When one talks of confidence we think of assuredness, being comfortable in one’s skin and a lack of fear of general uncertainties. But in essence I think, confidence is a manner of meeting life. It is a way in which we greet that which comes before us as the uncertain and unpredictable.
As a way to approach the chaos of life, confidence strives be in harmony with it. Not to overpower, dominate or force it into submission. Confidence tries to embrace the way of things removing the expectation of an outcome. In such a manner it is necessary attribute for “going with the flow”. Like this confidence implies a lack of wobbling of life, a kind of stillness in the storms that we face but also in the face of challenges and obstacles.
It can be seen in the way a leaf moves when it is blown by the belly of the wind, the way a cat moves, the way clouds roll over the sky.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”James Baldwin
The roots of the word ‘Confidence’ come from Latin, ‘con’ which means with & ‘fideo’ which means trust, integrity or to have faith in. So, when we say we are confident, we sense we have faith in ourselves. When we say we are confident in a given situation then we trust in the way things will play out or that maybe it will not be our desired outcome that manifests but that whatever will happen will not be the end of the world, even if it is less ‘preferable’.
But when there is no outcome to be desired what does one put one’s confidence in?
This brings me to the idea of confidence as a way of meeting life, life that is happening all the time, all around us and in its myriad of forms. Approaching it in this way also excludes the need for there to be any arrogance, which we will come to later. Meeting life in such a way requires firstly that we are humble and modest. This means we neither think too much of ourselves nor too little. It also requires that we stay flexible and open to the possibilities in which life can unfold. This is simply knowing ones basic worth and being present or in the moment.
It is very important to let go of any sense of a desired outcome or expectation in growing these mindsets. These mindsets or practices once cultivated can endow one with what is a by-product of these practices – a security in ones inner and outer self. A sense of being comfortable with being uncomfortable. But they should not be cultivated for their outcome, because that will only frustrate their development. The reality that is constantly unfolding is never burdened with our expectations of how it ‘should’ unfold. But rather we bear the burden of our own expectations and over time, this burden can get heavy. The reality that in unfolding in front of all of us is something that in its observation is best accepted and welcomed as it is. It is met with a sense of ‘hello old friend! It’s you again but you look different this time.’
Such an attitude does not force life to conform to our unrealistic expectations and let’s face it, we do have some unrealistic expectations at times. We wish for reality to be an extrapolation or projection of a desired past, like listening to a playlist on repeat we desire a recurrence of certain events because we are attached to how they made us feel. The future is sometimes something we want so rigidly that we try to coax life into our expectations, like fitting a round peg into a square hole. And if we do not have the aggression to force it then we approach life timidly and in an insecure way, not exercising our choice and not being participatory in our wholeness. This approach dilutes the rich experience of life we could have had and can have in each and every moment if we only get out of our own way.
So, the problem with confidence is that we do not choose to exercise it in our lives. Or we exercise it too much and then we see arrogance. Timidness and arrogance are two sides of the same coin. They are like confidence that’s just a bit off-center. Like two poles, one goes to one extreme and the other to the other extreme. It seems to me that they are both born out of insecurity. The timid or nervous side is overwhelmed by it and chooses not to act or ‘doesn’t know what to do’. The other side tries to cover up this insecurity by acting too forcefully and trying to fit life into what it ‘should be’.
The timid person can often exclude themselves from the possibility of action due to not knowing what to do or not knowing the ‘right course of action’. We have all had this experience of hesitation and indecision. Often thinking that in not acting, we also free ourselves of any responsibility if something goes wrong. But the burden of inaction can also be heavy. The burden of not doing something that was right in front of us and that, in hindsight, could have altered the course of events for the better. In a way what keeps us from acting is a refusal to meet life on its terms. In not getting what we expect from our encounters with life, we refuse to meet it again. Unless it is on our terms. But that never happens and the decidedly inevitable inability to win from this encounter in life keeps us wobbling, hesitating and refusing. But why is there a need to win?
The arrogant person has had the experience of confidence in their lives and felt harmony with the chaos and gotten their desired or expected result. However, they didn’t know how they did it and hence had to find some way to recreate that feeling or sense of confidence. This seeking for replication and being bound to a certain method makes it a forced approach which looks like arrogance and was fundamentally arises from insecurity and rigidity. There is a lack of openness to life and there is an intense desire to recreate that experience of confidence. One could liken this experience to the experience of power, of unlimited possibility and potential. Like a drug addict forever seeking their first high, the arrogant person tries to seek it through having power over life.
But one cannot make a strategy out of confidence, you can only allow confidence to naturally arise given the right state of mind. And given the right conditions, it always will. If we look at our outer experience, it seems to be always confident and rarely ever wobbles. It never hesitates. The sound of a clap issues immediately from two hands put together. Pain overcomes us instantly, so does pleasure, even the expectation of pleasure gives us a sort of pleasure in the moment. The world reveals itself to us the moment we open our eyes, instantly and without a moment’s hesitation. Rain makes a sound as soon as it hits the ground, light from up high shines without delay into the naked eye. It seems that it is mostly our inner experience that wobbles and that needs to come in accordance or harmony with our outer experience.
There is a question of self-worth that can be explored. The arrogant have an amplified sense of self-worth and the timid think much less of themselves than they are. Both of these attitudes of self-worth are deviations from what is. As we synchronize ourselves with our experience, we will undoubtedly see that it is what it is. There is no twisting or moulding the experience into anything other than it is. And that doesn’t not mean it is mundane or flat or bland but that experience is all there is and that we can be as involved in it as we wish. And our involvement in it bestows us with the will and agency to take part in the experience rather than being a non-participator or bystander.
Confidence is our ability to express this involvement. It is the process through which we express our truth into life. We are not different from the life we experience; we are intimately involved in it. Through the opening of our eyes, we reveal the world and by observing the world, do we not create it as well? Whether subjectively or objectively, we are attribute and an unmissable part of this whole process we call life.
Confidence requires our involvement but not our interference. It requires that we let go and that we are vulnerable to the moment in each moment. It requires us to choose and then get out of our own way and let the process do its own thing, whether it is through us or an-other. Because this process cannot be captured by any means and yet what we want is always coming to us in new and unexpected forms. And we would do best to meet it as it arrives.