This guy had confidence figured out:
Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to
them, “Love me.”
Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise
someone would call the cops.
Still, though, think about this, this great pull in us
Why not become the one who lives with a full
moon in each eye that is always saying,
with that sweet moon language, what every other
eye in this world is dying to hear?
That’s Hafiz, of course. And what does his poem have to do with confidence? Everything.
I used to think confidence is the byproduct of competence. You dedicate yourself to learning a new skill. You practice until you get good. Then you have confidence in that area.
This is certainly one version of confidence.
But there’s another version that is deeper, more fundamental, simpler. It requires not a shred of competence in any area. It doesn’t take years to develop — one can access it instantaneously in any given situation.
In fact, it’s not something we develop at all; it’s something we shed.
Confidence is the absence of self-consciousness.
That’s it. Anyone can be instantly confident in any moment simply by dropping self-consciousness.
Watch how this plays out:
Unattached man seeking a romantic relationship. Get inside his head on a dinner date and it sounds something like this:
Does she like my car? I hope I don’t say something stupid. I always do. I’m sure I will tonight, too. Then she’ll judge me for it. I don’t know why I even try. I’ll never be good enough. She keeps looking at my mouth. Do I have something in my teeth?
The irony, of course, is that it’s precisely his insecure energy that repels the woman — not any of the things he worries is wrong with him.
When we drop self-consciousness, our insecurities disappear with it. This happens because, as soon as we’re not self-conscious, we focus our thoughts and energy on other people.
In this case, this man’s self-consciousness can be replaced like so:
I wonder what makes her tick? What does she care about? What is her family like?
It’s that simple. To get confidence in any situation, we stop thinking about ourselves and instead, focus all our thoughts, energy, and attention on the other people we’re with. We keep our own insecurities at bay by being genuinely interested in other people.
Middle-aged mother is asked to give a twenty-minute presentation in front of a group. She’s terrified. Her mental chatter sounds like this:
I’m no one important, and I have nothing important to say. I’m going to be nervous and my voice is going to shake. Then I’ll be really embarrassed. Why didn’t I just say no? They’re going to just suffer through it, then I’m going to wish I hadn’t done it. I can’t bear to have all those people looking at me.
She can easily and immediately drop her self-consciousness by shifting her focus:
What are they struggling with? What are their insecurities and vulnerabilities? What are they afraid of? What do they need? How can I serve them?
Now, it’s not about her — it’s about them. And any time her familiar insecurities arise, she can simply replace them by focusing her attention on her audience.
We lack confidence because we feel isolated in our inadequacies and insecurities. We think we’re the only ones. Which is precisely what every other person on the planet is thinking.
When we stop our self-critical, insecure mental chatter, it’s astounding what we can see in others. And when we really see others, we can serve them.
Back to Hafiz and his poem.
We’re all crying for love, he says. We can’t give love because we’re so focused on getting it for ourselves. So why not be the one who sees everyone else’s cry for love and gives it to them?
True loving requires that we get outside our own heads and see other people. And when we do that, we lose our insecurities and uncover our natural state: confidence.