Where do you think confidence comes from?
Our parents, teachers, and culture tell us that confidence comes from gathering lots of experience and knowledge. Becoming the expert, becoming the best, or knowing the right answer are the ways we are taught to build confidence. It’s all about having enough. Once we have enough experience, knowledge, credentials, titles, seniority, money, material possessions (the list goes on), then we will feel confident. We see confidence as a safe and secure way to be ‘right’ in the world. When we come off as ‘confident’ we must be right. When we feel we are right, we can be confident about our point of view about ourselves and the world around us.
The reality is when we see ourselves as the expert, the best, or as the one that ‘knows’ the right answer, we can’t be made ‘wrong’ by others, and that is how we generate the confidence we seek.
This kind of confidence depends on the ideas of right and wrong for its power. It depends on comparing myself to others and if they are right or wrong. If I see myself as wrong, I lose confidence. If I see myself as right, I gain confidence. One of the problems with this kind of confidence is that not everyone can have it. It is based on something that often must be collected or earned in the future. This keeps our confidence out of our present-moment reach. It sure seems like a lot of work to gather all that knowledge to become the best or the expert for others to avoid the feelings of failing or being wrong. And, this type of confidence can always be ‘shaken’ or ‘taken’ as others make quantum leaps in new knowledge and experiences that we need to keep up with. A precarious place indeed.
If I can be OK with myself, regardless of what others are saying, feeling, or doing, that self-acceptance leads me to true confidence.
What if we just went right to the heart of the matter and addressed our fear of being wrong or not enough in the first place? The way to neutralize the fear of being wrong or of not being enough is to release the judgment we have about ourselves and others. If we didn’t judge ourselves or others in the right-wrong, good-bad, comparison games that we play in our minds, we could instead simply accept ourselves and what is right for us in each moment and allow others to do the same for themselves. If I can be OK with myself, regardless of what others are saying, feeling, or doing, that self-acceptance leads me to true confidence. The kind of confidence that can’t be shaken or taken when we are challenged by others or the status quo.
When I stop resisting what is actually happening and what I’m experiencing, and I allow myself to acknowledge how it is for me and what feels best in the present moment, I put myself in a position of self-acceptance. While I may want things to be different so I can feel better in the future, I am able to be loving to myself as I currently am. That is self-acceptance. I’m OK just the way I am. I’m doing the best I can in the most self-loving way I know moment by moment.
THIS is the place of true confidence. Accepting every part of myself as OK just the way it is right now. My thoughts, my feelings, my passions, my choices, my pain, my desires, my needs, my crazy ideas. When I know what I most need comes from the inside, and not from others, I stop focusing on wrong and right. I stop focusing on getting what I need from other people and future circumstances. I start doing what is most loving for me moment to moment creating the confidence I need to stay open to new experiences and growth. My true confidence opens me to discovery, insight, creative expression and allows me to focus on what is right for me while allowing others to do the same for themselves.
How can you build true confidence today?