Where do you get your confidence from often?
I think more than often, a lot of us get our confidence from our successes at work.
If we excel in our jobs, we get recognised by our colleagues and superiors. Over time, we get promoted and gain more and more monetary rewards.
That success is like a suit of armour that we wore daily when we are navigating the challenges at work, in different social settings.
That armour helps you to navigate reunion meetups with your university and secondary friends much easier during those earlier years when all your friends discuss was where each of you are and got in their careers.
The armour stands between you and a complete loss of confidence in what you have achieved, which would have made living life much more difficult.
For some like myself, we did relatively ok at work but if we didn’t climb as fast in our career, relative to our peers, it becomes rather hard to live during those reunion lunches and dinners.
What eventually became my suit of armour was getting my financial house in order. Building up wealth in a decent manner, and being able to see how to get to a position where the future is brighter. It is less about how much wealth I have but a clear sight of what I could have.
If your future looks bright, despite how you look compared to your peers in career progression, that gives you confidence and protects you from a total loss of confidence in yourself.
I think wealth is a suit of confidence armour that lasts longer if you do all the right things compared to our successful careers for many of us middle-income folks.
I would look at my friends who tried to fight for promotion and a good salary in their 20s and 30s and as they approached their 40s, they felt that no matter where they are, how much they tried climbing, they cannot reach another new level in their career, or they lack the interest and energy to do it.
So that armour starts weakening. For some of us, whose careers severely stagnated, we may have totally lost the amour and this affects how confident we are when living our daily lives.
But having armour made from wealth can just as easily crumble if you lose a large chunk of your money.
I would sometimes wonder if it is right that the basis of my confidence in life be due to how well I have done financially.
When I look at my friends, now in their 40s, those who are happier depend upon a suit of armour made up of what they achieve at home, at work overtime, and being decently well on the financial front. Those who are less happy, or those who withdraw away from the public tend to be those, who do not have this suit of armour, to begin with, or lost it when the last thing that gave them confidence went away.
What is blocking you from the pipe of life?
Brené Brown is a professor, researcher, and author primarily known for her study of shame.
She said that the emotional experience of shame is defined by a sense of utterly hellish disconnection and worthlessness.
Shame happens when the pipe that runs between you and the flow of life is blocked.
Your personal armour, protection, or trauma defines that blockage.
For that pipe of life to be clear, there needs to be an opening, and the size of that hole is unavoidably defined by your capacity for vulnerability.
This was one of Brown’s principal findings:
“Vulnerability is courage. We were looking at data the other day — we have 200,000 pieces of data now- and I can’t find a single example or incident of courage that is not completely defined by vulnerability.”
When all of Brown’s research concluded that there was no route to connection, what she calls “wholeheartedness,” without genuine vulnerability, she suffered a nervous breakdown.
“your armour is preventing you from growing into your gifts.”
Brene Brown, The Midlife Unravelling
The implication is that if you learn to see your blockage clearly, and then work to embrace and clear it, you’ll enjoy a richer connection to life.
Open receptivity to the outside world is the single trait I’ve found that’s common in all forms of success and flourishing.
In contrast, if something inhibits your vulnerability, it actually promotes disconnection and prevents you from evolving. It gets between you and your gifts.
A Strong Suite of Armour Blocks Deeper Connection With People
The last thing I want is for everyone to go through life trying to express vulnerability for the sake of being very promotional about it. I think people can detect when someone does it excessively and people wonder why is he or she telling me this so personal part of their situation when I didn’t ask for it.
However, I think over time, a lot of our happiness comes from whether we have more good and deep relationships.
To develop deep relationships, people need to see you as the human that you are. And if you keep wearing that fxxking armour around all day, it is kind of impossible for people to see the real person behind it.
Brené says we should have a hole and perhaps the idea is that we still need something that gives us confidence but at times, we need to put away that armour.
Ultimately, people believe a real person is someone who does not lead a perfect life. The person struggles with figuring out certain aspects of investing, dealing with investment losses… not having all the answers.
I think our armour will have fewer chinks if we know that we have set up a life with deep relationships we treasured, financial goals we can successfully achieve conservatively in the future, and work that is motivating and meaningful to us.
It may not be what you have gathered today but what you know you will eventually have.
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