Therapeutic Tuesday: CBT That Self-Confidence

In a long overdue update to the therapeutic files, I was on the treadmill today when I came to a pretty interesting revelation. It wasn’t particularly flattering, but it was something for my mind to chew on while I dragged my body through another few minutes of running… I so hate the treadmill.

That wasn’t the revelation though. I was thinking about self-confidence, and rejection, and some of those other big philosophical/psychological concepts when I realized that nearly everyone is sensitive to rejection in some way. I act like it’s some unique thing to me, that I get upset when somebody sends a message that they don’t want me. The reality is that everyone is hurt by it, but there are specific types of people who are hurt more by it: the “narcissists” and the “borderlines”. Now we wander into those tricky diagnostic waters of personality disorders.

I generally avoid giving any people in my day-to-day life so “severe” of a diagnosis (the reality is I’ve met very few personality disorders since arriving in London, which bodes well for everyone). But, I was merely thinking generally because I realized that both narcissists and borderlines overreact to rejection. They even react in similar ways: outrageous displays of emotions, denial of reality, destructive behavior. But the roots behind these reactions are quite different: I think narcissists generally display these outward signs of internal pain from a place of strong ego rejection, whereas borderlines do so with weak ego rejection. This is two sides of the same coin, and it explains why narcissists often hurt others (because their self-confidence and ego dictate no harm come to them) while borderlines hurt themselves (as their self-confidence is so poor as to almost make it an “I deserve this” scenario).

Of course, I’m using the concepts of self-confidence and ego somewhat interchangeably. I don’t think they’re identical concepts, but they are certainly related in the common parlance of psychology folk and blog readers alike. You ego is a self-concept, which you can have confidence or a lack of confidence in. Everyone has an ego, but everyone varies on their level of confidence in that ego. Most people fall somewhere within the middle, about 99.5% or so, if I had to guess. But, there are some people who fall on the high end of self-confidence (the narcissists) and the low end (the borderlines). Since rejection is a given part of life, everyone will experience it, and its only when we see the extreme members of the confidence curve react so outrageously that we appreciate how normal the 99.5% of us are.

Of course, I don’t consider myself in the 99.5%. I have always thought I laid on the low end, because I generally don’t have a good level of confidence in myself. However, I am also reactionary, which means that when my confidence improves, I usually overshoot a bit and end up pompous. That makes rejection just as hard to handle. Basically, I am right to think I don’t handle rejection well. However, keeping in mind that everyone experiences it, I get a little bit of perspective. There’s undoubtedly some automatic thoughts hidden somewhere in here, maybe even a core belief or two… but let’s get back in the habit of this therapy thing before we launch into that realm.

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