I grew up with a very robust self-esteem and saw myself as a very smart chap because I was exposed to a certain type of reflector in my childhood: my parents. They were just amazing. My folks were exceptional parents. They fed me well; not just physically, but mentally, emotionally and otherwise. You could say that I was a celebrity as a child. My mum made me feel as though I was the only perfect child. In fact, she kept saying that if every child was like me, then she would have had twenty children!
Now come on, when a child hears something like that, what do you expect him to do?
So I grew up with a terrific self-image. I was super-confident in myself and in my abilities. I was once flogged severely by my mum because I took the second position in the class. She said to me, “you can’t take second, the first position is yours.” So, it made me develop an entitlement mentality to the first position and in many other things. I grew up with the notion that being the best in my endeavors was my entitlement, and that no other person should take it. My parents were excellent reflectors!
But then, along the line – as it so often happens – something else happened that tried to smash that cool and confident image I had of myself. I met with failure! Usually when things don’t go the way you planned, you begin to feel like you’re worthless and that you’re not really smart. Failure is also a powerful reflector.
It’s like having this picture of yourself where you look so cool and gorgeous; and then your face accidentally touches a leaf or something that you’re allergic to. Suddenly, there’s inflammation all over your face, causing your right eye to now bulge out, such that when you look at the mirror you see a hideous face staring right back at you. What would you do? How would you respond? I bet you will try to cover that face, and probably not let yourself be seen publicly until things normalize.
That’s the sort of thing that happens to us when we get negative feedback from our circumstances, and other powerful reflectors.