I haven’t blogged for a few weeks. I’ve been going through a chasm about my sense of confidence. But I’m starting to transform it. I’ve had this kind of ‘pit’ in myself my whole life. It puzzles the people I know. To them I’m intelligent, creative, and have great ideas about helping employees; but when I try to go forward with them, I get blocked by a ‘pit’ of low self-confidence. Low self-confidence makes it hard to progress at work and on lots of things I’ve wanted to do.
I’ve known for years what I need to do to transform this; and, as I’ve worked on it, it has gradually gotten better. But there was a deep, sabotaging core of it that remained. Like an obstacle in the dark – waiting to trip me up again and again. Not very helpful for various things I’ve wanted to do!
Transforming Lack of Confidence
What I’ve learned that’s been SO useful in transforming lack of confidence is kind of the opposite of what many (maybe most) people say about the root cause of low self-confidence. So feel free to disregard if this isn’t how you want to see things.
Many people in self-development talk about arrogance being a compensation for being afraid – that because we’re afraid, we act over-confidently to protect and hide our vulnerable feelings. The very wise woman who guides me through self-improvement says just the opposite: that fear is caused by arrogance. This is not a fun or easy thing to consider accepting about ourselves; but in my experience, it’s the starting point for being able to transform low self-confidence, fear and many other problems we face into a true sense of confidence and well-being.
The Temptation to Be Right
Imagine one day, you have an idea that seems really clever to you. You go along in your life feeling pleased with yourself that you thought of it.
One possibility here is that you find out others have different perspectives that might improve your idea. You’re humble and open-minded, and you allow your idea to morph into something even better. You all feel good about it. People enjoy working with you.
Another possibility is that you enjoy the feeling of being clever so much, that you want to keep feeling that way – so you prefer to feel those others’ ideas are inferior to yours. This is where arrogance can start to grow. If you keep going in this direction, it’s possible to develop all sorts of layers and reinforcements to support this arrogance. The thing is though, that while you’re trying to keep that feeling of cleverness alive, you will have other less pleasant feelings growing inside you.
Arrogance is Shaky Ground
You may not be aware of them. And since they present an unpleasant alternative to feeling you’re amazing, you may push them away. The more you do this, the bigger they grow. They are feelings of insecurity. On some level you know that the person who had something to add to your idea, or saw a flaw in it, slightly tarnished the feeling you had that your idea (and ergo, you) were perfect. Inside you, part of you can sense if you’re being too full of yourself, and even if you avoid that feeling, it’s in there. It makes you uneasy. The longer we live like this, and the more choices we make to reinforce this way of living, the bigger these feelings of worry, insecurity and fear grow. And the more blind we become to the fact that they exist and to what originally caused them.
But they are still there. And when we least expect it, they knock the wind out of our sails and we find ourselves feeling deeply insecure. Maybe it happens when we’re starting a new job, or in the middle of giving a presentation, or when we need to stand up to someone at work.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that other things that cause fear, like being treated badly as children, don’t contribute to insecurity and fear. They do. But the more we are able (even as children) to respond with a balance of humility and self-love, the less these experiences will eat away at our long-term self-confidence.
So for years I’ve been working to become more conscious and accepting of my own arrogance. At first it was super hard! Every time I come to accept it more, and become able to help that part of me gently learn the value of humility, see where I’m wrong (as well as truly right), and become *able to learn!*, my true confidence grows.
My confidence had grown enough to become sort of able to start this company. But it wasn’t enough to be able to keep putting myself out there, writing and sharing after the first few exhausting months of starting a company. You guessed it, the wind got knocked out of my sails again. Every time I sat down to write, I just couldn’t. I lost touch with my ideas. My confidence plummeted and I felt that what I had to offer was worth nothing.
…where true confidence comes from: honesty.
Back to the drawing board – or rather, the honesty board. This time I learned that I had to fully take responsibility for doing the work it takes to feel where I’m dishonest with myself. All. The. Time. If I keep hiding or avoiding some things about myself, I will always have traps inside me that I can fall into. Only when I am honestly willing to always choose to see where I’m wrong and what I need to learn, can I become my true, fully honest self – and so, be able to trust myself and my sense of the world in every moment. That’s where true confidence comes from: honesty. Honesty, the full truth, is the only thing that can be relied on 100% of the time.
It Takes Love
Now for anyone trying this at home, remember that part of being honest is being loving. This work has to be done with self-love, and it takes learning to be loving on many levels to fully accept one’s self (at least if you’ve gotten away from that in the first place). Practice it. Like a team of rock climbers, as you learn honesty, you can become more loving; and, as you become more loving, you can accept more about yourself (and others). It ain’t easy. But I’ve found it to be the most worthwhile thing I can do in my whole life.
I wish anyone else undertaking it the best of luck! And I wish myself luck with continuing it – and with continuing to be able to write! Blog on!