Monday, March 26, 2012

Confidence or Self-importance

Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it - what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellowmen. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone.

Carlos Castaneda Anthropologist and Writer
University of California

Do you remember in the movie, "La Bamba" when Ritchie's mother, Connie Valenzuela gets offended because the band does not allow her son to play solo at an evening garage performance? Ricki jumps in the car where his whole family is waiting and she asks, "What did they mean ...not letting you play, Ritchie?" He says, "Don't worry, I'll get them to listen." Connie is angry, though, and she says, "My Grandfather was a full blooded Yaqui Indian..."
I aways smile when I think of that pride. What is it? Mother's pride? Family pride? Some part of me knows that it does not really matter how you came into this world and which group of people you belong to...but another part can relate to that indignant mother! Respect! It's like Aretha Franklin R-E-S-P-E-C-T!

(Photo Yaqui People C1910 Mexico)

I'm thinking about confidence and balancing our needs with the needs of others....of knowing that you can make a difference in your own life and in the lives of others....of putting yourself out in the world. I think many of us are born with a introverted character, we have to learn to express our needs. Others are born with an extroverted tendency and may overlook the needs of others. Neither is necessarily better because we have to learn balance, either way. I know some people who keep giving until they harm themselves...and others who tightly hold on to what they have -but the universe or chance creates hardship and loss anyway. Perhaps, teaching generosity to some children is difficult in some way but so is teaching children to stand up for themselves and be noticed.
Many years ago, when my daughter was singing at a small theatre for a school function, I watched her get pushed away from the microphone by a more aggressive singing partner. (I have it on film so it's clear in my memory.) The other girl's parents had the shame of their daughter's public behavior to deal with but the girl who pushed was the one who was heard the most. I kept thinking that my daughter should have moved back toward the microphone and tried to sing again instead of staying in the background. I always wonder what is the right guidance to give in those situations. I didn't want my daughter to grow up into an aggressive personality but I did want her to know how to stand up for herself. She's turned out fine but I still wonder how to handle pushy people in the world.

As a shy child, I had to learn how to stand up for myself. My mother frequently commented about my own sensitive ways. She used to say, "I worry about you. You need to toughen up!" I think I must have gotten much bolder in my teen years but I remember feeling the need of support before I could try something new. I waited for friends to say, "Hey, you can do it!" I think you miss a lot of opportunities when you need to wait for someone else to discover your talents and encourage you to move ahead. Sometimes even people you love just don't want you to excel too much . Why is that? I'm naive a bit- when someone tells me it's control and jealousy, I don't want to believe it. Usually, I just look away and try not to notice. I think maybe my daughter does that too. It's a strategy. I don't know if it's the best one.
What do you think about confidence and self-importance? Sometimes when it comes to my children, I'm like Ritchie's mother, Connie Valenzuela. Do you remember when she was imagining for her son and she looked up into the sky while visualizing, "Ricky Vallenzuela and his Flying Guitar?" She's dreaming big for her child...her cause...

(A version of this blog post can be found in Oasis Writing Link archives.)