Confidence: Why loving yourself isn’t enough

In confidence, loving yourself is mandatory, but insufficient if it doesn't go any further than that.Throughout life itself, from cradle to grave — and especially often in the world of self-help and (confidence) coaching — we’re often told to love ourselves. And yes, we totally should.

Questioning this principle seems counter-intuitive. Why wouldn’t loving yourself be a means to an end?

It’s not that it isn’t beneficial. On the contrary, loving yourself is awesome, and we should all do it. Confident people love themselves. So if you want to get confidence, you’d better.

However… Some people might find the very idea indisputable, and unexaggerable. (That’s a word now.) But I never did.

Here’s why:

While loving oneself is definitely associated with confidence, the premise is actually questionable.

Because none of us are fixed, static beings. We grow. We behave and think in accordance with what goes on in our lives and surroundings. Where we want our lives to go — and go away from.

Who you are tomorrow might be slightly different from who you are today. And even more so in a year. Hell, we change all of the cells in our bodies over a seven-year period. Who you are today is literally not the same as you were seven years ago.

Personally, while I’d still hang out with myself seven years ago, it actually wouldn’t apply much further back than that. Before I started my education, I was a mess. My life went nowhere; I was depressed and on social welfare; numbing myself with stimulants galore.

That person, I simply don’t love. And that doesn’t mean I love myself any less today. On the contrary, it’s only because I’ve evolved so much and gained so much confidence since then, that I do. If I hadn’t, I’d still be in that same pitiful position.

Another thing is that everything, as they say, should be done in moderation. And while that also includes moderation itself, it goes for loving oneself, too.

Think about it. Is it really impossible to imagine how one might be able to love oneself too much??

I can mention several examples, both now and through history, of people who would’ve benefited tremendously from having a little less narcissism and a little more realism.

I’m sure several serial killers, and, indeed, several powerful leaders/dictators around the world love themselves. — Just imagine how much better the world would be if those people could take some of their megalomania and replace it with a little empathy, compassion, and generosity. (Yes, I’m totally writing this with someone particular in mind.)

We need to put things into perspective. Yes, you should love yourself if you want confidence. There’s not one genuinely confident person on Earth who doesn’t love themselves. But these two things make them really, truly confident:

       A) They’re aware that they constantly learn and grow, and they make sure to evolve towards even more strength and love, and not away from it.

       B) Their confidence and love for themselves is complemented and supported by the ability to encompass a greater good. Including the lives and needs of the people around them.

And then, of course, there’s ability, determination, focus, dedication, mindfulness, assertiveness, resourcefulness, self-evaluation, self-discipline, exercise, physical well-being… And all the other great things that go hand in hand with being confident.

So, in summary:

If you want confidence, love yourself. But yourself should, ideally, still be moving towards an even more lovable position, and you should also cultivate all the other personal traits that make for a confident human being.

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Forget about forgetting your insecurity — here’s what to do instead!

Only when we accept our insecurity will we get confidence to move on.Deep down, we’d all like to be able to simply forget — or delete — our insecurity.

Some people will claim that we’re better off having insecurity. Because it’s a natural, human trait that keeps us grounded and in touch with our humility.

But when someone with certain ambitions also has low confidence… They just wanna find that insecurity and simply press ‘delete’.

I know you’re out there, and I totally hear you.

However, here’s why we need to go about it a different way…:

Obviously there’s the fact that doing away with a considerable part of our mindset tends to be a time- and ressource-demanding process.

But there’s also the fact that when we want to get rid of something, first we need to accept it.

Those of you who struggle with stress and panic anxiety will know this. The more we fight it, the worse it tends to get. It doesn’t start to go away until we calmly and openly acknowledge and accept that it’s there.

It’s like that for all imaginable problems, really.

Hell, just imagine trying to walk on a broken leg because you won’t accept that it’s broken. Not exactly clever, yeah?

When we accept something, we grow a little. I’m all about personal growth, and this case is no exception.

Because, just like with stress and anxiety, when we embrace insecurity, its influence lessens because we allow ourselves to contain it.

When we’re big enough, we can contain anything. Including the things that have been opposing us. And if we simply absorb our obstacles, they’re no longer in our way.

Pretty cool philosophy, right?

Furthermore, if you’ve ever been insecure, you’ll always remember that feeling no matter how hard you try to forget it. So really, it’s no use. But the root of the matter is, it’s not about forgetting; it’s about learning to ignore it at the right moments.

And yes, I specifically use the word ‘ignore‘ here. Some might think me self-contradictory for talking about embracing insecurity first and  then simply ignore it. But really, this is how confident people do it.

Given the right set of circumstances, anyone can feel insecure about something. This is basic, primal neural functions at work. We’re hardwired to look for trouble. But that doesn’t mean there’s really anything to be insecure about. So we need to learn to distinguish between real and perceived threats. Then, we’ll be able to tell our insecurity to calm down when it’s not useful.

Which, in fact, it rarely is.

Now, apart from acknowledging your insecurity, there are several things you can do that will naturally diminish it.

If done right, meditation helps. Also, exercise is always a good thing. Eating healthy and getting enough sleep should go without saying. (And then, of course, there’s confidence coaching, which I most heartily recommend!)

Different things work for different people. But however you live your life, always remember this:

Everyone feels insecurity. Even confident people. It’s what we DO about it that shows our real character.

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Okay, so you messed up. Now what?

If you messed up something, you might feel embarrassed. But mistakes are necessary if you wanna build confidence.Okay. So you did something wrong. Maybe you made a social blunder; maybe you carried out some task and failed. In short: You messed up.

For people with low confidence, failure can be downright devastating.

I know. Because I used to be ashamed of things I did or said. All the time.

And I’m not talking about calmly realizing one’s wrongdoing and immediately learning from it. I’m talking an involuntary panic-anxiety-attack-like-muscle-spasms-complete-with-grinding-teeth-and-making-noises sorta sensation.

With an inner voice going like: “Screw you! You messed up, and you’re useless! You’re unable to do anything right, and you should be locked away! You messed up, and that’s all you’re ever gonna do!

Every day, several times.

And it doesn’t even have to be something big. It could be a misused word, a social faux pas… anything.

When non-fident people react drastically to making any kind of mistake, it’s because non-fidence is often accompanied by low self-esteem, perfectionism, and insecurity.

When we have low self-esteem, we tend to judge ourselves more vigorously than we would our peers. If we don’t like ourselves, we’re hard on ourselves. Simple as that.

But moreover, if we don’t allow for ourselves to make mistakes, we develop perfectionism. Which, in turn, makes it seem so much worse to us when we do make a mistake. — Or even do something in a manner less than “perfect”. (Which, as I’ve written about before, is a BS notion.)

And then there’s the insecurity, which doesn’t allow for much space for mistakes, nor for even trying. This is governed by the amygdala — the reptilian part of our brain — most commonly known for our “fight or flight” mechanism.

See, amongst our primitive ancestors, social identity was way more important than today. Dangers were all around. If you messed up something, it could get you expelled from your tribe and thrown out into the wilderness on your own.

All of this perfectly illustrates the dangerous downward spiral of non-fidence. If we have low regard for ourselves we make less space for ourselves to make mistakes. This, in turn, causes making mistakes to be even more likely, which, then, will only lead to much more self-loathing and shame.

Because we DO make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. We know this perfectly well, yet tend to act like we’re the only flawed person alive.

But here’s the kicker:

Confident people make WAY many more mistakes than less confident people.

The more confident you are, the less regard you give to other people’s opinion about you. The higher you think of yourself, the less you worry about making mistakes. You know perfectly well that your rights outnumber your wrongs. You know perfectly well that you’re able to learn from your mistakes.

Indeed, if you don’t make mistakes, you can never learn. And if you don’t learn, you don’t grow.

In other words:

For every time you messed up something in life, you had the opportunity to learn, grow, and prevent yourself from making the same mistake again.

So get out there and mess up. Badly. Learn, improve, repeat. And as you learn and grow, watch as your confidence grows with you.

ACTION ITEM:

The next time you’re embarrassed about something, use the following method:

  1. Stop what you’re doing.
  2. Breathe. Ten long, deep breaths.
  3. Think. Realize that whatever negative response on your part are merely thoughts, and that they’re not necessarily true, constructive or favourable.
  4. Choose how you want to feel about what happened. Do you genuinely want to be ashamed? Or would you rather accept, learn, and grow?

The choice is yours.

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