Confidence is one of those things I’m sure almost all of us have struggled with at some point in our lives.
Being confident and having ‘more self-confidence’ can help us achieve great things. Yet a lack of it can leave us playing a much smaller game than we’re capable of in all areas of life.
I’ve struggled with self-confidence my entire life and it’s held me back in many areas. In fact, it’s only a sign of my own recent personal growth that I can confidently, yet paradoxically, admit to having struggled with confidence.
My past is filled with moments of choosing not to put myself out there or go beyond my comfort zone. Whether it be progressing in sports, talking to girls or trying to be successful in business, my scarcity of self-confidence always seemed to be a huge obstacle in my way.
What is Confidence?
After spending a large part of my life wishing to be one of ‘those people’ who ooze confidence at every turn, I came to the realization that I was thinking about it in a way that was serving me very poorly.
A huge mistake we make when thinking about confidence is seeing it as this ‘binary’ concept. We tend to think about people being confident in either a ‘you are or you aren’t’ way. But this is vastly oversimplifying things.
We all feel confident in some areas of our lives and lack confidence in others. I’m very confident in my ability to write, coach, produce a podcast, play soccer, drive a car and various other things. Yet if you asked me to fly an airplane, my confidence would come crashing back down to earth.
So the idea that we can either be ‘a confident person’ or ‘not a confident person’ in such a clear cut way becomes pretty nonsensical.
Action Comes First
What this means, then, is that we have somehow developed confidence in certain areas of our lives. We pick things up, do them repeatedly and eventually get to a point where we feel confident in doing them.
The key aspect to pick out here is that the action comes first, not the confidence.
When we first learn to drive, most of us are not confident. In fact, most people I know were pretty terrified their first few times of getting behind the wheel on an actual road. But getting back in that driver’s seat time and time again allows us to keep building our confidence to a point where we end up jumping in the car without thinking twice about it.
We don’t sit at home waiting for confidence to suddenly appear. Just hoping that one day it’ll all sort itself out and we’ll just have the confidence of someone who’s been driving for 30 years injected into us.
And this rings true in any situation. Piloting an airplane seems monumentally daunting to anyone who’s never done it before. But, in essence, it’s no different than learning to drive a car. You learn how, practice and eventually become confident in your ability to do it.
It’s the action that comes first and enables us to keep building up that confidence.
Getting to the Root
Maybe that news of action coming first isn’t exactly groundbreaking to you. Even if you hadn’t consciously thought about it before, it might seem kind of obvious when brought to the forefront of the mind.
And it still leaves us in this ‘catch-22’ situation of needing to take action to build confidence, yet not having the confidence to take the action in the first place. It’s easier said than done, although not entirely ludicrous, to suggest conquering a lack of confidence in public speaking by just getting on stage and doing it.
The root, I believe, of all this that needs addressing comes back to our idea of self-worth. Or, more specifically, how we measure our own self-worth.
Driven by societal ideology, without really thinking about it we create this story in our heads about our self-worth being attached to how well we perform. As if we’re only worthy of being an upstanding member of the human race if we perform to some high standard in many, or even all, of the things we do.
Ironically, this strive for higher and higher performance actually creates poorer performance due to the sheer desperation to prove ourselves surrounded by it. And what’s more, poorer performance that’s potentially combined with a barrel load of anxiety and inner turmoil.
To put it simply, we lose confidence in something we want to do before we even begin due to the fear of negative judgment on our performance. We start off lacking confidence because we don’t have faith in our ability to do a particular thing and perform to some exceptional standard.
Your Existence is Your Worth
Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying we should all just stop striving to achieve things in life. That we should all just sit back and not care about performing well in anything and everything we do.
But it’s powerful to understand that reaching higher levels of performance in many things in life can come from not tying our own self-worth to it.
When it comes down to it, each and every person reading this article is proving their own self-worth simply by being here. It’s in-built and not something we have to find elsewhere. In fact, our existence is proof that we are worthy of existing.
When we reframe it in this way, it becomes okay to maybe be at 50% one day or to struggle and not be any good at certain things. That this happening doesn’t somehow make you any less worthy of being a human or receiving whatever you desire in life.
Understanding this opens up space for us to just show up wholeheartedly each day. We let go of this exhausting desperation to prove our worth to ourselves and others through our performance in each and every little facet of life.
So we gain the self-assuredness to go out there and just… perform. Perform to the best we possibly can. And while knowing that how we do doesn’t somehow detract from our worth as a human being.
It’s a much more peaceful way of doing things.