The origin of the word confidence is the Latin word confidere: from com “with” and fidere “to trust”. Hence the original meaning of confidence is literally “firmly trusting”, or having faith in oneself and one’s own powers. Contrary to the mistaken belief that confidence is some kind of personality trait, confidence is a state of being. In his book Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa writes:
Confidence does not mean that you have confidence in something, but it is remaining in a state of confidence, free from competition and one-upmanship. This is an unconditional state in which you simply possess an unwavering state of mind that needs no reference point. There is no room for doubt; even the question of doubt does not occur. This kind of confidence contains gentleness, because the notion of fear does not arise; sturdiness because in the state of confidence there is ever-present resourcefulness; and joy, because trusting in the heart brings a greater sense of humor. This confidence can manifest as majesty, elegance, and richness in a person’s life.
My understanding of the description of confidence quoted above is that we experience that state when we relate directly with life’s ups and downs and meet the world with a sense of openness and kindness, rather than constantly worrying about or checking to see how we are doing.
We are in a state of confidence each time we relax in our moment-to-moment experience, free of thoughts about our experience. This confidence is not based on conditions—like being smart, being fit, being beautiful; it’s the confidence of natural wakefulness. Such confidence manifests as genuineness.