Overcoming analysis paralysis in 6 simple steps

Analysis paralysis should be dealt with like any other problem: Calmly, systematically and meticulously.Analysis paralysis is a term that seems to be increasing in popularity. And it’s a term with which many non-fidents, whether they’ve come across it or not, will be all too familiar.

Basically, analysis paralysis means over-thinking and over-analyzing one’s options until they all seem equally good, bad, or anywhere in-between. And so one is left unable to make a choice and move on.

The expression allegedly stems from ‘paralysis by analysis’, which should be seen as the opposite of ‘extinct by instinct’. The latter, of course, meaning a disastrous choice based on reflexes or one’s immediate gut feeling.

Making choices can be hard when we’re low on confidence and self-esteem. It should come as no surprise that confident people tend to have a can-do mentality. They’re effective, energetic, and they take firm, consistent action.

And, of course, non-fident people tend to be the exact opposite: Timid, apprehensive, and reticent.

Certain studies could be said to point towards non-fident people generally having higher brain activity.* However, others point towards the exact opposite.**

The basis for analysis paralysis, then, must be found in the one emotion by which non-fident people tend to let themselves be guided…

Fear.

Fear is one of the most common human motivators. And it doesn’t only apply to non-fident people. We’re all afraid of something, and only the fewest of us dare defy our instincts and seek out the source of our fear. Because instincts are exactly what’s at play here. In other words: We can’t really help it.

… But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn to get around it. And in the case of analysis paralysis, here’s 6 simple steps not only taking that damn decision, but standing by it and making sure you keep moving forward.

#1 Get outside perspective

When we’ve been stuck with a problem for a certain amount of time, we tend to reach a point of saturation. It’s not funny or interesting anymore, and we just wanna move on. Enough is enough already.

In one such forest-for-the-trees situation, as it were, outside perspective often does the trick. Different people have different perspectives and ideas, and we can only analyze so deep on our own.

Consulting someone who has a certain amount of experience regarding the matter may be preferable. But if you’re stuck, any input is better than nothing. And in certain cases, a total outside stranger to the topic might actually provide a less biased, less predisposed angle on your situation.

#2 Eyes on the prize

Whatever you do, working towards a meaningful goal is a powerful motivator. — One that is all too unfamiliar for most non-fident people. If you have a clearly defined goal, the easier it is to take action. And the more clearly defined your goal is, the easier it’ll be knowing exactly what to do.

But whether or not you have one such goal, ask yourself things like, “Will this choice bring me closer to where I wanna be in life?” “Does this choice align with my values and my identity?” “In one year, will I be happy I made this choice?”

#3 Set a deadline

Something that gives analysis paralysis so treacherously favorable conditions is when time isn’t really an issue. If it has no consequence to us whether we do or decide something within a certain time frame, it’s so much easier to give it second priority than deal with it. Which makes perfect sense.

On way of getting around this in casu analysis paralysis is to decide on a deadline. And, of course, treat it like any deadline that you wouldn’t wanna miss.

Imagine having to explain to your boss why you didn’t make it. Or much better, make a bet with a friend or acquaintance.  — If you don’t keep your deadline, you owe them $100. (Optionally, use the person who provided the outside perspective!)

The deadline should depend on the magnitude of your decision. The smaller the decision, the closer the deadline. But in any case, make it close enough to motivate yourself to get busy!

#4 Take babysteps

What often seems scary about making decisions for non-fidents is the element of commitment. We tend to be somewhat afraid of losing control; of letting the choice “take over”, and “invade” our life and identity.

This is the aforementioned fear talking. And it’s actually possible to shut that fear up just enough to get going — by taking action on a minimal basis.

We should feel that we’re making progress. — Because otherwise, we’re probably not. We should still be hearing the faint whispers of our fear. But if we take babysteps instead of hurling ourselves head first out into a new direction in life, a mere whisper is exactly what it will be.

#5 Support and honor your choice

Whatever you choose to do, you will have a reason for doing so. Even if it’s a result of tossing a coin. Your final choice would not have been an option if it hadn’t had any value or benefit to you. So focus on these values and benefits.

Furthermore, prepare for what people might say. Try to entertain any possible objections people might have beforehand. Tell them about why this is important to you; about what you’re trying to accomplish. And, if nothing else, tell them that you simply needed to make a decision and get on with it.

#6 Remember: You can always go back

I know: This one might seem a little counterproductive, seeing as how this is about moving onwards and not looking back. But many non-fident people will find comfort in remembering that any choice isn’t final.

Unless you’ve quite literally jumped from somewhere high (for whatever reason), most choices are fairly easy to undo.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t honor your choice or put your back into making it work. You totally should, because that’s a just cool mindset to nurture. But if you find you’re clearly headed down a totally wrong path in your life, there’s nothing wrong with turning around and going another direction.

Whenever you find yourself struck by analysis paralysis, just remember: It’s better to make a mistake and learn from it than not do anything at all.

… And by all means, do quote me on that.


Sources:

* http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/hyperactivity-in-brain-may-explain-228954; http://www.thecrimson.com/column/who-what-and-wyatt/article/2013/2/22/Wyatt-depression/

** http://assets.csom.umn.edu/71496.pdf; http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/images/application_uploads/Lyubomirsky-PositiveAffectBenefits.pdf

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Can introverts be confident?

Can introverts be confident? Well, some of the world's greatest cultural and political personalities have been introvert. Do the math.I hear this question a lot. And it’s not hard to figure out why. So, CAN introverts be confident, then?

Let’s have a look. But for the purpose, its important to define ‘introvert’.

The Cambridge Dictionary* defines an introvert as “someone who is shy, quiet, and unable to make friends easily”. However, I consider this definition not only to be lacking in detail, but also to be incorrect. I find this much more in-depth description from New World Encyclopedia** far more exhaustive:

The introvert is introspective and finds meaning within, preferring their internal world of thoughts, feelings, fantasies, and dreams. […] Thus, one who is introverted is more likely to spend time alone or in contemplation, as these activities are rewarding. They may avoid social situations entirely, not because they are shy or misanthropic, but because they choose to. Introverts often enjoy long, one-on-one conversations about feelings or ideas, and may give excellent public presentations to large audiences. However, they find solitude, alone with their thoughts, nourishing and restorative.

That one hits the home run. Not only because it’s more detailed, but because it makes the important distinction between introversion and shyness.

As you may have gathered, shyness is strongly associated with low confidence and self-esteem. And so, this is what makes so many people confused.

So in other words, while shy people tend to be introverted, not all introverted people are shy. And in yet other words, just because you’re introverted doesn’t mean you’re non-fident.

On the contrary, some of the world’s greatest achievers were introverts***. And I don’t just mean faceless, corporate suits hiding behind huge desks in tall glass buildings. We’re talking Barack Obama, Albert Einstein, Lady Gaga, Mark Zuckerberg, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, Abraham Lincoln, Beyoncé Knowles, Emma Watson, Christina Aguilera, Steven Spielberg, Warren Buffett, J.K. Rowling, Michael Jordan, Harrison Ford, and Marlon Brando here.

The reason so many people ask this question, it would seem, is that in our highly media-oriented culture, introvert behavior and the daily doings of introverts isn’t something we’re exposed to at all.

Think about it. Introverts keep to themselves most of the time. So, do the introverts’ sitting around and minding their own business get sought out by the media? Does it make for great news and entertainment?

NO, duh. What does make for great news and entertainment are the outward directed actions and creations of, well, extroverts, mostly.

And really, can you even blame any media outlets for not doing a reality-style docu-soap about 10 introverts in a house not talking to each other? I mean, I wouldn’t wanna watch myself silently working at my laptop and occasionally eating for 7-8 hours every day.

And yes, I just used myself as an example. Because I’m largely introvert. And yes, I still mostly choose to spend time alone. But I’ve learned to love speaking and performing in front of crowds, and mingle with people at events. Hell, I’ve even learned to accept the social Top Ramen that is small-talk.

So, straight from the horse’s mouth:

It’s not the introversion itself that keeps anyone from doing anything. It’s simply the lack of confidence. They’re two different things.

Just because introverts keep to themselves doesn’t mean they can’t do any of the things that extroverts do. On the contrary, if you’re an introvert, you can be one of the world’s richest business people.

You could be the world’s most talented and successful basketball player. Founder of the world’s biggest social media. One of the world’s most popular and biggest-selling authors, musicians and movie directors. And did anyone say president of the United States?

The proper question, then, is not can introverts be confident?. Rather, it’s can introverts be confident in a culture that values extrovert behavior?.

And fortunately, the answer is a solid yes.


Sources:

* http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/introvert
** http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Introversion_and_extroversion
*** https://www.inc.com/john-rampton/23-amazingly-successful-introverts-throughout-history.html; https://www.feelingsuccess.com/famous-introverts/; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/08/15/famous-introverts_n_3733400.html

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Luck has nothing to do with it

Luck has nothing to do with it. High awareness and consistent action, however, does.That’s right: Luck has nothing to do with it, as some allegedly “fortunate” people say. And in this case, “it” doesn’t just mean confidence.

It means life. Life as you’d like it to be. And the life that we see someone leading, when we immediately consider them “lucky”.

See, whenever someone seems to reap all the rewards in life, we tend to think of them as “fortunate” or “lucky”, yeah?

Well, would you believe me if I told you that ascribing “luck” to anyone or anything is potentially harmful to us?

What exactly is luck anyway? Many people would probably define it as something like, “when things coincidentally fall out to your advantage”. But is it really just that?

And more importantly, would we need more than merely coincidence to receive the gifts of life?

(SPOILER ALERT: Yes. Yes it does.)

When Michael Jackson recorded the “Thriller” album, did it sell millions because of “luck”? Or was it because he had spent his entire childhood and adolescence working his derrière off, meticulously honing his craft and gathering a hugely talented team of producers, songwriters and A&R people behind him?

When Steve Jobs released the first iPhone, did it become hugely successful because of “luck”? Or was it because he dared to take chances, push the envelope, fulfil the needs that his customers had — even ones they didn’t realize they had — and amass an army of professional developers and marketers behind him?

Sure, Michael Jackson was probably as close to being the proverbial natural talent as they come. And Steve Jobs, according to many, was a natural visionary who simply thought outside the box and dreamt big.

But what good would that have done them if they hadn’t put in the work, insisted upon their dreams, and kept at it for years and years?

Luck has nothing to do with it because “it”doesn’t happen without taking action.

Here’s another thing:

Have you ever seen “Forrest Gump”? If not, it’s a fine movie, and you should see it at least once.*

Forrest Gump, our titular protagonist, is clearly slow-witted, but likeable. And he somehow manages to walk through life and attract all kinds of success and fortune as he cluelessly goes along. Only he never realizes it. Because success and fortune simply doesn’t resonate with his humble mind.

Let’s pause here for a moment. Now, think about your own life.

Have you ever learned a new word, and then in the following days and weeks you saw and heard that word everywhere?

Or have you ever been unemployed and looked for jobs, and all of a sudden job applications are everywhere?

I know, right?

The key word here is awareness.

Forrest Gump doesn’t consciously experience fame and fortune, because his awareness is on a different level. When we’re consciously aware of something, we’re gonna find it.

Not because there’s more of it, but simply because we’ve become aware of it. Like a hunter who deliberately ignores anything but the potential sights and sounds of his prey.

Luck has nothing to do with it, because what good would all the coincidence in the world do us if we weren’t aware of it?

But wait a minute! What was that thing you said about how ascribing luck to anyone could be “harmful”??

Yeah, see, that’s because it’s something that non-fident people tend to do. Which is rarely beneficial.

It’s when we’re non-fident that we tend to think in terms of “luck” — and “bad luck”. Specifically, we tend to think that other people get all the luck, and that we’re victims of unfortunate circumstances.

This is a conveniently easy way of thinking, because it takes the responsibility for our lives out of our hands. And for the same reason, it’s also a dangerous way of thinking.

But when we allow ourselves to go for the life we want, consistently taking action and raising our awareness will make sure that we get it.

Some people might be born with certain advantages, yes. But imagine how many people never put that advantage to any use. Either because they never see the possibilities and/or because they’re simply too shy to act on it.

And now, think of all the famous media persons who obviously wouldn’t recognize talent even if it came out of nowhere and took away all their limelight.

Think of all the wealthy corporate leaders who got where they are by being uncompromising, cold as ice, playing the game and doing what’s best for the company no matter what.

Think of all the powerful politicians, all the Frank Underwood’s of the world, who got to where they are by lying, manipulating, and probably worse.

Really, luck has nothing to do with it. But being aware of our opportunities, and taking consistent action towards them has everything to do with it.

 

ACTION ITEM:

This week, take up learning something new. Something you’ve been wanting to get into, only you couldn’t find the time (or whatever excuse you made for yourself).

Set aside 1/2 hour every night, monday through friday, for working on that thing only. Nothing else. This means, turn off your phone. No phone; no social media or other distractions. Just you and your new challenge.

Getting into this sort of habit will eventually prove to us that luck has nothing to do with it. — And that practice, consistency, and focus are the keys to accomplishing pretty much anything.

 


* Yes, I know it’s originally a book. So are a lot of great movies.

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Why is it so hard to build confidence? — 4 likely reasons

Why is it so hard to build confidence? The phrasing in this question can tell us a lot about ourselves.I see this one a lot. Not necessarily Why is it so hard to build confidence?, but more or less desperate variants thereof. Such as Why is it so hard to be yourself? and even Why can’t I be happy?.

Sticking with the first one here, why IS it so hard to build confidence, then?

The answer is to be found in a variety of different contributing factors, which I’ve gathered into four general points:

#1: Major changes take their time

From a purely logical point of view, if building confidence was easy, everyone in the world would be confident. Making a million dollars isn’t easy, either, but some people do it anyway. Because it’s sufficiently important to them.

I know: Sometimes the world can change within a heartbeat. Like with the Kennedy assassination or 9/11. But chances are, if you’re really down in the dumps you’re not gonna flip 180° and become an action hero overnight.

The reason that the idea of quick fixes is so prevalent is because it appeals to our comfort. Which is, on a basic level, low confidence in disguise.

Whenever we don’t feel like doing [X] even though it’d be supportive for us, we look at it as being “too hard”, “too tough”, “too much”… Et cetera.

So, from a reverse perspective, we don’t consider ourselves strong, persistent, and altogether capable of doing [X]. And as an added bonus, we might not consider ourselves worthy of the supportive outcome that doing [X] would bring about.

Seeking quick fixes is our non-fidence at play. Nurturing our patience, then, is the key to confidence.

#2: You’re not putting your back into it

This whole “quick fix”-mentality can lead us to believe that hard things are easy. And this is a belief that leads us to only do what’s easy.

For example, in the case of building confidence, many people will tell you that you need to do positive affirmations — writing down a couple of new, supportive ideas about yourself, which you then repeat several times a day. Such as, “I love myself, and I can do whatever I want”.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing positive affirmations in and by itself. (In fact, I have an entire page of them which I read 3-4 times every day.) But the thing is, if all you do is this ONE, easy thing, it’s not gonna have much of an effect on you.

And so, it’s only a matter of when your patience runs out, and you give up and become even more discouraged and non-fident.

Now, I’m not saying that you should spend hours of your waking time every day doing confidence-building exercises galore. We all have daily lives to go about, and confidence is what supports us in going about said daily lives.

… But we NEED to do things that support our confidence, and we CAN’T count on a 30-second affirmation to turn us into Alexander the Great (or, optionally, Joan of Arc if you’re female).

This includes stuff like socializing, eating healthy, practicing meditation and physical exercise, sleeping 7-8 hours every night, regularly evaluating yourself by keeping a journal, and, not the least, working towards a goal that brings meaning and purpose to you and your life.

Do as much of this as you possibly can. And keep in mind that while one’s actions are critical, one’s thoughts matter just as much. We wanna do the right things, yes; but thinking about them in a confident manner helps us do them.

#3: You give up too fast

Giving up on things, abandoning projects, and altogether going about life half-assedly is often seen in non-fident people. And, like I was getting into before, it kinda makes sense in this regard.

Think about it. You’ve been shown an alleged quick and easy path to the promised land of confidence, and after weeks you still feel like you’re going nowhere. Would that make for even more encouragement?

 And what’s one more failure  if you’re already used to giving up?

The tricky thing here is that generally, confident people don’t give up. So if we wanna build confidence, we have to get into the mindsets and habits of not giving up.

Basically, if we wanna learn not to give up, we do it by not giving up.

This brings me to the final point…

#4: You’re not sufficiently confident yet

Whenever we ask, — or, indeed, think — Why is it so hard to build confidence?, it says a lot about the way we think.

Because, we’re impying that building confidence IS, necessarily, hard.

It’s circular reasoning, really. The conclusion is part of the premise. Like when you teasingly ask someone, Have you stopped wetting your bed yet?, or, Do you still go around setting cats on fire?

But isn’t it just as much circular reasoning that I need to have confidence before I can have confidence?

Yes. Fortunately, though, that’s not what I’m saying. The gist of it all is that while it might be hard right now, it really does get easier. And the reason for that is because we steadily become more confident.

Some people would talk about “faking it ’till you make it” in this regard. I’d say it’s a simple matter of learning to crawl before you can walk.

And, like I’ve written about before, it might not be easy, but that doesn’t mean it’s complicated.

In summary, building confidence is highly an inner-game thing. It’s about what we do, yes, but it’s just as much about how we think.

And if we think in terms of life and its many challenges being hard, we’re not only thinking non-fidently; we’re setting ourselves up for failure.

Conversely, then, when we think in terms of life and its many challenges being endurable, we’re thinking confidently and setting ourselves up for success.

Therefore, do not ask, Why is it so hard to build confidence? Instead, ask questions like…

 – How important is it for me to be confident? Do I genuinely want to live my life with confidence?

 – How can I find the patience in me to let great change happen in its own time?

 – Am I trying to force something which might not respond positively to being forced?

 – Do I consider myself worthy of steadily building confidence and never giving up no matter what?

 – Am I doing the right things? Could I possibly be doing even more? And if yes, what?

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“So what do you do?” — 4 surprisingly effective ways to answer a cliché

"So what do you do" can be downright arduous if you're a non-fident person. But there are ways...Don’t you hate it when you’re in a situation where you have to get into that decades-long worn-out social interaction routine of “So what do you do”?

I do.

So what do you do?” is the discount pasta of small-talking. We’ve all heard it 1000 times too many, and while it might’ve had a genuine purpose once, today it serves none but conversational fluff.

Not only do we rarely, if ever, ask each other this question out of honest interest; we’re even so used to answering it that most of our response can be delivered on autopilot. So it rarely, if ever, makes for much memorable interaction.

But if you have low confidence and self-esteem, the situation surrounding “So what do you do?” can be all the much worse.

For non-fident people, talking about oneself can feel unpleasantly exposing and intimidating. If you’re unsure of yourself, you’re unsure of how people react towards getting to know you. And non-fidence doesn’t exactly make for a conversational disposition altogether.

But furthermore, if you’ve been non-fident for a sufficiently long time, chances are you’ll probably not be doing something that you’re especially excited about.

Maybe you’ve picked an entirely wrong path in life, and you hate to be reminded of it, because you have no major strategy and no idea where to go from where you are. Or maybe you do, in fact, enjoy what you do, but you just don’t feel like socializing.

Whatever’s the case, having to deal with “So what do you do?” can be a vulnerable position for someone with confidence issues.

Therefore, I’m gonna give you four ways of handling this universally frowned-upon, yet somehow socially mandatory conversation routine.

When I started writing this article, I was actually gonna suggest stuff like “lie”, “be intentionally vague” or “deliberately make up weird shit”. Because that’s what I used to do in the past.

But while those are neat little ways of defiantly playing one’s own little socio-satirical game, I’ve come to prefer other ways. Ways that might be a bit less straightforward, but which are so much more supportive towards building and maintaining a strong social confidence.

#1 Turn it over to them

Okay, so this is definitely the easiest, path-of-least-resistance one of them all. But that’s not to say it’s the least effective. On the contrary, it quickly deflects and turns the entire situation around 180°.

See, while it might be hard to understand for a non-fident, most people actually like to talk about themselves. And since many people ask this question out of politeness rather than genuine interest anyway, they’re not gonna mind getting back around to themselves anyway.

So, the next time someone asks you “So what do you do?” and for some reason you don’t feel like engaging, first answer with your usual, casual phrase of as few words as possible, and then simply add: “What about you?

They’ll go on about themselves right away. And even if the topic somehow comes back to you, it can easily be reversed over and over: “What was it you said you did again?“; “Tell me more about [X]“; etc.

Now, I know that some of you are probably thinking, “But what if none of us are actually comfortable with the situation and we both try doing this tactic?

I’ve never actually had this happen. So chances are, apart from slim, that at least one of you will quickly notice. Whether you wanna make it into some kind of social ping-pong is entirely up to you. If you don’t, there’s nothing wrong with ending the conversation altogether — for whatever reason.

#2 Talk about something that genuinely excites you

This works whether you’re doing anonymous cubicle-work in a faceless corporation; work dead-end, menial tasks at a gas station, or if you’re a student but you’re tired of talking about your studies.

See, you don’t have to answer everything directly or take any words at face value. You might, in fact, simply start talking about something you really like or find interesting. Something you’re passionate about.

And furthermore, you can always apply the above approach and ask, “What are you passionate about?” Lo and behold: All of a sudden you’re having an enthusiastic, pleasant conversation rather than an awkward, tedious one.

But what if I’m not interested in anything or passionate about anything?

Then at least you’re socializing. 😉

#3 Skip the small talk altogether

This follows naturally in the same direction as #2. See, like I said, people love talking about themselves. So, asking people about themselves really is a great key for non-fidents here.

Partly because it turns the focus away from ourselves so we can feel more secure and ressourceful. Partly because it allows us to keep on socializing, — something we could generally use more of.

But what if I’m not interes…

I know. Listen up:

If you simply keep on acting as though you’re genuinely interested for long enough, the funniest thing happens…

You become genuinely interested.

Make eye contact. Ask for their opinion on something. Ask them what they really like or really dislike. Get into what makes them tick. Skip the small talk and get to know each other.

When we get to know each other, we feel comfortable and secure around each other. And the more comfortable and secure we feel around each other, the less we feel ashamed of talking about ourselves. How about that?

#4 Live the life you’ve always wanted to tell about

Oh yes. You bet.

Like I’ve mentioned a couple of times, one major reason a non-fident might feel embarrassed about talking about themselves is because non-fidents rarely dare to live the life they truly want. Non-fidents tend to get educations and earn money either out of necessity or fear of standing out; not because they’re necessarily passionate about what they do — at all.

What non-fidents lack in this respect is, quite simply put, the ability to consider themselves worthy of pursuing the existence they truly want.

Pursuing said existence is, of course, a major undertaking. But while changing one’s mindset might seem insurmountably hard, it only begins with the mere decision of doing so. Because there’s nobody to take that decision but ourselves.

On a basic level, we’re social animals. People are gonna be asking “So what do you do?” from here to eternity. And while that mere fact shouldn’t be one’s primary motivation for pursuing the life of one’s sincerest of dreams, I personally find some motivation therein regardless.

I wanna be able to speak of my doings with enthusiasm and joy. And I will not settle for less than a life worth sharing.

However you wish to spend your time, it will pass anyway. Might as well design it in a way that you’d wanna tell people about.

So, the next time you find yourself staring down the business end of “So what do you do?“, at least try to actively make the best of it.

You might discover new ways of social interaction; you might actually get around to talking about something interesting.

You might make an ally — or even a friend.

 

ACTION ITEM:

Write down at least THREE different ways you’d like to be able to answer “So what do you do?”. It might be three different variations on the same theme; it might be three utterly different approaches.

For every one of these points, think of every imaginable response people might make. For each of these, come up with at least one possible comment, answer or elaboration.

Feel free to use the above points for inspiration. And by all means, see how many you can come up with altogether — three is just a guideline.

The more we do this kind of exercise, the better we prepare ourselves for real-life situations and encounters. And the great thing about this exercise is, you can transfer it to several other areas of your life, like dates, exams, job interviews, etc.

Just remember to use it as a general guideline and to never become reliant on any kind of script. Preparation is great. But when we’re out in the field, it’s just as important to expect the unexpected and being open towards simply winging it.

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Yes, you gotta believe in yourself. BUT…

Believe in yourself, by all means. But that in itself will not get you anywhere near your goals.Believe in yourself.

Ah, how quaintly those three words ring throughout our collective childhood memories.

And for many a good reason. They’re age-old wisdom, really. You know how some people say that every one of those cliché’d sayings always have their legitimacy back somewhere?

Yeah, this one’s a prime example.

Believe in yourself is something we’re usually told as we grow up. It’s the predictable point of every other fable, fairytale, kid’s show, cartoon, or other type of narrative cultural product aimed at children.

And indeed, why wouldn’t it be? ALL confident people believe in themselves. The one common denominator for everyone who ever stood up for themselves and made a deliberate effort to change the world for the better, is confidence. And that means believing in yourself.

Oh, and claiming that believe in yourself is somewhat of a mantra within the world of self-help and self-development would be an understatement on par with “Batman Forever isn’t exactly the greatest movie ever” or “Donald Trump can seem a little self-centered sometimes”.

So then why is this one confidence coach all of a sudden coming along and telling you to NOT believe in yourself??

Well, I’m not.

But

Like I’ve written about before, simply loving yourself isn’t gonna cut it in and by itself if you want to achieve lasting confidence. Well, this is kinda the same thing.

And indeed, the two are highly alike. One couldn’t very well love oneself without believing in oneself, or vice versa.

In fact…

Loving yourself = self-esteem.

And…

Believing in yourself = self-confidence.

Okay, wait a minute, WAIT A MINUTE! So you’re saying that there’s a “but“… If I wanna build my confidence… by being confident?!?

No.

My point is, that simply believing in yourself is not enough to build lasting confidence if what you’re doing doesn’t truly support you and matter to you.

I’ll even say it again for good measure:

To believe in yourself is not enough to build lasting confidence if none of what you’re doing is truly supportive or truly relevant to you.

For example, you might believe in yourself when it comes to playing video games. And your confidence in your video game skills might be ever so justified. But if you sit around playing video games literally all day, chances are you’re not gonna have much going for you out in the real world.

(Unless, of course, you’re one of those professional gamers who go to tournaments and win huge cash prices and whatnot.)

You might believe in yourself in a whole lot of areas and still end up making a complete crash-landing of your entire life — or even worse.

Think I’m kidding? I know this, because I did this. And lot of people I know did this, too.

… In fact, pretty much every successful person ever did this.

Yes, you gotta believe in yourself if you want confidence. It goes without saying. But the crucial “but” here is that your confidence won’t last unless you…

  • Do what matters to you
  • Know what you’re doing
  • Know why you’re doing it
  • Do the right things at the right time
  • Stay focused
  • Keep at it and never give up

Do all of the above check out with you? Good. In that case, you can hardly believe in yourself too much.

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Building confidence isn’t easy, BUT…

Building confidence might not be easy. But the principles are pretty simple.Theoretically, building confidence shouldn’t be complicated. And theoretically, confidence coaching shouldn’t be necessary.

The key word here, of course, is theoretically.

Because in practice, things act differently. — Like they often do.

Building confidence should be easy. Because the principles aren’t very hard to grasp.

Most of us even know most of them. In fact, here are a bunch of great principles for confidence, straight from the top of my head:

  • Have a goal in life that you continually work towards
  • Evaluate yourself continually
  • Practice active appreciation towards life and your resources
  • Learn something new every day
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Do something you’re passionate about
  • See the possibilities, not the limitations
  • Get out of your comfort zone and do things that unsettle you
  • Practice physical exercise 20-30 minutes daily
  • Meditate 10-20 minutes daily
  • Eat lots of vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fibres and protein
  • Don’t eat processed foods, junk foods, starchy carbs, saturated fats, candy, cake, etc.
  • Don’t smoke or do excessive amounts of drugs and alcohol
  • Sleep 7-8 hours every night
  • Surround yourself with people who support and affirm you
  • Shun people who bring you down and hold you back
  • Stand up for yourself, speak up when you want to, fear nothing, never give up, accept what you cannot change, etc.

I could go on, but hopefully you get the point.

… Which is, like I said, that by far most normal people know by far most of these things already. I mean, most of these points are common sense and knowledge.

Why, then, is building confidence so hard for some people?

Because there’s a difference between “easy” and “simple”.

Casually sketching the formula for a great life is, in fact, almost insultingly easy. However, carrying it out in practice is what’s hard. And, for many people, downright impossible without help.

The good news, then, is that it’s simple.

In fact, building confidence is like building muscle. It’s hard, and it takes effort, but it gets easier over time and if done consistently.

Also, what I’ve found is that the same principle goes for the vast majority of people: It doesn’t matter as much what you specifically do with your life rather than the fact that you do it while you maintain building confidence.

In fact, if you keep building confidence continually, it won’t matter much what you do, because you’ll be able to do pretty much anything. And you’ll be confident enough to calmly accept the things you cannot do — for now, anyway.

It’s like taking a shower, brushing your teeth, or even owning a car: If you want it to keep working, you gotta maintain it.

Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it’ll take time and effort. But that’s no reason not to do it anyway. Because there is no such reason. There is only the excuses that we make for ourselves out of fear.

 

ACTION ITEM:

This week, get out of your comfort zone. Do just ONE thing that really scares you, but which you really wanna do. It could be talking to someone about a problem; or how you feel about them. It could be walking up to a complete stranger asking for directions. As long as it’s something that really unsettles you.

Why would we do something like this? Because, when practiced regularly, getting out of our comfort zone makes us grow. It strengthens us and makes us more confident. So for goodness’ sakes: Do it, and keep it up.

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Is it true that we can choose how we react?

We can choose how we react to our circumstances. -- Depending on our level of awareness.It is often said that we cannot choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it.

While the idea itself is probably way older, the above quote is often ascribed to the Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (55-135 C.E.).

Specifically, he stated the following:

Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions – in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.

What does this have to do with confidence and empowerment? Only pretty much everything.

See, I’ve found that the most basic difference between a confident and a non-fident mindset is the awareness of optional reactions. Like I’ve written about before, confident people have a mindset of abundance, possibilities and proactivity. Whereas non-fident people have a mindset of scarcity, limitations, and re-activity.

When we become confident, it’s because we shed our fears. This allows us to see possibilities where we used to see limitations and obstacles. And this, in turn, makes actively and consciously choosing what to do so much easier.

It’s when we’re confident that we can choose how we react.

However, this means that the saying of Epictetus isn’t 100% true.

Partly because non-fident people can’t always choose how to react. Because, non-fidents tend to look at life as something that happens to them rather than something which they’re able to influence. Therefore, their awareness of their available options are at a general low — often equaling zero.

Our level of awareness, then, determines to what extent we can choose how we react.

Furthermore, I see several patterns indicating that we can — to a certain degree — choose what happens to us.

Again, this highly depends on our level of confidence. Because the more confident we are, — and, hence, the more proactive we can be, — the more we’re able to set ourselves up to succeed.

The more we’re able to adjust our habits, our environment, our mentality, and our network of people to our advantage, the more we increase the possibility of great things happening in our lives. And the more confident we are, the more we’re able to do this.

If I could decide ONE quote, ONE piece of learning for you to take with you from me, the above might very well be it. Because this is the essence of what confidence does to us. Not only does it mean that we can choose how we react; it also enables us to build that future of happiness and success that we secretly yearn for. And, of course, it allows us to feel worthy thereof.

So, while he did make a name for himself, Epictetus might essentially have been too Stoic for his own good. 🙂

We can observe in highly confident people how having great confidence affects us. How it allows us to create our own realities. And how it really does mean that we can choose how we react.

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Not doing what you say: How it cripples you

Not doing what you say will eventually debilitate you from carrying out life itself.Not doing what you say you’re gonna do is a habit. — A habit that is unsupportive of your success.

That’s what my old group coach used to say. In every single session.

Of course, we’re not just talking about not taking out the trash when you said you would, or not buying milk when you said you would. (Although those things might be symptoms of a bigger problem).

We’re talking never getting around to writing that novel. We’re talking friendships dying because you never took each other up on those empty words of “we should totally hang out”.

This is level not-having-the-guts-to-go-up-and-talk-to-that-someone-who-might-just-turn-out-to-be-the-love-of-your-life here.

The whole thing about not doing what you say is actually fairly simple, and I’m not gonna wait ‘till the end to say it:

Doing what you say feels natural. You say something, you do it. Whoomp; fair, square and simple.

But NOT doing what you say you’re gonna do causes, as I love putting it, a disturbance in The Force. We feel a certain discomfort. A dissonance. A discrepancy.

In one of my former articles, I’ve written about how the one source of unhappiness in the world really comes down to a discrepancy between how things ARE vs. how we WANT them to be. And it’s basically the same mechanism at play here.

Think about it. If someone claims the Earth is flat and you happen to know what 2nd graders know about astronomy, you probably wanna call them out on it. Because there’s a discrepancy between what you KNOW, and what someone else THINKS, which makes them questionable.

And if someone says they’re gonna do something and then don’t, at least you’re gonna notice, if nothing more. Because there’s a discrepancy between what they SAY and what they DO, which makes them questionable.

So when you notice this discrepancy in yourself, you’re the one who’s questionable — to yourself.

Not exactly a nice feeling.

In fact, if you keep on not doing what you say you’re gonna do, it becomes the rule rather than the exception. This means, you will effectively make a habit out of something harmful, like with any toxic addiction.

And yes, I deliberately use the word “toxic” here. Because eventually, you’ll either be incapable of carrying out anything important you say, or you’ll care so little that you’ll have exactly zero aspirations towards your entire life.

Think I’m kidding? Go ahead: Try and prove me wrong; see for yourself how it plays out in 10 to 20 years from now.

(In fact: Don’t!)

Okay, so ideally, doing what you say should be practiced by everyone. And NOT doing what you say should be practiced by no one. Big whoop.

… But yes, I deliberately use the word “ideally” here. 🙂

Because we’ve all been there. We’ve all said we were gonna do something and then didn’t. For whatever reason.

We might’ve postponed it until we forgot. Maybe we just didn’t feel like doing it any longer.

Or maybe we deliberately procrastinated. Because deep down, we knew that doing it would take us to the next step. — Which could mean responsibility for our lives, other people getting expectations towards us, or rewards of which we basically felt unworthy.

While not doing what you say you’re gonna do is fairly common, these last mentioned fears are especially common amongst people with low confidence and self-esteem.

To confident people, doing what you say comes just as natural as thinking it and saying it. Confident people do what they say, say what they mean, and think before they say it. Confident people aren’t afraid of responsibility or expectations.

In fact, they gladly take responsibility, and, in addition to what other people might expect, they set expectations for themselves. And they don’t consider themselves unworthy of any kind of reward. They accept it gladly, gracefully, and gratefully.

Just to make it clear: It’s not that confident people never have any slip-ups or problems with balancing what they say and do. It’s the fact that they want to improve at it, and are therefore willing to accept and learn from these slip-ups and problems which makes them good at keeping that consistency.

Want confidence? Doing what you say you’re gonna do is mandatory.

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Do I have a choice?

Do I have a choice? Depends on how you look at it. So look at it the confident way!Do I have a choice?

Man, there’s a question that’s been bugging me for years. And I know it’s been bugging many of you, as well.

It’s a question closely related to the matter of confidence. Because confident people have a mindset of abundance, possibilities and proactivity. Whereas non-fident people have a mindset of scarcity, limitations, and re-activity.

Confident people not only see a variety of options to choose from when making choices. So they rarely, if ever, pick the wrong option; and they always find a way back out if they do.

Non-fident people, on the other hand, rarely see many options — if any at all. Therefore, they tend to think of themselves as victims of circumstances.

But what exactly IS a choice? Exactly how free IS our will?

Do I have a choice, for example, in what to eat for dinner tonight?

Oh, Hell yes. I have TONS of options. And if I don’t stray too much from the theme of normal, human food, my choice isn’t gonna make a whole lot of difference.

So that outcome can be based on factors like personal taste (certain dislikes etc.), impulsiveness (sudden cravings), and specific circumstances (the local store is out of rice).

But do we have any genuine control over these factors? We might affect them to a certain degree. We might eat something out of necessity if we’re in a hurry. Or because we have nothing else left and can’t afford anything ‘till payment’s due.

We might go to the other end of town just to try that new burger joint. We might eat vegan if we’re visiting a vegan couple.

So, are those choices? Or, are they more like actions influenced by inner and outer conditions? Read on as you ponder this.

Another example: Do I have a choice in writing this article or not?

I could not do it. I could just slump on the couch, open a beer and watch House of Cards. Which, admittedly, I do feel like doing. But I also like writing, and I find this topic interesting. So I genuinely DO want to write this article.

Writing not only brings me joy; it makes my wonderful readers come back, and it keeps the search engines happy when done consistently. So I’ll do it now, and then have a beer and watch House of Cards later.

That’s my priority, then. Based on both urgency and pleasure — the latter both short and long-term.

Does that mean I have less mobility in making a choice like that? Again: Read on.

Last example: Do I have a choice in picking a career?

Oh boy.

We’re often told that we can “be anything we want”, but the reality is often quite another. A buddy of mine wanted to be a pilot. — A dream that would never come true because of his astigmatism. So he became an engineer, which allowed him to do something with relevant similarities.

So, is that a choice? Or is it rather a decision influenced by inner and outer conditions?

Me, I wanted to be a musician — something I gradually slipped out of due to more reasons than I can or ought to get into here. So I became an entrepreneur, because it has the same elements of freedom and creativity that appealed to me in music.

Again: Is that a choice? Did I actively choose to let the whole music thing just… slide??

And conversely, if someone is fixed on one job or career from the beginning, then gets that job or career and never changes course, is THAT a choice?

If those are both equally valid choices, then how are they not like each other at all??

The counterpoint here is basically the same all along: There are always options, but whatever we end up doing simply depends on a variety of factors.

If we follow this logic to the end, it’s impossible not to consider determinism at some point.

So, do I have a choice? Yeah, kind of.

One of the problems here is our idea of free will. And, like I’ve said before, while we do have a will, it isn’t free. It’s conditioned.

Part of this problem is that the idea of free will is deeply ingrained in our idea of making choices. Even the word choice, rather than the word act — or, indeed, re-act, — seems to suggest there’s more going on than simply a lifelong series of actions.

For the purpose of this article, I’ll get back to what I said in the beginning about confident people and the way they think.

See, the more we think in making choices, the more confident we get. And, conversely, the more confident we get, the more options we tend to see, and the better we become at prioritizing.

And for all intents and purposes, that’s what we want. Because that’s what benefits us.

Do I have a choice? Maybe, maybe not. It’s an interesting question, but it’s not important.

What’s important is being confident in one’s thoughts and actions, and acting in accordance with one’s values. What’s important is making one’s decisions on a solid foundation.

And it’s more important to make decisions in the first place than to not make them. If we don’t decide for ourselves, life itself will just bounce us around at its own convenience.

And with that, I’ll conclude this article. Indeed, do I have a choice not to?

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