Yesterday, a good friend of mine asked me for advice on confidence. I thought that what I told her could be useful to others, so here it is.
full trust; belief in the powers, trustworthiness, or reliability of a person or thing: We have every confidence in their ability to succeed.
belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance: His lack of confidence defeated him.
certitude; assurance: He described the situation with such confidence that the audience believed him completely.
Confidence is not being boastful, prideful, or arrogant. It’s not something you have to assure people that you have. If you’re confident, it shows.
A confident person is someone who doesn’t doubt their own abilities, but doesn’t draw unnecessary attention to them either. If something needs to be done, and you have the ability to do it, it’s not being arrogant to step up and say “I can do it.” (It may be arrogant if you stand there for ten minutes boasting your previous accomplishments.)
A confident person is someone who doesn’t put himself and his abilities down. Someone who knows his abilities, and tells of them only when necessary (when asked, or when trying to prove himself to someone), and not in an arrogant or boastful way.
It is hard to be confident without coming off as arrogant. (Funny fact: I used to think “arrogant” meant “loving to argue.”)
But contrary to what many people think, confidence is not always acting like you know everything, or can do everything. It’s knowing and trusting in your abilities, and not putting them down or acting like they’re nothing.
Now, to seem confident, even if you’re not…
The way I do it is, I put my shoulders back, put a little bounce in my stride, and keep my chin up (literally). You can fake having confidence – when I’m walking through the dark parking lot at work alone after a shift that ends at 11pm, I’m not too confident that nothing bad will happen, but I’ll keep my chin up, walk with pep, and maybe hum or sing a song.
If anyone is going to go after a girl to hurt her, they’re more likely to choose a girl with hunched-over shoulders and her face tilted toward the ground, who does not look confident, over someone who does, even if it seems they could easily overpower either of them.
Ever seen Lord of the Rings? Frodo never seemed confident, on the journey. He always looked so defeated, frightened even. The one time he showed confidence was on his last effort to climb up Mount Doom, although that would probably be better labeled as desperation.
Sam, however, was always one to step out and do whatever he could. He knew he could cook, so he did, and he didn’t put himself down, but he didn’t boast. The same with gardening. He was confident in his ability to protect Frodo, and in their ability to finish the quest, because he believed the entire time (except maybe when Frodo told him to go home) that it was possible (and it was).
Part of good confidence is being confident in other people as well. Of course, this is easy to do, or at least act like you do. If you have younger siblings, I’ll bet you do this kind of thing all the time with them. “Come on! You can do it!”
Confidence without arrogance is knowing that you’re not the only one who has an ability, and letting someone else step up to the plate if they have the same ability.
For example, if someone asked, “Can someone take this family photo for me?” I would probably jump up to do it for them, because I love photography, and I’m good at it. But if someone else volunteered as well, and didn’t immediately back down and let me without me having to ask them to, I would let them try if they wanted, and remain nearby in case they needed help. I wouldn’t hold a grudge against them for taking the opportunity away from me, because I know that I’m not the only person who knows how to use a camera.
Confidence is not boastful. Confidence is a quality that people can sense in you without you having to say that you’re confident (actually, if someone tried to convince me that they were confident, I would think otherwise).
I was at the bowling alley Friday night, with the boy I take care of. He’s part of a bowling group in his city for people with special needs (he’s autistic). I met this girl, Kristin, there. I don’t know what her special issue was – she definitely didn’t have autism or Down syndrome. I think she just had low IQ or a learning disorder – she said she was 29, and she acted like she was 12. She was sweet, and I enjoyed talking to her.
When it was her turn to bowl, she stepped right up with full confidence in her abilities, and rolled the ball. If she made a good score, she’d get excited and grin and exclaim, “Yesss!” But even if she didn’t get a good score, she’d just shrug it off and keep smiling.
That’s another attribute of true confidence – not being self-deprecating, and not being a sore loser.
It’s hard to lose with grace. But if you keep smiling and congratulate the winner, maybe joke that you’ll get ’em next time, that’s perfect. Even if the losing does make you angry or sad.
Confidence is probably the most important trait you can have, even if it’s pretend confidence, because it will better people’s opinions of you and bring you higher in their esteem, which will in turn boost your true confidence. You know, sometimes, if you fake it well enough, you can even fool your own brain into thinking that you’re more confident than you are.
Confidence is quick to smile, slow to be bitter. It is never boastful, and does not back down from a task unless said task proves impossible, in which case confidence would admit its failure without dwelling on it, and without letting it make it bitter, or being angry with the person who succeeds at the task.
Confidence understands its own abilities and doesn’t undermine them, nor does it puff them up and make them seem more than they truly are.
True confidence is hard to define – harder than I thought it’d be until I tried – but hopefully, I got the gist across. I hope this post was helpful to someone. 🙂