My boyfriend once told me that nobody could ever hurt his feelings, because he’s “confident.”
He seemed to be unintentionally implying that since my feelings do get hurt, I must not be confident enough.
Naturally, this really hurt my feelings.
But it also got me thinking. What exactly is confidence? What is it about, and what are the requirements for it to exist? Are there multiple definitions, depending on what we’re talking about?
Since I generally consider myself a very confident person, I was surprised (read: irritated) to learn that my partner thought otherwise. But since I respect his opinion and wanted to understand this nebulous concept of “confidence,” I gave it some thought.
At first I thought about when I feel the most confident.
When I’m doing stuff I’m great at, I guess…. working out, writing, coaching calls, content creation, and interacting at a party or social gathering. I’m pretty indestructible in these areas, and honestly it would be really hard to hurt my feelings about any of these things.
If I was squatting at the gym and someone gave me judgey side-eye, laughed at me, or even outright said I sucked at it, it wouldn’t really hurt my feelings. I’d probably be bummed to get someone’s negative energy aimed at me (because that’s a yucky feeling) but I wouldn’t be offended or upset.
Why? Because I’m really good at squatting, and feel completely in my element when I’m lifting. So anything the person said would obviously be about them, not me.
As I continued to explore this idea I started to get the feeling that maybe my partner was right.
If someone said I sucked at coaching or writing, I would assume that we just weren’t a good coaching/content-style match for me. I might ask about their thoughts on how I could improve, but only out of curiosity. I’d probably be a bit humbled to remember that I have a lot to learn and not everyone will like me, but again, I wouldn’t be hurt or offended. Huh.
Next I decided to look at an area where my feelings CAN get hurt, in order to see if this confidence thing panned out, and I came up with the following examples of situations that have (historically) really hurt my feelings:
Example 1: Feeling rejected by my intimate partner.
It doesn’t matter if the person happens to be tired, sick, stressed, busy, or literally in the middle of running away from a bear. If I extend a desire for intimacy from someone and am turned down, my heart screams out in pain.
Now let’s check: am I confident in this area? Hahahahahha. No. The answer is no. It’s painful because every time it happens some tiny lizard part of my brain is like IT’S ALL OVER HE DOESN’T LOVE ME ANYMORE, BURN IT DOWN. (Super helpful stuff there, brain.)
Anyway, there are triggers all over this category for me that definitely show a distinct lack of “confidence,” as it were. And yes, I believe that’s why it hurts my feelings so much.
Example 2: My older brother says something mean to me.
Historically nobody on earth can hurt my feelings as much as Ben Kneeland. It’s like a superpower. Even a casual observation about my character like “you’ve always…” can feel like a lance through my heart.
Why are my feelings so hurt-able in this example? Because growing up I wanted him to like me so badly, and he more or less flat out refused to find me charming or lovable. So despite how close and loving we are nowadays, there is still an underpinning lack of “confidence” there.
Ok, so it seems like my boyfriend’s (irritating) observation might be pretty accurate.
When do you get your feelings hurt the most often? Can you detect a relationship between those patterns and where you’re lacking confidence?
What about in the reverse? When do you feel the most confident? How easy or difficult would it be to get your feelings hurt in that area of your life?
This seems to go back to a concept I’ve been teaching clients for a long time, but had never quite connected to “confidence”:
If your feelings get hurt, or you get triggered by something someone says to you, then some part of you must agree with that statement.
Think about it.
If someone called you a blue crocodile, you wouldn’t be hurt or mad. You would just simply disagree (and probably wonder a little bit about their sanity or state of mind). But if someone called you “fat” then your feelings could get hurt. Why? Because you’ve had this thought about yourself! Some part of you, even if it’s a tiny part, agrees with what they’re saying.
The hurt can only happen where you agree.
Confidence, then, is the self-assurance that there is quite simply nothing to agree with. It’s the faith that you see yourself clearly, and the other person is inaccurate or irrelevant to what you know to be true.
When clients ask me “how do I become more confident about…?” this is where we start. With your own beliefs about yourself. By capitalizing on the areas in which you do feel confident, and making changes to slowly alter the areas in which you don’t.
Remember, you are not a blue crocodile. <3
P.S. I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Come on over to my private facebook community Women Who Empower Other Women Unite and share your thoughts or experiences. When do you feel the most confident? When do you feel the least? Why?
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