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Positive Feedback



To an engineer, positive feedback is dangerous: there's no limit to how big a value you can get, if there is only positive feedback. Everyone knows that squealing noise you get when you talk into a microphone that's too close to its loudspeaker; that's due to unlimited positive feedback.

I also grew up thinking positive feedback was dangerous. I was worried about unlimited growth of my ego; that if I didn't focus on keeping my ego in check, "natural pride" or something would just keep inflating it without bounds. Now, there may be some sort of "natural pride", but I think that's normally kept under control by all the negative input a person gets from outside of themselves. There was certainly no need for me to supply more.

But, once that insulting little whispering voice became a habit, it became very difficult to catch. And it's been going on for so long ...

But hey! This wasn't a post about negative feedback. It's time I re-take my own inner voice; it's time it said something nice about me.

I am a good person.


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Yes you are! Isn't it funny how hard being positive can be? It's so easy to tell others to be positive and sometimes you don't even realize how negative you are yourself. I think it's really a good thing you brought up Malign.

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Anything in excess creates an imbalance. One problem engineers or any other field that requires an analytical mind faces is that it's your job to find flaw so that you can remove it or at least improve it. A job well done, is one you know without words or praise if you are any good at doing your job. If you are really good at your job, you are not threatened by others nipping at your heels and typically are a willing teacher/mentor who encourages others to be good by telling them that what you do is not that difficult "here, let me show you". Correct, you are a good person because that trait belongs only to good people but you have underestimated your own self confidence because to be that person, you must be confident in your own abilities.

You should be able to relate to this, you know when you work on a part or piece for so long you have to take a step back and put it back into perspective with the whole? That is life. We tend to concentrate so heavily on details we forget to see the big picture and how all of those pieces fit into the whole of our lives.

Create a balance for yourself. Being prideful is wrong but the part your parents didn't tell you is that it's OK to have pride. It's OK to look for the flaws and try to identify how they got there, what needs to be done to build a better working model as long as you equally recognize that the successes you already have. BALANCE.

PS, nobody knows if pi ever repeats, some questions in life will not produce us an answer or they will not produce us an answer just yet.

One thing I have found that helps when I chomp on the unsolvable personal problems too long but the analytical part of the brain refuses to shut down I contemplate things such as coral castle. Doubtful you will solve that problem either but I find it to be far less destructive.

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Yeah, you can see I've been working on the concept of balance, lately. In some ways, it's even more of a "re-integration": rather than try to find a middle ground between polar opposites, try to combine the forces into one coherent whole.

Maybe I missed something; are you saying I don't have enough confidence in my self-confidence? :-)

It's true that at work, I have a certain security in my own abilities. I know what I can do, and what I can't, and I'm more than willing to share what I know. Heck, it's probably even true in this more social arena; what's different is that my own concept of my abilities in this area hasn't caught up to what I've learned how to do, over the years. My self-image is still that geeky high school kid. Never mind that it's currently a race between graying and balding ...

But you did make me look up the Coral Castle. And I actually take some comfort in the infinity of pi. If it weren't for irrational numbers, we'd be stuck with rationality, and that's not nearly as much fun.

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I'm saying that you have more self confidence then you are aware of.

All high school kids felt geeky whether they were or not. Time to realize that you are much more than you appear to be to yourself. You are also more social than you think you are but you are confusing social with night club's and block parties.

Since you are having difficulty seeing the real you, try examining others, especially those who you think have it all together. Social butterflies are terribly lonely people.

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Right, all kids feel geeky, I know. The problem is that I still see myself as that kid.

I don't equate social ability with being a party animal. But I'd like to at least be comfortable enough to introduce myself when it's appropriate. And because it's still difficult, I tend to deny that I want to, so that it hurts a little bit less. But the truth is, I want to know more people, to be more social, so I guess it's time I learn to be comfortable doing it. (Clearly, whatever barrier exists for me in real life isn't operative, online. Part of why I like being online, and part of why I should probably limit it.)

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Oh man, yeah, the little nagging voice, the broken tape! Tell me about it Malign!

Funny how you feared getting a big head and I don't think it's the case in anyway. Mmm, I have been reflecting on that too from adolescence to now! Always examined if I was being too full of myself. Always felt guilty for tutting my own horn... And, yeah, when you start examining it for real, the balance and how the heck to achieve it... mystery!

A side note: in the 'Learned Optimism' book I am reading, which is far from being fluffy [appeals to the skeptic in me] the author as a section where he talks in terms of 'balance' a bit, and offer the other side of the coin: he says, in profession like engineering for one, a bit of pessimism is always prudent, as it enable one to are on the conservative side, and foresee potential problems... Ah! who knew. ;)

But in my case, maybe in 'our' case, perhaps the somewhat over pessimistic views of ourselves, and our future as been brought on by long standing key negative beliefs about self-pride in general, and about ourselves in particular at the same time, no?

Could it be that we misinterpret self-confidence, pride, with boasting, being inconsiderate, or narcissism?

I don't know, maybe we could back and fro on this... I know I am very interested in untangling some knots in my thinking about this!

I look at several of my friends for instance who have high self-esteem and sometimes I get frustrated with them because of comments they make on themselves, but in all honesty, when I ask myself: "do I feel like they are boasting or being narcissistic" My answer is a resounding no! The problem is that more often then not, I am the one not being assertive enough or simply, jealous or their success [well, that's a big statement, but it is what it is]. Thing I have been working on is, when my friends go: "hey look at me, I am so proud I did this, I have a new job, a new boyfriend, a new __." I go past the self-devaluation in my head, and go 'wow! I am happy for you! Good on you'. I may not feel it instantly, but I do shortly after. I have such good friends that do that for me too, and it sure feels good when they do, so I have trained myself to do it too, for a while now. Besides, I feel now that their success is good for me. I enjoy the smile on their face, their happy company, the love that they are able to share, and I have no doubt that their self-confidence is enabling them to share in a way.

I do realize a bit where this urge to take down people comes from...blah blah blah, my parents...Of course, especially my mom, always on the ball letting me know "well, you are average, not better than anyone else" when I did have the 'I am so great bouts'... But who cares. That's her problem now.

Let's work on not taking people down :) I say.

But back to the old question: What is being narcissistic? For me, I realize that I have, at time felt entitled, craving praise, wanting people to go whoooo, she is so good. But the reality is two fold: 1] I can never get back [i don't think] the ultimate, first applause, cheers and hoorays I should have gotten as a kid. So be it. And it has affected me in the sense that I crave it now. Not proud of this... And this is, I think the wrong way to go about it as 2] I will never be able to feel what others feel about me! How they perceive me, how they feel about my 'successes' is in their own internal processing, it can't make ME feel this long lasting 'feel good about self' feeling.

So, now, how do I, we, re-build this in ourselves? hum? thoughts?



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