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My whole life's work has been in vain


From now on, Brendan pledges to be more confident and positive

From now on, Brendan pledges to be more confident and positive

From now on, Brendan pledges to be more confident and positive

I had a fairly shocking realisation recently. I was joshing with someone about how we stress ourselves out and kick the shit out of ourselves and approach everything from a negative standpoint. And she said starkly: "You know it does no good. It doesn't help. Except in a negative way."

I nearly collapsed on the floor from the simple truth of it. And suddenly my life's work was all in vain. Because my main life's work has been kicking the shit out of myself, stressing myself out and running a constant negative monologue in my head. The idea that it has all been in vain and that it hasn't actually improved anything is a fairly traumatic one. But hopefully a liberating one too. Because my only option now is to change. Hopefully, I have more or less another half left in my life and unless I want to waste it, I have to change. But obviously my first reaction to that is to think, "You can't change, you asshole!"

I think the negativity is a deeply ingrained Irish notion that if I don't continually beat myself down, I will lose the run of myself. There is also probably an element of wanting to pre-empt anyone else who might be thinking of criticising me. They can't hurt me if I get in first.

The stressing out is similar but different. I have some kind of Calvinist parrot buried deep in my psyche who tells me all the time that unless I do way too much work and put myself through hell, then I won't get results. It is also a more modern affliction, the notion that talent is a myth, that it is hard work that gets your results. So I don't believe I have any talent for anything I do, and you might possibly agree, so instead I make up for it by working really hard at it. There is probably some truth in this notion in general but I have taken it to the extreme. You should see what I put myself through before I do any kind of broadcasting, or to a lesser extent writing. It's intense. And my friend is right. Most of it probably is unnecessary. But I have this other belief that process is more important that results. And something inside me has decided that my process is to delve deep into hell, and only then can you come out the other side into the light. Probably useful if you were trying to write the great American novel, but not always useful for the writing of an article or the presenting of a radio or TV programme.

This thinking has all been influenced by a completely mad book I read recently. It's called The Game of Life and How To Play It. It was written in 1925 and there is a lot of crazy stuff in there and a lot of biblical quotation. But I guess one message in it is that we create our own reality through how we speak, how we think, what we expect and what we believe. You'd read the book in an hour. Or if you haven't an hour, the ten metaphysical laws it deals with - including things like karma - are all neatly laid out on the Wikipedia entry for the book.

So anyway, I'm going to start being more positive and I am going to stop talking myself and everything I do down. You know when people ever compliment me on an article or a show, I actualy disagree with them? They'll say, "That was a great piece". And I actually say, "No it wasn't". I have spent the last few months actively getting into arguments with people who have had the audacity to tell me that my new TV show The Cutting Edge, was good.

I'm going to be more like David and Stephen Flynn of the Happy Pear in Greystones. I'm going to be positive and confident that I have something worthwhile to say and that people should be interested in me.

I might even go beyond that and start upselling myself. Maybe even when I don't particularly believe in something I am doing I might start telling people it's fantastic and egg them on to watch it or listen to it or read it.

The truth is, I look at all these people who are good at selling themselves and believing they deserve success, from David Cameron to various celebrities and I feel slightly smarter than them, and slightly superior. But they are the ones running the world, they are the ones making the cash. So who are the smart ones really?

Now, you may disagree with all this and believe I am overselling the very limited offering I have already. Getting away with it, you might say.

And the old me would have agreed with you. But now I just smile at you and tell you everything is great. Super. Fab.

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