What Does It Mean to be Confident?

I often talk to my clients about confidence. Generally, because they have don’t feel very confident, and want to know what they can do to become more confident.


I usually answer this question with another question. I ask them what it means to them to be confident.  Why do I ask that question?


I ask it because confidence is a quality that I think is highly valued in America. And the answers I receive when I ask this question reflect the images of confidence that we often see reflected in the media.  Being confident can mean walking into a room of people and feeling comfortable introducing yourself to one person after another.  Being confident can mean standing up for yourself when you’re in a conflict situation.  Or being confident can mean asking for – or even demanding – what you need.


It’s safe to say that few of demonstrate the confidence we see on TV. Or would want to, for that matter.


My clients who are living with a chronic condition, however, often have a perspective on confidence that reflects their own unique perspective on life. For them, being confident is related to feeling like the person they were before they were diagnosed.  And that includes: Not feeling diminished or less than others. Capable of participating fully in their own lives.  Being able to make smart decisions.


It’s no secret that living with a chronic condition can take a hit on your confidence. Having to make major life changes, changes that you didn’t choose to make, is a reminder that life is uncertain.  Humans want to know and to be in control.  A chronic condition can mean having good days and bad days, with new challenges seeming to come from nowhere.  All that uncertainty can leave with a few cracks in your foundation, at least temporarily.


My clients ask me: How can I be confident when each day is a new adventure? Just when I think I know what to expect, another curveball comes my way!


My answer to them is yes, you can be confident. Here’s how:


Redefine what it means to be confident.  You’ve probably heard about the “new normal” that comes with living with a chronic condition, the need to redefine what it means to live a normal life to accommodate compliance and self-care.  Think of confidence in terms of what it means to be the absolute best you can be within your own definition of normal.  Be confident that you are living your life on your terms!


Accept that life is uncertain.   If all that uncertainly has shaken your confidence, then an important step toward being more confident is to accept that life is uncertain.  Look at it this way: If you can give up the battle for certainty, the demand that each day go as you expect it to, then that’s a big step toward accepting uncertainty.  And with acceptance of uncertainty comes the powerful sense of calm from living life on life’s terms.  That’s confidence.


Take an inventory of your coping skills.  What do you do when you’re not at your best emotionally?  Do you give yourself some encouragement?  Are there things you enjoy doing that help you to feel more centered?  Do you have someone you sit down with to talk it out?  Knowing that you have tools that you can rely on to get you through the rough spots can boost your confidence.  Including the next time your confidence takes a battering.


Stay on the path. Be confident in your own commitment to doing what you need to do to take the best possible care of yourself. And then do it.  Each and every day.


And stay connected with your support network.  There’s nothing like a few words of encouragement from a friend or family member when your confidence is feeling shaky.  Just being reminded that you aren’t alone can have a positive effect on your confidence.


How can you be confident? Accept that life is uncertain.  Keep your coping tools handy.  Stay compliant.  Ask for support when you need it.