By: Rajiv Tewari (Updated article)
“The more you use your confidence in life, intelligently, the more confident you become.” Swami Chidrupananda
Rajiv Tewari spent a day at the Chinmaya Yuva Kendra, Noida, to participate and report on a workshop on the Power of Self Confidence. The workshop was attended by 60 enthusiastic students and parents. By the second half all the students, even the most shy, were participating in group activities and communicating with lots of confidence. The feedback session indicated that the lessons had been learnt by all the participants. An attempt has been made to share the key learning points.
What is confidence?
In the words of Swami Ji, “Confidence is an inner force.” It is the force inside every creature. A bird has confidence. Even a buffalo has confidence and it may use its confidence not to move from the middle of the road even if you honk. This kind of confidence is based on instinct. Human beings have a superior intelligence so they can harness this inner reservoir of constant energy to attain big results. Outside forces may help in triggering it but ultimately it’s the individual who has to unleash his or her inner potential by using the correct channel.
Confidence is the force that pushes us forward in life. “Even an ant does not move without confidence. Ants move in a line. The first ant drops some liquid from the mouth and makes a path and all the ants follow the path. If you use your finger and draw a line in the path of the ants they get confused because the path has been erased. After a lot of confusion and chaos, one ant finds the path and then the march of the ants starts again.” There is a leader born out of confidence. Confidence allows us to find the right path amidst confusion and chaos of life.
To be confident one has to practice confidence. If a student decides to speak regularly in- front of an audience, initially he may tremble a bit, may not find the right words to communicate but if he persists with the practice, a day will come when he will be able to boldly face a large audience. “Confidence is like an unused well in a village, where nobody goes and draws water from the well. What will happen to the well? Water will just stagnate in it. All the bacteria, germs and viruses, all these things will grow inside and the water will be completely unusable.” Many of us have confidence in the form of that water in the well. Confidence, if left unused for a long period becomes unusable after some time like the water in an unused well.
To get fresh water all that we need to do is to start drawing the water out every day. First the dirty, unusable water will come out. After a few days the fresh water will begin to come out. Similarly the more you use your confidence in life, intelligently, more confident you become in life.
We all have the power of self-confidence but some leave it unused for long periods while some others use it sparingly like a miser. Many don’t want to experiment and are quite happy with their routines. In effect they are not using their confidence optimally and are allowing it to rust. It’s important for all of us try out things we have not done earlier. Do something different each day. Find out new ways of doing the same things to ensure that you do not become a victim of routine patterns.
Confidence for realizing your dreams
Confidence is necessary to realize the dreams of your life. You have to dream and those dreams have to be translated to reality. So, if you really have a direction and a dream, confidence is the first step without which you will not be able to move ahead. “Confidence presents to you, to your benefit, the real picture of you. You are nothing but your own confidence.” In the absence of this others will present a picture of you which may be distorted and based on an outsider’s perception of you.
So, therefore confidence brings to you the real picture of you. Hence when the real picture is understood and more and more of confidence is unleashed, the picture of your self keeps changing. Just imagine like this, you are standing before a dusty mirror. You don’t even know there is a mirror. You are just standing there. And I come and talk to you and I can’t stand properly and so I keep my right palm and just lean on to the mirror. Immediately, the dust came onto my palm and the five fingers are printed and you say “Oh, there is a mirror!” Then I stand before that impression. Is it not that your picture becomes clearer to you.
Confidence builds decision taking capacities
Those who do not have confidence in themselves can easily accept all kinds of feedback from others and begin to have doubts in their own capability to take the right decisions based on their own assessment. Once a farmer was carrying a lamb on his shoulders through a jungle. Four dacoits noticed him and wanted to rob him and take away the lamb. The dacoits decided to rob him without using force, so they worked out a plan. One of the dacoits went over to the farmer and asked why he was carrying a dog on his shoulders. The farmer frowned at him and advised him to get his eyes checked. After a few hours the second dacoit met him and repeated the same question. The farmer looked over his shoulders to reassure himself that he was carrying a lamb. He ignored the dacoit and moved on. After some time the third dacoit came near him and repeated the same question. The farmer now began to have doubts. After a while the fourth dacoit came near him and offered to buy the dog for a hundred rupees. The farmer by now was so confused that he threw the lamb down and asked the dacoit to take it away so that no one discovers his foolishness. Something like this keeps happening with people who do not have a consistent supply of confidence from within themselves. Confidence is that force in us which helps us overcome opposition to our thoughts, not violently, but intelligently. Inner confidence needs to be liberated from this opposition of negative thoughts from wrong sources.
Love yourself and dedicate yourself to the pursuit of knowledge
The first thing that you must practice is ‘don’t hate yourself’ before deciding to practice self-confidence. Any form of self-criticism will only generate negativity so start by believing in the self. If you want to start building your confidence levels, then your life should be dedicated to knowledge. If you dedicate yourself to knowledge, then as your knowledge levels rises to an optimum level, it will push you and change you into a better individual. A truly knowledgeable person would not sit idle.
Once knowledge has been acquired, then start responding to the situations of your life appropriately. In simple words this is called apt behaviour. React if you want to react, but react consciously. Don’t react unconsciously and become a victim of your own reactions. If you react consciously, you will not be a victim of your own reactions and stress, strain, uneasiness, confusion; tension will simply not be there in your life. We as humans have to realize that intuitive behaviour is for animals only. Human beings must use their intelligence and knowledge before taking action.
So confidence makes you behave appropriately and you will remain in control of your situations around you. If you are confident, you will not go out of balance and you will be able to handle even the most difficult situations in life. Only in a state of true self confidence you will be able to take a right stand in challenging situations.
Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality. Others may show your limitations to you and if you believe them you will actually have those limitations in real life. The limitations are in our mind and not in our reality, so feedback from a wrong source can lower your confidence if you do not have a strong belief in yourself. “Do not be like a marriage horse in a cart which refused to move after every few yards unless music was played and people danced in front of it for a few minutes.” We should not depend on any form of external force to move us forward. Self-confidence will keep pushing you forward from within provided you keep practicing it.
Here are some select tips from Swami Ji for every day practice:
If you want to develop and build confidence, associate yourself with good company. Good people around you will help you build Self Confidence. Even if you are de-motivated or not inspired sometimes, the very thought of your friend, or association, or an organization or a person should transform you into live wire of energy.
If you want to build up your confidence, do something new every day. Like changing the way to go to college or cooking something new whenever you enter the kitchen. Try out a new book, a new thought, a new channel, spend time with a new friend and ask questions in the class room if you have not been doing so till now. Each of these small-small acts will add to your confidence and also make your life more enjoyable.