Apart from some very strange moments, my early life was dominated by powerful figures whose sole aim seemed to be to thwart any and all of my ideas about future education, training and career path.
In short, having been under their powerful spell since birth, confidence was not part of my vocabulary!
And of course their lack of confidence in me was the deciding factor with my single parent out to work when I was subject to their stifling presence, which they would say was for my protection and benefit, not giving me room to grow and be myself.
It was only when the results of ‘O’ and ‘A’ level examinations became known, was any attention given to concurring with my strongest subjects of Art and Physics and my desire to become a design engineer. They only recognised that I could paint pretty pictures which most children do! Right?
Luckily for me the choice of career path was limited and I managed to be accepted into the magical realm of engineering apprenticeship, some two hundred miles from home and away from the spell binders. With no car in those days and little money my visits home were limited, so most holidays were spent with my alma mater which was not so bad being in Brighton in Sussex by the Sea!
Much to the chagrin of the coven of self appointed governesses, all related of course and due to the war taking away their men folk really gave them no option but to exchange their black dresses to wearing the trousers.
It seems that many of us find confidence elusive to say the least and only find it by achievement in beating others, but I wonder how many of you can say that you found your confidence through failure as in my case?
I’ve never thought of myself as being at my best when under pressure or when backed into a corner, but when I failed my finals I was effectively sacked from the apprenticeship course and demoted to the shop floor and not allowed to retake my exams.
I still don’t know where the courage came from to stand up to that authority or the confidence to proclaim that I would leave do it on my own!
Well, that’s how it happened with a little help from the then Youth Employment Bureau and I passed all my exams and was reemployed by the company which sacked me. Result!
It is a well tried formula to encourage competition especially in sports to give students confidence by achievement. However, if there are winners there must be losers so what happens to their moral and latent confidence?
Well, I was never one of the top 5% although I went to a Grammar School and not always bottom of the class, but whereas failure is deplored by most and certainly I was not expected to pass even my ‘O’ level exams I proved them all wrong by passing seven out of eight subjects taken, only failing Latin for which I forgave myself immediately!
You might be surprised to learn that I was held up as an example to that top 5% by, of all people, my Physics Teacher saying that they all found it so easy that if they came up against a problem it could hit them like running into a brick wall, but I would have the perseverance and confidence to carry on due to the strength which failures had given me.
Failure is a great learning exercise so long as it is seen for what it is and the lesson is learned and not cause for descending into the doldrums of depression.
I was thirteen at the time and that lesson obviously served me well when I failed my finals at twenty four. Perhaps that’s where my courage and confidence came from!
However, from a spiritual viewpoint as always it goes back even further than that since confidence is one of the basic mental attributes which are set in place from the womb onwards.
The mother’s personality can be anything from shy and timid to over confident not to say bolshy! But somewhere in between is a balance which can give a child the right degree of confidence from the tender root or Base Chakra to the force of the Solar Centre of personal power.
This power can be enhanced or denied once the child attends school by the attitude of teachers to the bullies in the playground or on the way home. There are of course many scenarios which can also affect our confidence ratio from a difficult family life with a parent constantly under the influence of one addiction or another descending into abuse to one missing altogether which may enhance the ratio for a youngster to assume the position of its missing parent.
When searching the avenues of consciousness in our quest to know ourselves, all of these events in our lives are important in finding out exactly who and what we have turned out to be and most importantly why!
With Love, from which all else flows, Hanukah & the Angel