Men may not be from Mars and Women from Venus as John Grey suggests in his aptly titled book, but they might as well be. It wasn’t until I was interviewed today by Hollis Chapman, a great host on blog radio, that I caught a glimpse of a man’s perspective on a topic that I enjoy discussing. We chatted a little about optimism, sports and of course my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.
I don’t receive a lot of input from men. My friends are mostly women, I’ve been divorced for a decade, and my descendants – two daughters and two grand daughters – are both double X chromosome carriers.
The topic was confidence. Somehow I assumed lack of confidence and playing small so others would not be intimidated, were decidedly female traits. But Hollis confided that in his youth when he was active in sports, he did not want to draw too much attention to himself for fear that his buddies would feel bad (Hollis was an All American athlete.). However, I believe Marriane Williamson’s quote is a better way to go:
Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.”
Talking to Hollis made me realize that I judge men too narrowly. It also made me realize that some of the “trash-talking” athletes he encounters as a referee are not really as they appear. My guess is they try to cloak themselves in confidence, but the real uniform they are wearing is arrogance. It made me think of a chapter in the book that deals with anger. The story is about David, a raging alcoholic who described himself as an egomaniac with an inferiority complex. On the outside, he seemed confident, but he was masking his insecurities and when things didn’t go his way, he turned to anger.
Here is a quote from the second chapter of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.
“To alleviate anger and change irrational behavior, one must change the conditioned response. The next step is to try to identify the underlying feeling that triggers the anger. Many times it is a feeling of not feeling worthy, stemming from verbal, mental and sometimes physical abuse during childhood.
Those who have not developed appropriate coping skills are often more easily angered than others. But the problem doesn’t end there. Anger often gives birth to insidious side effects – cynicism and doubt. Over time, if these feelings of distrust prevail, the result can be catastrophic. Skepticism chips away at any expectation that positive change is possible. Often the result is all hope evaporates, leaving only a lingering cloud of hopelessness and despair.
The good news is anger cannot thrive when acceptance, gratitude and understanding prevail. In David’s case, attending AA meetings and working the 12-step program was essential. He not only had the support of fellow members, he gave his support as well. With his compassion, rather than selfish ego running the show, he became happier, kinder and more in control of his emotions.”
How often have we seen people who we think are confident literally explode when things don’t go as they plan or expect? Is that confidence or arrogance? If I were to make the call, I’d paint a big A on their forehead. In a more charitable mood I can even feel pity for that kind of display because they might as well take out an advertisement that declares how insecure they really are.
While I absolutely believe developing confidence is important, we should never believe or act like we are “better’ than anyone else. We may develop greater proficiency in different skills, or possess a physical attribute that others may or may not value, but that does not make us more “human” than anyone else. We are all interconnected and it’s our ego that perceives our separateness and need to judge and condemn others. I believe this is due to fear and a severe lack of confidence. But that is a subject for a future blog.
So whether your struggle is lack of confidence, negativity, or even arrogance, I hope you will read Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. And please tell your friends. We can all use a little help.
And guys, please email me your thought on the subject of confidence, arrogance and playing small. I was wrong thinking that many of the messages I write are only applicable to women. It is a human topic. Mea culpa. So how about it fellas? Let’s hear some noise from the boys.