Monday, August 12, 2013

No Currency for Confidence

One of my yoga instructors said something in class today that occurred to me as very profound.  It wasn't part of the intention we set at the beginning of our practice.  It wasn't part of the main message he shared during our few minutes of guided meditation.   It was just a passing comment he said during one flow into Samasthiti.  It wouldn't really surprise me if I were the only one in class who actually even noticed.

He said, "breathe fully and with unconditional confidence."

Unconditional confidence

I had never heard those two words placed side by side before.  As I flowed through vinyasa after vinyasa I continued to examine what each word meant individually, and ultimately what they meant when paired together.

Confidence is of course a word that comes up quite often in the life of an actor.  It is a strong internal belief in our own ability and success.  We must carry it with us everywhere we go.  We must exude it in our headshots.  It must permeate the room when we enter for a casting.  It must effortlessly glide off our tongues with every scripted word.  Most importantly, we must tirelessly cultivate it in the long stretches of time between bookings.  We must find a way to make it our constant companion, even in the face of the weeks months years of uphill struggle it takes to build a career in this business.  

Naturally I have encountered the word unconditional as well, mostly in relation to it's cliched pairing with love.  Perhaps I've used it along with surrender when practicing the art of letting go of control and things not meant for me.  As I continued to up-dog and uttanasana, I started to define what unconditional really meant to me.  Unconditional: without conditions.  The absence of an expectation of 'give me this first, and only then will I give you that.'  Just pure giving with no restrictions due to circumstances, events, time, space or prior achievement.  Unconditional.  

Then I applied the two definitions together.... Unconditional confidence: to believe in one's own ability and success without restriction or desire for something in return.

Hmmm, interesting.  I next wondered, had I ever set conditions that had to be "met" before I could allow myself to feel confident?

Wow.  That question hit me hard as I realized the answer was a resounding "Yes."

Not only had I done it before, but being the perfectionist I am, I realized I did it a lot.  In my mind, if I didn't fit into a certain pant size, I wouldn't allow myself to feel confident in my body.  If I didn't have perfect skin/perfect hair/perfect makeup, my confidence in my appearance waned.  If I hadn't booked a project in months, little by little I would start to question my talent.  The idea that I only truly felt confident when all those conditions were met astounded me -- and also opened my eyes to the futility of it, because honestly, how often are all of those conditions met?  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was continuously putting pressure on myself to achieve certain benchmarks that would then indicate that I could feel justified in having confidence.  In other words, most of my confidence was rooted in the achieving of conditions and not actually in my belief that I just am talented and successful.  Period.  No qualifications.  It shocks me that I have any confidence at all given the conditions I set in order to give myself permission to have it.  My healthy level of confidence is really just a reflection of my more-than-healthy level of self-discipline.  

But what if my confidence was not something I needed to give myself permission to have?  What if I could just feel confident no matter what?  Even if my pants are tighter than usual, my roots are showing, the pimple on my chin screams "I'm on my period" and I haven't booked a goddamn thing in ages?  What if, even with all that, I still have a right to feel confident in my own baddass self?

See what I mean?  Pretty fucking profound.  I feel a change a-coming.

1 comment:

  1. It sounds bad, but I am glad I am not the only one who experiences this. Normally when I think about the word unconditional, I think about unconditional love like with pets and animals, it's interesting to be used with the word confidence but it makes a lot of sense. I'm going to try and use it more with the word confidence, like a mantra lol.

    I too am guilty of not feeling very confident and it's always in response to how I look or feel. I cannot just "be confident" because I don't feel like I have the "proof" to back it up. Like your examples, if I don't "look" pretty or I'm feeling "overweight", I don't like myself. I base a lot of my confidence on my appearance, and I keep telling myself, your going to be in for a real shock if you keep basing your self worth on your looks and 20 years down the line when beauty will just be a thing of the past. So I can totally relate to the whole confidence issue. The good news is, it can be changed, I think I know what it takes to love and accept myself, I just have to put it in action. I wish you the best on your journey. I know you are so tough and you are so inspiring, you can do anything :)