Friday, December 19, 2008

Confidence

We often hear people speak about having confidence in themselves, or confidence in another person.

This question of confidence is a point of work for all of us. What does it mean to have confidence?

Confidence is trust; it implies a willingness to be intimate with another person. So if I have confidence in someone, I am willing to confide in them, willing to expose myself more, to offer more of myself.

We also speak of confiding in God. The idea here is that we expose ourselves to God; we trust God, we are willing to let God see even the worst in ourselves.

This question of confidence comes to a point where we examine our confidence in our inner work. Are we willing to trust our inner work? Are we willing to expose the most intimate parts of our self to it, or are we going to continue to hide behind, and reinforce, the barriers between us and what we might become?

Are we able to drop something, to allow our work to penetrate us more deeply?

Another question that comes up in this regard is whether or not others have confidence in us. As we work, if we discover that others are not confident in us, well, this is exactly what we should expect. After all, everyone's inner life consists of a heavily defended castle. We man the ramparts and take cannon shots at anyone who tries to come in.

If one's work begins to live in a more organic way, a couple of things take place in regard to this question.

One of them is that we see we need to have more confidence in others. We have to expose ourselves to them honestly, to be more naked with them, to be more in the moment with them.

The second thing that takes place is that we see that they are not confident in us at all. This is shocking in many ways. "Look at me," we say to ourselves. "I am working. I am making this effort to be honest and naked. Why don't they trust me?" And some of that may even be true. Maybe we are working. Maybe we are offering something good. But we need to remember that no one trusts anyone, and for good reason.

As I mentioned last week, we're not trustworthy.

So we are left in the awkward position of having to have more confidence in others than they have in us. This is the kind of risk we take if we really want to work. We must put the best of what we have in front of us on the table for others, even if they reject it -- and they will. We have to learn how to be patient, to suffer rejection, and to constantly offer ourselves, without force, without reaction (of course that's impossible, but we can at least try to go against it) and without the expectation that others should value us. In real offering, we will have the inevitable ego reactions, but we need to put them aside.

Here we see that having confidence in the other doesn't mean being emboldened at all-- it means taking a risk.

I have certainly had a lot of difficulty with this myself. I see that I don't know how to approach people, I don't know how offer myself to people properly, and I am always in reaction. Learning how to put this aside is a lifetime work, not something I undertake and master in a few months or even years.

This comes back to something I also said a few weeks ago. It's an important point of work when we see that we need the other more than they see they need us. It's up to us -- it's our responsibility -- to begin to learn to have trust and confidence in those around us, even knowing that they, like us, are untrustworthy.

This opens the door of the castle in us a crack, to let a bit of compassion and forgiveness seep into a place that is dark and has not seen a great deal of light.

may our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Lee,
    For the last few days, I have been thinking about the questions in your post...Are we willing to trust our inner work? Are we willing to expose the most intimate parts of our self to it....? In the past, I have not related this type of question to my work.

    I have been struggling with letting my work go deeper and have been very confused about it. Thank you for a direction. Jean Ann

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