It is often said that we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it.
While the idea itself is probably way older, the above quote is often ascribed to the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (55-135 C.E.).
Specifically, he stated the following:
“Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions – in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.”
What does this have to do with confidence and empowerment? Only pretty much everything.
See, I’ve found that the most basic difference between a confident and a non-fident mindset is the awareness of optional reactions. Like I’ve written about before, confident people have a mindset of abundance, possibilities and proactivity. Whereas non-fident people have a mindset of scarcity, limitations, and re-activity.
When we become confident, it’s because we shed our fears. This allows us to see possibilities where we used to see limitations and obstacles. And this, in turn, makes actively and consciously choosing what to do so much easier.
It’s when we’re confident that we can choose how we react.
However, this means that the saying of Epictetus isn’t 100% true.
Partly because non-fident people can’t always choose how to react. Because, non-fidents tend to look at life as something that happens to them rather than something which they’re able to influence. Therefore, their awareness of their available options are at a general low — often equaling zero.
Our level of awareness, then, determines to what extent we can choose how we react.
Furthermore, I see several patterns indicating that we can — to a certain degree — choose what happens to us.
Again, this highly depends on our level of confidence. Because the more confident we are, — and, hence, the more proactive we can be, — the more we’re able to set ourselves up to succeed.
The more we’re able to adjust our habits, our environment, our mentality, and our network of people to our advantage, the more we increase the possibility of great things happening in our lives. And the more confident we are, the more we’re able to do this.
If I could decide ONE quote, ONE piece of learning for you to take with you from me, the above might very well be it. Because this is the essence of what confidence does to us. Not only does it mean that we can choose how we react; it also enables us to build that future of happiness and success that we secretly yearn for. And, of course, it allows us to feel worthy thereof.
So, while he did make a name for himself, Epictetus might essentially have been too Stoic for his own good. 🙂
We can observe in highly confident people how having great confidence affects us. How it allows us to create our own realities. And how it really does mean that we can choose how we react.