Updated: Jul 13
Where do you feel you need to perform perfectionism to give you confidence?
It can feel like a tantalising lure, can’t it? “If I get everything right, everyone will think that I'm brilliant, or at least not think that I'm rubbish, and then I will have evidence that I am OK, and I will suddenly feel confident.”
I think we've all tried it, but the sugar rush is exceptionally short-lived. And you may suddenly begin to notice that once people have gone back to getting on with their own lives or not praising you anymore, you crave more from them. Or maybe you notice Darren was not quite as over-enthusiastic as everyone else. And didn't you notice Sally not commenting at all, and suddenly the same interaction which gave you such a boost can send you into a shame spiral.
Because outsourcing your well-being to other people is a fragile, vulnerable, unstable way to create confidence. You're always seeking the next opportunity to please someone else rather than create a sense of safety within yourself.
You never get satiated when you're confident and hungry from others.
The only way to build true confidence within ourselves is to have the courage to begin listening and trusting ourselves. It is a slow road, not the rollercoaster of being a validation sponge, but looking for the ways we show up in alignment with our values can slowly begin to build pathways in our minds. Which reminds us we are the kind of people who pay attention to things that we care about. Maybe it's the way that you look after your friends, or perhaps you are the one who does that thing really well at work, or maybe you're excellent at making your partner laugh when they're sad, or perhaps you can always be trusted to have the kettle on. What are the ways that you are confident and that you are capable?
And notice how easy it is to dismiss these things as not as significant as your “failings”. That is just your brain believing it will cost more energy to create confidence than to sit around waiting for other people to lavish you with praise. And your brain is always trying to find ways to save energy.
Which is why creating confidence is an active process of noticing what you are good at, what you complete, and what you don't doubt you can do, even if that is as simple as putting some shoes on. And consciously deciding to notice and praise ourselves for these things about ourselves, we begin building a repertoire of thoughts which are based on confidence in our own capabilities. Because we strengthen these neural pathways each time we decide to notice our own achievements.
And this is how you build confidence, one cup of tea at a time.