September 2017

Confidence. Girl practicing karate

Confidence

Where does confidence come from?

Why do some people have great confidence while others don’t?

Confidence can be complicated, as it is related to so many other emotions. Courage, happiness, excitement, and other positive emotions can feed confidence, while negative emotions can negate, or decrease confidence.

Confidence is a critical factor in many aspects of our lives. In our professional lives, every time we have the opportunity to advance or take on something that is new to us, we have to feel that we can handle it. We have to have the confidence in our romantic lives to believe that we are a person who is worthy of affection and that we can complement our spouse and make her or him happy.

When I was in my 20s, I had the kind of confidence that comes with youth (read: arrogance). This kind of confidence might actually be a defense mechanism when we don’t have confidence. I think this was probably true with me, especially in my job. When I started as an environmental economist, I didn’t have any experience, so I didn’t know what my strengths were. I was sometimes timid about specific parts of my job (like public speaking). Eventually, I discovered my strengths and learned to play to those strengths with confidence.

Read More
Atone. Young man feeling regret.

Atone

Whoopsie!!

We all make mistakes. Some of us (probably most of us) have made some doozies in our day. Sometimes we may feel that there’s no way to recover—no way we can move on with our lives.

It’s true that bad stuff happens when we make mistakes; they can have serious consequences. They may result in people getting hurt or being otherwise impacted. When this happens, it can affect the way we feel about ourselves. We may feel guilty or ashamed. We’ve not only harmed the person or people that had to suffer the consequences of our mistakes, we’ve also harmed ourselves.

When we make mistakes, sometimes our knee-jerk reactions are more harmful than helpful. We may try to hide from what we’ve done. We may try to deny that it happened, deny that there were consequences, or deny our complicity. We not only are failing to own up to what we did and the consequences of that action (or inaction), we are also being dishonest. And that dishonesty can become part of who we are, and ultimately add on to our guilt and shame.

Read More
Doubt. A woman contemplating her next move.

Doubt

Every time I try something new, expand my comfort zone, or take on unfamiliar responsibilities, I am nagged with self-doubt. Sometimes it’s a whisper on the wind, sometimes it’s a big sweaty man screaming in my face, but it’s always there.

Self-doubt can be a rational dose of reality, or it can be an irrational, paralyzing nightmare. But in either case, I try, with varying degrees of success, to keep the helpful aspects and leave the rest behind.

Throughout each of our lives, we will periodically be faced with situations in which we are asked to do things that we are not necessarily comfortable with. We may not be confident that we have what it takes to get the job done, handle the decisions that need to be made, or even to understand the issues we will face.

Read More