After developing into a state of chronic worry, self-doubt, and complaints about myself, I came repeatedly to the conclusion that not only was suicide pointless, but also negativity. Being positive felt great, and thus right; being negative seemed right, but felt so very wrong. But I’d just keep returning to the negative patterns, and I was getting bored of that game. So what do I do? Determine to publicly affirm self-confidence, of course! I said, “Look, self, it’s time to stop giving energy to that which doesn’t make sense, even if I don’t yet know how!”
As I wrote in a previous post, worrying is about running around in circles hurting yourself. During the most stressful, worrisome year of my life, I discovered gray hairs on my head at the age of 21! But don’t worry, because after turning the notion of purposeful worrying on its head, I am going to answer the question of what is purposeful?
I have been depressed and suicidal. I have come out of it and entered ephemeral states of contentment. I have learned to love myself, and I have hated myself all over again. But when it started to happen again, when I started seriously thinking about taking this life again, I’d end up thinking, “Ah, but what’s the point in killing myself?” As an increasingly purpose-oriented person, I had to ask this question. And my life purpose was to transform suffering; yet the paradox of suicide is that it is a process which almost always requires intensification of suffering to get there, and in most cases you don’t even get there. It is a running in circles away from oneself. Of course, the suicidal person asks, “But what’s the point in living?” Well, of course everyone gets to decide the details of that for themself, but with regard to suicide specifically, the tricky part is when you keep worrying about these existential questions, worrying that the point in living is based on flawed, circular reasoning. Actually, it is circular reasoning, but I would not call it flawed. It is circular because there is nowhere to run but within oneself, so that even running away is running to, except that it doesn’t feel like it. The answer is to aim to run toward oneself, to your center of being, as an intelligent, emotional being. Run toward yourself because you are with yourself for the ride anyway. Will you still suffer in the process of turning every corner of your being toward you? Absolutely. But you come around in the long-haul, to increasingly become a transformer (of worries, of suffering), and if you even understand what you have been reading in this post, I know you can find the way.
It is also important to stop “should”-ing life. Your life; life in general. If you find yourself asking, “Why should I live?” or “Why can’t I have what I so badly need?!?!” then just aim to get away from “need”-ing anything. If you know anything about Buddhism, you understand that life can generally be spoken of in terms of wants/desires rather than needs. We all want to be happy, we want to feel self-confident, we want to save the world, we want justice and peace on earth!!! But the universe is telling us it doesn’t need those things to go on existing. So we have to tell it what we want, and speak clearly, as to an unruly child. If we need something, we start to feel needy, like if we don’t have something the universe is incomplete, fallen apart, madness, incomprehensible, pointless. And yet it’s all that we have.
Self-confidence is about proclaiming to the universe, “Here I am. I want me; I want to believe in me, I want to love me, I want to enjoy me, I want to stand on my own two feet, leaning on me and centered on me. Thus I will find ways, by my will.” And therein you begin to find your purpose, your direction, your will to live, and to forget the very existential question in the process of living.
When you really set your mind to something, and you are finally ready to commit the necessary mental resources to achieving a goal, such as self-confidence, it comes down to that critical moment in your motivation – you find your motive, your purpose, your aim, your desire – be it desire against or for. Finally you will begin to drop the old patterns. Maybe you haven’t reached that point yet, or you need an extra push besides the desire against negativity. So what is the purpose of self-confidence, besides its purposeful/willful/life-affirming quality mentioned above?
Self-confidence is a means and end to love. It is self-love, by self-belief. If love is an ultimate form desire/will/purpose (see Plato’s Symposium), then is not faith/confidence/self-confidence an ultimate form of belief? (Pardon me. If you don’t know, “-fid-” means faith.) And if any confidence at all, we must include its point of emanation – self. Okay, I’m getting way too Ancient Greek Philosophy here. Pardon me again. Back up. Love is a matter of faith, like confidence. Confidence is a matter of acceptance, like love. Learn to accept and believe in yourself so that love can flow freely.
Many people, like myself, experience love and confidence before they experience self-confidence. It can be easier to love another than oneself, to accept another’s flaws than ones own, to see with detachment that others deserve their energy toward the transformation of suffering, when we get caught up in needing some personal goal and the fear of not reaching it or not being there already. It can be easier to go without asking the purpose of another’s life than our own, because we are first and foremost at the wheel of our own and must deal directly with all its peaks and troughs and the journey in-between.
The good news is that self-confidence is a means to loving others (and vice versa). Because it is a form of confidence, it translates well into confidence beyond the self. If you have ever used a dating website, you will know that if there’s anything the ads demand from a potential partner more than humor, it’s self-confidence. Why? People don’t want to deal with their own neediness and anxieties and worries, let alone an intimate other’s. While my hairs were turning gray, my friendships started to strain. Why would anyone be attracted to worry? Attraction is about fun, desire, purposefulness, love. Have self-confidence, and then you can enter more freely into loving relationships. When your worries are gone, you will also have more time and energy to devote to solution-seeking for others as well as yourself, to simply caring, to having fun, laughing, feeling free, feeling alive – to what you really want, when you are centered on your being. Instead of feeling stressed out about yourself, feeling your chest collapsing into itself, you feel open, relaxed, ready to receive and give back. You will love life more, and others will wonder why and follow you.
And, of course, love is a life purpose many would easily name.
Stay tuned for more posts about how to achieve this goal-with-a-purpose. Most obviously, make self-confidence your purpose. (I actually think it was watching a video titled Becoming a Lesbian Seductress, which said the key was sexual self-confidence, that got me fixated on this topic.)