Don't panic, nothing is under control
We all know those people who elude confidence. There is a flow and grace about their actions and communication that says ‘I am completely in control’. I’ve always been in ore of those people, and over the years I’ve been privileged to learn what goes on behind the scenes of such graceful living. In contrast to these people and within both a personal and professional life, I’ve seen the damage that a low confidence can do. It can lead to irrational and fear related decision making, exasperate stressful living conditions and it can lead to defensive and isolating behaviour. It can also leave people to ‘make do’ and abandon any dreams they may held. This pandemic of low confidence has spread like a virus through our families, communities, institutions and it continues to ripple into an even more destructive relationship with the planet we live on. I wonder how different the world would look if we all lived with confidence?
Don’t get me wrong here. As I see it, confidence is not about being egotistical and loud. There is a subtle difference between independent confidence and blatant disregard for others. Rather more, what I am pointing toward is a confidence in ‘being’ who you are and following your heart wherever it takes you. Call it a fine tuning of your instrument… your body. By bringing awareness to our thoughts and feelings we can begin to move toward the thoughts that make us feel light and creative and move away from the old habitual ways of being. This is not about freeing ourselves from obligation, but rather more becoming responsible and for the choices we make. We can do this by listening to our wisdom rather than being pulled every which way by the demands of those and the culture around us. If we are trying to conform to all of these demands, no wonder we loose our confidence with the world. If this sounds airy-fairy, then I apologise, because really I am pointing toward something extremely practical here. Confidence comes from not fearing the unknown and by allowing some magic back into our day to day interactions.
Clearly, we all benefit from a confidence boost. But, this pondering did make me wonder what confidence actually is. Were some people born with it? Is it a skill that you can acquire after several years of therapy? Or are some people just taught from an early age that they can do no wrong?
I have no doubt that the social environment in which we grew up will have a huge impact on our perceived ability to deal with life and its varying situations. Bringing confidence to a task, even without any experience or skills will massively increase your chances of gaining a level of mastery and more importantly enjoying the task at hand. But there is something more subtle at play here. For instance, I’ve also known many people with a wrecking ball style of confidence. Those who have succeeded in certain areas of life, they’ve come to rely on particular methods and 9 times out of 10, this has got them through. However, there’s rigidity in this approach that can cause problems down the line. Looking back at school, I wonder if it’s the kids who were the most popular who end up leading less creative and perhaps forfulling lives; like they peaked too soon. Could it be that they made it to the top of their game at school, got comfortable and then spent the rest of their lives wondering where their popularity went? In the meantime, the odd balls, the ones who were quietly trying to avoid attention moved into a life that was way beyond the imagination of their school careers' advice service.
What makes these people different? Relying on the same old thoughts is much like relying on the same joke. They get tired. So imagine that the thoughts running through our heads are an acumination of the ‘jokes’ we’ve acquired over the years. Tried and tested, these thoughts keep coming up and we use them to navigate our way through the world. Until one day they just don’t make people laugh anymore, or we don’t get the results we expected. No longer does A+B always = C. The linear world we were taught to navigate by our school education no longer has the same applicability. As a result, our confidence gets knocked and for those who are reliant on ‘knowing’, it can leave them feeling lost and insecure.
It’s from this point that we face the choice of disengagement or participation with life. Where we have to be willing and able to learn our way through each experience or instead suffer. So I’d like to suggest a new way of looking at confidence. That it is not our ability to know how to deal with every situation that confronts us, but rather more to trust our ability and creativity in the moment to learn and respond.
There’s no doubt that confidence can come from experience, but it can also come from a deep sense of knowing that we can’t know everything. Instead we can appreciate and trust that with every moment we approach life with our big bag of tricks and old thoughts, but also with an unlimited potential to create new responses to the world around us. These creative moments come from listening to our body, to the feeling that accompanies thoughts and moving forward appropriately. Tapping into confidence isn’t about becoming an expert in knowledge. It’s about learning what feels right and having the confidence navigate accordingly. Some of the most inspirational people I’ve met are also the ones who are most willing to admit that they are ‘making it all up’. They are the ones who are willing to disregard the fears from old thought and instead dive into the unknown with a willingness to learn and connect.