On Confidence

I always wondered what having confidence “really looked like”. As a teenager and younger woman people often considered me as confident; possibly because of the way I carry myself. In truth I rarely felt that about myself, perhaps for fleeting moments.

Then a friend of mine in Chengdu once said about confidence – that it is an ever changing experience. That some times it’s there and sometimes it’s not. So I went with that for a while. And I believe that’s true in a sense, but only part of the mystery.

The other day, my questions around confidence surfaced again because I was gradually aware of feeling more and more confident lately. I was curious as to how it would be described in a dictionary, so I looked it up online.

Confidence: a feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

“She’s brimming with confidence.”

Ok, but to me that still seems a little bit shallow, and if it slips into overconfidence there is the risk for pomposity.

Quite recently, what I read somewhere else, struck a chord with me. (I am paraphrasing now and possibly adding ideas and thoughts from other sources too.)

True confidence comes from knowing that you will be able to bounce-back from a failure, set-back, or loss, by taking appropriate action whatever that might mean: asking for help, taking some time for yourself, trying again, changing direction, trying to learn the same thing differently, softening into the difficulty, possibly even doing nothing, and so on. Of course this has to come with the understanding that the path will be challenging, but that the effort made is most valuable, and that things don’t have to end with the problem.

I might be leading up to hope…

But again, most importantly as Dick Moore mentioned in a talk he recently presented to some of us on Mental Health and how it affects our children today, my understanding of confidence for now is having what he calls, “bounce-back ability,” and knowing that you will be able to access it when needed.

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