What even IS confidence, anyway?

music coaching music performance public speaking May 12, 2023

I  had a really interesting coaching call a few days ago, where the client expressed that they wanted more confidence to show up and advocate for the things they believed in.

That got me thinking about showing up in MY own space with confidence, and wtf even was it that shifted, which allowed me to do so?

I often have conversations with my partner, which quite honestly, scare me shitless. I don’t know how they might react, whether we’ll end up in an argument, whether I’ll be able to control my own temper and anxiety etc, all the stuff which often crops up around emotional (dis)regulation.

But if there’s one thing I know, it’s that over the years of being together, I feel I have more and more confidence in having those convos.

Just like when I played cello solos in orchestras; for the longest time ever I was crippled with performance anxiety.

The dreaded “bow shakes” made it completely impossible for me to play, and my confidence was utterly shot to shit.

Years of therapy, and then years of coaching and mindset work, and I came to recognise one thing:

I am always looking for safety.

(“Safety” is often a Core Value.)

(…if you have a coaching session with me, I GUARANTEE we will discuss those very early on.)

I finally began to recognise that, where safety came, confidence followed. If I was in a space where I could somehow make myself feel safe, then I could feel free to show up as I wanted. And where we encourage others to feel safe, so does that confidence grow within them.

When it came to performance, it was so easy for me to feel unsafe in some way.

“But what if I fuck it up? What will happen to me?”

“What if I lose my position in this ensemble because I’m not good enough?”

“What if this feeling like I’m actually dying when I play, this feeling of being unable to breathe, the sensation that I’m losing feeling in my hands and feet, the pounding in my head and the unbearable heat rising in my belly…what if that means I just…die whilst I’m playing?”

And so the feeling of being unsafe remained.

And so therefore, the lack of confidence also remained.

One of the best mental shifts I made was understanding how to make my own “safe spaces”. As a neurodivergent, those feelings of panic, anxiety, overwhelm can grow pretty big, pretty fast.

Urgh…managing emotional dysfunction can be EXHAUSTING at times.

But that shift…holy moly, when you finally understand the feeling of what it is which holds you back, and learn to create something which helps you managing it…I swear a whole new world of bonkers opportunity opens up.

Me? I love solos now. Even if I do fuck em up from time to time - I’m human, remember, and I am not perfect. As I “continuously learn my own boundaries for safety”, I approach trickier conversations with my partner with much more ease.

And a whole lot more confidence.

What does confidence look like to you?


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