The commonly held belief is that confidence is something that can be gained or lost, built or crushed – more often than not, by circumstances ‘out there’. A boss at work who continually puts you down. The fact that you haven’t worked for five years. A role that doesn’t play to your strengths. The list goes on.
But what if confidence is innate? What if it’s built into our system and not something that can ever be lost, broken or destroyed? It can certainly be covered up – at times for extended periods – but that doesn’t mean it’s gone. This would be good news on a number of levels: uncovering something is a great deal simpler than building something. And if your starting premise is that confidence is innate, rather than something to be found ‘out there’, you’ll be amazed at how much unnecessary thinking will naturally fall away.
Confidence will look different for everyone. The confidence I am pointing to is not necessarily a flamboyant one – although it could be – but rather a comfort in your own skin. I am sure we can all think of times when we felt naturally confident. Things feel easier, we have a natural responsiveness and presence to whatever shows up in life.
Our mind innocently mis-attributes this confidence to things ‘out there’: the new haircut, the glowing appraisal, the friend who makes us feel good… It will genuinely look like our confidence is a result of or conditional on certain things being in place. But if you examine things more closely, you will be able to poke holes in this logic and see occasions when you have felt confident despite these ‘conditions’ not being present. And vice versa.
The true factor connecting all our experiences of confidence is simply an absence of insecurity. Insecure thinking comes up when we believe that we are somehow lacking – that we are missing something – and we need to either fix ourselves or change our circumstances to get it back. If you’re anything like me, one insecure thought can lead to another and all of a sudden our mind has filled up with things to feel insecure about.
Unsurprisingly, when we have a head full of insecure thinking, our natural confidence gets covered up – it really looks and feels like our confidence has disappeared – and this in turn leads to more insecure thinking.
On cloudy days, we don’t panic that the sun has disappeared and start conjuring up plans to bring it back. We have a deep knowing that it is just covered up and it will in time appear again. As a result our head isn’t spinning with thoughts and ideas about how we can get it back. Think how different things would be if we had the same deep knowing about our confidence.
I would have written a very different article to this a year ago – filled with hints and tips and things to do to build your confidence. In my experience, the problem with this ‘additive approach’ is that it puts a lot of extra thinking on your mind. It can also make our confidence feel very precarious – if something or someone ‘out there’ gave it to us, they could just as easily take it away – which in turn can lead to more insecure thinking. You can see where I’m going here…
I love talking about this, so if you are interested in exploring this simple yet profound approach some more, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was written by our partner coach, Henrietta Nelson.
March 23, 2022