Confidence is defined as the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust: the state of feeling certain about the truth of something: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
Many people are shocked to find out how insecure I often feel. Somehow, magically, I appear to exude confidence. And to some degree, I am confident. However, confidence is never on the forefront of my mind. What I do feel confident in is what makes me confident. I feel confident that most humans are good. I feel confident that there is a Mysterious Benevolent Force that functions beneath the surface of what we consider tangible and because I trust the unfolding process of life, I am confident. I am confident in that tomorrow will come and that whatever I am anxious about is momentary. I am confident that I have lived through hell and I am still here, so all will be well. I am confident that my presence and my very being is on God’s radar. These things make me feel confident.
I noticed language with one of my clients recently that gave me pause and made me want to revisit confidence. A successful man, smooth, and with the gift of gab recently started working with me to address some health concerns as work has become too stressful for him. He often says things like, “I am very confident in myself” or “I am confident that I can beat this.” He constantly points towards his confidence.
After a while, it started to bother me. As I paid attention to his language, I eventually had to laugh at myself. I was bothered by his confidence in himself! Ding-ding-ding-ding! You know what that means right? It means that I need to check inwards as to what is going on with me, not him.
I began to wonder. Is it a male thing? Is it a cultural thing? I know that I do not have confidence like this when I am doing something new (like going to Iowa) but once I know what I am doing, I soar. I say things like “I am so glad this is over” “Phew” “Ok, next!” But I never say, “I am confident in myself.”
I think I, alongside you, have to work on my confidence levels so I can say: I am confident in myself (not just God!).
How does confidence work?
We can have confidence in the life process and/or we can have confidence in our own selves, our own capacity to embrace and execute change. If you read the definition above, you can see that it speaks to both processes. So, for the purposes of this post, let us call confidence “being confident in something or someone else” and that thing we have to dig into within our own selves, let us call that “self-assurance.” And then there is self-esteem. This trifecta is key to being positive.
I believe that all three aspects need constant focus and attention to grow and be vibrant within us.
Confidence in values, principles, God or whatever:
We all believe these things. They run the ticker tape that is constantly running in our minds. These values and principles speak to us all day long. In coaching, this tends to be the biggest issue that I have to repeatedly address. In seminary, we called this our “embedded theology.” These are the aspects we ultimately believe about the world we live in. Do you believe that people are always out to get you? Do you believe that the world is hard? Do you believe that you are entitled? What do you actually believe about the world around you? As you tend to your underlying belief system, you live it out in your thought processes, your behavior and your emotions. Many of us do not tend to this area of our lives consistently.
Self-Assurance in yourself and your abilities:
You have to believe in your abilities. Self-Assurance is not just one thing. You may be self-assured in one thing but not in other things. Focus on what you feel confident doing and build that muscle. When that is strong enough, move to a new task relying on the confidence/self-assurance that you received from mastering the other task. For example, for me, I was not confident about starting an exercise program last year. When I started, I reminded myself that I felt the same way when I started writing my newsletter weekly. I had no idea if I would be consistent. (Exercise requires consistency.) I relied on the fact that I was consistent with my newsletter to create a consistent exercise habit. As I measured my success based on consistency, I was able to gain self -assurance in my ability. Also, remember that failure is just part of the learning curve. It is not a dead end, but merely an opportunity to pick yourself up and try again. Keep practicing. And stop self-blame. Often, we are too tough on ourselves and blame ourselves when things do not go right. Instead practice self-compassion and choose to be kind to yourself. Speak kind words over yourself. Treat yourself as you would a precious soul.
Self-Esteem relates to our values, our ability to live up to them and can be described as a sense of feeling worthwhile about oneself.
Do you value yourself? Do others value you? This is about being valued regardless of what you accomplish or don’t accomplish. This is not about titles and success stories. William James, an 1890’s American Psychologist said that self-esteem depends on value-judgments made about the self. Low self-esteem is like prejudice against yourself. You discount, deflect and distort information about yourself. You become critical and judgmental about yourself. To increase self-esteem, interrogate your presumptions, keep putting yourself out there and be around relationships that feel good to you. Work on your ego strengths. A few years ago, I had a major mid-life crisis that could have literally taken me out. I ended up entering into a three-year master’s level program in Divinity at a very prestigious institution. If nothing else, it built up my ego strengths, aka my self-esteem. Your self-esteem will take hits in life so make sure you know how to build it back up.
Confidence in What Is, Self-Assurance in your abilities and Self Esteem that you are worthwhile is critical to building a repertoire of positivity.
My hope is that you find space in your life to value yourself, celebrate your wins, be kind to yourself about the losses you experience and reconnect with Truth with a capital “T.”
Peace, hugs, giggles, and laughter as you revel in your own unique loveliness.