As an experienced voice teacher and professional singer, I have certainly had a “crisis of confidence” or two over the years and also heard similar stories from my clients. If only we felt more confident then we’d take some action (start a business, learn to sing, speak in public, write a book etc.). It is so prevalent in our culture that we never question what it’s really about.
The truth is this idea of needing to feel confident is really a clever construct of our ego mind, to keep us in our comfort zone. When we buy into our ego’s “story” that we “lack confidence”, we don’t take action. Or if we do take some action, the goal posts will simply move. Nothing will ever be enough for the ego. Suddenly having a bachelor’s degree is inadequate, now you need a PhD before you start your business. It’s like trying to fill a leaky bucket with water. It’s a never ending, exhausting cycle.
So what is really going on here? The ego is the part of our mind that’s sole job is to keep us safe, secure and alive. It’s an important part of our mind that we all have and need which helps us to fit in, adapt and function in the world. As we are no longer being chased by tigers, what the ego is really protecting us from is “social death” – a fear of being rejected, abandoned and ostracised by society, our family, friends, colleagues or peers. It feels very real, like we’re going to die. Have you ever wondered why public speaking for many is so terrifying?
For this reason the ego tries to pull us back from anything new, anything we’ve never experienced before. It is committed to us staying in our comfort zone at all costs because that’s all it knows to keep us safe. It is not creative and can’t see anything outside of our conditioning.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.C.G. Jung (Swiss Psychiatrist / Psychoanalyst)
This is where the work of Carl Jung is so important and why I trained to become a Jungian coach. In his model of thepsyche he refers to the shadow. The shadow is the parts of ourselves we have pushed away unconsciously because we perceive them to be “too light or too dark” to be acceptable in the world. Meaning this can include our gifts, talents and potential for success. As Marianne Williamson famously wrote in A Return to Love, “our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate, our deepest fear is that we’re powerful beyond measure“.
The ego cleverly creates a persona, the face we show to the world. It is what we identify with as being “I” or “me”. The persona includes anything that will help us fit in and adapt to our environment (e.g. being a people-pleaser). Anything that doesn’t fit with this persona goes into our shadow (e.g. being angry).
So in this case we identify with being a person who “lacks confidence” and “being confident” is in our shadow. Getting to the core of our shadow is a process and it isn’t logical (but emotional). As it’s unconscious to us, we can’t see it directly in ourselves but will see it in others by what triggers us.
Using Jung’s concept of the shadow I take you through an exercise to start to understand what’s really behind your belief that you “lack confidence”.
Some questions to ask yourself (which I talk you through in the video):
- Why is this such a threat to me? Why is this so scary?
- What’s so wrong with being XXXX (what you wrote down)?
- What happens to XXXX people?
- How do I avoid being like this?
- How does this limit my life?