While I don’t usually do ‘themes’ over several weeks, lately I seem to keep finding more to say about navigating the really tough parts of life. Part one noted that all of life involves struggles, and we fool ourselves if we believe 1) that life is harder for us than for others and/or 2) that we can avoid this part of life if we just behave in the right way. Part two stressed that the challenge of life is to navigate these trials; just see that they are essential to the path we’re living and we don’t have to like them. Reading while I enjoy my breakfast on a patio this lovely spring morning placed part three squarely in my face.

Too often, when faced with unavoidable challenges, we wish we were stronger to face them. We don’t want to be we scared by them. We believe if we were stronger/smarter/more well-adjusted, the tough mess we’re about to have to tackle wouldn’t seem so awful. Again, second guessing of our abilities is powerful. Lacking confidence, looking around, we are certain others don’t shirk from their challenges. Confidence would mean breezing through, unphased by the bumps in the road, right?

Wrong. This morning, in Everything Happens for a Reason, Mira Kirshenbaum reminded me what it’s like to be inside someone who is confident. Mira says:

“Confidence only means something when you’re talking about a task that’s difficult. If the task is easy–something like making toast–you wouldn’t even use the word confident. It would sound pretty weird to say “I’m very confident I’m going to be able to toast this slice of bread.” If the task is easy, you just do it without thinking about it.”

The inner world of confidence in the face of difficulty means trusting that 1) yes, it will be tough to navigate the challenge ahead AND 2) I can do it. That’s how confidence manifests itself: that you have an inner knowing that you will be able to survive whatever happens. This is the best script I know for getting through anxiety, depression, loss, and other bad stuff. In other words, the usual path of life. You know it will be hard, AND you know you will be able to do it.

As Mira says, “deep in the heart of confidence is a shrug, not a swagger.”

Shrug on, survivors.

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