Good question, Amber Lisa. I am sure there a multitude of books that I haven’t read on the subjects of self-confidence and courage. Brene Brown and her work on vulnerability comes to mind. What I will write here are my opinions only because I have not formally studied this area of human development.

Unlike feelings of happiness or contentment that can often be conjured by happy memories, music, a pleasant conversation, a good meal, or even a silly cat video, I believe that self-confidence and courage come from a deeper, usually darker place.

Some seem to be born with self-confidence and courage. Perhaps genetics, perhaps some unknown personal DNA are the reason. We’ve all seen small children who just seems to belong, take on roles of leadership before they graduate from diapers, and forcefully and blithely demand what they want. They are rarities. True genetic gems.

Some may be born like that but life rips away their courage and self-confidence. Abuse is usually the cause but loss of a parent, a major catastrophic event, personal illness, or some other negative occurrence can also be the culprit. A child who was once confident and fearless becomes insecure, cowardly, and weak. They carry these event scars with them through life and sometimes cannot heal from the wounds no matter how hard they try. When abuse is the cause, the roots of that abuse go deep and are difficult to excavate without years of therapy.

Some are born meek, shy, and unadventurous. Surely, it is in their DNA. I’ve witnessed this in a family — both parents are strong, confident, successful people but one child was born with great self-assurance and spunk and one was born reticent, quiet, and unassuming. Most likely a throw-back to an ancestor but still an interesting familial development.

I can say with complete certainty that I have never, in my 62+ years, met anyone who went from shy and fearful to strong, self-confident, and fearless without a major personal upheaval or without intense work.

Often the more withdrawn, unsocial people turn to drugs or alcohol to ease their feelings of insecurity, anxiety, and dread. A change in their personalities may be prompted by hitting bottom, almost dying, going through rehab, experiencing years of therapy, or some other intense experience.

Others go through life quietly, trying not to attract attention, just hoping for the best. I believe these people are the least likely to change as long as they can create an okay life. They don’t expect anything more and don’t strive for anything more. I’ve known many people like this. They are meek, quiet, shy, hesitant, and timid. They may reach a certain level of success, usually due to education, and they stay there — content not be challenged, happy to live a modest life.

Others look around and decide they want to be like the cool kids who are never shy or lacking in confidence or, later in life, after floundering or being alone, they decide they want to be like their successful, poised, accomplished, and popular peers. Perhaps they look for a mentor, or maybe they read self-improvement books and go to seminars, or maybe they hire a coach or a therapist. They make a conscientious decision to change and then they work very hard at bringing about those changes.

I dare say that most people are born with no particular proclivity for bravery and adventure, and show no strong aptitude for self-assurance, they are average at birth, and many stay that way. But, some of those people are born into situations that help them breed those desirable traits. Perhaps they have successful parents or a family with a long history of self-made entrepreneurs or adventurers, likely they live in a financially stable environment and probably one that is well above average in income, perhaps they receive a stellar education, likely they are surrounded by many people who are successful and self-confident, and they are exposed to activities and exploits that require spunk and vigor. They become a product of their environment, as well as their DNA and family history. They are given standards to achieve and they develop the skills necessary to reach the goals before them.

Others come from hard-working, gritty people — often immigrants who have overcome great odds just to be where they are. Maybe they are not wealthy or what the world would call successful but because they escaped a worse place, they feel like royalty. They may dig ditches or wash dishes or make beds but they are better off than they were and better off than many of their family members are and better off than their ancestors were. So, they WON. They are strong, confident, determined, idealistic, and hopeful and often they either pass on those qualities through DNA or they teach them to their children. A child in one of those families may grow up dirt poor but he/she believes they can accomplish anything. They have an abundance of confidence and courage and they take on the world with optimism and determination.

Some people rise to life challenges because they have to and in doing so they cultivate self-confidence and courage. Often this is seen when a parent or parents die and an older sibling has to assume responsibility for the younger children. They are forced to grow up quickly. They have to become brave and resilient.

I belief those who struggle the most to overcome a lack of confidence and fearfulness are those who experience abuse. They are the ones who must climb a personal Mount Everest to change. Theirs is a lifelong struggle, with many setbacks along the way. Raising their vibrational level is the least of their concerns.

In essence, I believe self-confidence and courage are not the same as having positive thoughts and high vibrational energy. They go deeper, are more complex, and are so very elusive. You cannot think or feel your way to confidence and bravery. For many, achieving those attributes is a life-long challenge that can only be tackled with professional help and intense work. For many, cultivating those qualities is impossible.

As with everything in life, some are born with more blessings and less challenges than others, some are beaten down by life, some are too consumed with survival to worry about anything else. Suggesting that these challenges can be erased by happy thoughts and good vibrations is too elementary, and almost insulting to those who struggle through life. That is what was most troubling about the Law of Attraction for me — it might work for those with average or above-average coping skills but it is just one more challenge for those already drowning in challenges. Sometimes those very people are the ones who grasp at LoA teachings, desperately looking for anything that will help them improve their lives. When it doesn’t work for them, it becomes just one more disappointment in a long string of disappointments. One more failure. Why? Maybe because they are desperate and desperation is not a fertile breeding ground for self-improvement, perhaps because they lack skills and the personal traits such as self-confidence and courage that are necessary to embark on a life-changing venture, perhaps because they are too overwhelmed and under-supported to make the necessary changes, and maybe because they don’t have the time or energy to commit to the LoA and have no idea how demanding that commitment can be. They try, they fail, they sink further.

There is science behind LoA. That I don’t deny. But humans are not science projects. We are complicated. Our complications go back generations. We are products of our ancestors, our families, our DNA, our environments, and our experiences. The science is real, the human component is unpredictable.

Maybe the human race will evolve to a point that we are born living the Law of Attraction — although with what is happening in the world today, I think that is improbable if not impossible. But, right now, I think LoA is way beyond the capabilities of most people and can be extremely detrimental to many who do try it and fail.

I was always a writer but lived in a bookkeeper’s body before I found Medium and broke free — well, almost. Working to work less and write more.

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