Some people teach that developing self confidence is about learning to pretend to be self confident until eventually you are. ‘Fake it ‘til you make it’.
While I think there can be a benefit in acting ‘as if’- in other words choosing to do things before you feel completely ready as if you were already that more confident person- I’m not a fan of the idea of faking it.
Instead, I think building confidence is actually less about building, and more about deconstructing. We are all born confident. We are all born believing that we are worthy. So, becoming more self-confident is ultimately about undoing the thoughts and patterns of behaviour that we have built up along the way that suggest to us that we’re somehow less than others.
Learning to trust ourselves
Self confidence is absolutely not about believing that you’re better than other people- that’s arrogance- but about learning to trust ourselves.
It’s not about becoming the kind of person who never feels anxious or embarrassed or ashamed. If you’re human, you feel those things, and the people who say they don’t are simply sticking their fingers in their ears and ignoring those feelings.
It’s not about being so fabulous that nothing will every go wrong for us- that’s delusion- but about trusting ourselves to deal with whatever shit might get thrown at us by the universe- or anyone else. Which is kind of fabulous when you think about it.
Undoing old patterns
So, what do I mean by undoing patterns and thoughts? For example, I’m currently working with a client who said, ‘Whenever I’ve stuck my head above the parapet, it hasn’t gone well for me.’ That’s a story. Whether you believe in God or not, there is no-one up there watching and waiting for this person to stick their neck out and then throwing eggs at them. But as long as this person believes that story they’re likely to keep subconsciously re-creating it.
Confidence comes from recognising that eggs might indeed get thrown, because life can be like that, but that it’s not because they’re taking a risk, and that it might equally well really pay off for them. And, either way, they can trust themselves to learn something from the process and move onto the next thing.
We will doubt ourselves at times- I certainly have the odd wobble.Negative feelings are perfectly normal and natural and intended as a way of protecting us from harm. But unless we want to spend the rest of our lives hiding in a cave – which is what our subconscious ideally wants- we’re going to have to accept the feelings and get on and do the things we want to anyway.
And each time we do that and the world doesn’t end (even if things don’t go entirely according to plan) we grow in self-confidence.
Confidence in uncertain times.
These are uncertain times, but, you know, they actually always were, we just chose not to see it. None of us can ever predict the future with any certainty, and once we really accept that, there’s a real freedom in it to just try things out, make mistakes, and see what works. If you already know you can’t control a perfect outcome, that also helps with confidence- because, again, it’s about trusting yourself to deal with whatever does happen.
So, nothing wrong with Amy Cuddy’s power poses, but true self-confidence comes from accepting our vulnerabilities and lack of control, and just getting on with what we want to do anyway.