In the News

What is the Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance? It Is In the Minds of the Beholder…

CR7bI recently came across the question:  What is the difference between confidence and arrogance?  Without giving much thought to the exact definition of each word, I think most of us have noticed that confidence is seen as a positive trait that people admire, while arrogance is seen as a negative trait that turns many people off.

According to Dictionary.com, confidence is defined as:

  •  belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities; self-confidence; self-reliance; assurance

According to the same source, arrogance is defined as:

  •  offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride

If you look closely at the definition of confidence, it appears to be something that is felt within the individual to whom the term is applied.  It is their personal belief in their ability.

If you look closely at the definition of arrogance, you can see something else happening.  It includes the opinion of an observer.  For it to be an “offensive display”, it must be offensive to someone else.  It would not make sense for it to be offensive to the person making the display.  For the individual’s level of pride to be “overbearing”, it must be experienced that way by someone else.

Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

Carl Jung

This question immediately brought to mind world-famous soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo as the perfect example for working through this distinction.  As a three time winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or, he has been able to refer to himself as the best player in the world with complete confidence.  However, he is one of those professional athletes that people either love or hate, or love to hate, and he is often referred to as arrogant.

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I think many people who reach the pinnacle of their profession do so because they are very passionate people, and they bring that passion to their performance.  It will naturally follow then that during certain moments, for our present example, when Cristiano Ronaldo scores, we will see an explosive display of this passion.  And we often do.  It is during these moments that he is thought to appear the most arrogant, and has subsequently been deemed an arrogant person.

I think what people forget though, is that when Cristiano Ronaldo is on the field, he is at work.  He is working.  He is focused, he is determined, and he is not overly concerned about how he might appear to others.  I think that is as it should be.  That is a big part of what makes him successful.  He works hard, he believes in his ability with absolute confidence, and he’s excited and proud when he achieves the positive outcomes of his drive, dedication and persistence.

Does anyone every consider if he continues to behave like this when he is not in the role of “soccer player”, and instead is in the role of “friend”, “father”, “son”, “brother”, “diner”, “patron”, “customer”, etcetera.  It would be quite absurd if he did.  I find it highly unlikely.

Does anyone ever consider how often he cries when his vast ambition is thwarted or even awarded?  We see the same level of emotion as when he scores, but the tears suggest emotions that are completely inconsistent with arrogance.  We do not expect to see arrogant people crying in public.  I would assume that a person with an unassailable “offensive sense of superiority” and “overbearing pride” would be unperturbed by defeat or high honors.

CR7Euro

CRBallonD'OrWe all behave differently when we’re in our different roles.  We behave differently at work than we do with our children, and different still with our spouse, and different yet again with our friends.

I note in general, there is a tendency among the masses to want to find flaws in celebrities.  Stories and pictures of celebrities looking bad or messing up in some way are regularly brought to our immediate attention.  And they are regularly read, talked about, and often worst of all for the celebrity, never forgotten.  We do this with certain coworkers, friends, and family members as well.  What does it say about us that we get a secret, or sometimes not so secret satisfaction when others fail in some way?  What does it say about us that we so frequently choose to ignore a person’s redeeming qualities?

What others say about you is their reality, not yours.

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If only someone took the time to really think about their assumptions before committing to them, they would find an entirely different story.

Again, using our present example, Cristiano Ronaldo is known to be fun-loving and kind. He appears to be a true team-player, and his dedication to practice is admired by his coaches. He is a devoted father to his son and is very family oriented in general. He is known to write encouraging letters to children, to fight the crowd to ensure that a child rather than an adult will receive his jersey after the game. One has to merely look to find endless examples of a softer side to this player.

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And I believe that this is true for anyone. As humans, we all possess the potential to be temperamental at times, to be self-absorbed, to be insensitive to others, and to be arrogant. We also all possess the potential to be patient, selfless, and compassionate. No one is completely arrogant just as no one is completely perfect. Forgetting this, and assigning permanent labels to people limits the extent to which you can see humanity in this world. And that is a shame because humanity is one of the world’s most beautiful aspects.  We are all more alike than we are different, and we’re all on the same team.  Fundamentally, we all just want and deserve to be happy.  When we remember these facts everyone becomes a lot more likable.

Keep well,

Susan

 

Be the Change…

You must be the change you wish to see in the world.

Mahatma Gandhi

Today I write with recent tragedies that  have occurred in the United States on my mind.  It makes me feel sadness to see how so much fear, hate and anger does nothing but produce more of the same…  Very very valid feelings, but very destructive and counter-productive at the same time…

If I had the perfect solution I’d share it in an instant but I don’t.  The situation appears to be anything but simple.  But I cannot forget the progress that men like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Nelson Mandela have accomplished through peaceful protest.  Hopefully more people will remember them and follow their lead…  and that most definitely includes the police too…

I’d like to share an excerpt from the book A Lamp in the Darkness by Jack Kornfield.  It’s a very touching and true story that I think is particularly fitting at this point in time as it reminds everyone as Frankl said, everything can be taken from you but your freedom to choose how you will respond.

“One young boy, just fourteen years old, wanted to become part of an inner city gang.  In order to initiate himself into the gang, he went out and shot another teenager his own age.  He was subsequently caught and arrested for murder and, after a time, was brought to trial.  He was convicted and just before he was taken off to prison, the mother of the young man who’d been murdered stood up in the courtroom, looked him square in the eye, and said, “I’m gonna kill you.” And then he was led off in handcuffs.

While he was incarcerated, the mother of the young man who had been killed came to visit him.  He was shocked and surprised.  During her first visit she talked to him for a little while, and later she came back and brought him some things he needed – a little money to buy things in prison, some writing materials – and began to visit him regularly.  And over the next three or four years, as he served his sentence, she would come visit him regularly.

When the time came to be released, she asked him what he planned on doing when he got out of jail.  He had no idea.  “Where are you going to work?”  she asked him.  He didn’t know.  So she told him, “I’ve got a friend who has a little business – maybe you could get a job there.”  And then she asked, “Where are you gonna live?” And he said, “I don’t know.  I didn’t have much of a family even before I came in here.”  And she said, “Well, you can come and stay with me.  I’ve got a spare room.”  And so the young man moved into her home and began to work at the job that she had found for him.

After about six months, she called him into the living room, sat him down, and said,”I need to talk to you.”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She looked at him and said, “Remember that day in court when you were convicted of murdering my only child?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  She said, “Remember I stood up and I said, ‘I’m going to kill you’?”  He said, “Yes, ma’am.”  “Well, I have.  I set about changing you.  I came to visit you over and over and brought you things, and made friends with you.  And when you got out I took care of you and got you a job and a place to live, because I didn’t want the kind of boy who could coldly murder my son to still be alive on this Earth.  And I’ve done it.  You’re not that boy anymore.  But now I have no son and I’ve got no one and here you are and I wonder if you’d stay with me and live with me for a time.  I can finish raising you as my son and I’d like to adopt you if you’d let me.”  And she became the mother of her son’s killer, the mother he never had.”

Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.

Jean -Paul Sartre

Keep well,  Susan

Find What You’re Looking For…

If you’ve read my blog then you know how I feel about the bad news that television and the internet almost constantly inundate us with.  Even something that would appear to be relatively harmless can easily and unfortunately succumb to a negative media spin.

Yesterday I read the following article about a problem people had regarding a picture of Ryan Reynolds with his new infant daughter James which was posted by his wife Blake Lively in recognition of Father’s Day.  The picture looked so innocent even I had to see what this was all about.  Here is the link in case you missed it.

http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/06/24/ryan-reynolds-instagram-controversy_n_7654300.html?utm_hp_ref=canada-parents&icid=maing-grid7%7Ccanada%7Cdl6%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D660201

Concerns about baby aside, and lets hope and feel confident (I do) that baby James does have the instinct to cry if and when she’s feeling uncomfortable.  Her parents appear to possess the intelligence to appropriately react to her cry and try adjusting her position among other obvious efforts to soothe their little one if and when necessary.

What I want to point out about this article is something that may have been glanced over by those eagerly looking to find fault in our celebrities (another favorite media pastime I believe we could do without).  With the Instagram photo, Blake Lively had written the following to her husband:

Since the day our baby was born, I’ve felt so strongly in my heart that you were most likely the father.  #ILoveYouSoMuchItsSilly

Blake Lively to husband Ryan Reynolds on Father’s Day

What a light and happy love they have.  Her comment brought a smile to my face as I’m sure it did to her husband’s.  Here’s to hoping that some of us read her comment, saw the beauty of family, true love and good intentions in her post, and decided to do something as nice for one of their loved ones.

If not its never too late to do something little to put a smile on a loved ones face and a warmth in their heart…

Keep well…

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Due to the rise of the current body image movement, which tosses around terms like “thin privilege” and “HAES – healthy at every size”, I’ve been sitting and waiting to see a thin person come out and apologize for her size and shape.  Without  even looking, I stumbled upon something yesterday in Stylelist.ca where I saw a healthy looking young professional woman quoted as saying “Just because I exist in this shape doesn’t mean that I’m, like, advocating it.”

(http://www.stylelist.ca/2014/08/06/perfect-beach-body/#!fullscreen&slide=2823340&?icid=maing-grid7%7Ccanada%7Cdl5%7Csec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D511816 )

While I’m all for the promotion of psychological health, which includes a healthy self- and body-image, I can’t help but think that this new approach to body image may only provide a band-aid type solution and may possibly cause more harm than good.

The media is taking a lot of flak for being at the root of this problem by inundating us with images of what is currently considered the ideal female form.

The media aims to entertain us and to inform us, and they provide whatever information they feel will be the most effective at accomplishing these goals.  I’m not sure who decided, or when or how it was decided that it was the media’s job to enhance our self-esteem and protect our body image.  But it seems that not only has the media has been assigned blame for the body image problems that many experience today, they have also been made responsible for this problem and are being pressured to exclude certain body types from their presentations.

The media does a very good job at keeping us informed of the many health risks associated with poor diet, lack of exercise, excessive drinking and smoking, sun exposure etc.,  as well as the benefits of eating well, exercising, meditation, vitamin and mineral supplements etc.  This information directly relates to the maintenance of a healthy body and body image.  Even though this information is provided specifically to be influential in positive ways, somehow this doesn’t seem to count.  The fact that normal sized and overweight people regularly appear in the media also seems to be overlooked.  All the current attention is directed towards how the media indirectly and inadvertently has a negative impact on body image by showcasing fashion models and actresses for entertainment purposes.

If a client comes to me to work on self-esteem, confidence, body image, and anything that would fall into the category of “positive feelings towards the self”, I don’t consult the media to see how it can be of help to my client, I work with her beliefs and options to see how she can help herself.  Ideally, positive feelings towards the self will be fostered in youth by a loving and healthy family environment, positive peer relationships, and productive involvement in academics and/or extracurricular activities that relate to each person’s unique intellectual strengths, interests and talents.  I would never say lets turn on the tv and see how you compare to the next ten people we happen to see on the screen.  “Okay, so here we can see that you look better than four of these women but not as good as the other six, so yeah, you’re no good, and there’s nothing we can do about that until the media changes/lowers their standards.”  That’s ludicrous!

The media cannot set any standards for us without our permission to do so.

An adult person needs to set their own reasonable, realistic and self-affirming standards for themselves. The only other person they should look to for an opinion is their doctor.

I’m not denying that young people and adults do compare themselves to the people they see on television and in the media.  What I’m trying to say is that the source of the problem is not the images they see, its the beliefs that they take away from what they see.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a real appreciation of beautiful men and I thoroughly enjoy watching Jamie Dornan act or Cristiano Ronaldo play soccer.  I also really enjoy looking at photos of them.  They are beautiful, healthy, physically perfect men. However, I do not hope for a man who looks like that to spend the rest of my life with.  I am not disappointed in any way that I have never had one nor ever will.  I don’t look at the man that I’m dating and secretly wish “If only he looked more this or that or the other…”  Just because I appreciate something that’s beautiful in the conventional sense, does not mean I’m unable to see the beauty in another person living their own life and being their best self in their own unique way.  It’s every bit as beautiful and every bit as desirable.  Must we do away with one sort of beauty so that others can feel their own beauty that has been there the whole time?

I think the expectation that we all look like superstars is grossly overestimated.  Consider the people you encounter throughout the rest of today or tomorrow.  For each person you encounter, ask yourself if you believe any of them expect you to look like a superstar, or if you think any of them expect you to look any different than you do.  It’s highly likely you will find very few who you believe do.  Ask yourself how many people you encounter who you think should look different.  People are claiming that the media is telling us one thing, but what are we actually telling each other?  What are we telling ourselves?  Do we see an excess of unmarried men because they are waiting to find a woman who looks like Barbie?  As far as I can tell, we don’t.  Elaine Hatfield’s Matching Hypothesis suggests that we tend to pair up with and commit to those who are equally socially desirable in terms of looks and other factors.  Be assured that the sort of person you’re looking to find is looking to find someone just like you.

This body image movement also seems to be overlooking the fact that many men struggle with body image as well.  Although they’re less likely to compare themselves to models, they can and do compare themselves to athletes, actors, and other celebrities who typically have very healthy bodies.  Shall we begin to keep images of these people and their games and films out of the media as well?

And where does it end?  To illustrate from another personal example, because of the amount of education I pursued, I find myself behind my peers financially due to student loan debt.  Although there is truly nothing wrong with where I live, and a lot right, I would really prefer to be living in a new condo downtown, preferably one with a view.  That is how most of my friends live and when I visit their homes, although I am happy for them, I naturally find myself feeling envious, sad, and quite honestly often ashamed that I’m not yet able to make that move in my life.  I get hard on myself for not taking life more seriously when I was in my twenties and you can easily see how this line of thinking can and will snowball if I let it.  But I don’t.  I did the best I could with the circumstances and priorities that were present at each step of my life.  I have to let the regrets go and just do my best to stay focused on making progress towards my goals now and in the future.

Due to the state of today’s economy, I would be surprised to find that there aren’t many others who feel exactly as I do.  My advice to them would be similar to that I give myself – learn from your mistakes, focus on your present and future, maximize your potential, and accept your limitations.  I would never suggest that the world begin to hide condos or stop building them because those of us who can’t afford them now or possibly ever feel bad about ourselves because we are constantly inundated by the site of condos.  For others this could be mansions, cars, designer clothes, boats, travel, talents, and the list goes on and on…  And more seriously, for some it is far more important things like having children.  Again, where does it end?  There are endless opportunities for us to compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking, we can’t hide everything desirable in the world.

Overweight women have begun to use the term “thin privilege” to describe unfortunate circumstances that they endure that directly relate to their size.  I can’t deny that these things occur and that they should not.  As a thin person when I hear the term “thin privilege” I’m reminded of high school where back stabbing friends, cheating boyfriends, enduring vicious rumors, being hated and physically threatened simply for being someone’s ex-girlfriend, and sexual assault were part of thin privilege.  It also makes we wonder how many people could use the terms, and rightly so, first-world privilege, education privilege, freedom privilege, peace privilege, health care privilege, food and shelter privilege, normal parent privilege, etcetera.  I could go on but I’m sure you get the idea.

No one has the market cornered on human suffering.

Instead of focusing on the things that the super successful have achieved that we may or more not be able to achieve ourselves, why not focus on the things about them that we can and should admire, and that can enhance our own lives and happiness?  These would include things like their commitment to being their best selves, to self-care and maintaining a healthy body, and to practice, dedication, and discipline in their chosen fields.  Once the healthy body is removed as the ideal, other signs of success and fortune will naturally follow because the root of the problem is left unhealed.  This is not something that can be achieved via the media.  Self-acceptance needs to come from within.

The fact is that so many things in life that happen spread out across the bell curve.  In almost all cases there are going to be many people who are better than us in some or many ways, and others who are worse, but most of us will fall into the mid-range with many others just like us.  And really what would happen to the world if we removed all evidence of excellence and we stopped encouraging excellence?  The foundations of excellence, the drive, dedication, and determination, are the very foundation of our standard of living today.  Right now the focus is beauty, but it can just as easily become success, talent, and fortune next.  There are countless ways the average population can look at the above-average population and find something to feel bad about themselves about.  If we eliminate excellence and celebrate and glamorize average, over time what’s average now will become above-average.  It seems to me we can only go backwards here….

Keep well and be well…

Women’s issue or income earning parent’s issue?

I recently came across an article at an online family law related web-site, about a new “women’s issue”.  The article described a problem that working mothers who have assumed the role of primary income earner are encountering post-separation.

Like most parents, these women are hoping to share custody of their children with their ex-spouse.   They also hope to have the children in their care for the same amount of time each month as their spouse does.

Traditionally, the man has been the primary income earner in the family, and the woman has assumed the role of primary caregiver.  Upon separation, there is an assumption that it is better for children to maintain the “status quo” when it comes to their care and routine to the greatest extent possible.  The typical result is sole custody and primary residence to the mother.  Not all but many fathers hope to to share custody and care of the children equally upon separation.  However, most are opposed by the mothers based on the argument that they have always been the primary caregiver to the children and thats how things should stay.  Women have been making the primary caregiver argument for years and the majority of time it has worked well for them.

This argument has always rubbed me the wrong way because it values quantity of time over quality of time.  I just don’t see any logic in assuming that the primary caregiver parent is the better parent.  Looking back on my childhood memories and the experiences that made me who I am today, its not the baths, meals, or drives to extracurricular activities that I recall, but the time spent directly interacting and speaking with my parents.  Although I spent a lot less time with my father because he worked, my relationship with him was just as strong and significant to me as my relationship with my mother.

I suppose its safe to assume that the stay-at-home parent is the most nurturing parent, although we can’t always assume that this is the case.  Being consistently nurtured is vital to healthy emotional and social development in children, which enables them to have healthy relationships in adulthood.  We are also safe in assuming that the working parent is the more well-rounded parent who, in addition to providing nurturing, has a higher probability of modelling important life skills to children that are necessary for success in adulthood. They are more likely to possess qualities like value of study, practice, perseverance, ambition, dedication, discipline, ability to delay gratification, ability to tolerate frustration, balance, diversity of interests, etcetera.  Of course this also won’t always be the case.  Both types of parents have something equally important to offer to their children.  And its likely that both parents are able to model all these qualities to their children to some extent.

As always, my sympathy remains with the working parent who has to struggle to maintain equal parenting time with their children based on the erroneous assumption that maximum exposure to  a “primary caregiver” is enough to ensure that children will grow up to be well-adjusted adults capable of reaching their full potential.

What is beginning to happen now, is that women who have been the primary income earner in the family are being denied joint custody and equal access time based on the argument that they were not the primary caregiver to the children.  Sole custody and primary care is now being granted to stay-at-home fathers.  What bothered me about this article though was that these women have decided to consider this a “women’s issue”.  Can it be a “women’s issue” if women are the original cause of the issue and most women are still doing this to their husbands?  What about the men who have been subject to this “issue” for years?  Is it both a “women’s issue” and a “men’s issue” then?

I certainly consider it an “issue”, but does it do any good to label it a gender related issue?  Polarizing anything into one group or another isn’t always helpful and isn’t always necessary.  It promotes a sense of victimhood that increases defensiveness and gets in the way of reaching a fair and functional settlement.  Family law has historically been an adversarial process costing families thousands of dollars and causing substantial damage to relationships between ex-spouses.  This issue unfortunately applies to the primary income earning parent, whoever that may be.

Children will learn different things from both their parents.  If both intend to remain equally involved in the lives of their children post-separation, then in the absence of reasons to the contrary, shared parenting remains the most ideal arrangement for parents and children alike.  If women are looking for a solution to this “women’s issue”, then they need not look very far…

 

 

My Thoughts On Purity Balls

You may have come across news related to “purity balls” in the media.  If not, they basically entail a ceremony in which a young girl pledges her virginity to her father until she is married.  To celebrate this pledge the girls attend a formal ball with their fathers and are often presented with some form of jewelry to symbolize their promise, like a wedding ring symbolizes marital vows.

I recently came upon an article which featured professional father-daughter photographs taken in formal wear to commemorate their attendance at their Purity Ball.  The photography stated that it was his hope that the photographs would show people that this ritual is really a sign of these fathers’ deep love and care for their daughters.  I couldn’t help but thinking that the fathers in these photographs looked eerily possessive, and for some the way they were posed looked inappropriately intimate.  Of course that could be just me though.

I also have to wonder if girls would find this ritual so compelling if it didn’t include jewelry, pretty dresses, and a dance – basically a day feeling like a princess.

I take no issue with a parent encouraging their children to abstain from sexual activity until marriage if that is something they value.  I take no issue with a young adult making the choice to delay sexual activity until marriage either.

There are several other things that I do take issue with and I find rather disturbing.

The first is that the majority of these girls are asked to make this pledge of abstinence until marriage while they are still minors.  According to the law, a minor lacks the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity to consent to sexual activity.  It therefore follows that they also lack the intellectual capacity and emotional maturity necessary to consent to abstain from sexual activity.  It is illegal and abusive to ask a minor to consent to sex, therefore it is abusive to ask a minor to refuse to consent to sex.

I also find that the parental preoccupation with their child’s sex life at a time when it is nonexistent is somewhat bizarre.  It’s causing these girls to give a great deal of thought to something they just cannot fully comprehend, and that aside from average age-appropriate curiosity, would otherwise not be on their mind to the same extent.

I do agree that sexual activity in minors should be discouraged, and prevented if and when it seems likely to occur.  But that doesn’t seem to be the case with these girls.  These appear to be very religious families, and it seems unlikely that these girls will be exposed to situations where they are likely to encounter sexual advances until the time that most teens do or later.  It seems likely that they will be more sheltered from situations where sexual activity could occur than their average peers, so why is their such a need to extract this promise from them?

And even if you as a parent place a high value on remaining chaste until marriage, what are the risks associated with not doing so?  If your child practices safe-sex with partners who treat her respectfully, and is not promiscuous, what harm does having pre-marital sex really cause?  None.  Most people do engage in pre-marital sex and the majority of society does not consider it a bad thing.  There is no evidence that moderate, mutually respectful and safe pre-marital sex causes anyone any problems.  I suppose these girls may have a problem marrying members of their specific religion if they are not “pure”, but there are plenty of religious men that would remain willing to marry them.  I would guess there would be more men that do not view this as a problem than men that do.

And are their purity pledges and rituals for the boys as well?  I haven’t done the research so I really can’t say.  All I can say is that I haven’t come across anything in the news about it.

Lets also consider the concept of “purity”.  I understand what these people think it means, because they choose to equate virginity with purity.  However, there isn’t much anyone could do that would cause me to consider a person impure or somehow contaminated.  Even psychopaths are simply severely mentally ill. These fathers are claiming they do this because of how much they love their daughters.  What I hear them saying is:  I do not love my daughter unconditionally. My love for my daughter is conditional.  It’s not about what’s best for her and what she wants, its about whats best for me and what I want.

And what about what these religions really stand for?  They are Christian religions and it’s not disputed that Jesus Christ died for forgiveness of sins, and suggested that we all avoid casting stones because we have all committed our own sins and made our own mistakes.  Forgiveness and unconditional love should then go hand in hand.  It’s my belief that asking a child to make and commit to an adult decision is a sin.