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Confidence and Self-Doubt: Can They Make Sense In a Man's Life?

A Study in the Life of Ty Cobb -- for all Men

By Ernest DeFilippis
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Paper given at the Aesthetic Realism Foundation

4. Good Will Is a Oneness Of Confidence and Self-Doubt

There is a beautiful self-doubt a man wants and needs to have because he wants to see whatever there may be in himself that may have a weakening affect on himself or another person. He has to learn how to criticize his desire to have contempt. He needs to question himself and say with humility and pride, "I was wrong," or, "I don't know," because being fair to another person is such a large matter. Arrogance about this will make a man think less of himself and also be mean. Mr. Siegel said to me in an Aesthetic Realism class: 
In order to be pleased with oneself one has to ask many things of oneself...do you think your effect on people now is good?
EDF: I feel it is. 

ES: Can that be taken as having a little doubt? 

EDF: Yes. 

ES: What you are going for, and I recommend you not hurry it, is that you feel your effect on people particularly women, is good. When a person isn't sure of himself he complains of others. When you are unsure make others [seem] cruel. That's the answer. Does Miss Stanton give you pain? 

EDF: Yes. 

ES: Do you think you are sure your effect on her would do her good? 

EDF: No I' m not. 

I was unsure but I didn't want to criticize myself. I wanted to conquer a woman and was quick to act hurt and defensive when she objected. I asked Mr. Siegel what it would mean to be sure and he said: 

It would mean that everything that happens to you confirms an opinion. If one thing happens after another and everything confirms the one before, you are sure. It's continuity under various circumstances. 

And then Mr. Siegel said what I'm so happy to feel now: 

Mr. DeFilippis is fortunate in so far as he has a chance to look at his purposes and be a critic of himself.
Being able to criticize myself and continuing to learn how, in classes taught by Ellen Reiss, has had a tremendous affect on me. It has enabled me to have a life I'm proud of and to be happily married to Maureen Butler, who is a writer and who is studying to teach Aesthetic Realism. I love Maureen for the good affect she's had on me in the 12 years of our marriage, for encouraging me to be stronger and more sure of myself, to be a more thoughtful and kinder person. 

As I studied the life of Ty Cobb I saw how pained he was because he didn't hear criticism of his contempt. He was, wrote Fred Lieb,"...undeniably, and notoriously a difficult person to live with." Cobb was married twice. His first marriage which included five children, ended in a divorce after 40 years. His second marriage sometime later lasted only two years. Cobb, like myself and many men, did not see wanting to know the feelings of a woman as necessary. 

The uncertainty he felt about himself I think can be seen in these words: 

I was like a steel spring with a growing and dangerous flaw in it. If it is wound too tight or has the slightest weak point, the spring will fly apart and then it is done for.
Cobb retired from baseball in 1928. He was 42 and independently wealthy having a fortune which he made as he put it "...pitting myself against the odds found in the financial world." He had what many men have felt would make them sure of themselves. Yet for all his wealth and fame," wrote Alexander: 
Cobb never achieved contentment. In his long retirement he was restless, often irascible, repeatedly involved in unpleasantries both public and private...Much of the time in his last years he spent being bitter, resentful and lonely.
It was the tragedy of Ty Cobb's life that he didn't know his contempt and ill will caused him so much pain, and self-doubt. In a conversation with movie comic Joe E. Brown some months before he died in 1961, Cobb reflected about his life: 
I was aggressive, perhaps too aggressive, maybe I went too far. I always had to be right in any argument I was in, and wanted to be the first in everything.
Some days later he continued with regret: 
Joe, I do indeed think I would have done things different. And if I had, I would have had more friends.
Eli Siegel was the person in this world who had the most good will for people. And, through the study of Aesthetic Realism, men can learn how to really be confident and have honest self respect and pride. 

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Copyright 2005 by Ernest DeFilippis