Confidence? Follow the arrow to the right. Doubt? It seems to lead in the opposite direction. So take care if you’re having a crisis of confidence or doubting your own abilities. Head in the direction that guarantees you’ll feel the full force of your own self-assurance.
Insert exasperated sigh here _________.
If only it were that easy!
I am feeling less than convinced of my own strengths and choices these days, the result of a series of events largely beyond my control. When conviction in my decision-making wanes, I begin to second-guess myself, and that’s not productive. (I’m working on thinking outside the box and assessing my options.)
Worse, these feelings are overshadowed by something more ominous, far more troubling than a “personal” matter, namely the state of our union, which is inextricably linked to daily life. More on that in a moment.
Confidence in Who We Are
From time to time, I consider the role that confidence plays in our lives — confidence in our ability to work a room, our capacity to find the right words at the right time to console a friend or child, our ease with that all important one-on-one to nail the new job or impress on the first date.
On a personal level, I know self-assurance to ebb and flow; I believe most of us possess its powers in some aspects of who we are, yet struggle with it in others, at various moments.
When we fail, especially repeatedly, or perceive that we have failed, it is hard not to question our abilities. Self-doubt sets in, and it can be a stubborn lodger to evict.
As for that doubt, it erodes the certainty of our beliefs, our judgments, our decisions, and our reliance on a host of skills. Yet I find that revisiting doubt is crucial to making better choices. Doubt tells us we need something more, which is helpful to identifying and acquiring whatever that may be.
These days, I’m concerned about something more vital than my immediate situation. I’m troubled by a lack of confidence in who we are as a nation — specifically, in those we’ve elected to uphold our institutions, our principles, our cultural values, and our willingness to pursue facts with due diligence. Let’s just say… It is nearly impossible to read or watch the news without feeling that there is a crisis of confidence in this country. Every day brings a new assault, a new source of concern, a new “WTF moment.” This week’s disclosures on the sharing of classified information in the oval office and alleged attempt to influence the Russia investigation are no exception.
Crisis in Confidence?
In considering the nature of a “crisis in confidence,” a few definitions may be helpful.
The definition of crisis, per Merriam-Webster:
… the turning point for better or worse in an acute disease or fever… a paroxysmal attack of pain, distress, or disordered function… an emotionally significant event or radical change of status in a person’s life… an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending; especially… one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome a financial crisis the nation’s energy crisis… a situation that has reached a critical phase the environmental crisis the unemployment crisis
In my personal life, I see that I’m at a data gathering point prior to some tough decisions. Distressed? Maybe. Maybe not. Stressed, yes. But that’s different. I am pursuing collecting information in a reasonable fashion, in order to make another set of important choices.
However, the notion of “disordered function” seems to fit when it comes to what is happening in Washington.
Every. Single. Day.
Doubt as Disrupter of Confidence
The Oxford Dictionaries offer us this definition of doubt:
… A feeling of uncertainty or lack of conviction… Disbelie(f) or lack faith in (someone)…
Apparently it comes from Latin, “to hesitate.”
Doubt certainly makes us question our beliefs, and causes us to hesitate.
Confidence? Try this definition:
… The feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on someone or something… The state of feeling certain about the truth of something… A feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.
My, my. That seemingly simple definition drudges up daring concepts, doesn’t it? Faith. Reliance. Truth.
All three of these “essential benefits” in a functional government are currently under attack. As if contemporary culture didn’t make it difficult enough for us to act as responsible adults in our individual actions, at the nation’s highest levels, I believe we no longer have faith, can rely on what we hear, or know what the “truth” of any story really is. Partisan politics has reigned in place of national interest.
My Life, Your Life, Politics…
In our own lives, “doubt” may serve us. It is an intriguing state of mind, and its arrival may be signaled in various ways — in the gut (an intuition), in the realization of insufficient facts to make a judgment, in an extended inability to make a decision, or as the result of discovering that facts that don’t jibe. When we heed the little voice that tells us to push on or steer clear, we are frequently taking a wiser path.
In a more macro context? Beyond the bounds of standard cynicism when it comes to government?
From my own battles with the cost of healthcare (and an even greater concern that I will find no healthcare options available to me should a version of the current healthcare bill pass), to broader worries about the environment and increasingly, national security, “politics” cannot be ignored. Even on the mornings that I set out to write something benign or purely personal, too often it becomes virtually impossible for me to manage it. I cannot disconnect from the politics that impacts, impedes, and disrupts daily life.
Beyond personal concerns — my confidence in the future shaken, my doubts on decisions I’ve made in the past year — the current state of political polarization and daily drama are devastating to those of us who love and honor this country and the principles it was founded on, whatever our political affiliation. Along with a crisis of confidence, perhaps we should be discussing what is more accurately a crisis in leadership. Recklessness. Ignorance. Contradictions. Chaos. We would welcome “politics as usual” over the surreal collection of plots and players on stage today.
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