I’ll admit it’s odd to associate quiet confidence with anime. After all, anime teems with loudmouthed, impulsive heroes. However, if you look beyond protagonists, you will see the strongest type of confidence: quiet confidence. Why do I consider this type of confidence the strongest type? Well, confidence describes the state of being self-assured and comfortable with who you are. This lets you act decisively and stand up for those decisions. Most people in the United States associate confidence with ego. Ego has little to do with true confidence. Ego involves a self-focused world view.
Egotistical people look at their selves and what they can prove, achieve, or gain. In many cases, this involves being loud or opinionated (like my articles on JP!) in order to draw attention to themselves. This proves their self worth. Confident people lack the desire prove themselves. They don’t need to. That isn’t to say all loud people lack confidence. Personality types play a role. Loud confidence proclaims a goal to others. It doesn’t necessarily seek to feed to ego (but it can), but rather to combat the disbelief others have for them. Look at Naruto. He loudly proclaims he will become the leader of the Leaf Village. He announces this as a way to combat the stumbling blocks in his way. Many resist his goal, so he challenges them with his announcements. This isn’t to prove he can achieve his goal as much as a method of moving forward with that goal. His antagonists see his statements as bluster and disregard him. And this disregard leaves them open for him to attack their expectations and beliefs.
We struggle to tell the difference between loud confidence and egotistical bluster. Not to mention loud confidence gets annoying fast. Quiet confidence, on the other hand, is non-combative. It doesn’t challenge. It prefers to be its own thing. The quietly confident don’t talk about goals. They do them. They skip the combative stage of the loudly confident. The quietly confident fly below the radar and work against the noisy norms of modern society. Because of this, quiet confidence is mistaken for being passive, submissive, and weak. Quiet confidence resembles water. As Bruce Lee states:
You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.
Water appears passive and submissive, but it is not. It can cut steel when focused. Quiet confidence shares this power. Jesus spoke of the quietly confident inheriting the world. He used the word “meek,” which is read today as being a doormat. But meekness is a state of humble confidence in ability, your own and God’s.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
One of anime’s best examples of quiet confidence also comes from Naruto–Hinata. At first, Hinata lacks confidence altogether. She doesn’t begin her journey until Naruto inspires her with his loud confidence. You see, quiet confidence needs watered to grow. Naruto shocks her inner seed, but Hinata must water it. And water it she does throughout the series. Hinata lacks the physical power of Naruto and others, but she has her own inner strength. Several times throughout the series she takes on challenges she cannot hope to best. She does this to protect Naruto and others she cares for. It takes confidence to face certain defeat. In fact, it takes more confidence to face certain defeat than a reasonable chance at victory. She must have confidence in her beliefs–and her faith in Naruto–to risk her life time and again. Yet, you don’t see her flaunt her confidence. She remains soft spoken compared to her comrades.
Mild spoilers ahead. Later on in the story, her quiet confidence provides an anchor for Naruto. When he loses his confidence early in the story, when he has to fight Hinata’s powerful cousin, she helps him rekindle his flame. Late in the story, she becomes his partner in life and in combat. During the Fourth Shinobi World War, she encourages Naruto’s confidence after many of his allies die, and she also fights beside him, sharing some of his chakra. She grows into quiet confidence through her faith in Naruto and her faith in herself.
How Do You Develop Quiet Confidence?
If you watch Hinata’s progression, she moves from a quiet, shy girl who doesn’t think much of herself to a quiet, confident woman who is willing to risk her life to protect those she loves. The journey to quiet confidence takes time. In American society, people mistake quietude for being a doormat. Quietude is a personality trait quite different from shyness. Shyness comes from a lack of self confidence–usually confidence about social skills. Quietude, on the other hand, values silence and words. Quiet people prefer to use words sparingly and meaningfully. A Zen saying comes to mind: “Do not speak unless it improves silence.” Quiet people feel secure in themselves and with silence where other people find silence uncomfortable. In fact, silence can be used as a weapon because so many find it uncomfortable. Typically. those people need silence the most. Silence allows us to order our thoughts and learn who we truly are, and that requires us to face our ugliness. Any wonder why most people today want to avoid silence and self reflection?
Okay, so quiet confidence requires us to use words sparingly and well. They should be used to uplift others or take a stand. Faith in your beliefs underpins confidence. You need to understand who you are and what you believe. Hinata understands she is far from being the strongest shinobi, yet this doesn’t stop her from making a stand for what she believes in: persistence and self-sacrifice for those she loves. Later in the series, she even gives up her career to be a mother and a sanctuary for Naruto when he needs to escape the challenges of his station.
Loud confidence often takes the lead. Quiet confidence takes a background role. In American culture, the background role appears to be inferior. However, an army can’t march and fight without background support. You see this with Naruto as well. Without Hinata’s background support and confidence in his abilities, he would have failed at key points in the story.
So how do you cultivate quiet confidence?
- Become comfortable with yourself. Learn your strengths and weaknesses and accept them.
- Learn to use words wisely. Speak less, but speak with more meaning.
- Learn to be comfortable with silence.
- Support others. Kind words of encouragement go a long way.
- Know what you believe in, why you do, and stand firm when challenged.
- Be patient. Confidence takes time to develop. It is a practice.
Knowing your limits and accepting them doesn’t mean you don’t try to improve. Hinata knows she cannot be as strong as her comrades, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to be as strong as she can be. Develop both your strengths and weaknesses, strive to be better rounded. Focus on your strengths in order to achieve mastery. Focus on your weaknesses in order to enhance your strengths. Most of all, be patient and gentle with yourself. I have a habit of being harsh and unforgiving with myself, and while it motivates me, it also grinds me down at times. You will have setbacks, but the effort (not the end result) matters.
Often, we get too set on making it to some destination, and we forget to enjoy the journey. Some of my best experiences when I travel is the journey and it’s discoveries. When I visited a cavern system with my brother, for example, we stopped at a charming small town library and passed through about 15 different tiny towns. The caverns were nice, but I remember the towns and that library more fondly. If we had focused on our destination, we would’ve missed them. Personal journeys work the same way.
After a certain point, you will realize you have achieved quiet confidence without knowing it. But that doesn’t mean the process ever stops. As your roles in life changes, such as Hinata becoming a mother, the process will begin again.
Hinata provides a good role model for the shy and the quiet. She embraces her quietude but overcomes her shyness. She becomes the most important supporting character in the series. Because supporting roles enable to hero to do their work, she becomes one of the most important characters in Naruto. She also becomes the most important person in Naruto’s life. That is the strength of quiet confidence.