The personal is political, we’ve been told, and I felt the truth of that as I began reading The Confidence Code. All of these issues I’ve had in my life, that I thought were peculiar to me, turn out to be nearly universal among women! Things I saw as my own individual failings and weaknesses are really just manifestations of the same lack of confidence that other women routinely experience. HOLY SMOKE. This changes everything.
The authors, Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, are TV news anchors. They’re drop-dead gorgeous, famous, and if I saw them walking down the street with their husbands and children, I’m sure they’d look like the sort of adorable families one sees in picture frame inserts. They’ve got it made, right? From their writing, it sounds like they still spend equally as much time fretting and lying awake in bed at night as I do. Could it be that there really is no level of achievement or perfection that allows us to finally feel “done”?
One of the most fascinating and enlightening parts of the book, for me, was the section on “Confidence Cousins.” It distinguishes between confidence, self-esteem, optimism, self-compassion, and self-efficacy. This took a lot of the mystery out of the idea. It seems that we all have varying amounts of each of these qualities. Personally, I am high in optimism and self-efficacy, pretty great at self-compassion, reasonable with self-esteem, but pretty shaky in confidence. I’ve always told myself that I’m just sensibly evaluating risk, or taking my time to do something, when really I’m avoiding situations where my confidence is low. It took until the 10,000th visit to my blog before I started to relax about trolls and hate mail – but only because there have been zero of either. I can’t help but wonder how many things I would have done differently if I’d been a man instead.
One of the threads of the book is that there are genetic and biological sources for why our temperaments are the way they are, but that our tendencies can be influenced. We can teach girls to be more confident, and we can teach ourselves to be more confident, too. We start by recognizing when we are psyching ourselves out and holding ourselves back from doing things outside our comfort level.
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I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.