There is a fine line between being confident and cocky. In fitness in particular, this line gets really blurry. How does being confident and being cocky look different? What exactly is "body confidence"? Where have our hearts gone wrong?
Webster defines confidence as “the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something; firm trust.”
Having confidence in your body is a wonderful thing. Confidence is being able to trust your body, knowing that it is capable of many remarkable things. It's understanding what your body is able to do and having firm belief in it.
On a whim, can you walk up to a pull-up bar and do three pull-ups? Can you lift a heavy box because you know that your legs and core are strong enough? Can you do a perfect lunge, knowing that your technique is spot on? Can you go on a random Saturday hike without thinking twice about your stamina?
This is body confidence. You can completely rely upon your body…you know it can perform certain jobs without breaking.
Body confidence is a sliding scale, so you can have body confidence regardless of your ability level. You might lack confidence that you can do a pull-up right now, but you know that your squat technique is impeccable. You sincerely doubt that you could summit Mt. Hood this weekend, but you are fully confident that you can walk three miles mostly uphill.
And that confidence grows as you get better. Last year I was 100% confident that I could push 20 pounders overhead 8 times. This year I am 100% confident that I can do the same with 30 pounders.
You gain more confidence in your body’s abilities as you train and become more fit.
Confidence in your body is a quiet thing. It’s an internal state of mind, independent of anyone around you. It’s just plain trust. Confidence is knowing what you’ve got so you do it, but you don’t necessarily talk about it.
Cockiness, on the other hand, is a different beast. Cockiness is "being conceited and arrogant, especially in a bold or impudent way."
It’s knowing what your body can do, and then being personally proud about it, pulling everyone else into your story. A cocky person craves acknowledgement from others.
A cocky person is usually the one posting gym selfies. They may walk into a fitness class and proudly dominate, wanting everyone to know they’re the best in the group. I have also seen cocky people step up to extremely heavy weights and just thrash themselves with their overconfidence and pride. It’s just too much!
Someone might say, “they’re just extremely confident!” No, they’re flat-out cocky. They are there to impress, both with their performance and their looks.
Confidence vs. Cockiness
And this is where the line between confidence and cockiness gets blurry.
Somehow along the way, “body confidence” has turned into less about what your body can do, and more about what it looks like. It has become image based, and it’s starting to look oddly cocky.
There is an interesting movement right now in the fitness industry, especially among certain fitness professionals. They are posting a lot of “real” photos of themselves, cellulite and all. They are being honest and transparent about what a woman’s body can look like, even someone that is extremely fit. I love this sentiment because it’s encouraging and gives many “average” women hope. It's vulnerability, and you know I'm a fan of that.
But, it’s starting to rub me the wrong way (and I could be the only one here…I’m not sure). It’s incessant. The more these “body confidence” photos are posted, the more I see the arrogance and the cockiness behind it, for some reason.
It feels all backwards…it’s not really what having confidence in your body truly means.
These women are personally proud of their image (whatever that image may be) and craving acknowledgement to some degree. I’m glad that they’re totally ok with the cellulite and the thunder things, but the focus is still all wrong.
The line has completely blurred, all in the name of “confidence”.
Confidence is quiet. Cockiness is loud and bold.
Confidence is going about your business without needing recognition. Cockiness is wanting everyone to know about it.
Confidence is being able to rely on your body. Cockiness is using your body to gain attention from others.
Confidence is understanding where your body's abilities end. Cockiness is feeling invincible.
Confidence is honorable and will always be respected. Cockiness is ugly, no matter what form it takes.
Without a doubt, I have been guilty of cockiness myself. It’s easy to do. When you find that you can do certain things with your body, it’s hard to keep it under wraps. And this is where we must be careful. Your confidence can quickly leak into cockiness.
Let's share our excitements and the joy we find in our body’s abilities, but check your heart. Are you showing off? Are you looking for approval? Are you hoping to prove that you are better in some way?
My prayer is that you will find true confidence in your body. That you will be able to rely upon your body’s strengths and remarkable abilities.
But I also pray that you will be on guard against cockiness. Please don’t show off. Remember that there is nothing more beautiful than an extremely strong woman that doesn’t have to prove anything.
"Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches,