Studies show that people who are moderately overconfident benefit from it.1 The reason? They act according to their overconfidence, which brings them more opportunities to meet that standard. Others may have a more realistic point of view, which acts as their ceiling.
Thinking realistically isn’t even logical anymore. A guy tightroped across Niagara Falls. A blind man scaled Mt. Everest. People have been doing unrealistic things forever. So maybe realistic doesn’t actually mean realistic. Maybe realistic means average.
You can see there’s a benefit in having confidence and even overconfidence, but confidence is only possible if you’re amazing, right? Wrong.
What Does Confidence Require?
These are common excuses people have for not being confident:
- But I’m overweight
- But I’ve never done anything impressive
- But I have acne
- But I have a disease
- But I don’t make enough money
- But I’ve never acted confidently before
- But I’m shy
What do these all say? I’m not good enough as is.
People have these ideas of what they need in order to be confident, but that’s not the right perspective. And I don’t mean that in a self-helpy way of “you’ve got to believe in yourself!” I’m saying you don’t need any of those things to be confident.
To be confident doesn’t require you to be a superstar; you don’t have to be attractive; you don’t have to be employed; you don’t have to be anything but yourself. Confidence should be everyone’s default demeanor, because everyone has the right to be confident about who they are right now, even if they have areas to improve.
General Confidence Does Not Require Specific Confidence
Too often, we see confidence as derivative of someone who’s “got it goin’ on.” That’s so misleading! Confidence only means that you’re comfortable in your own skin. That’s it. If you let the world pressure you into thinking you need to be someone else, that’s the precise moment you lose confidence.
The reason we think this way is because many people derive their general confidence from areas of specific confidence. For example, someone who is very attractive will have specific confidence in that area, which will likely fuel greater overall confidence (especially in a superficial society). Sports stars and famous actors will fuel their general confidence from their success in their field. Big success in an area only makes general confidence easier, it’s not a requirement.
This is seen everywhere, so most people believe in the formula: if I could only ____, then I would be confident!
Now, I’m not denying the validity of that. It’s absolutely easier to be confident when the world sees you as someone special.
What I am denying is that it’s the only way or even the correct way to derive confidence. Basically, confidence is assuredness in something. I’m confident in my ability to play basketball, and not confident in my ability to play guitar. The confidence that matters most is confidence in your identity—how confident are you as a person in general?
All people can be assured of themselves by accepting who they are. That’s a simple, powerful truth. Nobody can challenge your confidence in being who you are and living accordingly because nobody knows you like you know yourself. This is great because now your confidence isn’t based on anything flaky like how many compliments you get or if you feel ignored; it’s based on your assuredness that you are [INSERT YOUR NAME HERE]; it’s about your value as a unique person.
This provides an interesting challenge for someone interested in personal growth. If you’re always focused on improving yourself, then you might make the mistake of feeling “incomplete” in your identity until you reach that next level. As great as it is to improve, if you habitually feel like your current self isn’t enough, you won’t enjoy life as much.
The ideal is to accept who you are and maintain a growth mindset; then you’ll invest in your future and improve in areas that matter to you, while also recognizing your merits and right to be absolutely confident in yourself today.
There’s also the matter of owning your flaws. Join Deep Existence to see the subscriber-only message on 9/16/14 which contains this bonus message!