Remember back in July when I started my supposedly 40-day character makeover? Yeah, I don’t really either. Over the past week or two I’ve been working my way through the second character trait, confidence. Since I started this 5-day look at confidence quite some time ago I hope to remember and reflect upon what I’ve learned, both on having confidence and my own seeming inability to have much confidence. As I mentioned in my last post on humility, I’ll apologize up front as this is me processing what I’m learning and might not flow well. Maybe something will strike you and give you something to think about. Maybe you’ll skip this and hope I write something more fun tomorrow.
Confidence. “Confidence gives you courage and extends your reach. It lets you take greater risks and achieve far more than you ever thought possible.” Jack Welch, chairman & CEO of GE.
A few paragraphs later the author then says, “Confidence gives us that inner self-assurance that helps us interact effectively with others.” Whoa. Is that part of my shyness? Maybe. Is that why I so often feel the opposite of the “expert” everyone thinks I am at work? Even more likely. Is that why I often feel inadequate as a mother? Probably. So what’s a girl to do?
I often see two kinds of confidence. One I’ll refer to as genuine, the other fake, for lack of better terms. I see people who have a sort of bravado, maybe cockiness about who they are. That seems to me a fake confidence. Where is their surety coming from? Most likely other people who have fluffed their feathers, or a puffed up sense of self. Then there’s the other people. People who have a quiet surety of who they are. They don’t need to put forward lots of reminders of who they are, they just are. They are forces to be reckoned with, people who deserve our respect, people we listen to. That’s the kind of confidence I want, but where does it come from?
The author handles that by claiming that as a Christian my confidence should flow from my faith and confidence in God. “Confidence is only as good as in whom you place your confidence.” She uses self-esteem as an example citing that, “sociologists tell us our self-esteem is based on what we believe the most important person in our life thinks about us.” If my self-esteem is based on something outside me, I better hope that person thinks the world of me. My problem is that I often look to other people for that standard, the media, friends, family, teachers … and not to God. I’m not even sure I want to go where that could lead, save to say that if God loves me and created me unique and special, why do I focus so much on my weight or other physical traits I dislike? Why can’t I be confident in who I am and how I look simply because I know God loves me and made me for a purpose? This is one thing I hope to begin working on, finding my value, worth and confidence in God, not other people.
The story of Deborah (Judges ch 4-5) is brought up to demonstrate six qualities of a confident person. Confident people are problem-solvers, risk-takers, realistic about their strengths, competent, know their purpose, have an awareness of not being qualified.
Next up is dealing with insecurity, or “confidence robbers.” I need to know who I am and not constantly compare myself to others feeling superior at times and inferior at other times. I need to know why I am here, what my purpose on this planet is. I need to know what I am worth and that my worth is not tied to getting everything right (perfectionism) being in charge of everything (control) or how I feel about myself (depression). What are my weak spots? Perfectionism, control mistaking feelings for fact, projecting, comparison. Basically trying to measure up to some ridiculous standard that pretty much sets me up for failure. Guess a change in thought patterns is due, needing to focus more on God and less on myself.
How to do this? I need to change negative thoughts, “confidence robbers,” into positive thoughts that I can claim over and over whenever one of those confidence robbers tries to swoop down and get me focused on myself and how I don’t measure up. Philippians 4:8 encourages us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy. I struggle most with negative thoughts in my appearance and feeling worthless and inadequate. I need to remember to tell myself often that, to copy Stuart Smalley from SNL, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me.” Or more importantly … God made me perfect and with a specific purpose, He takes care of me and through His strength I can do all things.
I am a unique person created for a specific purpose. My problems, while I might like to think them unique to me are common to pretty much everyone though they may look different for different people. However, I am unique, my potential is my own. What God has planned for me is different from what He has planned for someone else.
My moment of clarity: This is not something that I can do easily. I will need to remind myself constantly and rely on God the whole way. So I need to be more intentional when it comes to prayer. When something comes up, a thought, a circumstance, whatever, I need to bring those to God and seek to gain his perspective on them. As I train myself to pray more and focus more on God’s perspective I’ll be better able to recognize the lies I’m telling myself and change those ingrained thoughts to positive ones.
Here’s to hoping another three months doesn’t go by before I finish up the five days on courage!