Recently I noticed a major change in myself – I do no longer fake confidence.
The way I used to do that was by constantly re-assuring others that we were on the right track, doing the right thing and absolutely everything was working out as planned. It is an old habit, as I am the first-born and from early on I took responsibility for others. Old habits are diehard and today I recognise the many tactics of manipulation I applied, to build my own sense of security.
Taking the lead has been engrained in me. As long as I can think back I have been in charge for the decision making of a group – privately or publicly. And when I did not get to be the formal leader, I would soon be the one influencing the decisions. As long as I had the means of determining the fate of the group, I felt I lived up to expectations – and felt safe.
So in order to make everyone come along, one has to exude confidence and I remember that I often had difficulties with it, because after I got everyone rallied to go in a certain direction, I would often lose interest in it and went looking for new things. Of course, if there was a crisis, I would be there at the helm again, but I never liked having to work on keeping the team together and often wondered about it. To motivate a group initially was never a problem, but keeping them motivated I felt was a strain.
And this is when I had to admit to myself that I was often faking confidence and enthusiasm – and that I was not very good at it. This was not just because of being in it way over my head – that played a role too, but there was always something else that was dragging me down and sucked the energy out of me. Today I think it had to do a lot with an enormous fear of being found out that I somehow lacked the skills, competence or even authority to do it right and typically I would seek out situations that only aggravated such secret feelings of lack. Valid thoughts or not – it does not matter, it compromised my own sense of ability and achievement.
Anyway, it appears I lived a life of someone quite accomplished, but secretly I thought it was all a big charade. Despite success I simply did not feel – authentic.
Confidence means to be aligned. It is knowing and – acknowledging – one’s abilities, skills and talents are matching the demands out there. It means also to understand that ambition is a good thing, but it is important to see what is driving the will to excel. When I was much younger, it was really more about finding out how far I could go and what I could do, so I never felt that sense of lack. But later it was about solidifying and this was when I started to feel trapped and that in turn affected my confidence. I simply did not know what do to do with myself, but to admit to it, simply seemed too threatening to even consider. So instead of yielding and listening to my own heart, I did what I knew to do – get in over my head and succeed, come there hell or high water.
My life has changed very much now. I abandoned decisions, if not my vision, and live by conscious choices that feel aligned to my true being, not to my expectations. I allow life to lead me, which requires me to listen and be attentive. It requires me to do what I am doing fully, and to notice when I am not. In consequence I have developed some natural authority that feels genuine to me. I know my stuff and even tough I push boundaries and go beyond what I know every day, it has not felt like being in over my head in a long time. There is a deep sense of being on the right track even tough I could not tell you what that really is. I do have a broad vision of what I would like to do and this is based on my talent, skills and preferences, but I have learned to be completely open to the particulars.
And there is something that to me feels much deeper than confidence. It is a knowing that this is my path and that I am walking it. It is a sense of authenticity and the feeling that all is well, even if things do not work out as planned. I do no longer need to persuade, rally or convince others. They come by themselves, and if they don’t they were not meant to be there. I have (almost) learned to wait it out, to give it space and that there are times to develop the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual ability and stamina to fully live a life suspended upside down. It feels like doing nothing, but boy – do I get done.
So I am just being myself. And that is all that’s needed.