This issue is the mother of all dragons, and very much connected to the first topic in this series, fear of failure.
I have come to see lack of confidence as the reason why we don’t live the lives that we are capable of. I also see it as the major driver of depression.
Here me out…
Imagine a person whose natural inclination is to create beautiful works of art – be these paintings, stories, Photoshop montages, photographs, graphics, interior design, and anything else that involves time and effort – and imagine that this person is spending their days doing everything else. These days are filled with many “important” things, like cleaning, driving to and from work, going to a job that does not stretch their skills and stimulate them, chatting to family, friends and neighbours about the same thing they spoke about the week before.
Although all these activities and conversations are worthy, and very much needed, this person is only doing these things, and is never, or barely spending any time on activities that bring them immense joy.
It would only be the natural outcome of a life spent living for everyone else.
We do it because we become detached from the voice inside ourselves, and this begins in our childhood but really becomes pronounced in our late teens. When we are little, we are free to explore the world around us, and without the pressures of the adult world, we spend endless hours on activities that provide immense pleasure. For my brother it was building billy carts out of discarded shopping trolleys and old lawnmowers, and for me, it was drawing Garfield comics, and creating game boards with fantastical landscapes and endless variety.
Take a moment to self-reflect… (This is the most important!)
As we grow older, we begin to believe that we need to please other people in order to live peacefully and comfortably, and often our target is just that, to avoid making others uncomfortable, and most of all, to avoid any words of criticism. Ouch!
The trouble with this outlook, is though it can be done for a short while, with relative little consequence, as there will be short term satisfaction (the dishes are done, house is clean, bills are paid, partner, children and pets are fed, etc.), over the long term it can have devastating effects.
We will wake up one day, look around us, and feel like a stranger in our own land. Our anxiety will be through the roof, which will drive us to the doctors, or to other “helpers” to provide us with drugs so that we can remove the feeling, or at least numb the angst.
However, as with most temporary measures, as soon as we stop taking the drugs, or seeing a counsellor, or doing any other “activity” that will help ease the pain, we relapse, believing that we are not worthy of life. There is nothing worse.
And, this is not how we are supposed to live.
We need to begin a journey of self-reflection and increased experiences. Self-reflection is the act of reflecting on who we are and most of all, what we value. This is key. Finding what we value provides immense feelings of happiness. When working on something that you want to see more of in the world, you find that anxiety falls away, much like the autumn leaves off a tree, leaving your body and mind to focus on the task at hand, regeneration.
Regeneration is the act of creation. Whatever it is, and whatever field it is in, when we are focusing our time and effort on creating or doing what we value, we don’t feel purposeless and passive. We feel alive, after all, what we are doing is an extension of who we are.
We may lack confidence at first, but with increased experience we will develop knowledge and skills that will only build with time. These experiences can involve anything, from pursuing activities that we have always wanted to do, to studying a course or topic of interest, to travelling to parts of the world that we have always wanted to.
Once we work in alignment with our values, our confidence will naturally increase as we will become very good at what we do. There will be moments, and days where that confidence will feel like it is falling, and even disappearing, however, when this happens, it is always because we begin to focus on what other people value, and make comparisons to ourselves.
We look at what we are doing, or the direction we are going, and compare it with what someone else is doing. After all, that person appears to have success in the eyes of some “important” people and what we are doing doesn’t measure up!
This is a grave mistake.
If you let other people’s values overshadow your own, you will become endlessly frustrated, and will have immense difficulty with realising your own happiness. The goal is to realise the kaleidoscope of goals and behaviours in the world, and see your life as just as important as all the other ways of being.
When you see your role and purpose as just as important as your partner’s, your friends, your neighbours and everyone else, your confidence, like a ship that was lost out at sea, will refocus on True North and will garner all the resolve it naturally has to strive forth.
This is the only way, or we will indeed live lives of quiet desperation, leading to a pathway that we would not wish on anyone.
No, but nothing in life that is worthwhile ever is.
If we want an easy life, we will avoid a lot of hard work, endless negotiations, trials and tribulations, but we will be passive and bored, like a prisoner who is merely living out his days. However, the consequence will be a life without wholehearted joy, and often, if not a fully-fledged depression, at least, an endless feeling of grey clouds, bitterness, and old age way before its time.
It is only through self-reflection and increased experience that our confidence will improve, leading us to pursue a life that is alignment with what we value and who we are.
Please comment below and let me know your feelings on what causes and what can improve our lack of confidence.
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