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Confidence Theory

I’ve been traveling an ungodly amount lately and when I’m unable to affix myself to the Webs I just drift off into random thought. Sometimes I think about things I have to do, other times I’ll re-live frustrating situations and get re-pissed about them and still other times I create fractious, hypothetical situations out of thin air wherein I mentally argue with made up people in public settings. Recently, however, I somehow fell into a constructive thought-river and started contemplating the concept of confidence. What is it REALLY? How do people get it? Why do some people crumble so easily while others persevere and succeed? Nothing original there, but I had an uncanny feeling that maybe there was more to it than what’s on the surface.

Then, while desperately trying to find a cab in another city, it hit me. Confidence in any scenario isn’t about trying to convince yourself, “Hey! I’m awesome-squared!” It’s about feeling like you have options. Whenever you have at least one other option in life, you feel relaxed, safe and cool because if the one thing doesn’t work out, you’re not going to die. Literally. It’s all that limbic system/survival mechanism shit. The brain is more like an onion than an apple. In other words, layers and layers of higher evolution still clamp down onto a primitive brain stem and the core of everything we do gets processed the way a lizard would.

Using the taxi example, if there were tons of them readily available I would take my time and casually grab whichever one happen to suit me. With only one or even an absence of them altogether, I feel desperate and needy. That one damned cab suddenly becomes very important because I believe it to be my only option for moving toward what I want. Next comes the “what if” game: What if I can’t find another one? What if I can’t get to where I’m going? The “what if” game is largely pointless and stems from panic & irrational fear, i.e., Lizard T. Brainworth. How many “what if” worst-case scenarios actually come true? My guess is almost none of them.

“Well how do I get options if they don’t seem apparent?” might be your next question if you bothered to read this far. It’s simple: Strive for excellence in something you love. When you commit yourself to a higher principle of excellence, that will always be at least one other option for you to fall back on. When you’re learning how to do something you enjoy and ultimately doing it well, that becomes mental currency that you can use as armor for a variety of seemingly unrelated situations, and therein lies the cool mind sorcery of it all: the options you create DO NOT have to relate to the situations in which you want to be confident. You don’t have to be an ace with the ladies to pick up more ladies—you can excel at something entirely different and still get the action you so richly deserve. The key is for you to feel safe and comfortable.


For me, when I have a run of particularly good stand-up shows I feel like I have that as a cushion no matter how else I get rejected anywhere else.  The mere option of being able to do comedy fuels my confidence in virtually every other aspect of my life whether it be in professional or social situations.

Why is this important? Because the more confidence you are able to cram into your heart, the more you attract good stuff in life. It’s kind of a cold economy of Nature to reward those who don’t seem to need it. I think it stems from the idea that if an organism is strong, it’s worthy of passing on its genes. If said organism is desperate and needy, it must be flawed and its spreading must be limited.

So find a thing! Learn it, like it, live it. Give yourself the gift of options. Then bask in the warming cascade of feeling comfortable in your own skin and the good things that await you! Exclamation points!!!!

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  1. Daleena says:

    I was looking through old posts of mine on Tumblr and ran into this. Much needed brain refresher. Thanks Nerd!

  2. Ibrahim Anyars says:

    I like this inspiration which can guide me into a real confident in my life activities

  3. An Mai says:

    Hi Chris,

    Happy Friday and I hope you are well! Our lead photographer, Catherine Hall, is an ardent admirer of your work and would love to feature one of your older articles on our new blog, Giving back to the photography community is a priority for Catherine–and your Confidence theory would be invaluable to our readers.

    With your permission, we’d love to publish this article along with your biopic. The article would be reprinted in this format:

    Thanks and we look forward to your reply.


    An Mai

  4. @RonsRobot says:

    Hey I saw you at Bumbershoot on Monday near a comedy stage. I wanted to say, “Hey, Chris Hardwick, one of your blog posts really made an impression on me and affected my life in a positive way. Thank you!”

    Instead, I was able to get out, “Chris Hardwick!” and literally pointed at you (mouth agape) as you and your buddies walked by. Thanks.

  5. Andrea says:

    …well done for discovering this centuries old ‘secret’ for yourself and sharing it with the world!! 🙂 x

  6. Ethan Caine says:

    You know nothing…confidence is witchcraft plain and simple.

  7. Patti says:

    I love coming to your site and reading back articles. This one is great. I used to have low self-esteem and little or no confidence. I do several things quite well, so options are there. That was an important point you made. I’m doing something now that I NEVER thought I’d do because of the former low self esteem problem. I think being kinda thrust into this situation kinda forced that problem out. My self esteem is now much improved. I am singing in a rock band with my husband and 2 dear friends. I’m kinda new to the experience compared to everyone else, but the guys have been very accepting and when we play gigs, people in the audience boost my confidence. I will keep your words of wisdom in mind if I have a bout of nervousness. Thanks a bunch, Chris!

  8. Craig says:

    But I am amazing and do have confidence… I mean, I really am just friggin amazing! Options, well ya I have them. I create them when ever I need them.

  9. Nick says:

    Quality article, i have many times thought the same thing. As far as other people being attracted to confident peeps, i find this to be very true. Another good trick is to just act confident even if you really aren’t. After a while of “acting” confident, you get so used to it, that i becomes natural.

    I like your breakdown of the subject though, very true.

  10. Amanda says:

    I read this often. It’s helped me whenever I get stage fright and even a few times on first dates!

  11. Jackie says:

    wow talk about a kick in the head, you just made my day. “If said organism is desperate and needy, it must be flawed and its spreading must be limited.” < That made me lul. srsly tho' this has made me re-think some things. INSPIRATION!

  12. Marcello says:

    That was awesome to read, love the cab example. Realizing and truly knowing that you have done your best and are honorable is a great source too, but you have to realize it first. worse comes to worse you can always tell yourself that lesser fucktards have made it thru far more shit than we’ll ever have to deal with and they seem to come out ok – so why wouldn’t I? sort of thing.
    Yay for u Chris, ur a Doctor too!!!

  13. Will says:

    i’ve known some softwicks. you clearly are a hardwick.

  14. Patrick Benjamin says:

    Insightful, but slightly off. I think it’s “knowing the options” available more than having them. This is where the knowing and being honest to one’s self comes into play. Overconfidence isn’t too many options, but the assumption of more than are actually available. Undermined confidence is when someone reveals your options more realistically. Low/lacking of confidence results from not knowing what or how many options are available. And being a jerk is assuming you care for my two cents…I bow out back to my lowly status.

  15. kristie says:

    Hey, I like your twitter. I relate to a lot of what you write.
    I’m a neuroscientist, you should come to berkeley and get a brain scan from me.

  16. amanda says:

    u r like alan watts ,,, but not as deep. its cute. i skimmed through his rambley books like i did this shit…

  17. CarolineEAnd says:

    I need to read this daily.

  18. Xtian Bretz says:

    Another sick article. Quite insightful. Thanks Hardwick.

  19. Awesome.

  20. This sounds like something that will be good. 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381966