It’s funny how your brain tries to trick you.
Makes you believe things which aren’t true.
One of these “tricks” is confidence.
When someone is confident, most people automatically assume they have something to be confident about.
You see someone being confident and think there must be something “behind” it.
As if they have something figured out that you don’t.
And that’s why they are confident.
But it’s simply not true.
The truth is…
NOBODY KNOWS WHAT THEY’RE DOING
Everyone is clueless and scared.
This includes all the presidents and politicians, great scientists and artists throughout history.
They were all faking it.
Putting up an impression of certainty and stability to impress the common man.
The rappers in their shiny cars. The person at your work or school everyone wants to be around at lunchtime. The teachers, bosses and professors who have that calm steadiness in their voice.
All faking it.
Because most people are looking for leadership. They’ve grown up, but they’re still walking around looking for somewhere to plug their umbilical cord into. Someone who can give them a feeling of security.
Confidence Implies Security
Yet nobody is secure. You could die at any moment. So could I.
So it’s just an act. Nobody should really be confident.
One of my favourite authors, Osho, said:
“The less one knows, the more stubbornly one knows it.”
And a more popular quote:
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and intelligent are full of doubt.”
There is no centralized authority on “the right way to live.” Or the right food to eat. Or the right clothes to wear.
It’s a scattered group of 7 billion people who are all looking at each other. And everyone is looking to and following the person who is most sure of themselves.
It’s how fashion gets made. It’s how religions are formed. It’s how politicians get elected.
Because deep down we’re still cavemen. Scientists have studied the brain and found out our brains evolved over tens of thousands of years in the times of cavemen. And our brains have not changed a whole lot in the past couple thousand years of “modern society.” This means a lot of the “wiring” in your brain is actually very primitive.
Some behaviors of modern humans reflect their evolutionary history. That is palpably uncontroversial, since many of our behaviors are clearly a product of evolution, including eating, avoiding dangers, and the pursuit of sex. And since our bodies reflect their evolutionary history, often in nonadaptive ways (e.g., wisdom teeth, bad backs, the coat of hair we produce as a transitory feature in fetuses), why not our brains, which are, after all, just bits of morphology whose structure affects our behaviors?
– Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D
Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago
This subject is too complicated to go into detail in this article, but here’s why this is important…
Our brains have developed to create “tribes” of people. And in these tribes there’s always a leader. The one who decides what is appropriate behaviour. The one who dictates the standards everyone else should follow. The one who sets the rules of what is “cool” and not cool.
The Secret Language Of Cavemen Was Confidence
The confident caveman was the leader. The dominant one. In the past this was all about physical dominance and strength, but now it’s about psychological dominance.
- Which people do you have trouble making eye contact with?
- Which people do you have trouble talking to?
- Which people do you feel the most anxious and nervous around?
These are the people who are psychologically dominant to you.
You are anxious because you feel like you’re inferior to them, and you don’t want to mess with the hierarchy. You don’t want to have trouble with someone you think is higher status than you. And your need for their acceptance make you anxious and shy in certain social situations.
This is the secret language that almost nobody sees. And it’s driving me crazy that almost nobody even knows about this. The deeper dynamics that take place within almost every daily conversation.
- When you feel anxious, it’s not “you” feeling anxious. It’s a wired response in a part of your brain called the amygdala. Your brain is generating fear to keep you on edge in case of danger. The fear and anxiety is a survival strategy.
- When you feel comfortable around people you know well, but not around strangers … that’s another survival strategy. You can’t express yourself confidently because you don’t know whether these unfamiliar cavemen are friendly or dangerous. But you already know your friends accept you, so you are relaxed and open around them.
- When you are unable to make eye contact with an authority figure, or someone you find attractive, or someone popular or well-respected… but can easily make eye contact with kids, elderly people or unpopular people … it’s yet another survival strategy. Eye contact is a very primal thing, and staring someone down who was higher status than you was a sign of defiance back in the day. You could get into a fight because of it, because you’re messing with the hierarchy.
(This is why when two people are really angry at each other, they will often get close and stare each other down. It’s about trying to establish dominance.)
Shyness and social anxiety are not personality traits. They are survival instincts.
It’s all a misguided effort to stay alive.
But it does nothing.
Because those old “rules” you have programmed into your brain from the caveman days don’t apply anymore. We live in a modern society now, not wild caveman tribes.
You won’t die if people hate you. You won’t get killed for acting more confident. You won’t become a total outcast if you make a fool of yourself.
(But this is exactly what your brain has been wired to believe over thousands of years.)
Now here’s the key:
You CAN rise above your old ape-brain and become confident. These survival strategies in your brain most people call “shyness or social anxiety” are, in fact, reprogrammable.
If you don’t think I’m crazy and may even be onto something, then make sure to checkout my ebook here:
P.S. Tried something different for this article. Hope you enjoyed it.