Thursday, December 3, 2009

Law of Attraction, et al

Some time ago I watched an Oprah program about "The Secret." This is a book about the power of the laws of attraction. In the months (years?) since I saw that show, and read the book by the same name, I have thought alot about why some people get it, and others do NOT. I have come to believe truly that one "has to believe to receive." That's why all those athletes envision crossing goal lines...they begin to believe and then KNOW that their goal is not only possible but probable.

Belief isn't always a positve thing, however. For instance, if you believe it isn't possible to lose weight, then you won't submit to the sacrifices necessary to make reduction a reality. If you believe you are smarter than everyone else you meet, then no one you come in contact with can hold a conversation interesting enough to learn from - that person will always look for a way to prove their own point. If you believe no one will ever be attracted to you physically, then you won't do the things with your appearance and carriage to have posture enough to have someone actually take a look. Confidence seems to be the underlying factor to any successful endeavor, whether it's losing weight or getting a date. How one acquires confidence seems to be a tricky matter though, and more so the crux of the matter.

A friend told me a day or so ago that he thought when he met me some 30 odd years back, that my confidence level was out of proportion to my talent and ability. What a deep statement! I thought about that all day. What was it when I was in my late teens that caused me to lose self-assuredness? It would be too easy to say upbringing, or blame siblings, or a mean teacher...the list is endless. The fact is we all suffer indignities, harsh statements and unfair treatment at one point or another. How we process them is another story. Is confidence innate? Or learned? How can one sibling have it in abundance and another be lacking, having been raised in the same environment? Why do some people care so much about what others think (of them) but others just don't give a damn? These are the questions I both need answers to and that tend to keep me up at night.

Being a parent of two dramatically different children, I can see that being raised in the same home has zero to do with it. My son KNOWS he will be successful, and puts the work in to whatever he does to ensure that success. My daughter doubts her ability to succeed, and ends up sabotaging herself waysthat seems almost tragic to me. I wish one could rub off on the other, but it's not that easy, of course. In my early 20s, as they are now, I had a bit of each of them in me. I knew I was smart and could do most anything, but was both afraid to show I was smart (wouldn't that be tooting my own horn?) and couldn't figure out how to get myself to put the work in regardless of setback or hardship to ensure my success. I craved affection and validation. I still do in a lot of ways.

I have seen evidence through the years that we tend to surround ourselves with individuals who validate our self-opinion and have similar feelings themselves. Stray cat syndrome, call it. Losers find losers to hang with, and winners find winners. Yes, some people do rise above the circumstances of upbringing, poverty, health issues, and life challenges to become that which they BELIEVE they can be. How do they stay positive?

It's the old "Act As If.." scenario. Acquiring a sense of confidence is a matter (I think) of beginning to just go through the motions of positivity and envisioning a goal to actually taking those things to heart and believing in them. It took me a long time and hell, I'm still a work in progress. I heard not long ago an expression that goes something like this: A goal without an action plan is just a wish. How true! It's about taking actionable steps - the proverbial "journey of a thousand miles that begins with a single step." For instance, I want to write a novel. It's not going to happen by hoping that I will. I have to set small steps up, small goals. A paragrah. A page. An outline. A blog. The accomplishment of each step breeds further belief in the possibility of success and begins to define me as a person.

I have no idea how to instill confidence in any person other than myself. And I stil need validation. Doesn't everyone want a pat on the back every now and again? To be told they are going in the right direction, doing the right thing, that they are attractive, or smart, or appreciated? Those little perks are the confidence builders I think. It's not a bad thing to seek the approval of others, and it isn't even socially needy, though for a long time I thought it was. It's human. The "secret" isn't any one universal law. The secret is being brave enough to take the journey, to suffer setbacks and learn from them, to seek validation and approval from those we love and/or respect (yes, we need to HEAR that we are loved, too) and envision that our endeavors will lead to results. THAT is what builds confidence. The accomplishment of the small steps is like the building of a wall. Brick by brick it becomes stronger, sturdier, until finally it is built.

I'll always be a person who seeks the approval of others, but more so now because I like the camaraderie, cooperation, and caring that goes into paying attention to another person's concerns. I'm not 17 any more - I'm 50. I know myself better now. But I'm still human, and still like to hear it when a sincere compliment is paid to me, or a helpful bit of criticism too, for that matter. All in the wheelhouse of self-understanding, don't you know. It gives one a little bounce in their step to know they are on the right path, or that someone loves them or is attracted to them. Keeps us moving forward. Step by step....

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