Tag Archives: confidence

Are you confident?

19 Sep

Ask yourself: Am I confident?

Got an answer?

I anticipate a few different responses:

  1. “Hell yeah, baby! I’ve got it going on!”
  2. “Um, I guess. It kinda depends on the situation.”
  3. “I wish I was more confident. I struggle with having pretty low self-esteem.”

Obviously the answers can vary tremendously, but I’d say that like most aspects of behavior, your answer for your level of confidence will operate on a continuum.

You’re likely thinking that you should be able to answer the question with something close to #1, yet avoiding what would be construed as arrogance and pretentiousness.

Research indicates that lack of confidence is actually healthy. It’s a driver for assessing your weaknesses and learning more in order to better yourself. Don’t confuse this please with a lack of self-efficacy and learned-helplessness. No, you weren’t born with your intelligence being genetically determined. Genes are important, yes. They provide the foundation for what makes us, well, us. However, it’s the environment and how we think and what we do and the activities that we engage in that unlock our genes and govern their expression.

Experience changes our brains in substantial ways. Mindful awareness exercises produce noticeable increases, for example, in brain matter density in the areas responsible for attention and emotion regulation. Why? Because with effort put toward this behavior and our attention being directed in this intentional manner, we increase blood flow to those areas. More blood flow means more nutrients and capillaries growing in those regions.

But back to confidence– if your confidence tank was always topped off how often would you be motivated to try something new, read a book, ask questions, meet people, engage in a challenging conversation, or take lessons to strengthen your skill in a particular area?

competenceIn his book, Confidence: Overcoming Low Self-Esteem, Insecurity, and Self-Doubt, Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic explains how when you look past confidence, what you find is an underlying desire to be competent. We often confuse the two concepts. In essence, when you say, “I lack confidence”, what you’re really expressing doubt about is your competence level in a certain area.

Competence is actually a key factor in our level of motivation and the determination we implement toward a goal. One of our basic psychological needs, it represents our felt sense of mastery and skill. If we hear ourselves saying, “I doubt I can do this” or “I’m not confident I can succeed with this” perhaps this isn’t negative at all, as many people would think it is. I’ve heard plenty of people comment in reply to statements like this, “Have faith!” or “Have confidence! It’ll happen!” Is it important to be positive? Sure. There’s plenty of research that shows a positive attitude changes the biochemistry in our bodies, results in improved health and immunity, and even changes the outlooks of those around us. But let’s not be unrealistically optimistic. “I doubt I can do this” gives us impetus to ask the next question, “What do I need to consider as I move forward?” and “Are there obstacles that I might encounter along the way, and how might I prepare for them?” Anticipating in this manner creates an environment that leads us in the direction of greater competence, and confidence will follow!

I am SOMEBODY! And yet I’m nobody….

14 Jun

Before you email, rush in to save me, and assume I must be experiencing a mid-30’s existential crisis (my birthday is in August and thankfully, I’ll only be 34), think first about your automatic need to reassure me, relieve me of the doubt it appears I’m feeling, and to halt the Kori Crazy-Talk.

What’s that about?!

At some point it seems most of us decided that we’re not supposed to feel helpless, lost, confused, even unimportant, miniscule, tiny. Meaningless….

“Okay, okay already!!”

Yet we do. We feel this stuff. We feel it a lot.

So many of us are walking around like zombies asking “Why?”

“Where is God if I feel so empty, so miserable?”

“What is there in this life for me?”

But what do you do when you notice this questioning, this longing?

You probably push, you scream, and then you hide.

You cover your face, you put on a mask, you go grab the alcohol, you go stuff your face with food you don’t taste, or you pop the pills “you saved for a rainy day…”

Fraud.

Before you get mad at me for being negative and pessimistic, consider how true my statements are and then realize that you just don’t want to hear the truth.

Pedaling this morning on the recumbent bike I noticed halfway through my workout a frenzied surge of energy. Punching the “mode” button a few times to navigate to the “speed”  indicator, sure enough it was registering almost 15 mph faster and at a higher resistance! I had just taken a look again at the photos I’d taken earlier. (As you know I’m preparing for a contest and as it gets closer I am in touch daily with my coach to ensure I’m on the right track). I saw the muscle striations. I saw the full, hard, roundness of my quads and shoulders. I looked crisp. And I got a surge of adrenaline as I imagined standing on the stage in my new suit next to the other competitors, out-posing them, flexing with precision, and hearing nothing but “WIN, WIN, WIN” in my head. I texted my coach- Let’s DO THIS!!

In the next instant I went through a wave of  sinister laughing bouncing from the edges of my skull to  hearing, “you do realize that you’re one in millions of people on the planet…a speck…a nobody…”

I was struck by the profundity of dichotomous emotion. From elated to vacuous, I came full circle and was abrasively reminded of life’s ebb and flow. How tumultuous the depth of emotion we can experience may feel, and yet how fleeting those emotions can be. And what gets an individual to the point which he can face his vulnerability, his raw, wounded,  incomprehensible, and unacceptable self?

“The sun will shine again, huh?” a client said definitively but with the quick upturned tone familiar when a question is asked. Over the phone I could see the tiny lines in the corners of her mouth as she smiled softly.We were discussing my experience this morning and how the circumstances of her life over the last month had registered similar notes.

And another who is wrestling with the grief he is traversing after his father died, said to me, “I’m not sure how long this process is supposed to last, but I know I need to be moving on with my life.” His statement demonstrating his misinformed belief that he could only do one or the other and that the grief needed to have a finite stopping point. I pointed out that he had been laughing a minute earlier and inquired of whether his choice to work with me wasn’t a good enough indicator of his effort toward “moving on.” His father’s death was obviously bringing up uncomfortable emotions, a sense of something missing, a “void” he called it, and as many deaths do, a sense of his own impermanence.

We’re like rivers really. Always flowing. We feel. We feel deeply. And we can acknowledge the importance of those feelings, or we can live like prisoners behind them, giving them the power to cage us and be the guides through the narrow channels of life that offer far less excruciatingly beautiful glimpses of transformative confidence and  daunting frigidity. But we must also realize that they are not all we are.

As somebody I make a difference, I have meaning, I am important, I am connected to the greater good.

As nobody I can recognize my insignificance and the futility which exists in trying so hard to be what I’m not, and in turn expect to reach the depths of both and honor their presence.

Even as I prepare to click “publish” to share this with the world I question 1. ) how my goal of winning a competition is worth getting excited over and more importantly, how superficial an example to  use to demonstrate the power of emotion; and 2.) how self-doubt could lead me to second-guess whether this blog is even worth sharing. Who am I to believe I can touch someone’s life merely by exposing my ineptitudes and the insights I’ve come about as a pilgrim of my personal journey? But then I recall the people I am drawn to most auspiciously– those who relish in life’s fragility, who are wise because they recognize and embrace their flaws, and who sprinkle their wisdom gained from truly living, in the most humble and yet personally rewarding of ways.

As I send this into cyberspace I breathe and hope that it will touch others.

And if it doesn’t, I remind myself that I’m still okay.

Imperfectly Perfect

4 Jan

I have clients all over the world.

Each one interacts with me differently; has a unique sense of humor (or none at all); uses a myriad of terms to describe the same concept; smiles through their emailed words crookedly, with teeth, without, with crinkling eyes, and with bold and challenging “Are you getting what I’m throwing at you, Propst?!”

Some clients I can be glaringly blunt with, while others prefer a softer approach. I can do both.

 

Some are transparent, awkwardly raw and vulnerable. Others are  guarded and require a bit of friendly massaging for them to trust me.

Entertainment is in constant supply, and I say that in the most respectful of ways. I love them no matter what.

Many of my clients are competitors who, do I dare say, exhibit some pretty obsessive compulsive behavior.  They will sometimes admit to me how this gets in the way of feeling balanced. Many feel a constant tug and push/pull between being what they perceive as “normal” and doing what they believe “needs” to be done to achieve their very lofty goals.

Perfectionism runs deep for many of my clients, turned friends, turned close comrades.  Black and white thinking runs rampant among them. Believing they need to be something different from who they are, double-checking their words to make sure people don’t get the wrong impression, fearing how others might perceive them. Ugh. Can you look at your own life and assess how much energy and effort you have put into censoring who you are because of the worry you have over not being perceived as perfect?!

Friends, we are not infallible! Let’s embrace it!

I was thinking today about the people I have in my life who I gravitate toward most often. You know who they are? They are the imperfect ones! They are the ones that fall short, make mistakes, say stupid things, cry over silly commercials, make dumb jokes and then laugh when no one else does, sings in the car when they are tone-deaf, sleeps in a bed that has sheets on it from when they were in middle school, and stumble and blunder and don’t apologize for it!

When I was flying back from seeing my Dad over the holiday, the stewardess (is there another name for this position now? Look, I’m worried about being politically correct!) forgot the words to the airline safety speech. She stopped after a couple of sentences and apologized to the passengers. “I’m so sorry! I need to start over again.” She began again, getting a bit further, but when she went to move her hands toward the area where the masks would drop, there was a long pause. She giggled and said, “Oh my gosh, I totally have to start over again. I’m so sorry!” With a smile, she started at the beginning.  This time she made it through, and after her “thank you”, the passengers clapped loudly, yelling “Encore!! Encore!!”

THIS is what I’m talking about.  I was, and so was the rest of the plane, drawn to her because she was real.  She was genuine. She wasn’t a robot!

She was imperfectly perfect!

Practice being who you are, friends.  That is beautiful.

 

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