THE HIDDEN SECRETS OF SELF-CONFIDENCE
BY Felix Abrahams OBI
It feels so good to be valued and accepted before our family, friends and even detractors. That is why so many people spend fortune on fad and fashion in order to appear trendy, up-to-date and contemporary before their colleagues at work, or peers within their social circle. We thus check out how valuable we are by the feedback we get from the significant others. The signals we pick from them to a large extent shapens our sense of esteem and determine how we value ourselves. In essence, others’ perception of who we paints a subjective reality of who we think we are basically, and this what sociologists call the ‘looking glass self’. We often see ourselves in the light of how others perceive us and how well they treat us or not.
Many suffer from low self-esteem not because they lack talents, or not naturally endowed with gifts and potentials, but because of how they have been treated disdainfully by people their significant others. On the contrary, some others feel valued and accepted because their friends and family hold them in high repute and value them greatly. Some others feel accepted because they are beautiful, talented, rich, powerful and influential or for one reason or the other.
Notwithstanding, this sort of self-appreciation which is dependent on the value or esteem accorded us by other is never the best because it is dependent on external variables. And we all know from experience that such variables vacillate and change with time. Hence the popular and well-respected singer of today can get stuck in the cellar of obscurity tomorrow. That powerful political figure of today may lose prominence once another influential leader steps into the political scene.
The astute and highly cerebral guy who heads the R & D department of company may end up being banished to the fringes of corporate leadership once a younger and upwardly mobile guy steps in with novel ideas that push the bar over and above to reach of competitors. The TDH dude that is called ‘the ladies’ man’ of today may lose his sartorial elegance tomorrow, and that could reduce his sphere of influence. Today’s most beautiful girl and beauty queen that causes a stir and spins the neck of men who a wowed by her beauty loses her influence tomorrow once she bulges at the wrong places, and grows flabby and wrinkled. Once she recedes into oblivion, a new girl next door takes her place and the cycle continues.
Living daily based on the feedback we get from others has never been, and will never be the best deal we can ever get. Depending absolutely on the sensory inputs we get from others is self-limiting and damaging to our inner psyche. Many have committed both physical and mental torture and suicide in the past when the people, who hitherto had so valued and supported them, eventually turned their back on them. For instance, the jilted lover turns inconsolable and vows never to fall in love again because the only person he/she has ever loved and given her heart unreservedly had walked out on him/her in pursuit of a new lover.
So how then can we acquire self-esteem that is not dependent on how much we worth materially or how others value and respect us? Whose life’s experiences and wisdom can we depend on to build our self-image and confidence? If you think learning from Bill Gates would worth it, may I remind you that a seemingly unknown billionaire from the ‘third world’ country of Mexico has dethroned him from the exalted position of the ‘World’s richest man” weeks ago? Now if all that we’re worth is valued in material terms, then our worth will be as vacillating as the dizzying rise and fall of stocks and shares. I rather would not equate my ‘net worth’ to my bank account and assets base which may crash when some market forces push down some economic variables that are used for calculating and assessing one’s net worth.
With this limitation, I chose to look through the prism of history to draw inspiration from men and women who lived confidently and never had cause to doubt their and devalue themselves. I have looked into the records about Yeshua Hamashiach, (Jesus Christ) that Jewish historical figure who traversed the Land of Palestine long before the Romans invaded and destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70. The biblical records about Jesus Christ have been corroborated by secular historians like Josephus Flavius who gave some validity to the records in the ancient manuscripts of the Scriptural records we have today.
Jesus was highly misunderstood his family, friends and foes. The religious leaders hated him, while politicians tried to woo him into opposing camps. Though born into an obscure and poor family in one of the ghettos, he was able to conquer the feeling of inferiority complex to rise up as a world changer in his generation. He had no obvious identity crisis and neither did he try to slip into the tunic of another person just to spruce up his self-image. He was at home and at peace with his family background and heritage. He was not ashamed to be called the ‘son of a carpenter’ who could not pay ante-natal bills for his wife whose first child was delivered in a sheep’s pen!
Like the famed “AJ City” ( Ajegunle), the exalted ‘ghetto’ of Naijaland ( Nigeria ), Jesus lived like any other guy from the back side of the City. He was no urban dude, but his peers were the likes of his rough and eccentric relatives like ‘John the Baptist”. The city folks in Jerusalem would have looked down on guys from Bethlehem or Nazareth where his folks migrated to at the end of Herod’s oppressive rule in Palestine ! In the obscurity of the ghetto, he worked on himself till it was recorded that he achieved the much desired 4-dimensional development: physical, social, mental and spiritual maturity (Luke 2:52). And by the time he emerged from the tents of his ‘earthly father’, Joseph, the world had no choice than to listen to him because none before him had ever exuded such confidence, maturity and wisdom that he exuded as he walked about the streets of Palestine at the age of 30 years.
Someday, he walked into the hallowed podium of a synagogue, picked up the scrolls and read a portion, and to the hearing and chagrin of the clergy and entire congregation, he declared that those scriptures have been fulfilled in him. For the first time in the religious history of the Jews, the son of a mere carpenter and non-Levite broke the protocol and was celebrated rather than vilified (Luke 4:14-22). With authority, he turned the tide of popular mindset, and made people know that death can be defeated. He made sicknesses and all manner of disease look easy and powerless over humans. The material world bowed to him as he commanded storms to be calm and he even rode on the crest of waves without the help of a speedboat or surfing board! He lived such an amazing life, yet he was born in the obscurity of a ghetto!
What could have been the secret of his self- confidence and mindset of endless possibilities? What gave him that passionate drive and amazing sense of purpose when he had no antecedent of history of having grandparents who called the shots? Is it not possible that if we can tap into this secret, that we’d be able to live confidently and not be depressed or feel deflated when defeating or limiting thoughts pummel us like bulwarks? If we can develop the same courage and unrelenting faith that he had, would it not be possible for us to change the gradual decline in morals and ethics that is plunging our world into more chaos and unrestrained violence and willful destruction of life?
This secret is not like the veiled and ‘concealed’ wisdom of the ‘Masters” and “Gurus” of ancient spiritual paths who can only unveil the wisdom of the sages to the initiated and those who follow the rigors of climbing the rungs of metaphysical and ethereal world. So what was this secret that made his life you may ask? It’s not far fetched or hidden from the uninitiated. It‘s not so much of secret that requires much learning to uncover. More than being a secret, it’s one that everyone who studies the life of Jesus Christ would observe and acknowledge easily: He received a strong affirmation that changed his life forever the first day the heavens opened and the voice of Yahweh, the Great God of Israel made a proclamation that "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased." (Luke 3:22).
Who will not walk tall when heaven has validated his/her mission and purpose on earth? Why will he not doubt the veracity of his person and mission when the devil dared him and said, “If you are the son of God…” in order to inject him with the venom of self doubt. The devil went and tried to offer him material possessions to make his net worth incomparable to any other person that ever lived yet he didn’t take that juicy offer!Who will not speak to a tree and cause them to whither when it can’t bear the expected fruits? Why will his self-image and ego not be deflated when his fans’ base depleted and he lost popularity among his ‘fans’ watch his sociopolitical relevance seemingly diminish in the first century Palestine ? Why did he not hide the fact that he had no mansions and castles or real estate even when he was the most popular and influential preacher that walked on the soil of Palestine ? Why did he not lose his male ego when he openly wept at the death of his dear friend, Lazarus? Why did he not fear the wrath of the religious clergy when he challenged the commercialization and privatization of the Temple in Jerusalem ? How could he maintain close and intimate relationship with “women of easy virtue”, defended when their lives were in jeopardy yet didn’t bother about the verdict of the court of public opinion even though ?
He remained un-moveable and strong, and never capitulated to fear, doubt and unbelief because he knew who he was, and whose he was. He knew that though he physically didn’t have the trappings of a Prince, he truly was the Prince of Peace and he walked and spoke with a princely confidence. He didn’t bulge under the pressure of acting to prove anything to anyone. He was himself at all times because he knew deeply that God loved him and was with him always. He knew that because God loved him, no amount of hatred, disapproval or rejection could ever deter or limit him. He was rooted and established in his heart that the whole world may turn against him but no one could undermine the confidence heaven had placed and reposed in him. That was the source of his confidence, and to maintain that, he kept in regular touch with heaven. His thoughts were filled with the higher expectations of heaven which were not calibrated in terms of cash flow and career fulfillment but by the positive impact he was making in the lives of people. He was able to challenge and dethrone the status quo ante because he couldn’t be categorized or fixed into the acceptable mould of his day!
History bears witness that he taught and transmitted the ‘secret of his wisdom’ and power to those who cared to listen to him. That’s why he could turn ordinary peasants, artisans and people of their ilk into sages and men who changed the course of history. He turned fearful and lily-livered men into champions and Change Agents. The brash and indiscreet that interacted closely with him became wise and prudent in word and deed. The women who once warmed the pleasure beds of the common and rich received back their female dignity and poise because he taught and empowered them through this ‘secret”.
As the changing world tries redefining and upturning our value system and sense of ethics, we have an example of someone’s life to emulate. We can refuse to be assessed by our net worth which often is translated into figures because we are of inestimable value. How could we be valued by the quantity of cash that we amass or the material things we acquire? Though money, career achievement and earthly possessions are good in themselves, they nevertheless can not truly be the barometer that measures our net worth. In the same vein, gauging our sense of esteem and value based on the opinion or feedback we get from even our significant others is not healthy. For as humans, we face the inevitable fall in popularity or acceptance from even our loved once when circumstances change.
When we know that God loves us unconditionally, no falsehood or public opinion can change his opinion about us. With such knowledge, we can live in the obscure part of a ghetto and still fulfill our full potential. We may be adjudged as laid back and unsuccessful by the majority yet, walk with a bouncy gait and cadence of a prince. When we know that we are accepted and that heaven is pleased with us, no force can ever stop our ascendancy and drive for excellence and success. This opinion of heaven about us is the single most important variable that can determine the course of our lives. And not too many are certain that heaven is pleased with them and can vouch for them, and this scary thought hunt them. To gain heaven’s approval and acceptance is possible and those who have sorted and aligned their lives accordingly will experience same kind of confident assurance about life on earth and beyond which marked the life of Jesus Christ!
The author, Felix Abrahams Obi is a physiotherapist and freelance writer based in Abuja Nigeria , and can be reached by email via:firstname.lastname@example.org