Of self confidence, social programing and more

I’ve been thinking a lot about this thing we call self confidence and how there seems to be a big lack of it these days. I believe the root cause is in what I call social programing. Social programing are the messages that are everywhere, messages that society as a whole tend to propegate. You’ll find this messages burried in how we talk, everything on TV, etc. Social programing these days seems to be all about making everyone feel inferior, which naturally will lead to lower self confidence. It seems to suggest that everyone should conform to the same mold. According to this social programing we should all be the same size, have the same desires, wants, and generally just all be mindless drones. This same programming seems to suggest that we all need to blend in and not be noticed. For the record I think this social programming is all wrong, complete hogwash if you will. Can you imagine a world were everyone is identical in everyway, everyone just blends in to the crowd? Sounds like a horrible sci-fi horror movie to me. We are all unique beautiful people and we should be celebrating our differences and our diversity, not try to hide it. As far as blending in, more hogwash. Stand out, be notice celebrate your uniqueness and how special you are. If people don’t like it that’s their problem, they’re the weird ones for being judgmental. Being normal is so boring and weird. Why would anyone want to be normal? When people say they want to be normal, what exactly are they wishing for? Are they saying they wish they didn’t have their challenges and think someone else has a better challenge our maybe no challenge? I believe we all have our challenges, most people don’t show their challenges so it is easy to think they don’t have any. I believe it is our challenges that make us who we are. Anyway I digress, back to social programming.
Think about how often in a given day you are told, or see some sort of message, that tell you how you should loose weight, be tanner, have less wrinkles, have some part of your anatomy enlarged or reduced depending on which part is being discussed (see my post about vanity for another take on this). We are also supposed to be reserved about our sexuality while sex is used heavily in marketing, with all the double standards that go with that. Guys are studs and looked up on if they have had multiple sex partners while women are sluts and looked down upon if they act like guys are supposed to. For the record I think this another area where you can celebrate your personality, if you enjoy sex there is no reason for you to hide that.  When you think about that double standard you should realize how insane it is. This is bound to lead to feeling of ineqatcy, insecurity and certain level of neuroses. Like I said, it all seems to be about making us feel bad about ourselfs with this constant judement and negativity. The society teaches us that it is OK to be critical of others and I couldn’t disagree with that more. While being critical of yourself is OK to a degree (as long as it is for the right reasons, i.e. not for vanity) we have no business being critical of others. It is non of our business what choices people make with their lives, even if it seems like they are wasting their lives as it is their live to waste. To those that like to bring up riduculous extreme examples in an attempt to disprove something I have a disclaimer. Of course my statements does not condone assault (sexual or otherwise) or any form of abuse (more on that later) or any action that directly affect a non-consenting party. To clarify what I mean by that statement here are couple of examples of decisions that don’t affect you vs. what decisions do affect you. What a person decides to wear, have for lunch or be in a relationship with does not affect anyone else. If someone decides to burn down your house, that obviously does affect you. While anyone who knows me would attest to the fact that I am not a religious man a very wise man made some statements around 2000 years ago that I am big believer of. The first is “thou shall not judge” and the second is “love thy neighbor”. I think if we could all learn to live by those words I think we might just manage to achive world peace.
So my first challange to you the reader is to do less judging a more loving. With my preceding disclaimer in mind there is no such thing as bad or wrong love. This doesn’t mean you have to like everyone or be everyones best friend. It does mean that you should be friendly and nice to everyone. Don’t treat people differently based on their apperance but by there actions. Note I said actions, not apperance or decisions. You shouldn’t treat people differently because they don’t belong to the same church, golf club, social club, as you do. Or because you don’t approve of their wardrobe, choice of friends or choice of romantic partner. Also treating people differently because you find them unattractive is also unacceptable.
That being said it’s OK, actually very good and highly recomended, to distance yourself from people that don’t treat you well. It doesn’t matter who they are, even if they are close family or romantic partner. If they don’t treat you with all the respect and dignity you deserve you don’t need them in your life, seek out people that do and make them your family. I know people that have and been much happier for it. Sometimes people change but you can’t count on it as it happens very rarely, and you for sure can’t change anyone but yourself. If people you distanced yourself from do change you can reevaluate if you want them back in your life or not. However note that it usually takes people years to change, and most people never do, so if it’s been only few months it is safe to assume they have not really changed.
What I’ve come to realize is that we all have some sort of insecurities, call them issues if you will. Sometimes it may seem like you are the only one with issues but I can guarantee you that is nit true, appearances can be deceiving.
As I said before I think the growing trend of insecurities is in large part due to the social programing I mentioned before. We all think that so-and-so has it perfect, if I just had xyz then everything would be great. Or so-and-so is so great at xyz, why can’t I be that good at that. These are all very bad misconceptions that stem from couple of different things. Frist we are comparing someone external face with our internal mess. Just because someone is good at hiding their neuroses doesn’t mean they don’t exists. Those that you are comparing against are probably doing the exact same comparison with someone else. The second falacy we make has to do with talents. We all have our talents and because we are all so wonderfully diverse we all have different talents. Some come naturally and some require more practice and efforts than others. We have a tendancy to compare our weak talents against someone elses strong talent. Also we don’t know what it took them to become that good, how many hours a day they practiced etc., and if you put in the same level of efforts would you be as good or even better. So focus on you strengths not your weaknesses.
I feel like I’ve been all over the place with this post so I better get back to the self confidence thing I started out with.
I believe the first thing you need to do to reduce your insecurities and improve your self confidence is distance your self from people in your life that are critical and negative, no one needs that in their life,  doesn’t matter who they are. If there is abuse, physical or mental, then totally cut those people out of your life and never look back. Just for sake of clarification those that tell you are no good, you don’t deserve anything (or worse that you deserve bad things) or that no one is going to want to be with you, are mentally abusing you.
The second thing you should do is pay less attention to TV, there is much more to live than watching TV. Feel free to reach out to me if you need ideas.
I often hear people talk about how if they just got more complements they would be more secure and I speak from experience when I say that they got that backwards. Once you start to act more secure you’ll get more complements. Self confidence has to come from within, maybe that is why it is called “self confidence” and not “other confidence”. Another way to look at it is, if you don’t belive in yourself why should anyone else. Have you ever purchased a product from a sale person that did not seem to believe in the product they were selling?
Your goal in life isn’t to please everyone because that is a mission impossible that can not be completed. Your goal in life should be to be yourself and have a positive influence on other people. Stop worrying about your physical attributes, if your chest, waist, biceps, thighs, etc., is the right size. The same goes for size of your nose, ear, neck, etc. I’ve meet women that worry about what they call “double chin”, they think of it as a flaw. I tell them I find it qute sexy and I think of it as a positive thing. The point is that whatever physical attributes you are stressing over or thinking of as a flaw, chances are good someone else is admiring it (again see my post on vanity for more on that). An analogy for you on that, think of a piece of art, any piece of art. Is that piece of art trying to be all things to all people? No it is what it is, nothing more and nothing less. Will everyone appreciate it and find it beautiful? No they wont, some wont even understand why it is considered art. But that is OK. A good art dealer will specialize in one form/type of art and market to those people that appreciate that form of an art and doesn’t worry about that don’t. Walk into an art studio and start bad mouthing the art in there and you’ll quickly be thrown out.
Another way to look at is, do you like everyone and find everyone attractive? If you answer yes, make sure your noise didn’t just grow as it did for Pinocio when he told a fib. If you answer no, then why are trying to make everyone like you?
I think Drew Berrymore is attributed to the following quote I really like “let your freak flag fly high so that those with the same flag can find each other”. Meaning focus on being who you are, own it and be proud of it. Those that appreciate you for who you are will admire you for it, those that don’t do not matter in the least. 
If you want to improve yourself, improve who you are as a person. Work on improving how you treat other people and the type of impact you are having on people around you.
Once you have cut negativity out of your life, you have identified who you really are (watch the movie runnaway bride if you are confused why this is important, “how do you like your eggs” is what you should be paying attention to) and live everyday being proud of who you are your confidence will grow day by day and insecurities will start to fade away (or at least be sidelined and easier to control). As your confidence grows people will start to respond to that, which will feed your confidence and help it grow even more. Your insecurities will probably always be there, but that is OK as long as you are in control. As long as your insecurities aren’t controling you things will be great. Even if they stay in the back of your head nagging you, as long as you are in control you can just tell them to be quiet.
Remember you can always fake it until you make it and don’t listen to those that critique who you are, if they don’t appreciate you their opinion doesn’t matter.

Vanity where does it come from???

I’ve been pondering lately about this thing called vanity that seems to be gripping the nation worse than ever. What is it, where does it come from, why do we care, etc.

I get that one wants to look the best by observing good personal hygiene, choosing a hair style we think suites us and dressing in a manner that expresses our individuality. Maintaining healthy weight and just generally staying happy and healthy is also a good thing. Disclaimer: by healthy weight I am not saying you should subscribe to AMA’s crazy BMI scheme, those guys are out of whack which is whole different rant. So many people people are overly focused on attaining the weight specified by AMA’s BMI chart that it becomes unhealthy. What I mean by healthy weight is maintaining weight that enables you to maintain a healthy lifestyle. You can have an ideal weight based on the BMI chart, but that doesn’t mean you are healthy. On the same vane you can be considered obese by AMA BMI chart yet life a very healthy lifestyle and overall be very healthy. More on that in a different soapbox.

So beyond those basic thing (hygiene, clothing, hairstyle) why are we so obsessed with beauty? We all are in some way or another. Either we are obsessed with obtaining it, or we are obsessed with observing it.  To make a very generalized and stereotypical statement, women are obsessed with being beautiful and men are obsessed with looking at beautiful women. I’m not claiming to be immune from this stereotype.  Is it strictly a feedback loop? Meaning women want to be beautiful because men want to look at beautiful women, in other words is it all about women getting attention from guys? I find that very hard to believe because women that are generally considered very beautiful do get a lot of attention from guys and complain about all the “creeps” that are always checking them out and bothering them. Is it a matter of wanting what we don’t have, that is simply being unhappy with what we have? I find that a much more plausible theory.

It seems to be a “societal programming” that’s gone hey wire.  From what I hear women are intensively competitive about who is the fairest of them all, and to what end. Is it so that everyone will like them? If so that is a very unreasonable expectations. You don’t like everyone so why would you expect everyone to like you? Like I said those that get a lot of attention complain about how much attention they are getting, which could be a case of “be careful of what you wish for”.

Guys aren’t any better. While they seem to be generally less competitive about their own looks, they aren’t immune. They feed into this more by being competitive about “scoring” the most beautiful woman.

Meanwhile no one seems to acknowledge that there are so many different form of beauty and how everyone has their own taste of what they consider beautiful. Both genders totally buy into the programming that there is a single standard for beauty, which is totally ludicrous. Guys are probably worse about this than women. I’ve talked to guys who talk big publicly to show how they follow the programming, yet when when you have a more private conversation with them it comes out that they don’t necessary believe that. The programming is deep that they will never admit to it though.

When it comes to art though everyone realizes that there is no single standard for beauty, it all comes down to personal preference. This is why there are so many form of arts, and everyone likes different things. I really don’t know enough about art to go deeper into this analogy, but I think you all get my drift. Why can’t we apply the same thinking about each other and stop thinking that life is a beauty context where there can only be one winner and realize that we are all beautiful in our own way, that not everyone is going to like us just the way we don’t like everyone the same.

I have no magic bullet answer to this question/dilemma. There is most definitively a feedback loop component that is going to be hard to break. Speaking from a guys perspective you get caught in a no win situation because of this. You focus on someone’s beauty too much (whether by verbal complements, or the way you look at her) you get labeled a creep who only appreciates her body (or you’re sex crazed guy using complements to get your way). If you don’t focus on her beauty you are insensitive because you never complement her looks.

The American Tourist and Mexican Fisherman by Heinrich Böll

An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The tourist then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”