Today I want to talk a little bit about confidence. It’s probably more a yang (masculine) quality than a yin (feminine) one. But I’ll just assume it’s of general interest and address both the men and the women.
First of all, what the heck is confidence? It’s what linguists call a nominalization – basically a noun that stands in for a bunch of verbs.
Whenever you have a nominalization, you get confusion. Because each one of us defines that nominalization in our own special way. So words like ‘confidence’, ‘courage’ and ‘understanding’ effectively have 6.5 billion definitions.
So however you define confidence, let’s agree on this much: it doesn’t exist. At least not in the traditional sense of existing.
You can’t put it in a wheelbarrow, and you can’t pinpoint its location in your brain in a PET scan. Not even those fancy, souped up fMRI scans can find it.
It’s a state of mind — some mixture of willingness and self-possession. It’s a catalyst to action but not action itself. Whatever it is, like porn, we know it when we see it.
Our discussion today is mostly about social confidence, but it’s applicable to any other kind of confidence that matters to you.
There are four kinds of confidence. The first kind I’ll call unconscious confidence.
This is a bit like ‘unconscious incompetence’, the first phase of learning, except that you’re not incompetent – you’re SUPER-competent!
This is the fearless confidence of kids. They’ll go up to any stranger and engage in conversation. They’ll say “I love you” within minutes of meeting you. They just don’t know any better than to be outrageous and outgoing and do their heart’s desire.
Gradually, through the teachings of parents and culture, they learn that it’s not okay to (more…)