Veneer Of Confidence

The deep secrecy of my own being is often hidden from me by my own estimate of what I am. My idea of what I am is falsified by my admiration for what I do. And my illusions about myself are bred by the contagion from the illusions of others. We all seek to imitate one another’s imagined greatness.

If I do not know who I am, it is because I think I am the sort of person everyone around me wants me to be. Perhaps I have never asked myself whether I really wanted to become what everybody else seems to want to be. Perhaps if I only realized that I do not admire what everyone seems to admire, I would really begin to live after all. I would be liberated from the painful duty of saying what I really do not think and acting in a way that betrays God’s truth and the integrity of my own soul.
Thomas Merton

During a day retreat in Leeds on Saturday we talked about confidence and the giving over of oneself to the authority of others’ expectations. This quote works rather well in relation to our talks. …for me it’s a first cousin, if not sibling, of conditioned confidence and talks of that sense of vulnerability and panic when the veneer (of confidence) slips. Yes, I’d say so. Thanks to Nic for the quote and thought.

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One thought on “Veneer Of Confidence”

  1. I love this quote from Thomas Merton. I always find it interesting (and comforting) when i read these pearls of wisdom from people who are not buddhists but who have found the same truths when they looked closely at the nature of their own existences and experiences.

    I am reminded of a quote i read by CS Lewis, a devout christian, in his book “A grief observed” which was written as he was deeply contemplating the nature of life whilst his wife was dying.
    “…the idea that I, or any mortal at any time, may be utterly mistaken as to the situation he is really in. Five senses; an incurably abstract intellect; a haphazardly selective memory; a set of preconceptions and assumptions so numerous that I can never examine more than a minority of them — never become even conscious of them all. How much of total reality can such an apparatus let through?”

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