The obvious and most common answer to the confidence conundrum is to simply believe that you lack nothing. That you already have, or at least deserve, whatever you feel you would need to make you confident.
But this sort of thinking—believing you’re already beautiful even though you’re a frumpy slob, or believing you’re a raving success even though your only profitable business venture was selling weed in high school—leads to the kind of insufferable narcissism that causes people to argue that obesity (something that is more detrimental to your health than smoking cigarettes) should be celebrated as beauty and that it’s, like, totally OK to carve your name into the Roman Colosseum, because, you know, selfies.
A lot of people soon realize this doesn’t work and so they take a different approach: incremental, external improvement.
They read articles that tell them the top 50 things confident people do, and then they try to do those things.
They start to exercise, dress better, make more eye contact, and practice firmer handshakes.
This is admittedly a step above simply believing that you’re already confident and that you don’t belong in the loser loop. After all, at least you’re doing something about your lack of confidence. And actually, it will work—but only for a little while.
Again, this type of thinking only focuses on external sources of confidence. And remember, deriving your self-confidence from the world around you is short-lived at its best and completely fucking delusional at its worst.
So no, external improvement is not a sustainable solution to the confidence conundrum. And feeling as though you lack nothing and deluding yourself into believing you already possess everything you could ever dream of is far worse.
Read that again.
The big charade with confidence is that it has nothing to do with being comfortable in what we achieve and everything to do with being comfortable in what we don’t achieve.
People who are confident in business are confident because they’re comfortable with failure. They realize that failure is simply part of learning how their market works. It’s a reflection of their lack of knowledge, not a reflection of who they are as a person.
People who are confident in their social lives are confident because they’re comfortable with rejection. They’re not afraid of rejection because they’re comfortable with people not liking them as long as they’re expressing themselves honestly.
People who are confident in their relationships are confident because they’re comfortable with getting hurt. They’re not afraid to be vulnerable and tell someone how they feel and then establish strong boundaries around those feelings, even if it means being uncomfortable (or leaving a bad relationship).