What is self-confidence, really?
Well. Here’s one way of looking at it.
Do you care about what other people think about you?
That’s one of the biggest reasons why you stay anxious. You’re always acting out alternative versions of events that have already happened in that little head of yours.
You might often wonder if you said the right thing or if a certain somebody was looking at you strangely. You might also ask yourself things like, what exactly did she mean when she said “Yeah, whatever?”
This constant monitoring of other people’s emotions and reactions is tiring, time-consuming, and cranks things up on the anxiety dial.
Obviously this isn’t news to you, but what might be is that you can slow down this tendency.
I was looking for a podcast to listen to on NPR awhile back and came across a short but very informative podcast about a woman named Traci Foust. She’s the author of Nowhere Near Normal: A Memoir of OCD.
The book is about Traci’s struggle with OCD, when it started, how she was diagnosed, and what she did about it.
Anyway, toward the end she mentioned that one of the things that really helped her to get a handle on her anxiety was to simply say two words: So what?
Traci mentions that this was particularly helpful when trying to stop her obsession with what other people thought of her. Traci realized that this constant self-monitoring was causing her a lot of anxiety and that in the end there wasn’t any good reason for it.
She would repeat the phrase “So what?” to herself on a daily basis. This was to remind herself, to convince herself, that it doesn’t matter what others think about you.
I’ll concede that you better care about what your partner thinks about you, or your dog maybe, but the random fellow walking down the street? No so much.
Look, there isn’t any possible way in the world that everyone will always like you. There are just too many variables involved and, in the end, it doesn’t even matter.
Take a chance and believe me on this, 99.9% of people who walk past you on any given day forget about you the second you’re out of sight.
Even if you realize that someone doesn’t like you, so what?
Move on. Instead, focus on things you can control, like what you think about yourself, what things you can do to improve your life, you know, stuff that matters.
So let me answer the question directly – What is self-confidence?
In a nutshell, self-confidence is believing in yourself and not giving other people the power to define you. You do this by not caring so much about what they think about you.
Because once you stop caring so much about things like that – things you can’t control – the sooner you’ll start to be yourself.
In this regard, being authentic and cool with yourself is much more than a virtue, it’s the gateway to peace of mind.