Many of us have confidence issues. We feel we aren’t good enough. We feel we ought to be much better than who we are at present. These confidence issues plague us for life. What most of us do is assume a veil of confidence and start projecting this outward. You can notice this in some people in two ways:
- Extreme humility and praise : You notice this form of low self-confidence in people who take on a flatterer attitude. They are extremely nice to people around them. They always seem very helpful. Or they are the yes men (or women) to their bosses. This is also true in our family circles. You always know that uncle or aunt whose speech is always sugary. This is a sure shot sign of low confidence. The sweetness is a facade to cover deep insecurities (and perhaps even jealousy). This facade is assumed to win over people and feel a sense of security and acceptance which they themselves do not have. The easiest way to expose such people is to ignore their sweetness or be extremely practical with them. Don’t respond to their sweet talk. Talk direct and expose the hollowness of their talk. You will soon notice their smile fading away.
- Extreme show of confidence bordering on arrogance / hard workers / workaholics: These people are worshipped in our culture and therefore are harder to spot. They are often seen as “go getters” and might have also tasted some form of early success. They often portray themselves as macho or business like and tend to be dominating in conversations. These people love power and the sense of influence that they can have on others. But this is again a veneer. A coat of varnish to cover deep insecurities. An easy way to bring out the insecurities in these people is to challenge them. Challenge their intellect, challenge their achievements and you will notice anger and frustration coming up.
Notice if we have either (or both of these traits). This isn’t to make fun of the people who do possess these traits, but to reflect ourselves. We ALL cover our insecurities with some form of veneer or the other. We make friends with people who help us protect this image and we actively shun people who point out these deficiencies in us. Very often, the people closest to us, notice it and so we want to avoid them. Typical targets are our family, our spouses, our partners or best friends. You will notice that some of us are more friendly to acquaintances than the closest people around us. Notice this pattern and bring it into your awareness.
So where does self-confidence come from? Self-confidence comes from self-comfort. Being comfortable with who we are. This means totally accepting one’s strengths and one’s flaws. And being aware of how one feels while interacting with the world. Self awareness helps bring about self-comfort. When we begin to get to know ourselves better, we begin to recognize that everybody has strengths and weaknesses. Everybody here is on a journey and not one is perfect. When we truly realize this and internalize it, we do not compare ourselves with anyone. When comparisons drop, we are able to be happy being who we are. This non-comparative state is essential for self-comfort. When we realize we are on this journey of improvement and of self-awareness, only learning matters. Not where you reached or what awards you gained, but how much you learned. This is the only judgement. And here, you judge yourself, against yourself. No one else.
This is beginning of self-confidence. Self-confidence is never a destination. You cannot say you achieved something remarkable or attended a great university or obtained certain material wealth and now you can have self-confidence. Nope. Self confidence is based on the simple, humble recognition that you are imperfect and that is perfectly okay.
Therefore, base your life on growth. Base your life on learning. Be humble in recognizing you are flawed. And work towards improving yourself. This authenticity is the beginning of self-confidence.