You are confident when you simply are who you love being.
A young man came to meet me some days ago. He confessed that he has low self-esteem. And that, he said, was forcing him to be tentative in almost all situations. Often this tentativeness was translating into insecurity and fear. He wanted to know how he could be more confident of himself.
The only way to be confident of yourself is to not bother about what people have to say. Simple. If there’s something you have to do, go do it. When you do something, when you present yourself to the world, naturally, there will be several opinions that will be thrown up about you and what you have to say or do. If you fear those opinions, you will be tentative, therefore, you will lack confidence. Over time, this tentativeness will cripple you. You will become phobic – not wanting to express yourself freely and fearing judgment all the time.
The way to deal with such a situation is to first understand Life. The fact is that you are created special – you are gifted and talented in your own unique way. And this lifetime is really an opportunity to express that talent. When you don’t express yourself freely, you are not living fully. You are living an incomplete Life. This incompleteness, this lack of fulfilment is what manifests itself as a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence. Some people, like the young man I met, are acutely aware of this state; most people blunder along not knowing they are even living incomplete lives.
The way to regain self-confidence is to go do what gives you joy! Only doing what you love doing, only expressing yourself fully, freely, without inhibitions, can give you joy. And when you are truly happy, from within, then you are really not concerned about what people have to say about you. So, in essence, self-confidence lies in just being who you are. When you are the way you love being, without a care about what people think or people say, you can only be happy, you can only be confident.
Have you heard the birds sing? They sing without a care about whether anyone hears them sing or what they think. They sing because they want to sing. They sing to express themselves. The birds don’t have a self-esteem or self-confidence problem. Surely, we humans can learn from those humble birds?
Or, without appearing to trivialize the discourse, if you want to learn from another human, learn from Trump. When he tweeted ‘covfefe’, he surely didn’t bother about public opinion. He simply expressed himself. He still doesn’t care what people think of him and the word he invented! Perhaps, ‘inventing your covfefe’ can be a metaphor for being yourself and being confident!?
Pain is a teacher. Learn from it.
Recently, a money lender came to me asking for his money back. I explained our grave situation to him and asked for his forgiveness for being unable to repay what I owed him. He said: “You are being honest, you are available and you are facing the situation. Pay me back when you can AVIS. But never give up the good fight to bounce back in Life.” He then shared this sage line with me: “Extra-ordinary pain in Life is not a sign of some past karma or your sins catching up. It is a sign of extra-ordinary grace.”
I find great value in his perspective.
We have two options in Life! Either to learn from our suffering and move on, finding in the process the true essence and meaning of Life, or we live our Life remaining stuck with our pain and misery.
Think about it this way. Just as you cannot control the seasons, or the sunrises and sunsets, or the rain, or the rainbow, you cannot control Life. Nor can you control what happens to you through your lifetime. So, pain and pleasure are both inevitable. Pleasure you never have a problem with. Because who will say no to pleasure? But when pain arrives, you have a huge problem. You wish it weren’t there. Whenever and wherever there is a wishing, an expectation, agony and suffering is assured. So, in effect, nobody can escape suffering the first time you are afflicted by pain. But surely you can learn not to suffer when pain strikes the next time!
Intelligent living is the ability to learn, appreciate and accept the nature of Life as being uncontrollable and to understand its essence. It is to know that if you are born, you will be subject to some pain, some time or the other, in Life. It is also to know that you have the choice to learn from Life’s painful episodes and moments, and move on, by choosing, therefore, not to suffer. On the other hand, if you cling on to your pain, or the sources that cause you pain, you will be stuck with it. You will then be wallowing in a cesspool of suffering, misery, agony, accompanied often by self-pity and low self-esteem!
Only those who know that freedom from suffering, and peace, comes only when you stop fighting Life, will be able to move on. And unless you discover this truth about Life, you will remain stuck.
Nobody can avoid or escape pain. Your awareness can, however, help you understand that whatever is happening is happening to you only for you to learn from it, only for you to become stronger and wiser from the experience. This understanding of Life is the way out of suffering. This is the truth! The other truth, though paradoxical, is also profound – without suffering you cannot understand Life! This is the grace, the awareness, that my money lender friend is referring to.
So don’t remain stuck with pain. Use whatever is causing you pain__and suffering__as a means, a channel, to understand Life. And liberate yourself through that understanding!