Today, I wanted to share with you a story about Socrates’ 3 questions and how they can help build your confidence. The story comes from this article by Marc and Angel
A couple of thousand years ago in ancient Greece, the great philosopher Socrates was strolling contemplatively around a community garden when a neighbour walked up to him and said, “You’re never in a million years going to believe what I just heard about our mutual friend…”
“Wait,” Socrates interrupted, putting his hand up in the air. “Before you continue with this story, your words must pass the triple filter test?”
“The triple filter test,” Socrates said.
The neighbour just stared at him with a blank expression.
Socrates continued, “The first filter is Truth. Are you absolutely sure the story you are about to tell me is true?”
“Well, no,” the neighbour said, “I literally just heard it from someone else I know.”
“Ah-ha…” Socrates quickly replied, “then let’s move on to the second filter. Is what you are about to share Good in any way, shape or form?”
“No… no,” the neighbour said, “This story is actually quite…”
Before he could finish his sentence, Socrates interrupted him again, “Ahh… so it may not be true and it is definitely not good.”
“That’s right,” the neighbour assured him.
“Well, you may still be able to save yourself,” Socrates said. “Is anything about the story you want to share Useful?”
The neighbour stared blankly again for a moment and then said, “No, I suppose it’s not really…”
“So, you want to tell me something that may not be true, is definitely not good, and is not useful to know?” Socrates asked. The neighbour looked down at the ground and nodded. “Well, you have no good reason to tell me this story, and you have no good reason to believe it yourself,” Socrates added, as the neighbour dolefully walked away.
In many ways, not too much has changed since ancient Greece, especially when it comes to the stories we tell ourselves and each other.
How does this relate to our confidence?
The stories we tell ourselves about our confidence, especially on difficult days, can really hold us back. Because what we’re thinking in that moment projects out to be what we experience. For example as; not being good enough or it went wrong last time or what if I sound stupid?
When you’re in an uncomfortable situation in which you lack confidence, you may tell yourself stories from the past or predict stories in the future.
But are those stories a) true b) something good or c) helpful? I would suggest there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary.
What’s happened in the past or could happen in the future doesn’t define your experience today. Because a) your thinking is different b) the resources you have are different and c) the situation is different
Next time you lack confidence in a situation try asking yourself Socrates 3 questions and it might reduce the power of those unhelpful stories.
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