“All social life, stability, and progress depend upon each man’s confidence in his neighbor, a reliance upon him to do his duty” (A. Lawrence Lowell).
THINK WITH ME TODAY ABOUT HOW MUCH DEPENDS ON OUR HAVING CONFIDENCE IN ONE ANOTHER. Doubt and cynicism are corrosive forces. They not only eat away at us internally, but they destroy the foundations of our social relationships. If I don’t trust you and you don’t trust me, then any “community” we build together is going to be a perilous place. It’s frightening to think what would happen if nobody in the world had any confidence in anybody else.
But if it’s important to maintain confidence in one another, it’s also important to encourage each other’s self-confidence. Many of the most important things in the world won’t get done if those who are responsible for them don’t believe they can do them. Just as an absence of mutual trust would destroy society, the work of the world would collapse if nobody had any self-confidence. So if you don’t care whether your neighbor has any confidence in himself, please be advised that his self-doubt may cost you more than you think.
It was John Dryden who said, “They can conquer who believe they can.” In a more modern context, baseball players say that “a pitcher is only as good as he thinks he is.” It happens very often in life that the doing of a thing depends on our believing we can do it, and when we’re not sure, our doubts are often self-fulfilling. So a certain level of self-confidence is essential to our survival. “In a world where survival is always seen as a struggle, and in which some pitfalls always exist, if something brings into question our confidence in our own coping ability, it will threaten our safety” (Willard Gaylin).
What, then, about your friends and family? Are they confident? And if they are not, do you share part of the blame for having failed to encourage them? These are some of the most crucial questions in life. In this world, we are unavoidably connected. That being true, discouragement is more than a personal problem — it’s a social problem. When we encourage anybody’s confidence, we help everybody.
“We blossom under praise like flowers in sun and dew; we open, we reach, we grow” (Gerhard E. Frost).