Inner Confidence in China


As I have lived here in China for two years now.. I have noticed a lot of low self-confidence with the Chinese people.  I don’t know if this comes from living in a country where the government rules with an Iron Hand… or from just being treated so badly by employers and other people, but the low inner confidence is really terrible…. so much so .. that even I .. with my strong, High Confidence self… tend to feel bad some days….. I get so frustrated with things that shouldnt be happening, or that should be changed but I cant.. that it sometimes brings me down.

This is a big problem for my husband also… In China few people get opportunities to change their life paths… mostly.. if you are born poor in China you will die poor in China…. and many do … it is a sad case of affairs here… and most people settle for their place in life over here… unless you are lucky.. they say…. if you get lucky.. you can change things… I believe otherwise.. I don’t think it is luck.. I think it is all in your confidence.

So, I have some suggestions to build inner confidence.. I hope it helps all of those who have this issue and even gives you the strength to meet your dreams.

1) Stop Worrying About What Others Think This seems to be a big problem in China… and I am sure other places.. but here is it horrible.   I told one student that after she had her baby she could put the baby in a stroller or hook the baby to her front .. and go jogging to stay in shape.. she told me that other people would look at her and think she was strange… I said.. so?  You will be in shape.. and healthy… what does it matter what they think… she just couldn’t fathom doing anything like that. You can’t be responsible for how everyone around you feels about how you live your life. So stop worrying about how your family, partner, and friends will react to your choices, and start getting real about how you feel about your life.  Give yourself permission to put yourself first.

2)Do Things Because You Want To Throw away  Obligation and Guilt, and make a commitment that everything you do, you do because you want to. Even for things you don’t necessarily love doing. It’s all about your attitude. You can choose to be a martyr and a victim, or you an choose to be authentic. I use to do this and worry so much about what other people wanted me to do for them and feel bad if I didn’t help them or do what they wanted… Then I grew up…. and now I know… It is all about me and how I feel.

3) Give up the Image We all have  images or pictures in our head of who we think we are and who we want the world to see, and then attempt to live up to them. When the image you portray on the outside comes from who you truly are on the inside, you are being your true self.  But, when the person you show the world is based on fitting into expectations, ideals, and images set by society, your friends and family, or your work colleagues, you are living a lie. Choose to give up the false image and instead live from the inside out, be your true self.

4)Know what makes you unique and special Every person is born with unique gifts, talents, and things that they are naturally good at. When you find them and use them, these gifts lead you to real happiness and success. I have the gift of gab… some people even say I tend to use it too much.. hehehe.. but I use it to write and share my opinions and experience with other.. I can also sing a little, and dance a little..  You have gifts too. Start noticing the compliments you often get from people. There is sure to be a gift there.

5) Be clear about what makes you happy Stop trying to fit into the expectations that outside forces—society, family, work, friends—have said you must achieve in order to be successful, happy, and accepted, and start asking yourself, “What really makes me happy?”  Think about the times that you’ve been happiest. What were you doing? What did you have? Do the same for your most unhappy times. Compare the two to your life today and notice the gaps.  Live life the way you would be the happiest.  This doesn’t me extremely rich or anything like that.. I mean in your heart… what would make you happy?  then go with that….

6) Know your emotions We all have things that set us off or that causes an overly strong reaction. It is time to stop letting them control you! Pay attention to situations that make you emotional. Be the boss of your emotions by having and taking responsibility for them, and don’t let them drive your life. To be true to yourself, you have to know what is under the surface motivating you. I am still working on this one.. but.. it gets better everyday…

7) Do what you know is right This is not an easy task. It often requires going against what everyone else is doing or thinking.  being true to what feels right for you, even if it doesn’t fit the needs and approval of other people — parents, partners, and friends included. We always know what the best action is to take for ourselves, it’s just not always easy. Be committed to being you, even when it’s scary, and even when other people don’t like it.  I life this every day of my life.. when I as I am married to Michael and living in China… I do what I know is right… but it is so hard sometimes.

8) Have an opinion and express it As Americans we usually have no problem expressing our opinions but in China.. they are like little robots.  They have no personal opinions on anything.. they just do what they are told and keep everything.. “in their heart”   They try to tell me to do these things… but I tell them.. I am not keeping anything in my heart… I am letting the shit out….People who live their true selves have convictions that come from inside their souls, minds, and hearts. They know their Truth and are willing to stand in it, even when what they have to say makes others uncomfortable. Know your Truth in all situations and share it with pride and conviction, knowing that your unique voice deserves to be heard just because you’re you.

9) Let others see you Stop being fake…be vulnerable. Share your most real self with the people around you—family, friends, and colleagues—and let them see who you really are. The strong, the weak, the self-assured, the self-doubter, the funny, and the serious. Have and show your emotions fully—from sadness and happiness to anger and joy. When you keep the full range of your true self hidden, no one can know who you really are. While it may feel scary to be vulnerable, you’ll find that the more you show the real you, the more others will be willing to share their real selves too.  This is really important for my Chinese friends to know.  Stop hiding behind “face”  be you.

10) Never, Never, Never Apologize for being you Unfortunately, the world is full of people, including ourselves, who want to keep us small, to play along, and to be good girls and boys. When we listen to them by apologizing for who we are, or discounting our contributions, thoughts, and feelings, we squash our true selves. Know that you deserve to be all of you, all the time. Be brilliant. Be you. And never, never apologize for it.  We are all special and unique in a good way… be proud of who you are and what you do… I pat myself on the back all the time…

I hope this helps someone.. I use these 10 tips to keep my inner confidence strong when I run into the issue here in China.. the pointing, staring, laughing, “giving face”, just everything.. can get to you … like you are walking back in time … before the civil rights movement… but I have to be strong… I have a wonderful husband.. and I need to keep him strong… both of our inner confidences need to be on the top of its game, and know that someone is there loving you and supporting you…. only makes you stronger.

until next time…

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24 thoughts on “Inner Confidence in China

  1. Randy

    The hardest thing someone asked for me to do was get in the mirror and profess my love for myself. I’m still unable to do me. I know that there is good in me, but I can find more wrong with me than right. This is probably (by which I mean “it is”), why I am still stuck in the same mundane place, with the same mundane people, and dragging myself through things.
    I’m sure I can make every excuse in the book for this, but I know the truth… And the truth is, it starts with me.

    Thank you for this blog 🙂

  2. Shawn

    Very timely and inspirational post! Thanks a ton for this If all goes according to pan… I, too, will be relocating to China (Southern, or Eastern province, hopefully) to teach Business English, by end of year.

    I have been following your blog for a few months now, and get such joy out of knowing that it’s written by a fellow African-American woman, who not only stepped out on faith to take the ex-pat plunge, but also found true love in t
    the process!!

    I so appreciate the ongoing motivation, and can’t wait until things actually begin to unfold on my end!

    Also, it would be helpful to learn of what approach you took toward mastering the Mandarin language (and how much time was invested initially..)? I am really hoping to learn/become conversational (at least) within a year, if realistic. So far, I am in the process of puchasing Rosetta Stone (hope it’s not a waste of $$!), as well as enroll in a mini-course (6 wks of basic instruction), prior to taking off.

    Thanks in advance!

    \

    1. Also, it would be helpful to learn of what approach you took toward mastering the Mandarin language (and how much time was invested initially..)? I am really hoping to learn/become conversational (at least) within a year, if realistic. So far, I am in the process of puchasing Rosetta Stone (hope it’s not a waste of $$!), as well as enroll in a mini-course (6 wks of basic instruction), prior to taking off.

      First … good luck with your trip to china… you can contact me anytime if you need advice or help… i can also help you find stuff that can make your life a little more comfortable. Trust me you will want that. Also if you want to learn chinese… it is a little difficult at first… because of the accents and the different local languages. They also speak very quickly…. go to http://www.livemoca.com or go to some websites and down load free programs… it is cheaper and better than Rosetta stone. it is good that you will know some basics… i did.. but it will take years to really be conversational in the language. I am pretty good sometimes… hehehe… I can get around and understand most people.. but i have been here for 2 years. I still have trouble. I wish you the best… and I am here if you have any questions.

      1. Shawn

        Thanks a ton, Jo! I will definitely get in touch once I’m closer to knowing where I’ll be living in China.

        Since I do not have a background in teaching…need to obtain my TEFL cert. for starters, but hope to land within the next 6 to 8 months!

        Oh, one more thing…there are SOOO many provinces in China, and all seem to offer pros ‘n cons…can’t seem to really have the best of both worlds in any one place, though (not that ya can in the U.S either -lol!). And, initially, I was pretty set on selecting the Southern side (for it’s spring-like climate), but then learned of the many typhoons that are quite common. I’d also like to save a good chunk of change and have access to decent medical care (with English speaking docs), if possible. Any suggestions on a middle of the road spot (without extreme weather conditions on a regular basis) would be so appreciated.

        Thanks,
        Shawn

        1. *Since I do not have a background in teaching…need to obtain my TEFL cert. for starters, but hope to land within the next 6 to 8 months!*

          *@Shawn… actually.. you can get your TESOL.. in less than a week if you want.. you can do online class and get it. You work at your own pace. I got my certification of 75-hours in a week.. and didnt do any class time. Just did it at home. Works fine.. also.. if you have some sort of Degree in anything… you dont need the TESOL… you can just go.*

          *Oh, one more thing…there are SOOO many provinces in China, and all seem to offer pros ‘n cons…can’t seem to really have the best of both worlds in any one place, though (not that ya can in the U.S either -lol!). *

          *@Shawn….There are a lot of provinces in China.. and if you want to live decently stay away from the Northen and Western parts of China. They are still very, very poor and very underdeveloped. You would not like it much at all .. unless you like the great outdoors and no running water or limited internet. The people in these areas have never see any foreigner let along a black american. Not a good way to start your teaching career in China. You will not like it.*

          *And, initially, I was pretty set on selecting the Southern side (for it’s spring-like climate), but then learned of the many typhoons that are quite common. * *Stick with the South…. Zhejiang Province, Jiang Province, Guandong Province etc. They are developed and have seen many foreigners… They also have access to American products not like the other provinces.. the weather is not what you think. Every place has potiential for national disasters… I lived in Florida for 20 years… a Typhoon is like a hurricane with more rain… nothing to really worry about… they dont happen that often.. and you will be safe.

          Also, your closer to me… hehehe… The only other place I could suggest to you is close to Beijing…. Xian, Dailan…. because it is also pretty developed there.. but very, very cold in the winter… so be aware of this…. * *I’d also like to save a good chunk of change and have access to decent medical care (with English speaking docs), if possible.*

          *umm… ahem.. good luck with this… I guess if you want English speaking doctors you need to stay in Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guanzhou… these cities are big trade cities…. You are not in Kansas anymore Dorothy… hehehe… but do not worry… your learning Chinese right? you will be able to figure it out…. also.. i have been here for 2 years.. and have not had to go to the doctor once… (knock on wood) … most small things you can buy the remedy over the counter in the medicine shops…. *

          *Any suggestions on a middle of the road spot (without extreme weather conditions on a regular basis) would be so appreciated.*

          *As for a Middle ground .. i would say where I am.. hehehe… I am in the richest province with the best conditions… I am close to Hangzhou City, and Shanghai .. there are many many cities in this province…. (Zhejiang) … the weather is good..(no snow) .. and the people arent as bad…. I do have American friends all over china… so do now worry we take care of our own .. over here…. hehehe… best of luck.*

      2. Shawn

        P.S. ~ thanks for the language study advice, too! I will check out all of the online freebies (and likely take an inexpensive course), instead of wasting $$ on RS.

  3. If I’d seen this post over a decade ago, the way I approached my expat life would have been wayyyy different…. Like, POSITIVE different. I would have been more true to myself instead of conforming too much to the society around me.

    Great post!

    1. Thank you … yeah.. it is very difficult to keep your confidence in China… so many thing influence you… and the society pressure is so … strong.. but… I constantly try to stay true to myself.. and promote that same kind of thing with me husband… it is the only way to live life to the fulliest. Thank you so much for reading.

  4. Trina

    Some great stuff here! I was having a discussion with my daughter about how having a bi- versus a mono-cultural perspective influences my life and my decisions/actions. Although it’s difficult to shrug off centuries of social norms, sometimes people have to step over their own shadows in order to make their own way. Being influenced by us bi-cultural folks can sometimes shake things up – for the better!

    Would you mind if I cross-posted this to Uncaged Birds™ later in the week?

    1. @Trina…. Sure you can post it … just give me my props..(smile) …i like that word… bi-cultural…. and I like shaking things up…(smile)… I really hope this can help people.. feel better about themselves.

  5. pearls

    Thank you for sharing those inspirational truths! My day is now winding down and it has been power packed with uplifting expressions from many encouraging sources!

    The harder situations become…the greater the outcome!
    Small minds may think alike and remain complacent…but great minds use wisdom to triumph and move forward!

    -author (me) ~Big Smile~

      1. pearls

        You truly inspire me! After reading your confidence builders…I wrote a poem and 6 adages! I knew hanging around ‘good folk’ like you was for a reason! ~Big Smile~
        This is for you and your husband…

        I wrote this poem a few months back!

        Lotus flower©

        We are the true lotus flowers.
        We grow beautiful and strong,
        no matter what color mud we’re planted in.
        So in the mud of their ignorance…you will blossom!

        Here’s an adage I wrote this morning!

        There’s always a storm before the calm of triumph!©

        Love you! Peace and Strength are your foundation!

      2. pearls

        LOL! What…me put a root on my wonderful friend…no way! I’m not from Lu-sana! As some of the older people would say! ha ha ha ha ha Thank you for adding my poem to your book….it’s truly an HONOR! ~warm fuzzies smile~ Be Continually Blessed!

        1. No thank you .. I have never had anyone dedicate a poem to me… and it feel good… so.. I have to include it… as for the HooDoo, VooDoo stuff… they do that stuff over here… I tell you … China has all kinds of things going on….hehehee

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