What makes you sit through talent shows?
For me, it's curiosity. No doubt about it. I'm curious. Are you curious, too? These days, I am at least as curious about the contestants'– and judges'– mind-sets, as I am about their abilities. I'm curious about what it is that gets in the way of people living their dream?
Last week's X Factor was a splendid case in point. Louis Walsh carted off th 6 'boy' contestants to his St Tropez Judge's House. There were a couple of cute, barely pubescent, kids, who cry engagingly, and two boys who look the part. Of these two, one is more talented, the other is a tad weak, vocally, but he is A1 eye candy; he already has the gym-honed body, the artfully tousled hair, and a luscious smile.
Then there were the two who surely can sing, but never stood a serous chance of winning the X Factor. One is red-haired, built like the proverbial outhouse, with the face of a young, Laughing Policeman, and has a haircut that Time forgot! The other is, dark, says he has body image issues – in medical terms he's probably clinically obese – and totally lacks confidence. Paul has a great voice, no doubt about it. But he's way too caught up in his own story of what's wrong with him, to be able to connect with an audience. Let alone win The X Factor.
Louis tell him: “I'm worried about your confidence.” As the poor lad falls apart before his very eyes, Louis adds: “You're going home. Don't give up.”
Will this kid give up?
It's what commonly happens when people who lack confidence experience - another - rejection. Or, if they don't actually give up, it sets them back years. Because they use the rejection as PROOF – incontrovertible proof - of the story they tell themselves about what's wrong with them, why they're not good enough, and why they're bound to fail.
Louis Walsh's few ill-chosen, but well intentioned words to Paul, perpetuate all the most toxic confidence myths.
Louis reinforces the notions that:
- confidence is something you have to go out and get – although where and how it can be found he doesn't say, and doesn't know
- to those who don't already have onfidence not much good will ever be given
- outstanding natural ability isn't actually worth much
- confidence is the hardest thing in the world to come by
Now, I agree that confidence is the hardest thing in the world to come by. But there's a seriously good reason for that:
It's a fabulous label. And a pointless one, for one simple reason:
Confidence does NOT exist.
Confidence is like unicorns, and phoenixes, and fairies at the bottom of the garden: they just don't exist.Confidence is The Problem That Isn't There.
If you go out looking for something that doesn't exist, you can't be blamed for not finding it. In fact, that's, actually, good news: it proves you're not psychotic. At least, you're not seeing things that aren't there.
In which case, what does Poor Paul really need - just like everybody who 'lacks confidence'?
What he really needs to start to believe in his own gifts and talents. He is a great singer. He needs to be out there connecting with an audience – and getting the positive feedback he deserves - rather than being stuck inside his own head, in thrall to his demons.
How possible is that?
I call it 'living wholeheartedly'; being at peace in your own skin.
That's the real game-changer: when you start to live wholeheartedly, and feel at peace in your own skin, then people really warm to you, and intuitively understand what is so amazing about you.
When you stop comparing yourself unfavourably to other people on the basis of weight, looks, qualifications, income, partner, age, talents, relationship history, or anything else, you bring a unique gift to the world: the gift of who you are. It's time you truly believed that. (And if you're saying to yourself: “Yes, but I don't see who I am as much of a gift”, then you – and the world – are missing out: you haven't got a clue, yet, how delightful you are.)
The X Factor suggests it is family entertainment to expose people's frailties to the world, and then say: “Because of these frailties, you can't get any further.” What a wrong-headed message! What a tragic waste of talent, and the opportunity to change lives, and the public perception!
Could Poor Paul's mind-set have been transformed? With the right kind of help,you bet it could. Don't forget how brave and motivated he has to be to get so far outside his comfort zone, in the first place. The only problem is that nobody was showing him how to move forward – from the inside out – by transforming his thoughts and feelings. Or, if you prefer, nobody has taught him how to get his demons to take a hike.
“Ah but”, you may be wondering, “how easy is that to do?”
Truth is, it's surprisingly easy. It's simply a question of going about it the right way, and not trying to focus on The Problem That Isn't There. As I understand it, the motivation is always there, it's just that the pain gets in the way. When you understand how pain can be used as rocket-fuel, then anyone can fly. To the moon and back, if you so desire.