Tag Archives: confidence

The Self-Esteem/Self-Confidence Paradox

paradox1“The shoe that fits one person pinches another; there is no recipe for living that suits all cases.”  -Carl Jung

There are no lies more damaging than the ones we tell ourselves. Living in a city of surface judgments and split-second perceptions, I have felt the weight of my cloak getting increasingly burdensome. The assertiveness of my projections is being tested against the veracity of my core, and that dizzying dance is beginning to take its toll.

Honoring the guts of the gadget is loving the machine. We’re not only luster and smiles, but rusted gears and loosened bolts. Parading ourselves as showroom-ready when we’re barely rental-lot level overtaxes the battery and burns out the engine.

This fight is a daily push-and-pull of expectations and introspective criticism, while strapping on specific masks most suitable for the occasion. I’m a born pugilist, but I’ve taken some critical blows. The dormant ego has long been jockeying for position and there’s significant stress on the dam. Cracks are inevitable.

Stockpiling worry and wonder has done some irreparable physical damage, and my neck, shoulders, and spine are paying the price for a lifetime of carrying baggage beyond my frame’s tolerance. But I will continue to drag those stones up the mountain because my brain has prescribed the pain, and this parading false exterior dutifully follows doctor’s orders.

My hope for all of us is that the road begins to level and the load learns to lighten. Some of that is circumstantial, but the bulk of the work hinges on our willingness to solve a puzzle by compartmentalizing the good and the grime.

The value we place on our stressors is imaginary and fleeting, but the trick is explaining that concept to biological circuitry specifically programmed to tie knots in the rope.

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The Dishonest Mirror

mirror2Our personal, clouded perceptions of the truth can leave us feeling less worthy, attractive, or capable than our projected selves. This negativity sets wobbly wheels in motion, and the small spark of an idea quickly becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy.

How many times have you looked at a picture or a video and found yourself almost unrecognizable? The energy and natural confidence we emanate during even the most casual settings has more power and influence than any static snapshot or passing reflection. There’s magnetism in the moment, and our trapped brains, locked behind bars of doubt and indecision, are no match for our instinctive willingness to shine.

This juxtaposition of worlds has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve lost a tremendous amount of confidence in the last couple of years. Job insecurity, a difficult relationship, and a general sense of arriving late to catch the last train have all combined to take a healthy hack out of my spirit. So much time and energy have been spent taking a step outside of myself, evaluating my station, and plotting a strategy. Trading hope for survival, an easy smile lost its lease to a clenched jaw.

But, this last week provided more laughs and tears than a “Marley & Me” marathon, and I realized that I still had healthy reserves left to give to the people who make my world spin.

Sending our best friend to San Francisco was no easy task. Memories saturated every conversation, and accepting that someone who holds a crucial spot as a collective support beam is no longer going to be walking in to a birthday gathering, strumming his guitar at every opportunity, or staring at me across the net was a grain grinding realization.

But, these bonding days and nights not only reignited the fire of our inner circle, they lit the fuse inside of my dormant core. I think we all woke up to the fact that our sunsets are numbered and life’s trains can travel unexpected tracks.

I guess the hardest learned lessons have to follow some tough teaching.