The Boom & Bust of Confidence

Financial markets and the economy have cycles of boom and bust, and often the same thing happens with self-confidence.

I draw this comparison for 2 reasons:

  1. I recently discovered that my own confidence was suffering from a downturn.
  2. There's something important to learn.

I'll explain...

The System of Having Confidence

Economies grow as productivity increases, and in turn, that growth makes the market feel good about the economy. So Governments and industries borrow and invest, the economy grows a bit more, and the market laps it up.

As confidence is established in the growth of an economy, the more it grows.

And as it grows, the beliefs and systems that worked to create that productivity and growth become unchallenged and unquestioned. The focus is on the value of the output, not the worth or efficacy of the systems themselves.

Blindly trusting any system easily tips into complacency.

And it’s under the blanket of complacency that real confidence gets eroded.

When complacency abounds, what typically happens is that:

  1. Either the collective belief in the system exceeds the reality of growth (the only thing that will just keep on growing is a virus) and creates a bubble that leads to crisis, or...
  2. Growth reaches a plateau where things level out or stand still, and growth is replaced by fear and doubt and self-protection.

This boom and bust happens over and over again with economies, and it happens to our self-confidence too.

It happens to me.

Without even noticing, complacency and habit erode my confidence. And I wake up wondering why my metaphorical bank account is dry.

Fortunately, there’s one, huge difference.

Confidence flows from who you already are, not a promise of who you should be

Financial markets are based on fear on greed. Fear that they’ll lose what they have or what they’ve gained, and greed for more and more growth and bigger results.

I firmly believe that any system founded on two of our most base and unprincipled qualities will be deeply, systemically flawed, but that’s another article for another time.

Where confidence differs is that it’s founded not on any base or unprincipled qualities that are dependent on surrounding circumstances, but the belief that you’re whole and enough, regardless of circumstances.

You own the system of self-confidence, including the beliefs and actions that underpin it.

The beliefs that underpin self-confidence all flow towards one thing: you’re already enough. You’re not broken, you don’t need to prove anything, you’re whole, just as you are.

And the actions that underpin confidence are never fed from habit or complacency, but by deliberate, meaningful decisions. Taking confident action can be difficult and uncomfortable, and might not even work out, but that doesn't matter. What matters is deciding to act. What matters is knowing you're still worthy and enough, whatever happens.

When Your Confidence Experiences a Downturn...

It's easy to feel confident when things are going upwards or you're experiencing a "boom". And it's easy to then slip into complacency and stand still.

It's then that your confidence will experience a downturn. Mine does. It's just a curve we travel on.

But unlike an economy or market, that will lean more into fear and greed when things are in the "bust" part of a boom and bust cycle, you get to choose what you lean into.

Lean into knowing you're already good enough.

Lean into what matters to you.

Lean into making meaningful decisions.

So the practice, and it is a practice, is to be connected to who you are and to what matters to you.

Confidence is being able to trust and honour those things.

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