At the same time I noticed a resistance within myself to address this topic. It was only when I was reading a couple of articles on the subject one written by a life coach, the other written by a business coach that I began to identify what that resistance was about. Both articles had some good practical advice on how to build up self-confidence and yet neither of them really made me feel that if I was having a crisis of confidence that I could follow their ideas and find a way through.
My block with the topic of self-confidence and lack of connection with the articles was due to a number of factors.
1. The phrase self-confidence is over used and so people see the words and naturally assume that they understand what they mean. This can lead to misunderstandings if assumptions are not checked and meaning is not clarified.
2. There is also a view that if we have this much vaunted quality then all will be right in our world and with ourselves.
3. Finally the two articles that I read were aimed at connecting with readers via the head space rather than at a deeper body and heart space.
That said let me start by defining the term self-confidence: I would describe it as belief in oneself but that is only the start. I am sure you will be painfully aware of examples of hubris and its opposite number coyness in those you know and perhaps even yourself. This is what can happen when we over or under play our self-belief. That said there is something more than self-belief encapsulated within self-confidence and that is having enough belief to be our whole self.
How often do transactions with other people in your day go like this: how are you? I am fine thanks and you? Good. Great, see you soon then.
What has actually been shared?
Too many people are afraid of sharing the real stuff in their life. There is this veneer that glosses over the crap because of a pervasive fear that if we showed people the mess of our lives then they would run as far as they could in the other direction. That can happen. I remember crying in front of my Mum because I was finding life with two under two difficult and her response was to tell me to pull myself together for the children’s sake.
Going back to the exchange at the beginning of the paragraph, it takes far more courage to answer these questions honestly, to admit to the mistakes or pain of life. In doing so the reward is far greater: there is the opportunity for real connection with another to see your humanity reflected in them and vice versa.
In other words self confidence for me has another quality altogether it is to be like the salmon that swim up river against the current. How often are we each bombarded with messages about how to be successful in our business and our life? The essence of each message tends to be a focus on worldly definitions of success, such as wealth and other material trappings. These will not bring you happiness or a greater sense of self worth and confidence.
Nor as Bob Dylan famously sang is the answer blowing in the wind. It is about forging our own path and often doing things which can appear counter-intuitive.
In other words the way to a greater sense of self is to face oneself by actually opening up to one’s shadow side. Each one of us suppresses part of ourselves because we believe the world is not ready for it. Using your head for a moment imagine that you started life as a 52 room mansion and every time someone criticised something about you, you closed off the room in your mansion that represented that part of yourself. For most of us by the time we reach adulthood we are beginning to feel restricted as our mansion has become a 2 bed council flat!
Confidence is about taking off the dust sheets in those closed rooms and revelling in the increased space that you then find yourself in. It is also about accepting and playing with the polarities and complexities that make up the self. The great thing is that the more we can play in this expansive place, the easier we find it to deal with others and their “stuff” which can make all kinds of relationships easier.
It means connecting with ourselves first whatever state we are in. This has physicality in that the focus is on connecting the head, the heart and the hara (Japanese word for Centre and quite literally can be found in our sacrum). When we are centred then we are ready to face the world and whatever challenges it throws at us. Being centred gives us presence and confidence and we can find it by focusing on the breath; aligning head, heart and hara; getting a sense of the space and energy around us; and relaxing into the space.
It is very powerful because it is not based on words rather it is about trusting the body. The other point to remember is that we are always losing our sense of centre but when we realise this the beauty is that we can re-centre and thereby come from a more authentic place and in so doing have greater connection with others. It is not about getting it right rather it is about noticing our patterns and choosing another way of being. Each time we notice our pattern and re-centre we are building the centring muscle.
At the heart of this work is the energetic principle that we are not separate rather we are all in this together and when we are centred this sense of being rings true.