Going back to the roots of Buddhism – confidence and what takes it away
Is confidence something that is dependent on how you behave and what you do? Or is it an intrinsic thing? Can we feel confident when we feel ashamed?
Confidence ‘con–fido’ means with trust. When we are with trust, we are at peace, we are able to appreciate the unfolding of life and enjoy it. When we feel shame we have no trust that we are ok; in fact we feel that we are deeply flawed. The other problem with shame is that when we are in shame we cannot learn, we are paralysed in delusion that we are worthless, not good enough or bad. And finally shame has a pervasive quality, it tends to hang around like a thick fog colouring everything.
From Buddhism we have the Five Hindrances or ‘weakeners of wisdom’ that erode our sense of ‘con–fido’. They provide reassurance that our self-doubt, ill will and endless wanting are not personal traits, rather they are common human mind-states. The good news is there they all have specific antidotes.
Here they are:
Ill-will, aversion, wanting to avoid, rejection, feelings of hostility, resentment, hatred and bitterness. This can be when we ruminate about something someone has done to us or something they said. Hatred of someone or a situation, or that we have felt excluded, humiliated or ignored. This often brings the ill-will toward the one causing us the pain. It includes ill will towards ourselves, which feels like guilt. It can also lead to shame as we feel that we ‘shouldn’t’ feel this way, we must be bad if we feel this way, we should be ‘nice’.
The antidote to Ill-will is Loving Kindness meditation.
Sensory desire, attraction, wanting; the particular type of wanting that seeks for happiness through the five senses of sight, sound, smell, taste and physical feeling. You know the feeling when you feel you ‘should’ do a piece of work and yet you keep going to the fridge? Or when you ‘should’ be saving for something bigger but you keep spending the money on eating out, new clothes or toys. Rather than developing and growing ourselves our focus becomes about the next thing, the next purchase or the next feel good thing we have planned.
The antidote to desire is gratitude practice, gratitude is a sock in the mouth of the hungry ghost, the relentless wanting.
Sloth-and-torpor, heaviness of body and dullness of mind, not wanting to do what you know would be good for you like going for a walk, mindfulness practice, eating well, turning off the TV and going to bed. Perhaps you work long days and by the end of the day there is nothing left, you find yourself aimlessly flicking between The Bachelorette and Netflix. Over time this can lead to inertia and depression. With that there is no ‘con-fido’ no trust in yourself rather there is often again shame: ‘I am not right, I am lazy, I am wasting life, I am not living my potential.’
The antidote to this is generating energy, it might be useful to become aware of how much of your energy is spent at work, and can you conserve a little? Can you get home not as depleted? Go to bed early and set an intention of going for walk/run in the morning. Set a ‘goal’ a task to be completed to break the cycle and energise yourself. Or take a bath to really relax and out of that might come energy.
Restlessness-and-worry, the inability to calm the mind. Thoughts are constantly jumping from problem to problem, from one thing that isn’t right to the next thing that is not right. You might have taken on too much, you might be going through something difficult like personal illness or the illness of a friend. You might worry about money or too much work and it leaves you feeling restless unable to enjoy things or focus, resulting in never being present. In this state there is a focus on the negative and looking to the outside, the external for solutions.
The antidote to this is getting to the root cause of the restlessness. What is actually going on? Pay careful attention to the body, do the RAISE exercise designed for dealing with emotional stuckness. After that you might need to have a difficult conversation, get something sorted, make some practical changes.
Doubt, lack of conviction or trust. Lack of trust in self as being ok, as being capable, in how we are living, in our relationships and our choices being ok. Ruminating around ‘should I stay in this job, or leave, am I doing things correctly etc’. We might get lost in worry or in comparing ourselves to others. Second guessing yourself, ‘should I have married this person, should I have moved, should I have chosen this education, should I have spoken up, should I have seen the early signs etc’.
The antidote to this can be to find a coach and to also listen to the body, trust what feels expansive and wholesome, allow this to be your guide.
Confidence is not something you get and then once you have it, it is yours. It is something we all have to work on and shame blocks this learning.
When ashamed it pervades our whole experience and there is no ‘con-fido’ to be found. Shame is dependent on secrecy, silence and judgment.
The Five hindrances highlight that we all share similar dispositions in various doses at various times. They remind us of our shared humanity, where there is no judgment rather there is acceptance and from there, choice is yours.