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Went to a party this weekend and a few simultaneous events occurred that helped crystallize some thought I've been having about confidence.

First, I was texting a woman I know and she told me that "confidence is sexy" (I was both relaxed due to drink, and happy when we were texting, and that came through). While that was going on, I overheard another conversation about how, at a recent event, the person had run into a supremely confident individual and used it as a teaching moment for some of the men she was with.

Basically, she was hanging out with a number of gentlemen with less than ideal romantic success. While doing that, a gentle dropped by who, while talking to her, turned on the charm. Afterward, she pointed out to the other men present what the gentle had done that was right. Mostly this came down to confidence in approaching and talking to women.

As an aside, it's not the first time I've heard of her doing this. I think if you could make a living teaching dating skills to the socially-stunted, she'd both love and be good at it. Best of all, it would be real advice and not pick-up artist bullshit.

Anyway, I did have one quibble, and that's conflating the cause with the effect. That confident gentle? He's an SCA knight, a Viscount, a body-builder, a father, and came damn close to being the first king of Avacal. I posit that he doesn't have to assume confidence - he's simply been very successful in achieving his goals, which imbues him with confidence. Telling people to "be more confident" assumes that what this gentle did, rather than him simply being a confident individual due to his accomplishments. He's confident because he's successful, rather than being successful by assuming confidence.

I'll cop to their being a feedback mechanism here, but I think the root is the successfulness, not the confidence. Certainly that's the way it's always been with me. When I accomplish something, I become more confident. The more weight I lose, the easier it gets, the more I think I look... OK. The more I exercise, the more I'm convinced that I can do more. And yes, if I'm actually getting attention from a woman, it's easier for me to approach other women (not that I'm interested in philandering - it's more that I can relax and be myself because I've got nothing to prove). One of the reasons I hate depression so much is because it often knocks me back to zero, and getting away from that state is initially a very steep climb. The farther I get away from it, the easier it gets, but it's so very hard to start.

I've seen this conflating of cause and effect in other places. Notably in forgiveness and closure after a hurt. So many people say "you need to forgive this person, so you can move on", but I think it's more the case that being able to move on is thing that allows one to forgive. It's like observing that the scab falls off a wound when you're healed and thinking that to heal you have to pull off the scab.

In the end, "be more confident" is one of those admonishments that I treat like "be taller" - not terribly concrete advice. Better advice is stuff like:

  • Don't be self-deprecating.
  • Engage in basic hygiene.
  • Dress to impress.
  • Don't second guess talking to people, just start asking questions.
(take my advice, I'm not using it)

These all have the advantage that they're all things one can do that are immediately observable. "Be more confident"? How? Does it involve concentrating really hard and sticking my tongue out to one side? "Engage in basic hygiene". OK, I've showered well, shaved, combed my hair nicely, and have just enough after shave to notice in a hug. Done.

For all I know, the rest of the conversation went exactly like that. I hope so.

BTW, in case you think I'm being too hard on her ad hoc students, it was only by the grace of the event steward that I wasn't in their number.

Date: 2015-12-09 05:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] minyata.livejournal.com
Chicken and the egg situation. But in the case of that Viscount (and I am only assuming I know who it is), his world is not all roses and rainbows. His confidence is an act of will. It a choice he makes every morning. As far as I know he doesn't have the chemical brain hurdle of a mental illness to contend with every day. But like anyone else, happiness and confidence are his choice. Mental illness make the choice MUCH MUCH harder to make.

I am not discounting your experiences, but saying to oneself
"Don't be self-deprecating.
Engage in basic hygiene.
Dress to impress.
Don't second guess talking to people, just start asking questions."
Is the same sort of self-talk confident people use to reinforce that confidence.

And success and confidence don't go hand in hand on either end. You're a successful home owner, educated and have a stable work place. Yet you claim you are not confident. I am not successful in any of those things. Yet I am a pretty confident person.


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