How would your life change if you had more confidence? Would you be more relaxed, more effective, happier? What does it even mean to have confidence; and once you have it, how can you increase it?
We've been discussing this topic in the Project One community and it's stirred up some important points I want to share. While there are many perspectives on the topic, this post focuses on four different sources of confidence, and the accompanying experiences of what confidence feels like.
Confidence in Your AbilitiesAt the most basic level, one must be confident with what one can do. As a musician, it took me over ten years of consistent practice and effort before I felt truly confident when performing. And even then, higher-profile situations or more challenging pieces of music would put my confidence to the test. I didn't always win, but at a certain point I stopped doubting whether I was "good enough" and just enjoyed the process of making music.
Confidence in your abilities is largely a process of time spent honing your craft, combined with feedback from the world around you. If enough people, especially people you don't know, comment on how much they appreciate your ability to (fill in the blank), chances are you're actually good at that thing. It's funny just how often we are our own harshest critic, and how building confidence is simply a matter of putting more trust into those around you than into the negative voice within.
Confidence in Other PeopleWe are enveloped in relationships. They are as much a part of who we are as anything we consider to be "our own." And so a big part of being confident is trusting other people. If you're always walking on eggshells about whether the people in your life are going to come through for you, either professionally or personally, you will never have confidence. Why? Because you'll always be worried that the people you're counting on will let you down.
I think there's more to this than meets the eye at first. We might think that we trust the people around us, but ask yourself these questions:
- Do I quietly think that I'm the only one who can do the job right?
- Am I secretly afraid that the people I love most are going to leave me or otherwise let me down?
- Am I unsure about the intentions of those that I count on?
Confidence in LifeSometimes it's hard to have confidence in life as a whole. Sometimes things go so catastrophically wrong that it seems like life is out to get us and that the world is not a good place to be. But ask yourself, "How deeply am I willing to trust in this process that gave me my life in the first place?"
Despite all the challenges and tribulations that come our way, are we not blessed to an incredible degree? I once heard an osteopath say, "When a patient comes in and everything seems to be going wrong, I listen to the heartbeat. As long as there is a heartbeat and breath coming in and out of their lungs, there are about a million things going right. They're alive, and that's always a miracle."
So take a moment to get in touch with the miracle of your own life, your own presence here on Earth, and keep that in mind, especially during the difficult times.
Confidence in Consciousness
This might sound strange... how is consciousness not the same thing as life? Why have two separate sections for what is pretty much the same thing. Well, what I'm referring to with confidence in consciousness has to do with the dimension of reality discovered in deep meditation, or in mystical experiences.
If you've ever done a long meditation retreat, or otherwise spent a lot of time being still and paying attention, you will likely have experienced a part of yourself that exists outside the stream of time. My own experiences of this are that it is always perfectly whole and complete, in stark contrast to how I may feel at any given moment, which certainly isn't as blissful as I just described.
Having direct knowledge and first-hand experience of the part of yourself that will never be affected by anything in life—not your own personal failings, real or perceived; not the disappointment of people you care about failing you; not even the inevitability of death—is a powerful source of confidence. And discovering this for yourself is an important pursuit for anyone who wants to be truly happy.