Mythology tells us of Narcissus, who drowned because he fell in love with his own reflection. On the flip side, one of my most recent joys in life is seeing my 10 month old daughter’s grin when she looks at herself in the mirror, in awe of herself. It seems that in this situation, the question “is it ego or self-confidence?” is easily answered, but in most occasions it is not that obvious.
One of those times was a few years ago (I may not want to admit how many) when I was in college. I had finally gathered the resources to transfer to a private college, rather than the public, government college in the Dominican Republic, and I was excelling and thriving. It was my second semester and I felt like I was on top of my game, and apparently, it showed.
I was assigned to a group project, and that’s when I met Esther, an older, married with elementary school age kids, really beautiful and elegantly dressed lady. She wasn’t pleased about my company, but was friendly, nonetheless, so I had no clue. As fate would have it, we became the best of friends… inseparable, really.
One day, she confessed:
“When I first saw you, I couldn’t help but notice you and just the way you walked, and smiled, and expressed yourself… like you owned the world. I thought to myself ‘who does she think she is?’ and at that moment, I decided not to like you. I’m so sorry I misjudged you!”
What shifted Esther’s opinion of me was not a change in the way I carried myself, but rather her understanding of where my confidence was coming from. My self-confidence was not arrogance or conceit, but a sense of achievement and accomplishment. I had worked so hard to get there and I was feeling great about finally seeing some results.
Confidence, self-esteem, and self-respect are wonderful virtues. They come from believing in yourself, being true to who you were created to be, and to the gifts God blessed you with. Jesus Christ himself told the story about the servant who hid his talent and how it was taken away from him, and He also encouraged all to shine your light and be the salt of the world.
While self-confidence is about gifts, personal progress, and a desire to make a difference to others, the EGO is focused on the image you have to other people, how others perceive you, what others think of you. The ego needs constant attention and praise. Being loved, admired, and esteemed are important needs when you’re feeding your ego, because it thrives with other people’s opinions of you. Pride is another component of your ego, in which you compare yourself to others, and you don’t feel good unless you feel superior, or at least “equal” to others.
I know I sound like a broken record, but it all comes down to the two greatest forces in the world: love and fear. Self-confidence comes from love and ego comes from fear: fear of rejection, fear of not doing, having, or being enough.
One huge misconception is that being shy and laying low, or even acting like you don’t like yourself is humility. In the same sense, being secure in who you are, having faith in your God-given gifts and depth of your hard-earned abilities is not pride. Confidence is needed to change the world! 🙂
Stating something in a matter-of-factly manner is not necessarily boasting, bragging, or showing off. Jesus Christ – who said the meek would inherit the Earth – proclaimed:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.“ ~ John 14:6
Thousands of years after, I can still feel the eyebrow raises. But He
was is indeed that. This declaration did not come from his ego; it came from His identity.
As a daughter of God, I am confident in my identity in Him, in my strengths in Him, and in the gifts He gave me. I am not less, nor more. I am His unique daughter, made in His image, created for a unique purpose. I am so grateful that I can openly admit my weaknesses, because that is what keeps me learning, improving, and creating joy in my life.
I think it was Socrates that said “I only know that I know nothing.” Oh what a great attitude that is. An over-inflated ego wants to trick us into the fact that we know it all, that we have all the wisdom and experience we need, or that our point of view is the RIGHT one. Confidence is when you know you’re prepared, you have done your best, and the odds are good… when you have FAITH it will work out, when you feel good about who you are and your skills, your attributes, and/or talents, and you have a strategy to get the results you want or to the desired destination.
Ego is NOT confidence. Ego is insecurity because your ego cares about how other people evaluate you and is always seeking to “prove” something and protect the status quo. Ego is a source of pain, anger, and ultimately, depression.
The ego is protecting us from judgment, but you will be judged if you’re confident, and you will be judged if you’re not… so be YOU! You will attract the right people into your life, like my amazing friend Esther .
Confidence leads to the success, achievement, and joy that God created you to have in this life. He wants us to become like a little child; like my 10 month old daughter who is excited to see herself in the mirror, who loves herself for who she is, who doesn’t judge herself because of the clothes she wears, the car she drives, or the home she lives in.
Confidence comes from an identity of love, and we must develop it… NOW… today.