You Got This

Let’s talk about confidence. Self-confidence. Not the corny brand of confidence found in many self-help books where you repeat a motivational key phrase before the mirror for guaranteed success—or your money back!

No, I’m talking about the kind of unwavering confidence found within exceptional people who routinely sing karaoke or pass highway patrol vehicles on the interstate. Confidence.

I bring up this subject because today I was standing in line at the supermarket when I met a retired psychologist. She was mid-eighties, with white hair and Coke-bottle glasses. Her name was Doctor Don’t-You-Dare-Use-My-Real-Name.

We got to talking and I casually asked the old physician which mental health problems she encountered most during her career.

Her answer came quickly. “Lack of confidence.”

“Really?” I said.

“Definitely,” she said as our cashier was ringing up the old woman’s—I swear—box of prunes.

I was surprised by her answer. I was expecting her to say the most frequent disorders were anxiety, depression, or as in my case, clinically obsessive avoidance of mowing my lawn.

“Well,” answered the shrink. “Lack of confidence is a problem that helps fuels those other problems. People who quit believing in themselves fall apart or they overcompensate. Both are dangerous.”

Statistically, two thirds of Americans suffer from lack of self-confidence. In one study, researchers found that a quarter of people under age 35 admitted to disliking themselves. And in a recent survey eight out of ten teenage girls admitted to practically hating themselves.

“Lack of confidence isn’t just a little problem,” said the clinician. “It’s the iceberg that sank the Titanic.”

By now, the cashier and everyone else in line was listening to our conversation as the doc went on to explain that most people without confidence have lost the ability to think positively. Which is a fatal problem.

“Unconfident people don’t believe anything good can happen to them personally. They don’t feel they deserve good things. They don’t believe they will heal. So they expect the worst, and you know what? They get what they expect.”

The doctor must be right because I receive a lot of letters from people who don’t have much confidence. Most of these letters are from people going through difficult periods. People who hail from all walks of life. Young people, older people, college students, sick people, grieving people, single parents, people starting new jobs, and first-time bungee jumpers.

Yes, bungee jumpers. Last night my phone vibrated informing me that I had an email from a guy named Lane who was about to bungee jump. The decision came after Lane lost his father this year.

Lane explained that his jump-site is located on an obscenely tall bridge spanning over a steep river gorge in northern California. He sent a picture that made my cheeks tighten; and I don’t mean the ones on my face.

Lane wrote: “I’m scared to do this… Any advice on how to face my fears?”

If Lane is reading this right now, I’d like to offer a few helpful words: Are you out of your freaking mind?

No, wait. What I meant to say is, you’re going to be okay, Lane. Do you know how I know this? Because anybody who attaches a rubber band to their ankle and leaps off a bridge has a shipload of confidence. And according to the psychologist in the supermarket…

“Confidence is all it takes.”

“All it takes?” I asked the doctor skeptically. “Isn’t that oversimplifying things?”

The doc shrugged. “Maybe, but I’ve seen too many miracles in my time to know that people who believe in miracles are the ones who get them.”

At first, I’ll be honest, all this self-confidence talk sounded vaguely like those motivational speakers from the 1980s with the giant hair and the plaid sport coats.

But then I got to thinking, there must be a reason why those motivational as-seen-on-TV gurus were able to make successful careers out of catchphrases like: “if you can believe it you can achieve it,” or “find true joy with only five easy payments of $39.95.” Confidence.

Sadly, I have struggled with confidence my whole life. I was the chubby kid playing outfield who grew up in a broken home. Guys like me didn’t grow up believing in much.

And I’m not alone in the self-esteem department. I’m thinking of the guy who emailed me yesterday about how his spouse of thirty-odd years left him.

I’m also thinking about Brady, whose mother attempted suicide in his garage last week.

I’m thinking of Karen, and the serious illness she was diagnosed with last month.

I’m thinking about the man named Phillip, who grapples with clinical depression.

The doc is clear to point out that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for mental health issues. It’s not nearly that simple. She’s not saying that. But the good doctor does have a message for you just the same. And I received her message loud and clear as she was pushing her buggy through the supermarket exit.

I asked her, on the record, if she had any words of wisdom for those struggling with confidence. People like me.

“I sure do,” the old woman replied with a smile. “You got this. And God’s got you.”

Or your money back.

40 comments

  1. Larry E. Notestine - November 15, 2021 9:01 am

    This is another insightful item from you that is timely for me. I’m certain this will be a help to me.

    Reply
  2. Ed (Bear) - November 15, 2021 10:36 am

    Great piece today! And I know one when I read one. I love and totally agree with Doctor What’s Her Name about the power of confidence but would like to add that negative stimuli like guilt and natural functioning chemical malfunctioning cranial matter need help in the form of medication for some folks. I expect Doctor WHN prescribed a bit of that over her career. On a more personal note, I wholeheartedly agree that I lack enough confidence to function properly without meds.

    Reply
  3. imcdbw - November 15, 2021 10:55 am

    I was a bit surprised, then as I continued reading, I came into agreement with her. I believe you hit that mail on the head. Fundamentally, we all need to feel valued which is the springboard—or bungee cord—for confidence. And I completely agree that faith in God is the foundation. He is our Rock. He is our Guide. You, dear Sean, have a gift: you can preach a sermon without sounding like a preacher!

    Reply
  4. Suzanne - November 15, 2021 10:56 am

    Thank you Sean for the reminder…

    Reply
  5. Audra S Isenhour - November 15, 2021 11:11 am

    Amen!

    Reply
  6. Barbara - November 15, 2021 11:21 am

    Great one, Sean. Thanks for sharing the free psych advice. You were careful to point out there is no one size fits all solution, to Ed (Bear)’s point. Also I agree with imcdbw’s observation. What a valuable blessing you received in the check out line. Only you could engage with a complete stranger and then develop it into today’s needed advice. Thank you and God bless you.

    Reply
  7. Ron Pfeiffer - November 15, 2021 12:45 pm

    Attitude and confidence go hand in hand –in my opinion. No matter how I may feel physically or stressing, I say I am “Fantastic” when asked “How are You’. They smile and I have reinforced my attitude and Confidence. Try it!

    Reply
  8. Paul McCutchen - November 15, 2021 12:47 pm

    Wise lady. Might try some of her advice. If I can build up enough courage.

    Reply
  9. Dorothy Holloway - November 15, 2021 12:57 pm

    My comment isAmen!!!

    Reply
  10. Gary Fleming - November 15, 2021 1:02 pm

    This is a great prescription for what ails much of our society Sean. Social media has some good points, but it has significantly increased the opportunity for young impressionable minds to receive negative feedback about their appearance, ideas, etc. Imagine the level of embarrassment of being chosen last for the sandlot games if it was broadcast to millions of people – especially if a portion of those people, emboldened by anonymity and probably living with their own self confidence issues, add to the embarrassment with hateful comments.

    Reply
  11. Jan - November 15, 2021 1:20 pm

    Just what the doctor ordered for a Monday morning with more negativity in sight than anything else. Thanks, Sean.

    Reply
  12. Ronbo - November 15, 2021 1:33 pm

    The doc is right on and confidence has carried me onward for 77 years. Ronbo

    Reply
  13. Frances L Pippin - November 15, 2021 2:01 pm

    Please NEVER stop writing Sean. This came at a time I truly needed to hear this. Alot of your writings come to me just in time and on target. God uses you in ways you probably never know.

    Reply
  14. Shelton A. - November 15, 2021 2:26 pm

    A very wise woman. Too bad she had to retire (although I certainly don’t blame her-you can’t practice psychology forever) because we certainly need more like her seeing patients. God bless her (plus you, Jamie, and the wonder dogs).

    Reply
  15. Cathy M - November 15, 2021 2:50 pm

    Another Amen! I am with Dorothy H. That confidence usually comes with age. Just one of the good things abt aging. Trying to be positive here!

    Reply
  16. Cathy M - November 15, 2021 3:16 pm

    Been thinking abt. The topic today and just wanted to add to my comment above. Yes to healthy confidence but no to arrogance which is one of my least favorite traits in an individual. Just sayin

    Reply
  17. Suellen - November 15, 2021 3:27 pm

    I went to therapy a few years back for overwhelming anxiety and depression. I was lamenting all my life problems (and there was a boatload at the time) and the therapist looked at me and said “It sounds like you’ve totally lost confidence in yourself.” What? But on reflection she was so right and you are too.

    Reply
  18. Sue - November 15, 2021 3:27 pm

    I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your columns. This one was an epiphany, thank you❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  19. Stacey Wallace - November 15, 2021 4:13 pm

    Thanks, Sean. The doc was right, especially when she said “And God’s got you.” I have lacked confidence in myself,too. When I suffered from clinical depression in 1995, Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, pointed me to my doctor, who diagnosed me and prescribed an antidepressant and to a Christian counselor. And Jesus never let go of my right hand, as He promised. By 1996, I was fine, finished with medicine and counseling. I give all glory and thanks to Him.

    Reply
  20. Barbara - November 15, 2021 5:00 pm

    Thanks Sean! Like others, your words were spot on, and your final sentence couldn’t be with any more perfect timing. Everyone IS going through SOMETHING….for me it’s putting my beloved best friend and furbaby to sleep tomorrow. I needed your words today, your topic You Got This, (about Confidence/Inner Strength), because at the moment, understandably I don’t. 😪😪😪 Then you added that God has ALL of us that are lost and hurting. Yep, nailed it, and strength with your words empowers.

    Joey🐶 has had the BEST, and I’m going to keep reading this essay for days to come. Thank YOU!💝

    Reply
  21. Cynthia Russell - November 15, 2021 5:31 pm

    GREATEST COLUMN EVER!!!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!! LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am a pretty upbeat person.. of course now my life is FINALLY wonderful because I am old!!! ha ha.. never thought I would live this long… just turned 69!!! WOW, HOW THE HECK DID THAT HAPPEN!!! “I’M 69… FEELIN’ FINE. WITH A CUTE BEHIND!! yep! that is my motto for this whole year!! excited to live it.. excited to wait to see what being 70 will be like!!! I am lucky… I decided to be happy, to be blessed, to care… I LOVE MY LIFE.. I THANK GOD He shows me the wonderful gifts he gives to all of us each day.. YOU ARE BLESSED!!! LIVE IN THANKFULNESS!!!

    Reply
  22. AlaRedClayGirl - November 15, 2021 5:47 pm

    Good column! You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you respond to it. Sometimes you just have to choose to be happy, or confident, etc. no matter the circumstances.

    Reply
  23. Linda Moon - November 15, 2021 6:49 pm

    I sing. Once I passed a patrol car. Singing is good. That’s all I have to say about the juxtaposition of music and speed limits because my real name appears in the Comment here. But I will say to you and others I know and love who are similar to you…one of whom jumped out of an airplane to dive into the sky…the Sky’s got you both and God does, too. So do I (for what that’s worth).

    Reply
  24. MAM - November 15, 2021 7:42 pm

    Awesome woman; awesome writer; awesome advice from Dr. Don’t-You-Dare-Use-My-Real-Name! Go forward with your head held high, shoulders back and chin up. Look confident and you’ll feel confident. God always has our back!

    Reply
  25. Karen Snyder - November 16, 2021 1:53 am

    Thanks for this, Sean. If I didn’t believe that God’s got my back, I’m not sure all the confidence in the world would be enough. Confidence can ebb and flow, but God’s love and help is a constant.

    PS: I’ll be thinking about you and your beloved friend tomorrow, Barbara. Many of us have been in your shoes, and we understand. Big hugs.

    Reply
  26. Gayle Wilson - November 16, 2021 4:15 pm

    Sean, I really needed this today. And of course you have heard this from probably everyone who has read this. The good psychologist said it straight at the end. We do have it because God has us.

    Reply
  27. Buddy Caudill - November 16, 2021 6:04 pm

    Thank you, Sean !

    Reply
  28. Pingback: You got this | The Trussville Tribune

  29. Mary Coley - November 17, 2021 2:38 am

    Love this. ♥️

    Reply
  30. Suzi - November 18, 2021 10:51 pm

    Simple sage advice

    Reply
  31. Holly Finehout - November 20, 2021 3:11 am

    I really appreciated this article as another fellow esteem sufferer. I am 65 and with the last couple of lost jobs have lost all confidence. I just started on SS and can’t even get a part time job to help myself out. I wanted to get a self hypnosis program but didn’t have the money and was discouraged by family. What do you suggest?

    Reply
  32. Pingback: Greenville, South Carolina | The Trussville Tribune

  33. Pingback: Commentary: Greenville, South Carolina | The Trussville Tribune

  34. Pingback: Commentary: Bookish | The Trussville Tribune

  35. Susan Patterson - November 24, 2021 5:07 am

    Dang. I could have used this a year ago. But, still…I needed this today. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

    Reply
  36. Pingback: Commentary: Billy | The Trussville Tribune

  37. Pingback: Commentary: Thanksgiving | The Trussville Tribune

  38. Pingback: Commentary: God Bless, Every One | The Trussville Tribune

  39. Pingback: Commentary: Georgia Christmas | The Trussville Tribune

  40. Pingback: Commentary: The Gift of Gab | The Trussville Tribune

Leave a Comment