5 steps to establish genuine confidence

August 20, 2012   |   15 Comments  |   FavoriteLoadingAdd to favorites

Buddhist thought has many value-free suggestions for creating lasting confidence. In the video above, I share some of them. As you will see, they are very, very basic but also quite brilliant.

The underlying theme is to simplify, slow down, pay attention to details, and have faith–not as an act of wishful thinking, but because as you take these steps you see that your life is actually unfolding with a sense of order. They are:

1. Clean up your space. It goes without saying that when we live in chaos, we feel chaotic.

2. Wear nice clothes. I thought this meant I had to go out and buy a whole new wardrobe. For better or worse, it does not. It simply means to wear clothes that are clean, pressed, fit you well, and make you feel cheerful.

3. Eat good food. This doesn’t mean become a vegan or do a detox fast. It means that when you buy, prepare, and consume food (and drink), make sure it is of excellent quality, procured decently, prepared thoughtfully.

4. Spend time with people you love and who make you feel like your best self. Requires no explanation.

5. Spend time in the natural world. Our world is good. Cold is cold. Purple is purple. Water is wet. When we touch in with what is most elemental, we remember our own basic goodness.

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  • Posted by:  Sonja Haller

    Amen to all 5. Such a simple list, but so dang true! And our world is cool. Sometimes the smells alone — cinnamon buns, orange blossoms, and the smell of my kids’ hair (after bath) is enough to help me remember the world’s goodness!

    • Posted by:  susan


  • Posted by:  Erin

    Hi Susan, wow I really love this article. I’ve struggled with insecurity and low self-esteem for a really long time but thankfully due to my supportive boyfriend and a lot of digging deep into my worries I have become much more confident. I particularly like your point about wearing nice clothing – I used to dress like a slob and found that being more mindful about my appearance gave me tons of confidence.

    My site is http://www.CreativeSoulinMotion.com 🙂

    • Posted by:  susan

      Erin, so glad this resonated with you. And yay for supportive partners and self-inquiry. xo S

  • Posted by:  John

    Hi Susan,
    I recently did the home retreat at the back of How Not to Be Afraid of Your Own Life. The five steps were built into the practice time. I really got the steps mentioned here through the practice of the retreat. I got to clean up my space before hand and prepare some good food. By Day two I was paying attention to dressing nicely, just for my own enjoyment. Although the retreat had some solo time, the contemplations really brought home the point of surrounding oneself with those who inspire confidence. The contrast of the post retreat period clearly inspired me to want to commit to practice confidence through meditation. I especially appreciated the walks placed throughout the solo part. This is something I don’t often do yet I really enjoy when I have the opportunity.

    Doing the retreat in my own home enabled me to appreciate my space in a different way by tidying and keeping it clean. I actually began to enjoy doing this and experienced freedom of mind through the process of keeping the space neat and following the suggested schedule.
    Thank you for offering the program of the retreat in your book, I experienced it as a gift. : )

    • Posted by:  susan

      John, this is so great to hear. I am completely happy that the retreat was useful and really, really appreciate you taking the time to give me such thoughtful and positive feedback. It means a lot!

  • Posted by:  Tracey

    Hi Susan,
    I first was introduced to “you” through a recorded interview webinar Leo Babauta offered to the members of his Sea Change group, of which I am a new member. Without going to into all the amazing details that have led me to this point, I just wanted to thank you for allowing me (and everyone else) the opportunity to read your words and learn from you. It’s crazy but it seems that every time I start to formulate some particular awareness on my own, I find that the same topic appears in my world of exploration, giving my awareness a sense of validity, if you will. For instance, just yesterday, I realized that while a part of me thinks I should “sacrifice” and not worry about the clothes I wear or how my hair looks, I feel so much better from the inside out when I do apply attention and awareness to looking pleasant. It’s hard to explain. But trying not to concern myself with how I looked, made me embarrassed and distracted me. I wasn’t sure if caring about my appearance was a good thing. Or was I simply falling into the societal trap? And sure enough, this morning, I happened to read your post on Genuine Confidence. All 5 of the items you mention speak to my core, especially the one I was struggling with yesterday. Again, thank you!

    • Posted by:  susan

      You are so welcome, Tracy.

      I really share that dilemma of confusing the good and natural urge for elegance and dignity with a kind of over-caring about superficialities. It is great to give ourselves permission to care about, well, ourselves.

      I wish you well and am delighted to know we are practicing together. Warmly, Susan

  • Posted by:  Marty

    Thank you for these approaches Susan. I especially resonated with the dressing suggestion having slipped into being unkempt since being downsized and becoming a homebody. Regarding the idea of keeping our home environment uncluttered and clean, I sometimes find myself ditzing around with small-time dusting and straightening as a means of dodging introspection and meditative practice. So in my life, I find a need to examine exactly why I am getting into a tidying-up mode. Balancing my external with internal housekeeping effort calls for reminding myself to find the middle path.

    Thank you for your ongoing emails and meditations. They are welcome and compassionate help in my journey.

    • Posted by:  susan

      Marty, so glad to know they are helpful. And it is so good to bring awareness to our environment and intention in exactly the ways you describe. Warmly, S

  • Posted by:  Jeff

    Hi Susan, I hope it’s not to late to reply to this, I don’t check my e-mails daily, I don’t even know how to check to see if you reply(not computer savvy). I have struggled with self confidence, low or no self esteem and struggle with addiction, pretty much all my life, and the addiction makes it worse but still get caught up. I’m trying your meditation videos but need structure to follow through, hoping to even find a weekly class. I just wanted to thank you for your time and hope to converse with you more.

    • Posted by:  susan

      Never too late, Jeff! I wish you well as you relate with your self and begin to make a connection to meditation practice. I hope the Open Heart Project will be a source of support to you. Warmly, Susan

  • Posted by:  Betsy

    Thank you for these suggestions. I have confusion around #4. If I’m with someone who does not make me feel like my best self, don’t I have some personal responsibility to be my best self even around that person? Thanks.

    • Posted by:  susan

      Hi Betsy. I don’t know about responsibility, but I do know that you will be happier if you are your best self, no matter what.

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