How Do We Perceive Confidence?

The other day, I was listening to an interview with the American singer/song-writer Kelis on Radio 6. Mary- Anne Hobbes said to her, ‘You seem like such a confident person. How is that?’ (My husband pointed out, that a man would have never been asked that question. Quite.)

But, as someone who deconstructs confidence building, in order to teach it to others, Kelis’ answer was awe-inspiring for me. Here is a brief summary of what she said, ‘People often say this about me, but I have never thought about it as ‘confidence’. It’s more like, I don’t know how to be anyone other than myself. This is the only person that I am able to be.’

We often think about confidence, as how we appear to others, as in, showing a good front. Like most things, it can’t work from the outside in. Kelis’ point is that her confidence is just about being comfortable, and genuine, in being who she is. It starts from within her, and then radiates outwards. In listening to the interview, I must also point out that at the top of her music career, in her mid-twenties, she left the music business to go to cooking school. Since she had been at a schools in NYC for aspiring artists, she actually didn’t feel stretched by doing music; it’s what she had always done. She wanted to stretch herself in a different way, which is another way to build confidence.

I have written in the past about the importance of filling yourself. The fuller you are, and the more you are able to do this for yourself, instead of relying on others’ to make you full, the more self-determination and happiness you will have. This week, please think of 3 things that you can do for yourself, that make you feel happy and full. If you are paying attention, you will see the correlation between the state of your emotional health, and how much kindness you are paying yourself. Some examples are: taking a walk in nature, making a healthy dinner, going to the cinema, chatting with friends on the phone, painting, doing yoga, taking a bath.

As Kelis reminds us, ‘confidence’ comes from being yourself, and being happy with that person. What a great reminder, from a fabulous woman and talented artist.

If you are in the mood, here is a list of talks from TED, on the importance of self-care.