2016-04-25 by Object of Contempt
Recently a short conversation took place in the comments. I mentioned that my negative self-talk is usually centered around failure, and that it is hard to beat because I have evidence that backs me up. I also mentioned that I think damaged self-confidence is probably more of a problem for male victims. (Yes, I know that is sheer speculation on my part.)
Now, the response was very kind, but it revealed a misunderstanding. The commenter said she had always thought that the women were far mor susceptible to having their self-esteem destroyed.
Perhaps you noticed the fact that I mentioned confidence, but the commenter was talking about self-esteem. After several days of thinking about it, I replied in order to make the distinction between the two, and describe a man’s perspective on failure and confidence. I realized after the fact that it deserved it’s own blog post, so I have decided to post that comment here with a some edits for clarity and accuracy.
When a man talks about confidence, he is mostly concerned about his ability to perform. Can he convince anyone to hire him? Can he do an excellent job? Can he be sure that his work will garner respect? Can he please his wife?
A man’s confidence is tied very tightly to his role. If a man endures a public failure in a matter that is known to be outside his role and skillset, he could very well take it as an average embarassment, and that’s all. If the failure isn’t a moral one, and if it doesn’t show an inability to do what a good man oes, a man’s confidence can still be okay.
In a case when a man does well at something meaningful, but his performance is ridiculed, his self-esteem will take a hit because he realizes he isn’t valued regardless of his performance. His confidence, however, could still possibly be okay because he can look at his work, and know that he did, and still can, perform and be a valuable man that can succeed. There’s a lot of room for worldly vanity, but I think confidence and satisfaction of success is something likely put there by God. Adam was given charge of the garden and the animals. I think Adam had a need to do what was excellent. No, I can’t really prove that.
On the other hand, when esteem is hammered from the beginning when he was a boy… when motivation is shot to hell and energy is something that comes from an oil field… when your only way to cope is to self-sabotage so you don’t spend yourself persuing excellence only to then have punishment piled on top anyway… There are a lot of ways for a boy to have all his perception of his masculinity and capability turned into a big pile of manure that he hates more than anyone else possibly could. And when he wants to recover, can he look back and see success and ability and regain confidence? If the trauma began as a boy, there will be enormous obstacles.
As a kid, people expect some failure and offer encouragement and correction. As a man with a family, they don’t understand and rarely have any intention of allowing for the growth that is needed, even if they are kind. I really can’t blame people for not taking a chance on me. I might fizzle out and fail with no good reason. That has happened to me once in particular when panic attacks and anxiety flattened me in a way I thought couldn’t happen to me. The result is that I gained the disrespect of someone who was trying to give me a fighting chance.
It causes some pretty deep shame. I’ve read some things about shame, but never saw anything about how to overcome this as of yet — especially from a christian perspective.