Is Your Confidence Real?

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    142 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Three things for you to think about

    To unconfident people, narcissism in others looks like confidence. To confident people, narcissism in others looks like a lack of confidence.

    A lot of what passes as “life advice” is simply narcissism dressed up like confidence and sold at a premium to unconfident people.

    The way to tell the difference between narcissism and confidence is to see how it affects other people. Narcissism, by definition, needs to diminish others in order to maintain a sense of comfort and security. Confidence is a comfort and security regardless of what others say or do.

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    Two things for you to ask yourself

    When in your life have you mistaken narcissism for confidence? What were the effects on your life and your relationships?

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Confidence is not expressed through bravado but rather vulnerability. A confident person does not feel a need to prove that they are right—rather, they are simply comfortable in the fact that they may be wrong.

    Find one area of your life that you’ve been terrified to admit the possibility that you may be wrong. Now, actively admit that possibility to others in some way.

    Ideally, you will find that people will actually respect you more for admitting that you might be wrong, than they ever would if you demanded they know that you were right.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    Buckle up, this is a heavy one. In last week’s email, “Why we hurt those we love,” I asked you to talk to one person you’ve hurt because of your unresolved trauma and begin the process of self-healing. Many readers, like Warren here, had a conversation with their romantic partner:

    I did some self-reflecting after a fight with my fiancée. I realized every time I felt some sort of pain or hurt, I wanted my fiancée to feel the same, in some ways it made me feel like I was being understood. Your email subject couldn’t have been more on the nose. I decided to share these thoughts and feelings to my fiancée which she accepted gracefully.

    Sarah’s father was both the subject of her trauma and the person she’d been hurting, but no longer:

    For many years, I held this deep grudge against my dad. The man is decent but has flaws like everyone else.

    I hated how he was never ambitious or rational. He only cares about his games of squash—he opted for these games back when mum was getting treated in a hospital, he opted for these games when we were going through a difficult move, and so on.

    I saw my dad in a very negative light. He owed me a lot of money, was never mentally and physically there for me on my dark days, and he was never someone you can talk to or go out for ice cream with.

    I suppressed so much to the extent of blinding myself from his positive qualities. The guy is a complete dork and packs the world’s worst dad jokes. He rarely gets angry, and has given me my freedom to do whatever I want (which is not the norm in our culture).

    I asked myself many times why I felt this way, and it shocked me to realize that I do not remember why I am holding on to so much resentment towards him. Finally, I approached him and told him to put down his phone (he is glued to that thing) as I wanted to have a serious talk with him.

    To my surprise, I remained composed throughout the whole thing. I told him about the hate I have for him, that I forgive him for all the mishaps, and that I no longer want him to pay me back the money. Of course, it went on for more than that but the point is I felt relieved right after. He actually listened and we laughed about the money thing. Since then, I have had a semi-proper relationship with him.

    I didn’t know he was hurt from my cold behavior back then and I am glad we sorted it out. I can’t hate him for who he is, and no longer will. I’m glad I have him as my dad.

    Ruth shared how she and her husband aren’t letting trauma from past marriages derail their current one:

    My husband and I are both in our second marriages. We have been together now for nine years. We both have some hefty baggage from our first marriages.

    My ex-husband had a very inflated opinion of himself. He was very controlling and withheld affection as a way to control and punish me. Due to this, I created an identity that was based on my relationship with him, and my entire emotional state was based on whether I was validated by him on a particular day. When I finally left, I was determined to never need anyone ever again.

    My husband’s ex-wife had pretty significant mental health issues which led to a prescription drug addiction. She had gotten to the point that she was getting prescriptions from multiple physicians and when she was unable to do that, she would purchase them off the street. As her behavior became more erratic, she posed a bigger danger to her husband and their four children. When he left the marriage, he was able to gain sole custody of his kids—thank goodness.

    Fast forward… We now have a blended family with two parents who have some significant barriers to overcome—one with serious control issues (that would be me) and the other with major trust issues. Our marriage is far from perfect, but we have both learned so much about analyzing our own motivations, kindness and patience, and open communication. So, even though we have occasionally hurt each other due to our former trauma, we have learned to recognize it, and address it when it does happen. We have both learned so much from the experiences we’ve lived through. A healthy dose of realism and humility has allowed us to build something truly unique and incredibly strong.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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