“Confidence seems to be one of those qualities that most of us long to have more of. We believe that this uplifting feeling is the answer to our dreams, that it will allow us to ask for what we want, let us speak up when we are not being heard, and give us the ability to handle whatever the universe sends our way. In short, we believe that it will make life better.
This belief is built on a truth: confidence does in fact make life better. Much better. But there is a kind of confidence that goes beyond the definitions we find in dictionaries or at motivational seminars, and we are about to stop the search for this elusive thing and actually claim it.
We tend to use the terms “confidence” and “self-confidence” interchangeably. However, distinguishing their qualities is pivotal to claiming our courage. When we talk about confidence, we’re often referring to situations and circumstances “out there.” We say things like, “I’m confident that everything will work out for the best. I’m confident that everyone will show up on time. I’m confident that the judicial system will prevail. I’m confident that they will do the right “thing.” Although coming from a place of personal belief, this kind of confidence always depends on something outside of ourselves.
Self-confidence is a belief in oneself, a belief in one’s own strengths and capabilities. Closely tied to our self-esteem, it is a kind of trust in ourselves. What is interesting to note is that very often we display self-confidence in certain areas and not others.
We see this all the time: someone who’s confident in caring for and raising her children but not in her ability to run a business; someone who’s confident in understanding complex technical data but not in her ability to have a one-on-one conversation; or a performer who’s confident in standing onstage in front of thousands of people but not in her ability to have a close, intimate partnership.
The truth is, we need both confidence and self-confidence. They are two sides of the same coin. The state of our personal lives and of our world as a whole is asking us to come to understand confidence at a much deeper level, to reacquaint ourselves with the true confidence that lies at the heart of the matter.
When we begin to explore confidence, we have to distinguish it from the false confidence of our ego structure. False confidence is designed to hide our insecurities and trick us into believing that we are okay. It is the job of the ego to distinguish itself from others, so we are trained from a young age to believe that we are individual human beings, separate from everyone and everything around us.
Convinced of the ego’s authority through years of listening to its repetitive internal talk, we buy into the sad belief that we are not a part of any divine plan. The ego’s full-time job is to maintain this idea of separation through judgment, comparison, and distraction. We judge that we’re better than somebody or worse than somebody, that we’re luckier than somebody or unluckier than someone else, that we’re better-looking than that person or that we’re uglier than this one, that we’re special, that we’re more important or less important. This litany of comparison is happening inside our ego.
The ego employs this strategy of distraction to keep us from questioning, exploring, and possibly stumbling upon a deep insight or, heaven forbid, a deeper truth. The ego is comfortable staying in its safe zone of aloneness and, like a partner in the worst kind of codependent relationship, doesn’t want us to get emotionally involved with a higher reality.
So we can bet it’s our ego that is calling the shots when we’re distracted by guilty pleasures, trivialities, fantasies, addictions, and other people’s problems. “Inside this paradigm, we shore up our insecurities by comparing and judging. But the problem here is that the ego is a bottomless pit of insecurities. Like the fears that underlie them, the various defense mechanisms of the ego are often accompanied by loud, opinionated, and arrogant voices that sound like this:”
Excerpt From: Debbie Ford & Wayne W. Dyer. “Courage.”