Con Artistry of Confidence

Monday, April 16, 2018

"I am a lie, and everyday I kill to make it true"

Okay, so if there are droves of really successful and attractive people that lack confidence, and then plenty of less successful and subjectively-less attractive people that have a lot of confidence - then we can say that confidence is not merely a product of the external self, but rather, is contained more in the power of the mind.

But, what has to sit right in the mind for us to have a golden confidence?

I'd argue that there's a million different ways to think about this, but I'll share mine with you in the hope of inspiring something positive.

You are an actor/actress. There is a script you have to play. The protagonist that you need to portray has been described as confident, charismatic, friendly, and what the world calls for. Let me try to unpack this.

When I was in university, not that long ago, I used to get bone-crunching anxiety: like cannot-breathe-panic-attack type of anxiety even a few weeks out from a small presentation. Small talk, networking events and even just meeting new people gave me an intense tension in my upper body that made it hard to speak properly, let alone think.

Today, though I still get nervous, that anxiety is something I can mostly control and in a way I love being in the spotlight. If I look back over this time, playing a role was one major mental mind trick that helped me come out of my shell.

I hope you can understand this clearly. By default, I am a reserved and meek person because I was hurt really badly in the past in ways I am not brave enough to share yet. I always put others values and opinions above my self, and I realised on many occasions that life gives advantages to people who weren't like me, and people like us who are shy miss out on good opportunities. In other instances this was literally a survival mechanism.

I thought about pop culture, and how people have stage personas which they use when performing. So when I had to present a lot at university, I would tell myself that I was an actor, and I was reading a script. The persona that I had to play had to exude all the confidence and charisma in the world. I could switch it on when I had to present, and when I finished I could stop acting and retract back into myself.

Even the first time I did this, I felt it a bit weird, but for the confidence and energy it gave me, I thought I was onto something. This clear mental delineation between my core self and the character the world needed me to be:

  1. Made me feel like I was shielding my true self from the painful scrutiny of everyone else (who I always thought were better than me)
  2. Gave me a fountain to source an energy and confidence from deep inside of me that I never surface before

Then something weirder happened. I noticed that it wasn't just presenting where I needed this persona. I needed it when I walked down the street, entered that meeting or sauntered into that party. So, absurdly enough, I would script the way that I would carry myself and the things I would say to people before I met them in more and more of my social interactions.

As time went by, through years, this character started to bleed out into every little nuance of my life, even times when I was by myself. And slowly but surely, it took over. It's not like I'm not being genuine. This persona is more authentic than my former self because it essentially let out the person I always wanted to embody, but was always too scared to be.

The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are. These are all necessary parts of us in this world whether we like it or not. For me, it was about building that muscle in the first face, and showing my other faces to people that I am lucky enough to trust. 

I'm not posturing that this is the best way to go about self confidence, but it has improved my life in the most beautiful ways. I am a con-artist of confidence. Most people don't see through it, but some do, and I thankful to them for paying enough attention. Either way, this is the lie I live, and everyday I kill to make it true, and maybe it's a little thing that can help you too.

Let me know if you what you think.

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  1. but doesn't that make it like you're not being yourself?

    1. First, it seems like not being true to yourself is deemed as bad. I think sometimes it is reasonable: might not be safe to 'be your true self', or not ready to show that true self.

      Second, maybe instead of thinking of acting as not being yourself, can think of acting as a way to improve your true self. Method to improve/refine the true self.

    2. @anonymous (13:36) - yes, at times I feel like I am not being default instinctual self, but that default and natural self is not what the world calls me to be at the time. My default state is alone and silent. I can't be that all the time.

    3. @anonymous (14:26) - thank you, that is the way I thought about it. I was acting because there was a part of me that I could never find. It didn't come naturally. I had to force it out. It is still me but takes a lot of energy out of me.

  2. In reference to the three faces, maybe the care should be taken to develop the third face: the innerfacing one. The first often seems important but I wonder if it is just a stepping stone to ensure a well-developed inner face. A strong third face might help ensure that the other faces are strong enough. Hmm

    1. I agree - perhaps that is one of the end goals of development. A really powerful third face that one has strong confidence in means that that person will have the fortitude to share that with the world. However, sometimes the 3rd face could also be how one is naturally and at the most instinctual level - and this is only appropriate in the safest of conditions. Ultimately that depends on the state of the 3rd face.

  3. I too have chronic anxiety. It wasn't until I read a quick book called Dare Response that I was able to get my life back.


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