-esteem. However, they do go hand-in-hand. Doing the things that I lay out in the rest of this article will help you with both.
So, if you haven’t taken the time to have a period of no contact with your ex and gotten your ducks in a row before you even try to make a great second first impression, then you WILL fail.
Knowing where you stand and having a plan to achieve your goals is imperative to re-establishing your self-esteem after a blow like a break up.
Building confidence isn’t a step in this process, it’s the end goal. The journey to getting there is made up of lots of smaller steps. I say smaller and not easier, because some of them take a lot of work, but they’re worth it.
Let’s get dive in!
1. Change Your Outlook
If you know your faults, your strengths and weaknesses, and learn from them, it is much easier to keep your thoughts positive.
You can also keep a positive mind if you learn to compliment yourself and accept compliments from others.
We’ve all seen the video of the little girl getting ready for school and shouting affirmations at herself in the mirror.
No, I’m not suggesting that you assault yourself with positivity.
I’m just saying not to be so hard on yourself. Although, some people do you find that daily affirmations help change their outlook remarkably.
Now, when it comes to other people, I know it’s difficult to accept a compliment from someone without seeming arrogant these days. I actually struggled with this myself in the past.
My automatic reaction when someone will complement me would be to tell them something like this; “that nice of you to say, but…”
After I realized I did this I tried to correct my mistake. When someone complimented me I would try my best just to say “thank you.”
Believe it or not, this is much more difficult than it sounds. One of the first times I tried to do this, it was clear that I sounded completely full of myself.
Eventually, I got the hang of it. Let me show you how to do this properly.
You can also change your outlook by limiting your complaining to moments when you absolutely must.
2. Don’t Play Defense
Also try to be less defensive when people offer criticism.
Actually listen to their opinion that is offered and use it to improve who you are as a person, if possible.
Surround Yourself with Confident People
This doesn’t just mean adding people to your life. It means choosing to remove people who bring out negativity in you.
I have this friend.
And I honestly can’t tell you why we are friends aside from the fact that we’ve known each other for so long. It always seems like everything in her life is always falling apart. But this is because that is how she portrays it.
If you ask her how her day’s been, her automatic response will be to tell you every single thing that has gone wrong in the past week or two weeks and how awful her immediate future looks.
Good things happen for her and you can physically see her bracing herself for them to fall apart.
It never fails, I am probably the first person she calls anytime her negativity catches up with her. Namely, because I will listen to her whine. But then I always tell her the truth and then call her out for being so negative.
The downside to listening to her whine is that her negativity bleeds into me. I literally have to get up and go for a run to burn it all off. If
I don’t, then I will be stuck in a rut for days.
There are a lot of people in the world like this. If you allow enough of them into your life, then your outlook will become a bleak one.
Do your best to distance yourself from these people. You don’t have to remove them, just don’t spend every day surrounded by them.
And if you must spend time with them, do what I do and find a counteractive measure that will help re-center your focus.
This is an all about subtracting. You can add positive influences into your life as well.
Look at your list of goals that you made earlier. Find someone who has had success doing things that you want to do and let their confidence in that area rub off on you.
You’ve heard that old saying that you are a combination of the five people you spend the most time with. Taking this to heart, surround yourself with people who inspire you and bring out the best in you.
Meanwhile, make sure that you don’t become that negative person who brings them down. I assure you, they live by the same principle and won’t want to spend time with you if you distract them from their goals, especially with negativity.
“Confidence is contagious.” -Vince Lombardi
3. Address your Appearance
Let’s face it, after a break up we all sort of let ourselves go. We stop doing our hair or putting on makeup. We stop going to the gym as often. We suddenly don’t understand the need to wear pants or leave the house.
And these days, it seems that watching romance comedies has provided us with an excuse to drink a bottle of wine and eat an entire gallon of ice cream when we feel bad. This is not conducive to a healthy lifestyle and does not help build confidence.
Do you think Jabba the Hutt was such a jerk because he felt good about himself?
It is a well-known fact that the way we present ourselves directly correlates to the way we feel about ourselves.
4. Know Your Platforms
No, you’re not running for office here. But it is important that you know what your principles are. These are the things that you hold true to heart no matter what. They resonate in your core.
For my mother this means holding on tightly to scriptures that remind her why she’s a good person. Her favorite is the one that goes, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
She also tends to quote the golden rule a lot; “Do you want to others as you would have them do unto you.”
It doesn’t have to be a religious thing. That’s just where my mother draws her strength.
I draw my strength from the things that motivate me.
A friend of mine, who I consider one of those great positive forces, came to me and gave me a great quote from a poem about basketball, believe it or not. It was just a couple of lines that he wanted to turn into a tattoo. To this day I will never forget those words.
“In his mind ever burned; talent is given greatness is earned.”
You see my core values center around the fact that I always want to press forward in my life and stop at nothing to succeed.
Finding your core principles and the things your place value in our what power you to become the best version of yourself.
Once you to find them, be consistent and assertive with them.
No, I don’t mean go shove them in everyone’s face and demand that they match their values to yours.
This is not CrossFit.
No offense to CrossFitters. You guys are just really proud and vocal about what you do and hey, for CrossFit that kind of energy is perfect. So, go you!
But core values are unique to each person. They have to hold meaning for you in order for you to carry them into every aspect of your life.
Otherwise you’re just gardening yourself with everyone else’s values which will weigh you down. And that’s not good for your mental health and will not provide confidence.
5. Speech Pattern
Learn to speak slowly and with purpose.
I don’t care if you’re talking about cat videos on the Internet. If you speak with conviction in this manner, you will have everyone in the room believing that what is coming out of your mouth is important.
In high school I was on the UIL spelling team.
Yeah, I know, what a nerd.
When we had finished with our competitions we would go and sit in on the other competitions. One of which was diction. It was basically A bunch of kids that would get up on stage and deliver monologues.
Pretty boring, right?
But there was this one kid. I don’t remember his name. I can’t for the life of me remember what monologue he delivered. But, I do know that it quite possibly could’ve been the most boring thing they could’ve chosen for him to deliver. May as well been reading the ingredients off the back of a cereal box.
This kid though.
He delivered that monologue with such fervor, such conviction, that I would’ve followed him into the very depths of Mordor.
At the end of his speech if he had followed it up with” at dawn we ride!” I might have even bought a horse and a saddle and prepared ready for battle against all of the other cereals.
You say it’s not about what you say, it’s about how you say it. If you learn to speak slowly and clearly, without rushing through, you will convey the type of calm that only someone with true confidence can.
I get excited and I talk really fast usually. When I get excited about something the first person I call is my mother. Once I was talking so fast that she had to stop me and say,
“Ashley, you have to repeat everything you just said, because I have no idea what you were talking about. But I know you are excited, so if that’s what you wanted me to get from all that, then you don’t have to tell me anything else. But if you actually want me to know what you were talking about, then you need to slow down.”
Would you follow somebody who is that nervous in the battle?
I think not.
6. Set Benchmarks
Knock out a few of the smaller goals on your list. This not only gives you a sense of achievement, but it brings you one step closer to being the person that you want to be.
Accomplishments, even small ones, help gain momentum.
Everyone knows at least one person that just oozes confidence. Take Tony Robbins for example. He just seems to keep rolling it no matter what life throws at him. That’s the momentum I’m talking about. He has this gift where he can walk into a room of thousands of people and begin speaking and have each and every one of them eating out of his hands.
I was watching a special where they interviewed him once and they asked if he ever gets nervous before he gets up to do his seminars. The look on his face said it all. It was as if the question hadn’t even occurred to him before.
People like this, people with that level of confidence, they don’t let little things stand in their way.
So, when I say knock out the little goals, I’m not saying to do them just to knock a few out of the way.
No! You should be like a rolling stone.
Once you get started on your goals… don’t let anything slow you down.
7. Create a Habit
Let me rephrase that. Create a GOOD habit and do away with bad ones.
Let me put it this way, after my last break up, despite the fact that I wasn’t completely broken over it, I found myself hitting the snooze button three seconds after my alarm went off every single morning. I tried everything to break this habit, or so I thought.
I would plug my phone in in the other room. This meant I would have to get up and walk all the way to the kitchen to turn it off.
For some people this might work. For me, it meant I would don my blanket like I was John Snow and brave the cold AC into the kitchen to snooze the alarm, giving myself eight more minutes of blessed sleep. Then I would traipse my blanket back to my bedroom flop on the bed and enjoy the 7 1/2 minutes I had left.
What had happened to me? During those five months that I was dating the last guy I was saying I could wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning and go all day without feeling even the tiniest bit sleepy. Now, I could get a full eight hours of sleep and still need a nap by 2 o’clock.
It’s a simple explanation really. When I was in a relationship, I was motivated. When my alarm would go off, those eight minutes of extra sleep didn’t seem so inviting. I had things to get up and do, and more importantly, people (or more correctly, a person) to see.
This is why doing all of these things that I’ve laid out is important. They all kind of mesh together and support one another.
One of my favorite books I’ve read is titled, “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business.” It touches on habit modification and it’s full of interesting information.
One of my favorite stories that the author, Charles Duhigg, touches on is the story of Tony Dungy.
Tony couldn’t get a coaching job. The reason was his coaching philosophy. He was convinced that changing the player’s habits was the key to winning.
No one was buying that.
He wasn’t trying to create new habits though. He was going to change the players’ old habits. According to this book, habits are made up of a three-step loop: the cue, the routine, and the reward. Dungy’s process was to attack the routine part of this loop.
Eventually, after many interviews and rejections, he got a job coaching the Buccaneers.
Since then, his Golden Rule has become a staple in the process of changing habits. It has influenced the standard treatment for alcoholism, obesity, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and hundreds of other destructive behaviors.
The rule was this; if you use the same cue, and provide the same award, you can shift the routine and change the habit. Almost any behavior can be transformed if the cue and the reward stay the same.
The way Dungy used this to change the Bucs players’ habits was such.
Before him The coaches that had playbooks full of trick plays, misdirection, and other complicated schemes were usually the ones that would win.
Dungy’s focus was on speed. He wanted to take thinking out of the equation.
To do this he taught his players cues. To read and respond to the other team.
For example, if the opposite lineman’s toes are back, his shoulders rotated slightly inward, and a space between him and the next player is a fraction narrower than expected, The Bucs defensive end practiced on how to react to each of these cues so many times that he no longer has to take seconds that could make all the difference in a play to think.
This is the same process AA uses to help alcoholics create good routines to replace bad ones.
“In order to offer alcohol it’s the same reward they get at the bar, AAA is build a system of meetings and companionship – the “sponsor” each member works with – that strives to offer as much escape, distraction, and catharsis as a Friday night Bender.
If someone needs relief, they can get it from talking to their sponsor or attending a group gathering, rather than toasting a drinking buddy.”
I’m not suggesting anything so dramatic.
If you need to liking it to something less… intense, consider chess players facing thousands of different moves during the game. The pros have taken into consideration every possible outcome of every move that could ever be made and they prepared of response ahead time.
Watching pros play a game might take less than 5 minutes, whereas it might take me, not a pro, five minutes to decide which piece I want to move. They have programmed themselves to act swiftly and confidently which makes them insanely efficient.
That being said, pick something simple, like waking up half an hour earlier each day. Set your alarm, and put a Post-it note with a note to yourself over the screen of your phone that will remind you not to hit snooze.
Or the iPhone offers you the option to turn off the news feature. I found this most helpful. Knowing that if I go back to sleep I might miss a deadline or an appointment with all the push I needed to get my butt out of bed.
I used to work out with the trainer who used to tell me that if I missed a day and it felt unnatural that is when I knew I created a habit.
You could lump this in with creating a habit and make being more active something habitual. I know I talk about staying active a lot, but that’s because it is incredibly important after a breakup, or anytime really.
Being active helps your body produce dopamine, which can feel positive energy that will help you find a sense of normalcy. It also lends to you being healthier and feeling better about your appearance, the importance of which we’ve already discussed.
There is a reason I walked you through all of these steps one by one.
By doing everything I’ve laid out here, you’re not just preparing to face your ex. You’re becoming a better and stronger version of yourself.
In order to become efficient anything, you need to practice.
How many drills do you think coach Dungy made the Buccaneers do before they ever stepped foot onto an active playing field?
How many games do you think pro chess players had to play before they could make it those half second choices that get them to checkmate in less than five minutes?
My guess is thousands.
But how do you practice confidence?
There are drills that you can do, are there?
In order to put confidence in the practice, all you need to do is be around people… and focus on being confident.
The reason it’s important to practice is because when you finally come face-to-face with your ex, it might be easy to revert to the person that you were before.
However, if you’ve made confidence I habit, something that is part of who you are, it will be something you do without even realizing it.
I know, the moment you’ve all been waiting for…
Making a great second first impression.
Let’s skip forward and imagine that you’ve already done all of these things and you’ve made yourself into a fount of confidence.
At some point you’ll find yourself face-to-face with your ex.
You may run into him at the grocery store. or get invited to a party that he happens to show up to.
This is the moment that you’ve been preparing for. You’re like Rocky Balboa Posted up in the corner waiting for the bell to signal the beginning of the round.
Are you nervous?
The answer is not one bit. If you’ve done each of the things I’ve laid out for you and allowed them to become habitual, the nervousness and worry anyone else might feel at this point will be foreign to you.
You won’t have to think about slowing down your speech or complaining about the negative things in your life.
You will ask him how things are in his life. When he responds, you will listen, genuinely interested.
There will be no need to spend the time that he’s talking thinking about what you will say next because you know when he finishes speaking that you will respond calmly and confidently.
How do you know this?
Because you’ve practiced it and made it a habit.
The one important thing to remember is something Chris always stresses is to leave the conversation on a high note.
If you are talking to your ex and things are getting interesting or he seems really into it, excuse yourself for whatever reason and walk away.
Like the cliffhangers Game of Thrones throws at you at the end of every single episode, leave him wondering what just hit him.
Do it with grace and confidence and he’ll be thinking about it days later wondering why in the hell he ever let you get away.
Then, it’s up to you what you want to do with it.
I mean, you’ve created a pretty great life here.
You’re a freakin’ beacon of confidence.
People are starting to look up to you as inspiration.
When he comes around to finish your conversation, it’s up to you whether you let him back into your life. You have the power now.
When I was put in this position, I looked my ex in the face and realized that I deserved to have someone realize what they had the first time around. But that was him. Had we split under different circumstances, I may have made a different decision.
That’s the thing though. It is the responsibility of every person to decide what kind of love they deserve.
So now that you know what it takes…
Go Get It!