On self-confidence

🙋🏼‍♀️ Dearest you,

This year self-confidence has been a big theme for me. People that don't know me that well usually think I have plenty of it, but that's because I tend to fake a lot of it.

You see, when I was younger I decided that being scared of something is not a good enough reason to not do something.

I'm afraid of flying for example, but that doesn't mean I don't force myself to get on a plane. My strategy for this is 'fake it till you make it'. I just ignore all the fear till the moment when I'm already on the plane, the stewards close the door and there is no way back. This is usually followed by a few hours of sweating, anxiously looking at the crew to see if their faces give away any signs of 'oh no that didn't sound good' and squeezing of the hands of my loved ones. Once we land I promise myself to never do this again, only before I realize that I have already bought a ticket for the flight back home so I had to do it all over again.

Now, this is might not seem like a good example in regards to self-confidence, after all: I'm not the one flying the plane. I use the same approach when doing many things, however, both work-related and in my private life.

If you define self-confidence as the feeling that you can rely on your own skills, knowledge, and judgment, there are roughly two options:

  1. You have self-confidence and trust your abilities.

  2. You don't have self-confidence and you fear because you don't trust your abilities.

Of course, this is a huge simplification as it is a spectrum, rather than a dichotomy. Also, self-confidence may vary per specific ability.

For a long time, I thought that I had my way of dealing with fear was tough.

In the end: it didn't stop me from doing the things I wanted, right?

This year I realized that my way of ignoring the fear was limiting indeed. Because no matter how you deal with a lack of self-confidence, it always blurs your self-knowledge. Instead of being able to look at your abilities mostly objectively, your perception is influenced by fear.

Self-confidence is not about thinking that you can or know everything. It's also not about underestimating your abilities. Self-confidence is about trusting your own abilities. This includes the knowledge that all abilities are under the influence of circumstances. Hence, self-confidence is gained through honest reflection on patterns of behavior, rather than incidental actions.

PS: Self-worth, on the contrary, is not dependent on your actions or the circumstances. It's the fundamental knowledge that you are worthy, no matter what you do or what abilities you have. For the Dutch readers, Jaap van Duin has written a good blog about this difference between self-worth and self-confidence.

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