The Confidence Game: When Power & Uncertainty Go Hand in Hand

The Confidence Game: When Power & Uncertainty Go Hand in Hand

Honestly… we’re both.

Like it or not, it turns out that we are both wildly resourceful, creative and powerful – beyond even our own comprehension – and… we are also fragile, uncertain and at times tentative.

It’s not the first thing any of us would have you believe. Yet at most times, we hang in the balance between confident and questioning. The choices we make about which face to show dictate the person we allow others to see at any given moment.

So, who do you see?

Who do you let us see?

Who do you let yourself see?

In the past two weeks I’ve noticed myself growing. It’s not always the case. Growing is not always one of those things that is visible. And when it is, is rarely obvious. Yet this time, I can feel the shift in my emotions between sure and unsure like a tidal wave, washing me into shore, then pulling me out to sea again with great might. I am confident. I am a mess. I know everything. I have soooo much to learn.

I stand tall. I stumble. I stand up again.

I feel raw, awkward and in some cases, ridiculous.

Like an awkward adolescent bird with only half of my new adult feathers grown in, I can feel and see the tangible markers of my ongoing transition.

A “phase change,” perhaps.

Perhaps you can relate?

I notice my emotional system pulling – even begging – to be just one thing or the other. It would be simpler, no doubt. But then, would it be real?

Were I to decide with 100% certainty that I am not capable, I know nothing, and that I might as well hand the reigns over to someone else who is more skilled and better informed than I… would that be an honest reflection of my current state?

were I to decide with 100% certainty that I am a powerhouse of a human being, excellent service provider (always), and that things will always go perfectly in execution, as planned… would that be the most genuine and useful approach?

Rather, is it possible that I am, like the archetype of the priest or priestess, at my essence, a combination of receptivity and assertiveness? A blend of uncertainty and certainty? A mixture of softness and strength?

In the field of Positive Psychology, some researchers have begun to challenge the ongoing dual between the concepts of Optimism and Pessimism. These authors argue that to settle one just one of these strategies would, ultimately, be a miss. Reality, in fact, is far fuzzier than given credit for.

And, our perceptions frequently influence the way we respond in a given situation… which in turn can influence that situation.

Realistic Optimism, a hybrid approach, allows for a bias toward the positive that takes into account real constraints while capitalizing on the fuzziness that our own incomplete knowledge – and the genuine ambiguity of a given situation – affords.

In a similar manner, the processes of growth and change produce a wide range of opportunities in which both real power and genuine uncertainty must co-exist.

In those moments, the struggle to be or feel entirely powerful can be as dangerous as the self-sabotaging voice that would have us believe we’ve got nothing to bring to the table at all.

Take a moment to think about your current life, work and relationships.

In what domain is the balance of soft and strong – of certain and uncertain, or powerful and receptive – most relevant for you?

What balance are you dancing with most intensely right now?

Whatever your dance, I invite you to use this week as an opportunity to hone your unique blend of those things, while building tolerance for the sense of “both… and” that is required in order to navigate this domain well.

In your movement practice,

Pay careful attention to your own physiology. The body itself is built to be both fragile and strong, in different ways. Can you take a moment to notice the paradox? Can you do this without judgment? What’s more, your own personal body may be full of unique quirks and conundrums that, quite frankly, don’t seem to make sense.

Last night in my yoga practice, I couldn’t help but notice my massively increasing core strength… while at the same time gingerly favoring my still slightly injured left knee. That are the paradoxes that live in your body right now?

And how do you dance with them?

In life,

Take note of your entire person. No, seriously. I realize that is a lot to ask (lol)… but humor me for a moment. Who are you in the variety of roles you play? What characteristics to you show when you’re spending time with your kids? Your lover? Your boss? Your mechanic? Your grandmother?

Are you not both… at least some of the time? While some of us are more practiced at keeping one side of the balance under wraps (playing all strong… or all soft…), most of us can locate the moments, roles, situations or relationships when we do make clear use of our less dominant qualities, as well.

This week I invite you to ask yourself the question – how am I doing with the balance?

Is it honest? Sincere?

Is it getting you the results that you desire in your life, and relationships?

Are there contexts in which it might serve you to bring a bit more of your non-dominant qualities? Or contexts in which you’d like to turn down the volume on something well practiced this week?

Notice what you notice. Dare to expand your perception to include the paradoxes this week.

And, if you feel called, take the time to tweak, shift or adjust something, for the sake of your deeper goals.

Seeing both sides…wide eyed,


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