Confidence is a funny concept. I think everybody has an idea in their minds about confidence as something positive. We know that it’s important to have confidence in yourself. However, confidence also has its shadow side in our minds.
We might feel some guilt or shame around confidence. “Am I projecting too much confidence?”. After all, we don’t want to cross the line of arrogance. Nobody is waiting for the football-player-in-american-highschool-movie kind of confidence.
We will be hesitant to trust people with this in-your-face kind of energy. What do they have to prove? Why are they acting in this way? And is the story they are communicating to us even real? And The realness of their story line is exactly what is the problem with this football-player-attitude towards confidence. (No offense against football players. Please don’t come to my house to beat me up!)
The football player from this story wears his confidence like a big bulky suit. Have you seen the Zion battle in the movie The Matrix Revolutions? The people fighting in this battle are wearing these giant armored and armed exoskeletons, making them 10 times bigger and stronger than the people controlling them. The problem with presenting your confidence like one of these massive exoskeletons, is that it does not actually make you 10 times bigger and stronger. You are only presenting a story of yourself in which you are wielding the power of this bulky suit.
And because of this, our armor is fueled by fear. The fear of anybody figuring out that we are not actually 10 times stronger. The fear of anybody realizing that our suit is full of weak spots, unprotected by thick armor.
The only way to function while wearing our big exoskeleton is to push away any doubts we might have. To pave over them with more triumphant stories. And as our pile of stories grows, so grows the fear and doubt.
In comes quiet confidence.
Quiet confidence means to press the big red button that turns off the whole machinery and gently step our bare feet down onto the soil beneath us. Wearing nothing but our undies. Taking this step is one of total vulnerability. Your first urge might be to run back to the warm and cozy interior of the suit you just left behind.
People might laugh about your appearance (you are still in your undies, remember?). But this won’t threaten you anymore, because there is nothing separating your true self from what they are seeing. Suddenly, there is only you.
Suddenly, we just are, knowing that we are. We breathe, knowing that we breathe. Just being, without any story, that is indestructible.
To know yourself is to be confident. To be confident is to fearlessly express your potentialAndy Puddicombe, Headspace co-founder
In Zen Buddhism, there is a tradition of meditating on short stories called Koans. These Koans are usually paradoxal anecdotes, or riddles without a solution. One famous Koan goes as follows:
A Zen teacher meets a student, who is carrying a big bag. “Where are you going?”, inquires the teacher. “I am going on a pilgrimage”, says the student proudly. On which the teacher replies with “What is pilgrimage?”. The student replies with some surprise, “I don’t know”. “Not knowing is most intimate”, replies the teacher.
Not-knowing creates wonder, curiosity and aliveness. In not-knowing I am not limited by my own beliefs and ideas. Without my own experience and knowledge, I can receive limitless wisdom and guidance from others at this very moment. I can receive aliveness in all of its fullness. Just let go of your stories and be.
Being confident in not-knowing. That’s quiet confidence.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mindBernard M. Baruch