Two months ago, I came to a screeching stop. All my passion and interest in my work evaporated. Every project, plan, goal and dream I had dissolved into the ethers. No matter how hard I tried to stir up my inspiration and motivation, I couldn’t feel anything but tired, confused and very depressed. It’s as if I woke up one morning and all the passion and love I felt for my work was gone.
And it felt horrible. It was as if some life-sucking alien had invaded my body and wouldn’t leave. I felt separated from myself, from my life energy, from desire.
I turned to my husband one night, with tears streaming down my face, and I said, “I feel broken, and I don’t know how to fix myself.”
What do you do when you don’t know what to do, when you stop caring about what you thought you loved, and feel separated from the “you” you thought you were? What happens to your self-confidence?
After my initial sadness and despair at feeling so lost, I realized that I was facing a challenge of confidence. Do I have enough confidence in myself, in who I am, to feel this broken, confused and directionless and still know I’m all right? Can I trust myself enough to not know, to stop, maybe even let go of this work I used to love and still feel that I am okay?
As a society and as a species we are so defined by our “doing.” By our job, our role, our contribution. We are classified and judged by our achievements and accomplishments. And when you don’t “do” anything, when you can’t even voice a vision for what you might be doing soon, and you’re not sure what direction to move towards or even how you feel about anything, that’s when you can start to feel like a worthless piece of garbage. That’s when you discover your level of confidence in WHO you are not just WHAT you do.
When people ask me about Unconditional Confidence, I always tell them that the intention of any Unconditional Confidence program is to develop an unshakeable confidence in WHO you are, not just in WHAT you do. Most anyone can become comfortable and confident in their ability to do a certain “action” or task. For instance, you probably feel completely confident that you can pick up the phone and make a phone call. You don’t even question it. You’ve done it a million times or more. Some people feel the same way about their job. They know they can do it and do it well.
But that kind of confidence is conditional. It lives in your ability to do a specific thing. What happens to that confidence when you are stripped of that action, that job, that “doing?”
In the one-day Unconditional Confidence training the first thing we do is learn how to just be in front of a group without anything to do or anything to say. This is the work established by Lee Glickstein in Speaking Circles International, and it is definitely the most challenging aspect of these workshops because most people have never been asked to just be present without words, without action, without something specific to offer.
Almost everyone in these workshops squirms and struggles with this “just be present” aspect of the work. Some people find a way to do something internally, like hold an intention of some kind, even if they aren’t doing or saying anything externally. Some people hold themselves stiff, trying to do this “just be” thing right. We have so little tolerance or ease with just being who we are without trying, without having something to do or something to prove.
We’ve never been taught that our presence, that who we are, is valuable and worthwhile and more than enough, and we can enjoy just being present.
This kind of work feels so symbolic to me now as I move through this time of “just being; not doing.” I’ll be honest with you, it’s been extremely challenging. See, I’m a doer. I love to be in action, especially when the action is fueled with passion and a zest for life. To feel so cut off from this part of myself has been a journey of confidence, of unconditional confidence.
Can I know that even when I feel dead inside, when I don’t have a clue as to what’s next, when I can’t get excited about anything, that I am okay, that I am enough? Do I have enough faith in myself and in life itself to open and allow myself to feel whatever I am feeling without resistance, without shame? Can I enjoy “just being” with ease and trust?
Yes, I can. I am. Some days are better than others. Some days, I just want someone to give me a magic answer. Or a magic pill that will make me feel like myself again. But most of the time I am allowing myself to not know, to just be as I am, and feel confident that who I am is enough.
I was at a meeting the other night where I told a small group of business women that I didn’t know a thing, that I was bathing in uncertainty. I told them that while it was uncomfortable and even scary at times, I still knew that I was okay, that in some way, it was all for the best and I would be led into action when the time was right.
And, as the song says, “The rest is still unwritten.”