I sat a my local cafe this morning, watching a small boy, probably 2 or 3 years old, totter down one of the narrow, age-old lanes that define much of the 4th arrondissement.
He followed his parents and gripped his tiny blanket in one arm, holding onto it as if for dear life. I had my own comfort companion as an only child, a stuffed rabbit that I referred to as Burr.
As with most ‘security blankets’, teddy bears, and toys, at some point, we as children mature and realize that the blanket itself isn’t going to protect us as we once thought it would. The world isn’t going to cave in if we don’t have it within reach. And, even if we do have it, it isn’t going to do much for us in times of real trouble.
As adults, we still keep ‘worry beads’, a keepsake, or some other tangible form of comfort that we can access and touch in order to harness wild imaginings, focus on what’s troubling us, and search calmly for solutions. Like an heirloom that reminds us of a departed loved one, these trinkets simply mark us as human and do no harm.
What we don’t want to do is believe that having a material possession is going to serve us well as a ‘security blanket’. A new purse, wristwatch, or car is no substitute for self confidence, nor will they, for any length of time, bolster self confidence.
Actually, it’s a contradiction in terms because a material possession is something you buy and self confidence, by definition, comes from your ‘self’.
Tangent Number One: the irony is that you don’t always know if people of limited means don’t have self confidence, but you damn sure know it when rich people are insecure: they buy everything, and they talk about everything they buy.
But back to my original point…let’s make sure we’re working to increase our self confidence through work, challenges, and learning. Let’s look for anything we may own (or do) right now that we might be using as a crutch. Let’s reign it in, put it away, step back from it. Let’s take a look at what’s behind the purchase or the behavior.
Let’s do the hard and often unpleasant work of addressing personal issues in order to evolve as a person. Full disclosure: I have to do this all the time. It’s not fun, but it’s necessary if you want to improve and live a better life.
Tangent Number Two: when I was a young man in high school, you know, in the pre-cell phone, pre-internet century before this one, I played basketball fairly well. Well enough to have been offered full athletic scholarships to numerous colleges around the country, including an Ivy League institution.
Almost all of my friends knew I had played, but one exchange with an Old Money Gal acquaintance was particularly interesting, and has stayed with me over the years. When the b-ball subject came up in conversation one evening, she confessed that she’d heard I was a jock and concluded that I was probably pretty good at it. When I asked her why she thought that, she replied, “Because I never heard you talk about it.”
Back again to my point…let’s look around for anything we might be using as a ‘security blanket’ and put it away. It’s cute when we see children holding onto something tangible for comfort and reassurance. Less cute when we see adults doing that.
And remember, confidence, like athletic ability, wealth, or experience in war, is something that nobody really needs to talk about.