Let’s start this blog series with a “Choose Your Own Adventure.”
Picture you’re me, and you want to start this blog series with a bang. You’ve picked a topic dear to your heart – self-confidence. I’ll present you with two opening paragraphs. Pick one, and then we’ll analyze the difference in the two.
Let’s also assume we have already welcomed and thanked our visitors: Welcome, and Thank You!
The name of this blog series includes the word “Bully” for a very important reason; every day we allow our influences – our upbringing and our environment – to sap our confidence and cause us to make different choices. In essence, we bully ourselves. In this series, I will present my opinions on where the bully comes from and how it beats us, based upon my own experiences in youth, in business, and in my new adventure of becoming a writer.
The name of this blog series includes the word “Bully” for a very important reason; every day we allow our influences – our upbringing and our environment – to sap our confidence and cause us to make different choices. In essence, we bully ourselves. As a disclaimer, I am not a doctor or psychiatrist, nor do I pretend to have all the answers. I have some opinions that may be controversial or may stray from the accepted norms. These blog posts are my personal opinion only, and should not be construed as an attack on differing ideas.
So, which one would you have gone with? Your first instinct – and be honest. I will admit wholeheartedly that when I envisioned this series, Opening B was the only option. Why? Because I have a problem balancing what I am calling “realism versus self-criticism.”
When I was young, I was (verbally) bullied until the day I left school – from about the third grade through graduation. I’ll get a bit more into that in later posts, however the point is that I developed a defense mechanism. I was a “straight-A” student, so whenever I was bullied, I threw my smarts right back in their faces. Rather than help solve the bully problem, it increased it; now I was thought of as a know-it-all and a snoot.
When I finally realized this in my twenty-somethings, that’s when I started my “humble” or “realism” kick. Any time I tried to say or do anything, it was always “qualified”:
- I’m not the expert, but …
- I didn’t do it all myself, but …
- I didn’t research this fully, but …
- I may be wrong, because I’m not perfect, but …
I was – I still am – so afraid to come across as a snoot, that I can never just say something without qualifying it. Many of my earlier blogs do this, and I am trying to ensure that from here out, they do not.
Where it becomes a problem
There is nothing wrong with admitting that you’re not perfect. Unfortunately, if you begin your statement with a self-depreciating qualification, you are giving your audience no reason to believe any of the rest of it. You are setting the stage, giving a feeling of negativity before you even begin.
If you had read this post, and it started out with Opening B, there is a good chance that you would get a feeling such as “here is someone ranting about a subject they have no business ranting about.” You likely would leave this post and this series, and not return – and you’d be justified in doing so. Why would you want to start out reading about a philosophical discussion where the author opens with how wrong they might be?
Now, that being said, that does not disqualify the “realism” statements – those about me not being a doctor and such. However, that information would likely be understood by the reader (via the absence of credentials present in the post), or it should come at the end of the post, in a short, simple statement. Or not at all. Your reader is smart enough to know that unless you cite factual references you are likely expressing your own personal opinion. Even if you are citing fact, there is nothing stopping someone from refuting those facts with counter facts.
How it can hurt you
I saw a show on TV where they did an experiment. Two twin women dressed in exactly the same business suit and attended an interview. I’m pretty sure they had the exact same level of experience in their resumes.
The first lady said something like “I can jump to the wrong conclusions too quickly … but I’m a fast learner and a strong team player.”
The second lady said “I’m a fast learner and a strong team player … but I can jump to the wrong conclusions too quickly.”
Notice the exact same words are used, but in reverse.
The person who took the interviews was strongly in favor of – you guessed it – the second lady, who presented her strengths first. The person conducting the interview stated there was nothing wrong with admitting weakness, but the first impression had to start strong and positive.
All About Me [You]
So, what about the subject of this blog post? In this series, I would like to cover the “problem” of self-confidence by looking at it from the inside – from within me, from within you. We need to look at not only how we feel about ourselves, but how we present ourselves. Which, if you think about it, reflects how we feel about ourselves. We need to realize that every word we write tells the reader something about ourselves, and we need to ensure that creates a positive image.
This is where it all starts – from the inside. Whether originating from influences as we grow or society itself, today we have a set of responses to every sort of situation that has now become “our” problem. We will analyze the origins of negative thoughts and responses, but only in the context of how we have internalized those thoughts. We will focus on how we identify – and perhaps, beat – the inner bully we have created within ourselves.
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