Ahhhh confidence… this nebulous abstraction, this vague je ne sais quoi that some people seem to have and you wonder where you to get some.
Have you caught yourself doing this? Wondering – if only I were more confident with women, I’d feel so much better. I’d be happier and more at ease. Or maybe – if only I were more confident generally, with people…
It’s tempting to focus on confidence, isn’t it, given the people we know in our lives that experience genuine happiness all seem to have it.
The thing is, I think how can I be more confident isn’t really the question you’re asking when you ask this.
I think the real question is: how can I be less afraid of rejection?
Now we’re talking. Let’s face it – rejection sucks. It hurts.
It helps to understand that rejection is a normal part of life, and it’s normal to feel disappointment and sadness in the face of rejection.
Asking for anything we want is inherently vulnerable, provided that the question is really a question and the person we ask it to is empowered to answer truthfully.
Stating our desires and asking for what we want is vulnerable because the other person can always say no.
But, there’s another way to look at this. In fact, if you learn nothing else from me, I want you to grasp the one skill that has the power to transform not just your experiences of dating and sex, but all of your relationships with all people.
Two words: Outcome. Independence.
Outcome independence is the key to the thing that we all call confidence. I talk about it a bit here:
The more you cultivate the ability to be equally happy with a yes or a no to any question, the more powerful you become.
This is what vulnerability is. It’s speaking up for your wants and desires, and understanding you won’t always receive a yes, and choosing to do it anyway.
And, for avoidance of doubt, that fear of rejection? Or, that tinge of disappointment if you receive a no? Those never go away completely. With time, though, you prove to yourself that you’re able to survive the fear and disappointment, and so they affect you less.
And, really, this is why vulnerability is sexy: because it requires courage.
MINI MISSION:Practice outcome independence as often as you can. The more you apply it, the easier it becomes. Spend time every day thinking about what you want or desire in any situation. You might be at a restaurant and you’d like a dish but with one ingredient substituted. Or maybe you’re at the shop and someone cuts in front of you in the line, and you want them to take their place in the queue. That feeling you get, at those moments, where you might normally decide “not to make a fuss” and stay quiet? That is the discomfort that always precedes vulnerability.
For one week, try and be with that discomfort, and take the courageous step to speak up for what you want. Keep a journal and note when you decided to speak up, about what, and what the experience was like. It can be revealing to read this back at the end of the week and see the progress you’ve made!
And now, for something completely different: break-ups.
They’re an integral part of dating and relationships. You might have some break-up stories to tell. You may have been in relationships that ended abruptly and painfully, or alternatively ones that never seemed to really have a definitive end. Maybe your partner or date started freezing you out. Or maybe they seem to have fallen off the face of the Earth.
Regardless of your background and personal experiences, you probably know that break-ups suck. Whenever feelings (and the potential for hurting them) are involved, things can get messy. Dealing with break-ups gracefully (no matter which side you’re on) takes a lot of skill and practice.
I’d love to hear from you if you go on the mini mission – what did you speak up for that you wanted but were hesitant to ask about, how did it feel to do that, and how did it go?
If you have any burning questions related to dating, sex, and relationships, don’t forget to share them below!
Feeling shy? You can always send the questions in complete confidence to firstname.lastname@example.org. I read every email, and your question may be answered in an upcoming post, video, or podcast!
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