As she watched him, her apprehension vanished. He was looking at his mills beyond the window, there was no guilt in his face, no doubt, nothing but the calm of an inviolate self-confidence.
“Dagny” he said, “whatever we are, it’s we who move the world and it’s we who’ll pull it through.”
~ Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
I shared the quote above four years ago today, on Facebook.
In another random moment, I read someone’s retweet during the day today. The tweet was short yet profound. It settled into my mind without my becoming aware of it… which is proof of its profundity.
Blog posts aren’t newspaper articles. Make them as timeless as possible.
… and I thought, WHOA!
Write something timeless, Mr Trappe said.
The quote I shared four years ago was valid when it was first written; it was valid when the book was first published; it remained valid when I read it for the first time at the age of sixteen… and it has remained valid to this moment. For a statement to remain valid across cultures, continents, peoples and time… what can define timelessness better than this?
The quote above is timeless because in every era- across cultures and people- there have been- and will always be- those who can look upon the world and know what their role in it is. They don’t get caught in the despair and drama of momentary setbacks. They don’t lose sight of their goals nor get so obsessed with the trees that they no longer see the forest. They have the courage- not only to see the steep, lonely road ahead- but to walk it to the end. They know there will be no accolades for them- not so much as a glass of water- when they arrive at their journey’s end. Quite the contrary… and they know it before they begin their journey. Yet they walk.
But that is not the reason for this post. It would be presumptuous of me to paraphrase Ms Rand’s life-work.
The reason for the post are the words in the title- An Inviolate Self-Confidence. The words began a train of thought in me.
If you were possessed of An Inviolate Self-Confidence, if you were blessed with an unshakable certainly, how would you look upon the world? Would you still lose your cool when others put forth their viewpoint that was contrary to your own? Would someone else’s certainty make you insecure? Would someone’s sure reasoning have the power to unseat your own reason?
Apprehension, angst, fear, doubt, trepidation and dread gain ascendancy over you when your self-confidence is weak. Beset by your own fears and unable to defeat them, you turn aggressive and take their most innocuous remarks as personal attacks. The mildest observations seem like judgments pronounced. And that feeds your angst further.
Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others. Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval. Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.
~ Lao Tzu
Possessing An Inviolate Self-Confidence is not synonymous with being assured of accuracy in your perceptions. It grants no special powers to you and does not make you infallible. It doesn’t automatically bestow a permanent glow of righteousness upon you. It doesn’t make you impervious to human vulnerability. It certainly doesn’t make you dogmatic, arrogant, unreasonable or obdurate.
It only means that you know- without contradictions and ambiguity- what your values are. You are happy to rely on your own counsel to come to decisions on the basis of the information in your possession at that time. It also means that you are willing to bear the consequences of your decisions and that you consider yourself strong enough to bear those consequences. Above all, it means you trust your own inner compass absolutely and utterly.
Lack of inner certainly fosters imbalance and instability. With a constantly shifting core, your perceptions become random and inconsistent- and that upsets you further. You don’t know where you are at from moment to the next. Naturally you are agitated- a bomb primed for the lightest tinder.
Much of the strife in your life would be laid to rest if you develop An Inviolate Self-Confidence. You wouldn’t feel the need to go logger-heads with others of a non-congruent viewpoint. You wouldn’t feel so hot and bothered when faced with an alternate world-view. You wouldn’t feel compelled to ‘prove’ to others how right you were. You wouldn’t take disagreements as a personal attack. You definitely wouldn’t feel obligated to coerce others to our your side of the fence, nor feel terrible if you failed to bring them round.
As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
On the contrary, it would make you willing to listen to others better. It would teach you that just as you are convinced of certain things, so can others be certain of the things they perceive. And that’s absolutely and perfectly fine!
A feeling of detachment is an intrinsic component of self-confidence. The deeper the confidence, the deeper you are anchored within yourself, the less you let yourself be buffeted about by any stray wind. You develop sakshi-bhaav. You are convinced that you are merely an observer of the world- and of yourself in the world.
Your observations acquire width and depth. You begin to put things in their right perspective. You stop getting affronted at the drop of a hat. You realize that you no longer sweat the small stuff… and that most of it is minuscule. It is as if you were defending your little puddle imagining it to cover the whole earth and someone just showed you the ocean. Instant Paradigm shift!
You’ll wonder what all the hubbla-boo was all about! You’ll let others be and not measure yourself against everyone you come across- taller than you or not. Nor would your sense of self-worth fluctuate with each measuring. You’ll realize once and for all that human beings were never meant to be measured against each other!
You’ll be serene and calm.