My last post was about getting bullied and how it took years for me to realize how it hurt my own confidence. I've spent the past few weeks thinking about the source of confidence in more detail. I'm doing this project at work right now. Most people love it, some people hate it and a couple are mum on the matter entirely. It's an interesting thing to go through all together. The opinions of others can have a profound impact on confidence if you let it. The Daniel from a few years ago would be beating himself up worrying about the people who aren't happy with the project and have negative things to say about it. Things are different now.
First, confidence isn't artificial. Yes, it is a decision. But, NO it isn't a simple one. Confidence can't be and is never the goal. It is a result of other factors you've decided to change in your life. Defining purpose is where the end result of confidence comes from. I couldn't get there until I did a couple of other things first. I'll break it down in more detail.
1. Step away from the shadows of self.
My son is four years old and he believes one thing above all else. He believes he can DO ANYTHING. When he says he's gonna be the best basketball player in the world, I coach him with thought. He always tells me ,"I have to practice harder than anyone else Dadda." He's got it right. We all have that as children. Absolute belief in our ability to accomplish anything. Over time many of us lose this amazing power. We give that power to the destructive elements of life. Often, we fail to understand that it requires us to give the power away, it is never truly taken from us. Power from the affect of circumstance and the behavior of others is only endowed upon them when we offer that power of self-belief up. Then, in order to protect our own minds from the decisions our deeper mind makes we take a finger and point it outward. This does two things. First, it squarely places the sphere of blame outside of ourselves. Thereby we protect other parts of ourselves and refute the internal responsibility of negative change. Second, it confirms the new belief created. We step down the path of believing others have power over our personal self image.
2. Identify your internal belief systems
This is a hard one. I'm in my forties and finally coming to terms with what my internal belief systems are. It takes time and thought and raw, untactful honesty with self to peel back the layers enough to see what you truly believe. I know, deep down in my own heart that I never thought I would be good enough for others to accept. Some of this was rooted in that bullying incident when I was younger. I never identified it until recently. Most, if not all people who knew me would never think I thought that about myself. They saw results from it in ways that actually ended up helpful. I always wanted to be part of the most elite groups. I always tried to excel at everything I did. I had a drive to show worth. All good stuff, except it wasn't really internally good stuff. Nothing was ever good enough, I was never good enough for me. I was never actually confident because I was chasing a negative thought.
One day I had an officer at work tell me this, "I've never seen you do one thing that wasn't better than everyone around you. I don't know why you worry so much about what other people think." It was a very nice and laudatory observation. It hit me hard. I wasn't working hard because I loved the work and believed in myself. I was working hard because I thought I wasn't good enough and needed everyone's acceptance. Let that sink in. Think hard about the why. WHY do you do things? WHY do you worry about (FILL IN THE BLANK). WHY does it matter when X, Y or Z happens? WHY? When you can answer that, you are doing good stuff.
3. Purpose is life.
Some of the greatest people in the world leave a wake of discontent behind them. It's the nature of purpose. Pick a subject, item, public personality or anything and ask ten people about it. You're going to get ten opinions. Heck, ask about God. See what's said. Even a spiritual/mythical/ephemeral (you pick) benevolent being has haters. So, if God has haters... then why does it matter if you do? Fact is, when you have a sense of purpose, it doesn't matter. The negativity or disagreement becomes noise. Or, it becomes an obstacle to navigate around or through. It in no way has an impact of your personal vision of self. To go to work or through life believing in a purpose you are set forth to do is possibly the most freeing moment I've ever experienced. I believe I should be a writer. Write I shall.
Go forth and be you. I'll be me and we can do whatever it is we all do. There is incredible joy in purpose.