Self confidence can be elusive

Self confidence can be an elusive quality, one moment you’ve got it, the next you’ve lost it. I’ve often noticed how people can seem very uncertain about doing something and then suddenly the mists have cleared, they see clearly what they need to do and how to do it, feel strong inside themselves and away they go. By contrast someone who has for example a very successful career but then loses their job and find that in their efforts to get back into work have lost their self confidence. Another example is where a very successful woman takes a career break to have children but finds on return to work that she’s lost a lot of confidence.

What is happening here? While this will vary a lot from person to person, and there will be particular matters for one person that don’t apply to others, there are certain common ingredients. What is striking is that one moment we’re full of fear and uncertainty and the next we’ve got it. It’s as though inside us there’s a part of us that is confident and can do things and it is a matter of getting in touch with it. In fact, people will have self confidence in some areas of their lives but not others, so for many of us it is not as though it’s missing entirely.

Self confidence is about faith and belief in self. The root of the word is about faith: in the Middle Ages there was the word “confidere”, meaning to “have full trust or reliance”, and the Latin for faith is “fides”. So we’re talking about our inner faith and trust. It’s very basic, fundamental stuff. No wonder we talk of the stuffing being knocked out of us when we’re received a heavy personal blow.

The greatest barrier to self confidence is fear, which is existential too, about our existence. We overcome it by learning faith and trust. Fear is the core, bottom-line negative emotion opposite to love, and as the A Course in Miracles says it is an illusion. So what we are seeking to do is develop self confidence by faith and trust in who we are are and in our capabilities. Fear is an illusion and we have all we need anyway. It’s a matter of realising it, getting in touch with what is real.

Some need to work on it, often by very practical activities. For others it is a shift of perception. In a moment they “pluck up the courage” and away they go. Then it works, and hey presto! Here’s their self confidence once more.

This is a shift very many of us need to make in all sorts of challenges we encounter in life. We can feel very self confident for a large part of our lives but something happens and it’s gone. Others have lacked it for ages in particular parts of their lives, for example in social situations. Yet the shift can be made. Fear is an illusion. We’re so much more than that.