Just when I think I’ve figured it out, he goes all crazy in the coconut, yells at me that I know nothing and urges me to look deeper, look at it with fresh eyes, promising wonders.
Then he disappears with a flourish and invents a bloody helicopter. “Leonardo,” I shout, “Already got those pal.”
So I grapple and I prod and sometimes I get a bit pissy, but then another layer gets revealed and a whole new world opens up.
Leonardo was right. Of course he was. He’s bloody Leanardo Da Vinci.
This happened when I learned to integrate my illness rather than fight it. It happened when I started to see a relationship between confidence and joy. It happened when I saw I was using faux-confidence to be emotionally unavailable.
And it’s just happened again when I had something of an epiphany about the source of confidence.
People think that confidence is about strength.
It’s how you react in the face of fear, planting your feet and getting ready to show it who’s boss.
It’s how you rise to a challenge, digging deep so you can just hang on that little bit longer or find that extra something that helps you keep going.
And it’s how you take a risk without knowing what’s going to happen, helping you suck it up and take that step, even though you want to run home, make a nest under the bed and stay there ’til your next birthday when there’ll be cake.
There’s a strong chance you know what I’m talking about here, otherwise you’ve either had the easiest life imaginable or you’re a particularly laid-back strain of algae.
Strength implies there’s something you need to be strong in the face of.
Conflict is inherent.
And while that can sometimes be a useful and appropriate response, fuelling confidence from strength can be fucking exhausting.
Assuming you’re not algae, these are the times when you just want to stop already and have an easy life. When you wonder just how fucking strong you need to be in your life. And when you wonder if you’ll ever be strong enough to have what you want.
Now, here’s where I make a little disclaimer.
I’m a cynic. I love laughing at inappropriate things.
As far as I’m concerned, astrology, crystals and past-life healing can go sit on a stick and get pecked at by crows.
But love? Love is real and tangible. I’ve felt it. You’ve felt it.
I’m in no position to define what love is (that’s the only thing I have in common with Foreigner), but I can speak to what the hell it has to do with confidence.
Let’s look at the previous examples I used.
There’s something out there you’re scared of, whether it’s failure, success or not measuring up. Reacting to fear with a confidence born from love is enveloping it with kindness and accepting that it’s only looking out for you, rather than squaring up to it with strength.
There’s a challenge out there, a career move you’d bite your own arm off to see happen, a health-blip you need to overcome or a relationship issue you want to work through. Reacting to those things with strength is just a lot of noise and chest-puffing, hardening into those challenges when instead you could be confident in your ability to soften into them with your whole heart.
There’s a risk out there, something unknown that you’re about to step into, something that might see you lose something you have or a course of action that might hurt you. Come at those things with a sense of confidence founded on strength and you’ll attack those risks and push through with the aim of “winning”. But approach those risks with a sense of confidence founded on love, and you know you’ll be okay whatever happens. There’s no win or lose, just love for the way you’re able to carve out your life as best you can.
I don’t know why I haven’t seen confidence in these terms before.
Perhaps I’m supposed to be all over this stuff like an old carpet, but it just goes to show what a geek I am for loving what I keep finding and how it keeps showing me new stuff.
I could tell you that I’m a confidence guru, that I know everything about building confidence and how you can be confident today. A show of strength, if you will.
I have some smarts, sure, but I’m at a place where I much prefer to approach my work—both what I know and what I don’t—with love rather then strength.
And so if I might depart somewhat from my normal cynical and sarcastic tone and approach a Disney-esque level of saccharine sweetness that makes the cynic in me want to hurl, if there’s something for you to take away from all this, it’s this:
Love yourself, and true confidence follows.