After teaching a class a few weeks back, a student approached me to chat. We made small talk, and then he mentioned a class he had taken with another instructor from the Studio. “Her class is really good,” he said, “She’s a great teacher.” “Please tell her that,” I said to him. She is amazing; truly coming into her own power; but all of us who are teachers have moments of doubt about their ability. He looked puzzled and surprised. “Okay,” he said.
Then he asked, “Hey — what about you? You never seem to have any lack of self-confidence.” I responded as I always have to compliments, especially the back-hand variety. “Oh,” I laughed, “I’m just faking it.” He laughed. “Me, too” he said. And we went our separate ways.
I’ve been thinking about that exchange; and I’ve realized something.
I’m not faking it anymore.
Maybe that sounds like bravado; and let me tell you, it’s not that I am brimming with confidence every moment of every day for sure. I realized in that moment that most of my life I have been faking any confidence I exhibited.
It’s a given, in this society, that you have to exude self-assurance; be certain what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it – even if those concepts have yet to fall into line. So you develop a firm handshake; look people in the eye; and sometimes waste years bumbling down the wrong roads in life because you’re so busy pretending you know what you’re doing, you never stop to ask directions.
Reminds me of a family story we’ve giggled about for years; we were all in the car when my father turned the car out onto the road, going completely the opposite direction of where we were supposed to go. He was already in a grumpy mood, and no one wanted to be the one to tell him of his error. We continued, driving down the road, and my mother tactfully asked — “Do you know where you are going?” “YES!” he bellowed. Two beat pause. “I’m going the WRONG DAMN WAY, that’s where I’m going!” Then, of course, we all cracked up.
You could pretty much describe my first marriage with this symbolism, but let’s not go there.
What is confidence, really? In my thinking, It relates to the ego. In many yogic or religious schools of thought, they talk of subduing the ego; diminishing the ego; eliminating the ego.
Not so in Kriya.
In Kriya yoga, they speak of building the ego – not to make yourself into a defiant, separate entity; not to inflate your opinion of yourself and your worth; and certainly not to compare yourself to others. You strengthen the ego so that you know who you are; what you are trying to accomplish. You know what you value; you know your own strengths and limitations.
You also know where you’re going, and what the real goals are.
Having an ego helps you to discern that faint line that differentiates between being of service to your fellow beings, and being the flat little doormat under their feet.
I’ve served my time as a doormat. And the thing is, it doesn’t help anyone to achieve anything other than the negative karma the other person creates from harming you, and the negative karma you create for yourself by ALLOWING others to diminish you.
Where does self-confidence come from?
For me, it has emerged from finally beginning to know (and accept) myself; by testing myself and pushing out of my comfort zone; understanding the outer limits of my mind; of my body; recognizing myself as spirit – unchanging, undying – untarnished.
It has come from taking responsibility for everything, EVERYTHING that comes into my life; the good, the bad; the sublime, the ridiculous.
It comes from TIME. You know, certain things just take TIME. If you want an apple pie, you need to plant the apple tree. But it takes years from planting the tree to making the pie.
So many people don’t bother planting the tree.
I am not always confident; I am sure that there will always be times when fear invades, confusion interferes; when I crawl back in time to being the person I was instead of the person I have become.
Though even the fearful me, the confused me, the lost me — at the end of the day, can stand before a mirror, and look myself in the eye; smile; bow and say “Namaste” – which means the light of God in me sees the light of God in you; and I honor you.
Try it sometime; it is not as simple as it sounds. And it will tell you a lot about yourself.