NEWSFLASH: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CONFIDENCE
No, this isn’t clickbait, I promise.
I have genuinely come to this conclusion:
There is no such thing as confidence.
For such a long time I bought into the idea that confidence is something that you can build or grow or develop. Now I’m not so sure.
There’s something that rattles me about the idea of “being confident” that I wasn’t able to pinpoint for ages. It felt like, particularly for women, that word was everywhere - orbiting around us on magazine stands and by-lines; pointing out what was missing:
“12 Steps to More Confidence”
“Why Confidence is Your Biggest Career Asset”
“The Confidence Gap & How to Close It”
“The Key to Building Your Brand: Confidence”
It all sounds compelling.
“Of course! That’s what I need: more confidence.”
“When I get more of that, then I’ll be able to do the things that feel stretchy; then I’ll be able to put myself forward or share my ideas or step out of my comfort zone.”
Pursuit of confidence has become this holy grail achievement for women of the world who are interested in offering more.
But what if it’s not the holy grail?
What if confidence is simply not ‘a thing’?
What if it’s a myth that has us circling around and around and never actually taking any action because the markers for confidence are really murky? How will I know if I’m confident? What does it feel like to be confident? At what level of confidence will I be ready for X Y or Z? Who knows? It’s all a bit illusive.
I’ve done a great deal of research and observing on this and I want to offer a few more reasons that build on this idea:
1) EVERYONE YOU ADMIRE IS DOING THEIR WORK A LITTLE BIT AFRAID AND WITHOUT ANY CERTAINTY.
I have worked with many incredible women doing brilliant things in the world. I have built charity projects and a business of my own from scratch. What I can attest to is this: in every circumstance where there is a high risk of vulnerability, criticism or rejection - fear and self-doubt is rife. When I think of the women that I admire, I have been relieved to hear them speak to their own self-doubt and how they still struggle with feelings of being an imposter in their work. There isn’t a thought leader or innovator that you look up to who is immune to this and there isn’t a thought leader or innovator out there that isn’t putting themselves and their work out there with any concrete assurance that what they do next is going to connect or have traction.
We have to do things scared.
What is significant is that it’s only through the process of trying, sometimes failing and processing the learning that we develop resilience and wisdom to build our capabilities and way forward.
The way I see it is that instead of pursuing this illusive confidence in our ideas or abilities - what is more human, more natural, more self-supportive is to understand how to manage and create a healthy relationship with our fears and self-doubt, because they are not going away.
2) THE ONLY WAY THROUGH IS THROUGH. AND THEN THROUGH AGAIN.
If only we could escape our self-doubt or feelings of inadequacy, right? If only there was a magic formula that we could ignite when we needed to display confidence in our abilities or activate self-belief.
The reality is that the only way through this stuff is through. And then through again.
Because how we build capacity as humans, how we learn, how we grow and develop is not by bypassing feelings of self doubt, but by moving through them. Once we realise that self-doubt is universal and that fear is our brains way of trying to keep us safe from emotional risks, we can show up for ourselves with more empathy and resolve to give things a go.
This isn’t a linear process. We don’t learn about our self-doubt once and have it mastered. Understanding and managing self-doubt (which will show up in a bunch of different ways throughout our lifetime) is a life-long journey and a muscle that we have to chose to build by deciding that it’s worth moving towards things that feel most true to us, even if certainty of an outcome is not available.
3) THE PURSUIT OF CONFIDENCE ACTUALLY KEEPS WOMEN SMALLER, FOR LONGER.
Like any message we absorb in our culture, there are some particular patriarchal benefits to this idea of pushing women towards this confidence myth.
If women are taken up in the pursuit of mythical confidence and don’t learn the unsexy but important work of managing self-doubt and uncertainty then they will remain distracted, deflated, left-out and will likely give up on the things that they truly want to do.
It serves the capitalistic society that dominates all that we do if we as women chase the unattainable under the false pretence of confidence mastery. It keeps us busy, burnt out, concerned with other peoples’ opinions rather than working through our fears and finding ways to embrace how self-doubt shows up. There is real power and autonomy available for women who are able to dismantle their limiting beliefs and do the brave work of updating them.
SO NOW WHAT?
I’m really keen to help women who want to change up this myth of confidence and get real with their fears and self-doubt. If that’s you, you can download my free PDF below that will give you tools to help you move through fear AND you can join me next week for my free 3-Day ‘Clear & Courageous’ Challenge! Click on the image to join the group!
From Monday - Wednesday next week (14th - 16th of October) I’m going to be hosting a pop-up facebook group for women who want to spend 3 days with me, beginning the radical work of getting clear and courageous about the things they would love to do. Is that you?
This 3-Day Challenge is for women who:
- feel stuck in a cycle of comparing themselves to others and end up doing nothing.
- have a million stories in their head about what people might think of them if they try something new.
- are sick of their self-doubt dictating every aspect of their lives.
- are hiding their ideas because of perfectionism.
- are waiting for someone to give them permission or validation before giving something a go.
- have an overwhelming amount of ideas and don’t know where to start.
If that’s you - let’s do something about this together. Sign up below, CLICK HERE TO JOIN THE POP UP GROUP and know that I’ve got your back.