Self-Confidence: A Philosophy by Charles Pepin - A Review

"When we change our minds endlessly and can’t bring ourselves to make a decision, we tend to blame it on a lack of information, data, or knowledge. But we are speaking in bad faith; most often, what we lack is confidence. As we have just seen with aesthetic experience, when we decide that a particular landscape is 'beautiful,' it isn’t because we have a store of irrefutable arguments to support us, but because we dare to listen to and trust ourselves."
Charles Pepin's Self-Confidence: A Philosophy teaches that understanding and trusting ourselves is more crucial to living a good life than collecting data about the world. The journey of self-discovery is a never-ending lifelong exercise and the author lifts philosophy as one of the lights we can bring with us as we navigate our inner landscape while looking for clues about who we are.

The philosophical spine of this book lies in this - that true self-confidence doesn't necessarily come from a conviction of what the outcome of our actions is going to be. The author believes the virtue of the action itself, as well as the joy we feel when performing the action, are a clue to what true self-confidence is all about. This might be the reason why people who are curious about life are naturally self-confident people. On the other hand, I have noticed that people who gain competence by rote (without a shred of interest in their work) do lack that radiant energy.

What I love about this book is that it dispenses with the popular notion that charisma, money, competence, or good looks equal self-confidence. The author does a good job of peeling away the superficiality of insecurity or arrogance masking as confidence, stating that self-confidence is confidence in life, in something bigger than we are. And that people who would drink of this brand of confidence have to be those who would seek self-knowledge by being curious about themselves as well as observing life and embracing all that it has to offer with unwavering faith.


Those who suffer from crippling self-doubt might learn a lot from this. There is also a chance that those that have trouble making up their minds about what to do with their lives might benefit.

Many thanks to Random House (Other Press) for a review copy.


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