Confidence is fear || Acharya Prashant (2013)

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Question: What is the difference between confidence and over-confidence?

Speaker: It seems that this question is important to many of us here. Right?

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: What is confidence? On a normal day at home, do you require confidence to speak to your parents, to other family members? Before you speak to them, do you gather courage, do you gather confidence and then go there? No, you don’t. So, you don’t require confidence at home. You must be having some friends? When you are speaking to your friends, do you require confidence? No. But you surely require confidence when you are speaking to an interviewer. Then you say, ‘I require confidence’. Correct?

Try to understand this. Why do you require confidence in an interview room, and why do you not require confidence at home? You require confidence when you are afraid. The one who is not afraid, does not require confidence.

Right now, as I am sitting in front of you, this thought of ‘confidence’ has not crossed my mind even once. In fact, you may say that I am not at all confident right now, because one needs confidence only when one is afraid. So, the more you appear confident, the more afraid you are. Do not ask for confidence, ask for simplicity. Getting it? Simplicity, not confidence.

Simplicity is: ‘I am what I am’. What is confidence? An indication of fear. And over-confidence is an indication of more fear. The way your thinking is, confidence and aggression are not two different things.

You remain as you are, then you would not need any confidence. As you are sitting here, you do not need any confidence. But if I ask you to come to stage and speak in front of an audience, then you would require confidence. Why would this happen? Because…

Listeners(everyone): He is afraid.

Speaker: Fear will arise, but understand this fear. Do not ask for confidence. Understand this fear. This fear arises because we are constantly looking at others. Let me ask you a question. Do you require confidence when you have to speak in a room all alone? No. But you require confidence when you have speak in a hall filled with audience. Right?

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: What is the essential difference between both the situations? The process of speaking is happening in a vacant room and also in the room filled with the audience. But in second situation, ‘others’ are present. You are afraid of these ‘others’. And you require confidence only to deal with the ‘others’.

So, what is better, to ask for confidence, or to get rid of the fear?

Listeners(everyone): To get rid of the fear.

Speaker: Then you have to understand deeply that why are we afraid. You must have done the activity ‘Ego-the false center’ in your HIDP sessions. What is Ego? Ego is the image that I create about myself through others. I have no understanding of myself, whatever others have told me about myself, I have accepted it. This is Ego. Right?

It is this Ego that gives rise to fear because I have always known myself through others. That is why I am always afraid of speaking in front of others. That is why I am always afraid of others’ opinions. That is why I am always afraid of others’ impression about me.

I have always known myself through others. If others applaud for me, then I consider myself to be brilliant. If others criticize me, then I consider myself to be bad. This is the reason of our fear. At the root of confidence lies the fear of others, fear of external factors. And all this because you do not know yourself. You know yourself only as an image in the eyes of others. What is important, to know ourselves in the eyes of others, or to have eyes of our own? Then why should we know ourselves through others? After all, all of us are mature adults now. We can stand on our feet, look through our eyes and understand through our mind. Right?

Listeners(everyone): Yes, Sir.

Speaker: Then why do we need to know ourselves through the eyes of others? Do not try to ‘look’ confident. The more you ask for confidence, the more it indicates that you are afraid.

Do not ask for confidence. Remain simple! Do not try to become something. Just remain as you are. Simple, ordinary! Do not try to become something, then everything will be alright. You will feel light. You will get rid of a lot of burden.

Excerpted from a ‘Shabd-Yog’ session. Edited for clarity.

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  1. ‘Fear and confidence go together. Can’t just ask for one.

    Now I see the futility of wanting to be confident and yet be fearless.

    Very clearly explained. Thank you 🙂


  2. In my college days, read many theories which talks about countless steps to gain confidence and the more I tried them more hollow and timid felt within.

    I wish,could have known it earlier that “just let your fears go away”
    you are ever confident.
    Thanks for the article…


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