health

The key to confidence is doing the one thing you're most afraid of.

When it comes to confidence, I’ve always been a loyal subscriber to the notion of “faking it ’til you make it”.

Whether it’s pitching an idea at work, meeting new people in social situations, or even trying a new lip colour, I’m pretty skilled at putting on a self-assured face while secretly disintegrating on the inside.

There’s just one problem with this: while faking confidence might get you through the here and now (this is debatable), it doesn’t do much in the way of feeling good enough to back yourself in the long term.

Faking it only gets you so far. (Image: Sony Pictures)

Because projecting something on the outside unfortunately doesn't fix the anxiety on the inside. Just like slapping on a bandaid only covers up the issue at hand.

During my nightly pre-bedtime scroll, I came across a video from author and thinker Alain de Botton. And in under five minutes, he shared the secret to confidence in the most eloquent way I've ever heard it put.

It's not a new idea, nor is it entirely philosophical, but it just makes sense. And it's got nothing to do with being something you're not, rather accepting who you are.

ADVERTISEMENT

"In well-meaning attempts to boost our confidence ahead of challenging moments, people often try to draw attention to our strengths, our intelligence, our competence, our experience," the philosopher says.

"There's a type of under-confidence that arises specifically when we grow too attached to our own dignity and become anxious around any situation that might seem to threaten it, and hold back from situations that might leave us looking ridiculous."

The key to this story, and working towards gaining real confidence is not in our ability to see our own faults, but to see the faults of others, according to Botton.

"The way to greater confidence isn't to reassure ourselves of our own dignity, but to grow at peace with the inevitable nature of our ridiculousness," he says.

"We are idiots now, we've been idiots in the past and we will be idiots again in the future. And that's OK, there aren't any other available options for human beings to be.

"Once we learn to see ourselves as already and by nature foolish, it really doesn't matter so much if we do one more thing that might make us look a bit stupid."

Listen: Mamamia staffers discuss their biggest work fails on Mamamia Out Loud (post continues after audio).

Put simply: everyone is a bit of an idiot, a fool, a hot mess or whatever other things you're feeling about yourself.

Everyone has stuffed up at work, put forward a crappy opinion or felt awkward at one time or another.

But like Botton says, letting the fear of making a mistake only "holds us back from some of the greatest opportunities of our lives."

There's no doubt I've still got a long way to go in being the most confident version of myself. But it's definitely comforting to know I'm not the only weirdo who has no idea what they're doing.

What do you think about Button's theory? Would this help you with your confidence?