The Con Game

In 1 on December 24, 2009 at 4:39 am

The blog post by Stanley Fish (see link below) really hit me, in the same way the movie Revolver hit me and Daniel Nettle”s book Happiness: The Science Behind Your Smile did.  So here’s my dilemma.  I completely get what they are saying now.  Yet at the same time I have been unsuccessful at getting others to understand exactly what it is I now understand.  My blog here is to serve as a reminder to myself to stay on track to fulfilling my own Promise while at the same hoping others get something out of this.  The problem unless you experience what I am talking about, words simply do not help people get it.  My goal here then is to remind myself of my own challenges and to make people wonder enough to seek out and consider some of the experiences and stories.

The three sources I mention above put into stories and words what had confused me for my entire life.  It is a source of confusion I hear for a lot of people.  That confusion is that what they feel does not match what they are told.  Furthermore, what I learned from these three sources was permission to consider that I was the source of my own confusion.  Why?  Because I realized I was not listening to my true self, but to the voice in my head.  But like a lot of people I know, I thought that voice was me, what some psychologists call “self-talk.”  What I now believe is that voice is not me at all, but an accumulation of the voices around me.  And this is the source of The Con Game.

I won’t go into my personal history relative to The Con Game.  I know what it is.  Most of all I know when I listen to the voice, I am not doing work, not fulfilling my Promise.  So I simply stopped listening to it.

The play “Doubt” begins with a simple question.  “What do you do if you are uncertain?”

From the moment many of us are born, we are taught to worry when we are uncertain.  Why?  Because if we are wrong, if we fail, we will be judged inadequate.  So the Con Game is designed to keep us uncertain, keep us guessing.  It never tells us to worry because that would be too obvious.  If we do what we’re taught, uncertainty will lead to doubt which will lead to criticism which will deny the approval of others.

What I am certain about is this:  The Con Game is designed to make us worry instead of wonder, to question ourselves instead of ask questions.  And the list of “con” words seem pretty interesting to me.

Consumer, confidence, convince, control, conspire, controversy, conform, economy, considerate, etc. Obviously, not all con words follow this pattern, but it did make think and, well, doubt, but not myself.

Fish’s point in his post is that no matter what we do, it never seems to be good enough, maybe not even good.  We are left uncertain, we are left with doubt, and as he says, it feels horrible.

But what I’ve learned is that doubting yourself, questioning yourself has no real purpose but to feed the con game.

Let me be clear.  Wonder is more powerful than worry.  It is about what is possible.  It is about Promise not the Potential placed on us by the Con Game.  Doubting yourself is selfish when it takes away from wondering about what matters.  Asking questions about ourself does not have to be driven by worry.  Questioning ourselves is caused by the fear we might not get the approval we seek.  In other words, it is about us, not about fulfilling the greater good.

Too many jobs, too many elections, too many relationships are driven by worry mistaken for fear.  Fear is real, worry is the voice in your head.

And here is how I know this.  Ask anybody doing anything well what the voice is saying to them when they are performing their best.  I have talked to thousands of people and asked them that question.  Not one said they listened to the voice in the performance.  There was no voice at all they told me.  The voice would have distracted them from doing what matters when it mattered most.

I had my own personal experience when I pulled the curtain back on myself and since that time, I have not listened to the voice once and for the most part, the voice has simply disappeared.  I am no longer a consumer, but a creator.  I no longer try to be confident, I simply trust.  I have no need for control, but for compassion.  I know the difference between wanting something (economics) and being open to experience and aesthetics (seeing beauty without the need to own it or control it).  I know that Nothing can be the most powerful thing of all because I’ve lived the last year with Nothing.

And I can answer the question “What do you do when you are uncertain?”

I trust wonder….

Fish’s blog:

  1. I really enjoy your posts. I am always wondering about The Con Game as you put it. I know the voice–but still learning how to distinguish it sometimes. Some books I’ve read call it the ego, but I’m uncertain…I don’t think there is one answer to it. You might be interested in Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson or A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. Both are just different ways of understanding self-talk. Thanks again for your work 🙂

    • Thanks Erin for your compliments and the reading suggestions. Hope this all helps in some way. I know people call that voice a lot of different things, but I have found that we all need to see it as whatever works for each of us. The main thing I hope I can get people to do is to listen to it and then see how it matches up to their real lives. It rarely does and then I hope people have the courage to stop listening….please keep me posted on your questions or suggestions of my posts.

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