Confidence is found when shame is eradicated.
Simple. So how do we eradicate shame? Not with force or bravado but something much more subtle.
My five-year-old daughter watches me every day. She captures details that I didn’t think anyone would notice, but she does, and it is not just the hard-skills that she is learning. The confidence I see in her to try new things exists because of how her mother and I try.
Long before she takes her first attempt at anything, a child is watching her parents try. Their success does not matter, not to those watching eyes. What does matter is how they win and how they fail. When you win, is it against yourself? Are you growing? Or is it against someone else who is shrinking? When you lose, have you learned? Are you growing? Or are you bitter and shrinking?
That is not to say that failure doesn’t hurt, or that we should hide the hurt when we fail.
Confidence is not about what we do, it is about who we are.
When our successes are measured against the failures of others; we teach shame. When our successes are measured against ourselves; we teach growth and confidence. Similarly, when our failures are measured against ourselves; we teach motivation and persistence. When they are measured against others; we teach shame anxiety and procrastination.
Shame and fear like to stay hidden, they struggle to exist out in the open. My daughter loves to sing and wants to be a rock star when she grows up, but she tells me she is afraid to sing in front of people. Great! This is where she gets my praise. She doesn’t get praise because she is afraid, but because she shared her fears with me. As I write this, I can hear my daughter singing “Trolls Just Want To Have Fun” for her younger brother. She might not be ready to step in front of an audience, but her fears do not stop her from doing what she wants. By sharing, she has support against those fears.
My daughter is far more confident than I am, so she must get it from her mother, but as her father, she is looking to me to foster confidence, not show her confidence. Confidence may look like energy and fearlessness on the outside, but on the inside it is gentle and it is comfort. Confidence is not a surge of bravery, it is every day, every moment, knowing that she has what it takes to face the world on the good days and the bad.
I am so proud of my daughter, more importantly, she is proud of herself.