~ The feeling or BELIEF that one can rely on someone or something; firm TRUST
~ The state of feeling certain about the TRUTH of something
~ A feeling of self-assurance arising from one’s APPRECIATION of one’s own abilities or qualities
The words present in the above definition that I’d like to focus on in this article are Belief, Trust, Truth and Appreciation. In order to Believe in and Appreciate our own abilities we must first know our Truth. I want to especially emphasize the capital T of Truth in this context. To know our Truth we must first sift through layers of beliefs and habit patterns that may come from what other people or society think is true, and that we may have also bought into, but is not really our Truth. Many wisdom traditions use the analogy of peeling off the layers of an onion to get to the core. In this case we are peeling off layers of illusions and old beliefs to get to the core of our Truth. This process isn’t easy, and just like peeling/cutting an onion can make us cry, this process of peeling away old layers of belief can bring up a lot of sadness, pain and grief.
That’s the tough part of building confidence. First we must deconstruct our doubts and habit patterns before we can build up our confidence. It’s not easy, but the rewards are great. Recently a wonderful female paddler here in the Southeast wrote an article on Paddle in Pink about how she took time off from paddling Class V so she could build her confidence back up. It sounds counter-intuitive perhaps, but she found that taking the time to go back and paddle Class III and then Class IV allowed her to let go of her self-doubt and come back to Class V with confidence and trust in her abilities. She described how she felt disappointed in herself because she was walking rapids that she previously ran, but how paddling easier stuff and instructing was helping her feel more ‘at home’ in her boat. What I see is that she honored her Truth of not being ready at that moment and by doing that she was able to eventually come back to run the Class V rapids she had walked.
The part about feeling disappointed in herself is the painful part. It’s the part that’s no fun, but what I see in her ability to tap into her patience is a Trusting that all was well and that her confidence would return. The Trust piece is huge as we’re working through these unpleasant feelings of doubt, pain, grief and even depression. In the moment it can feel like we are so deep in these emotions that it is impossible to come out, BUT IT IS POSSIBLE.
Everyone is different and there is now scientific research that shows how each of us has a different ‘emotional style’ based on our ability to recover from adversity, how long we are able to maintain a positive emotion, how easily we pick up on social cues from people around us, how aware we are of our emotions and where they come up in our bodies, how tuned in we are to the context of any given situation and how clear our focus is. (The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard Davidson.) The bottom line is that we all face life and life’s challenges in different ways and our ability to build confidence also differs from person to person. Some people come by optimism and emotional recovery more easily than others. Luckily our brains are plastic, and neuroplasticity means that we have the ability to reshape how we think and feel throughout our entire lives. In other words, it’s never too late to start peeling back the layers and get to our core Truth, which leads to a stronger Belief in ourselves.
For some, trusting in our process of self-healing comes easily, for others talking it out and feeling supported is key, and for others a practice such as yoga or meditation is important. Perhaps you prefer a combination. For myself the process of peeling off the layers, dealing with emotional challenges and building confidence is most successful when I turn to my yoga practice and sit with supportive, aware women in a mindful way. Being able to express myself while being heard and practicing listening to others and their stories helps me to gain perspective and helps all of us to peel off the layers in a healthy way. These women’s circles help me to Trust in my process and in the process of others, even though they look very different. Sharing with women helps me to find my Truth and support other people in their Truth, and that leads all of us to Appreciate and Believe in ourselves and each other. These circles are so powerful that I feel like it’s time to extend them out into the paddling community in addition to paddling experiences. I’ll be offering Confidence Building Womens Circles starting in October. To learn click on this link. Wishing you the self-healing and confidence building qualities of Trust, Truth, Belief and Appreciation in your life today!