Self Confidence

I was working on a different post, but a comment on an old post of mine gave me pause.  The post is “I Want To Kill Myself“, and the comment related to something I said.

In that post I made the following statement:

Another major difference is the size of my ego. Teasing would do little to shake the confidence I have in myself. The opinion of others simply do not enter into the equation when it comes to deciding who I should be.

To which the person replied:

The reason this startled me, is that I know you were speaking the truth . . . 

and 

Do you really believe yourself to be immune from the opinions of others and how that directly relates to your own opinion of yourself?

You can read the reply there, but I wanted to post it because this question has been asked of me before.

The short answer to the above question is yes; the opinion of others does not affect the opinion I have of myself.  

At first glance this may seem arrogant, and many take it as such.  Per what I state above, I don’t care what they think, but perhaps an explanation is in order.

Humans are uniquely cursed. We are social animals, but insofar as who we are, our thoughts, our very being, we are as alone as if there were no other persons in the world.  

I say cursed because other social animals have strict rules governing their behavior, station in life, position in their tribe.  Some are set to a given role by birth (worker bee), others by virtue of their strength (dominant wolf in a pack).  As near as we know animals do not have the degree of self awareness humans do.  Worker bees do not ponder if they were meant for something greater.  A low ranking pack member does not think they deserve more.

But humans do.  That self awareness is responsible for countless religions, countless suffering, countless political and social systems, all in the name of giving meaning to one’s existence, and to provide recognition to either the individual or to the tribe to which they claim membership.

I see the world a little differently.  I do not see my worth being dictated by outside persons or agencies, and therefore those persons or agencies are in no position to affect or judge my self-worth.  Recognizing that, I cannot judge other people other than by their actions; I have no other way of knowing what kind of persons they are.

There are not enough words in all the languages of the world for you or anyone to explain to others who you are, what you think, what you feel, why something makes you happy, sad, or angry.

We can try, and words, poems, songs, art, can sometime come close to letting others peek into your very being, but their interpretation is tainted by what they have experienced.  It is very unlikely anyone can truly know who you are, precisely because words are limited, because who we are is shaped by what we experience, and because we can’t read each others mind.

Your confidence in yourself comes from you knowing only one human being in the whole universe knows exactly what kind of person you are.  That is you.

Confidence comes from knowing you are trying your best.

If you want to expand on that, it means that when you make mistakes, you know they are not intentional, and know you will strive to learn from them, and to not repeat them.  It means if you hurt someone, you know it was not intentional, know you are genuinely sorry, and know you will strive to not do it again.  It means you live life mindful of the fact you are not perfect, but know you are trying to be; to be just, to be fair, to be compassionate, to be caring.

If you know all that, it does not matter what others think because they do not know you. And since they do not know you, their opinion does not count; their opinion cannot count.

Remember what I said about words and language? It applies here. I can explain it, but it cannot capture the whole of the way I think and feel for others to understand. But it should perhaps come close.

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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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18 Responses to Self Confidence

  1. Your post has made me smile. Are you an extroverted thinker? It appears so. The reason I smile is my daughter has said similar things to me. She is a beloved individual who self assurance astounds me!

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Not sure what an extroverted thinker is, but I hope it’s a good thing.

      Basically, the biggest mistake anyone can make is ask me for an opinion. Most people quickly learn to avoid doing so, but people who don’t know me don’t know any better.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I believe a ET to be a quality to be admired ( Myers Briggs Personality)

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        • disperser says:

          Ah . . . psychology . . . Attempting to quantify and define what are arguably unquantifiable and undefinable states. The best I can do is accept it as a compliment, even as I resist the pinning of a label onto me.

          One of the conflicting personalities types I identify with strongly is that of protector. But they left out my other personality traits . . . judge . . . wannabe executioner.

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        • My husband knows both traits well! His current state of affairs is that of police chief!

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        • disperser says:

          Did I say executioner?!? . . . I meant scolder. Yeah, that’s it . . .no wannabe executioner here. No siree.

          Like

  2. katkasia says:

    How lovely that must be! Intellectually, I can completely understand your point of view, but I also know that it can be a hard position to maintain in the real world for (perhaps) most of us. I think we are to a fair extent programmed to recognise our good behaviour by others responses to it, whether it is fair of not. A bit sad really, but there you are.

    Like

    • disperser says:

      Interesting observation, and to a large extent, it is true. How others react to what we do often affects our behavior. But that is slightly different to what I speak.

      Some of that might be common courtesy, or part of complex social forces we are somewhat subject to just by living in proximity to others.

      The confidence I speak to is at the personal level. For example, whether someone’s reaction to me being an atheist would result in me thinking less of myself (it wouldn’t).

      Certainly actions might be subject to other people’s reactions (playing loud music at 2:00am, burning trash in my yard, etc), but those relate more to social norms, often codified into laws designed to avoid conflicts by letting you know what is acceptable or not.

      Other things are more personal (how one dresses, wears their hair, how fit they are). Those fall more in to the category of confidence. Humans crave both acceptance and strive for individuality, so most people fall within a relatively narrow range as far as how they look (at least to what they can control – I can’t make myself taller, for instance).

      In that respect, while someone might not like how I look, their opinion typically won’t matter unless there are specific requirements I need to conform to (example: I carry a lot of stuff with me, hence I wear cargo pants regardless of what anyone thinks. On the other hand, I work in an office, and need to conform to at least a basic standard of dress, as in no shorts and fuzzy bunny slippers).

      When it comes to appearance, confidence comes into play but is not crucial as we typically blend in to what is already a very diverse mass of humanity. But it’s paramount on how we think of ourselves.

      I don’t mean everything one does and think is alright, and not subject to question. It’s not only alright to listen to the opinions of others, it’s crucial as a check to ensure you are not blinded by ignorance, or things you have not considered.

      But seeking the approval of others (as opposed to just listening and evaluating their input) is ceding control of who you are. If you don’t know who you are, you cannot be confident in anything you do.

      Like

  3. Kam says:

    I understand.

    Like

  4. Well said Emilio… and the more I see and read from you the more I see a man who knows so much more than you see at first, which is ~ as you said yourself an old grumpy man etc.~
    You are so wise… I think you learned so much over your years and I guess still willing to learn as well. I admire that. And as you said; self confidence is often mistaken for arrogance, I think it represents a person who knows what he wants, knows who he is and doesn’t care what other people think of that. Just walk your own path… no matter what!

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    • disperser says:

      One thing I never learned is how to take compliments. It always makes me feel uncomfortable. Funny that, since I have a high opinion of myself.

      Over the years I’ve worked out that it results from my belief that all I am doing is trying to be what I think most people are, or at least aspire to be; reasonably flawed, but trying. To say that is somewhat more, or unusual, is to say as humans we are degrading to the point that what should be “normal” is now a higher ideal . . . which sadly, I think we are.

      As a run-of-the-mill human I’ll just blush, say thank you, and scurry away.

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  5. Shannon says:

    There is only one guarantee with life and self as far as I’m concerned: The only person I am guaranteed to wake up with every day of life is myself. No matter that others think I can make improvements (compliments) or whether I’m royally screwing up (criticism). Only I know the full schema, history, experience, and desired result.

    A high opinion of oneself? Expected! Who else will be your forever-champion if not yourself? Take compliments and criticism with the same approach: with gracious acceptance and filtered application.

    Like

  6. Well… taking compliments shouldn’t be that hard though… Just say thank you with a big smile on your face ….and don’t scurry away!
    And about being ‘normal’… we can discuss about that but what is ‘normal’? I really don’t know… I think people find it normal to act as most people do; please don’t show your head above the crowd… help help someone will notice you :D
    I just think you are great just the way you are and take that as a compliment for a change with a big smile on your face :D

    Like

  7. ntexas99 says:

    This entire post, (and the comments), was very interesting.

    I’m on the entire opposite end of the spectrum, but it is still interesting to have a chance to peek into the mechanics of how a confident person thinks, and how they have come to the conclusion that their own idea of their worth is not affected by what other people think of them. I suppose I’ve been aware of how I was molded to think differently, but when I came across what you expressed in your earlier piece (I Want To Kill Myself), I was genuinely surprised to see it so eloquently detailed in black and white. It peaked my interest. Thanks for expanding on the subject.

    Like

  8. bluelyon says:

    Thanks for this piece.

    I had a friend/co-worker that took his own life on January 5, 2009. This was a guy who appeared to not have a care in the world, was always quick with a joke, etc. His actions shook me to my core, and like you, wish that he’d reached out, rather than checking out in a public park in the wee hours of the morning.

    As one who once or twice contemplated checking out myself, I’m happy that I did not do so, and that I set myself on a path to be comfortable with who I am.

    These days my self-confidence is far stronger than I perceived it to be before. I say “perceived” because, I think I always had it, I just didn’t know it.

    Like

  9. AnnMarie says:

    The following took the words right out of my mouth:

    Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent. ~Eleanor Roosevelt

    It took me a long time not to judge myself through someone else’s eyes. ~Sally Field

    If you really put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price. ~Author Unknown

    Two thumbs for SELF-CONFIDENCE!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. thejeremynix says:

    Being someone who was constantly bullied and ridiculed because of my physical appearance (I was born and still am cross-eyed) self-confidence has always been tough for me. My time in the Marines rectified that to a small extent. When I was in the service, I was quick to be self-deprecating to sort of beat anyone who wanted to ridicule me because of my eyes to the punch. These days, I’m back to feeling unsure of myself and having a hard time with initial face to face interaction. After getting to know someone my confidence is restored, but the introduction phase is always very difficult for me. Whenever I make eye contact with someone I almost always by default think they are disgusted by my appearance and I quickly look away, averting my eyes to the ground, which I’m sure only serves to make people think of me as being a little “off.” So for me everyday and every social interaction in person is a struggle which causes me great amounts of anxiety. But I’m working on it. Me being me, of course I’m taking the hard road. A guy with social anxiety and low self esteem trying to be a journalist. We’ll see how it all shakes out. :)

    Like

    • disperser says:

      When I was four I suffered a burn on my foot which then went “bad”. I remember being held down as they picked at the burn to clean it. I don’t remember going into a coma after that. When I came out of it, I did not talk, and when I finally started talking again, I stuttered very badly.

      Since those are some of my first memories, I can say that as far as I remember I was in the “different” category and privileged with everything that goes with that.

      It was theorized the condition would improve and disappear by the time I was in my twenties. It did improve, but I remain a stutterer to this day. Sometimes it’s minor, sometimes it’s pretty bad (it seems to go in cycles).

      I might occasionally get frustrated, but I’ve never let it stop me from anything (other than running for office or going into acting). When I worked at GM and when I subsequently had my own consulting company, I used to present reports and give updates to rooms full of people, stutter and all.

      I learned to choose words that offered a better chance of speaking smoothly (but many words can’t be avoided), but I also learned not to worry if I did stutter.

      I do avoid certain situations specifically because of my stutter, but it’s not for lack of confidence, but more because I can’t be bothered to make the effort.

      Having said that, I know there were limitations to what I could do specifically because of my stuttering. Same as rickets stunted my growth, stuttering added societally-imposed limits to my choices. Unfortunately, society still puts a premium on how a person looks and speaks.

      Had I been taller, had I been a fluent speaker, there is no telling how much of an asshole I might have turned out to be. So, you see, those two things helped shape me into a person I really like.

      The thing is, I like who I am. Perhaps you too should embrace who you are and not worry about the opinion of strangers. After all, I can absolutely assure you that most strangers could care less about what you think of them.

      Liked by 1 person

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