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Letters To A Young Teacher – Humility



I was wondering if you have any insight on the difference between ego and confidence.

Confidence is the absence of fear. Nothing else. Being cocksure, or hubristic, rises from ego. It’s put on, assumed.

In my experience the Alexander Technique challenges my ego, and to learn it well I need to let go of some of my ego.

As I see it, we’ve got a “tension body” and a “real body.” The tension body is our ego body. We identify with our tension body. We become it, and it becomes us. Jung referred to it as our suit, a suit that wears us. So when this suit becomes looser, when we begin to identify with who we really are, underneath the suit, we are not who we felt ourselves to be. So yes, the work challenges our ego, and this begins to raise doubts in us, but constructive doubts. We are not so sure who we are. This is good. We don’t want to confine ourselves, definitively define ourselves. We want to be able to change and mature.

But when my ego is challenged, I often lose my confidence as well.

You are not losing your confidence. Your ego is losing its confidence. Constructive doubt may be arising.  The I don’t know mind. Humility.

Is it possible to teach from a place of less ego, but retain confidence?

If confidence is the absence of fear, then yes.  (Remember, as Marjorie Barstow said, “There’s nothing to get or to have, there is only something to lose.)

James Baldwin writes, “Identity would seem to be the garment with which one covers the nakedness of the self: in which case, it is best that the garment be loose, a little like the robes of the desert, through which one’s nakedness can always be felt, and sometimes, discerned. This trust in one’s nakedness is all that gives one the power to change one’s robes.”

Rather than worrying about confidence, continue to work on loosening the garment of identity. More and more will you begin to sense your own nakedness. There you will stand, unadorned, disclosed. Humility. That is from where great teaching comes.

Hope this helps. And I hope you are well.





2 Comments Post a comment
  1. laura #

    Beautiful – thank you!

    August 29, 2014
  2. This is great, Bruce. Just what I needed to read today. Thank you!!

    August 29, 2014

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