It is easy to be confident when it comes from other people.
So many of us spend all day, every day in contact with others. From the time we wake up until we fall asleep, we never have to spend a moment alone, because of our modern technology and social media. Along with this, we are surrounded by stuff. I recently heard from one of my professor’s that some children are having panic attacks and trouble sleeping if they do not have their mobile devices. I was curious as to whether this was true, and while I couldn’t specifically find any articles on that, I found this, which is a problem. With all of the luxuries we have in life, things like natural disasters or robberies become much more difficult than they most likely were hundreds of years ago.
I say this because as humans have evolved, the percentage of those who have excess or even the constant of three meals the rest of the week has increased dramatically. Of course, this is an excellent thing, as we are bringing more and more out of poverty. The issue that arises is some children of the 20th and 21st centuries (this percentage can be seen rising as the timeline moves closer to present day) are very ungrateful. As I say this, I think of dozens of times where I took what my parents did for me for granted. Naturally, I say thank you whenever possible, sometimes too much. The point of all of this is that many of us live with a false confidence, because our society demands it, and many of us have not gone without stuff.
This article is not to share the rags to riches (I’m neither), although I remember rolling coins for my parents. I remember the early Christmas’ where my brother and I received very little.I’ve always had a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, books to read. I am very grateful for all that my family has done for me, but financial deprivation is not the only card in hand here. I would say I’ve spent most of my childhood feeling alone, essentially going without an outlet for my feelings and emotions. I have relied on the approval and validation of others for the confidence I have in my words and actions.
Do you know who you are?
Sure you’ve got a name, you know what you look like, you know what you do for a living and who the ones you love are. Many people take this as sufficient for an answer to the above question. If you are asked what you are, the answer is immediately biological. Push any further, and people start to get uptight and angry. I have always wondered why that is, so I asked myself. I discovered that we get defensive when we might be wrong. That might seem obvious, but what happens when we dig even deeper? We find that nobody knows what we are, or how we work. Sure we can explain how our body parts work, but as far as connecting that to consciousness, nobody has a clue how our nervous system creates mental projections, thoughts, and feelings. Ask a few why’s, and we get confused.
I’ve noticed that many people are profoundly stumped when these questions are presented. If you have ever heard of the eight circuits of consciousness theory, those who never consider these questions seem only to access the first three or four circuits. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this at all. I am a curious person, and I ask a lot of questions, sometimes to the extent that it annoys other people. Asking questions incessantly has gotten me in trouble a time or two. I cannot help but wonder, what connects us to our bodies? What connects us to the Earth, to each other? While the fields of neuroscience and psychology are making progress towards figuring this out, we are primarily still in the dark.
Contemplating these never-ending questions may not matter. Here we are, you’re able to breathe, walk, talk, eat, and laugh. And what happens when we do figure it out? Will that be the end of life as we know it? I stumbled across this award speech by Matthew McConaughey, who elaborates a little bit on what life means. Skip to about two minutes to get to his part. His hero is himself in ten years. He keeps chasing that, knowing that he will never obtain being his hero, and that keeps him going. We may not always know who or what we are, but we can always strive to be more than we were yesterday.
With this said, my philosophy over the past year is that we are our attitude. We are how we view the world, as our perspective develops from how we interpret not only what is going on inside of us (thoughts, feelings, memories) but also our environment around us. Today in psych class we had a debate regarding what has a larger influence on developing a mental disorder, one’s environment or their genetics. While both are very important, my side came to the conclusion that we can only control how we contribute to our future genetics, but not what was given to this. We do this by changing our environment and how we respond to it. These actions thus determine our attitude, and who we are.
Play with the idea of having absolutely nothing.
After meeting my friend Lee, I have realized that I have so many good things going for me. I have a car, I have a home, I have food and clothes every day, I’m fortunate enough to go to school, I have a family, and most importantly I have a life. I am alive. With all of this being said, I try to spend as much time as possible either imagining my life with nothing or actually doing those things. I spend free time thinking about what my life would be like, who I would be if I were alone in the middle of nowhere. I try to go camping as often as possible, practicing what it is like to work from scratch, along with cutting myself off completely from technology. I try to fast in the evenings, or wear “bummy” clothes, asking myself, is this really that bad?
Putting myself in all of these situations has helped tremendously with learning how to be thankful for who I am and what I have. It has also taught me how to be more disciplined when indulging in life’s luxuries. When I was in Australia this past May, I was without contact with anyone I knew for twenty-two something hours. This may not seem like much, but being 5000+ miles from everything you know without cell service or even wifi was pretty scary. When I arrived, I had no idea where to go, where my shuttle was going to pick me up, as the program I was with only organized the in-country flights. Long story short, I was just about to turn on my roaming data and charge $10 a minute to my account when I had a gut feeling to sit on a certain bench. No more than fifteen seconds later, the shuttle arrived. Life works in funny ways.
As mentioned earlier, Lee has taught me a lot about surviving just fine with little. He has spent the last eleven years traveling by horse across the country, and his three horses need to drink ten gallons of water each, twice a day. He has to feed them, and himself, and has spent very few days hungry himself. He has trust in the universe, in Creation, and lives moment to moment. With that being said, now is all we will ever have. The current moment is the only reality that tangibly exists, and as the past and future are constructs of our imagination.
When you are thankful for who you are and what you have, becoming the same person regardless of who is around becomes much easier. Self-confidence is something that I have struggled with my entire life. I am learning that it really only comes from me, and any dependence on others for my emotions, whether they be good or bad, is a life of misery. I am thankful for who I am, and I am thankful that you have taken time out of your day to read these words.
I hope you create a wonderful day for yourself and others. Feel free to leave a question or comment down below!