How forgiveness and empathy might harm you

If you don't allow yourself to stand up, other people will walk all over you.Anyone who has low confidence and self-esteem will know that a lot of one’s energy goes towards forgiveness and empathy. Towards worrying about what others think of you.

When we do this, we give others the opportunity to walk all over us. Partly because we don’t wanna lose the people we happen to have in our lives.

But also because we’re used to thinking of forgiveness and empathy as good things. – In fact, don’t most people raise their kids into thinking like that?

And so, this can easily lead to being a pushover. Being people-pleasing and putting up with way more shit than you ought to.

Even putting up with being hurt. And even repeatedly.

We might try to justify it. Downplay it. See it from the other person’s perspective. (“He’s probably been having some rough times lately, so it’s only right that he vents, and maybe I can help out a little by letting him take it out on me”.)

Ultimately, none of those things help us. In fact, in those situations they only harm us. — By assisting us in neglecting the one thing that should, ideally, matter the most to anyone:

Our own needs.

If we’re not used to asserting ourselves, setting boundaries for ourselves, having standards for ourselves, and saying no, we slowly let our own needs deteriorate. And if you don’t allow yourself what’s vital for yourself, what kind of person do you expect to be??

Now, forgiveness and empathy aren’t bad things in and by themselves. But they don’t necessarily solve anything in and by themselves, either.

And sometimes, forgiveness and empathy might do us more harm than good! This tends to happen when we cultivate them towards other people first, and towards ourselves second.

When you have confidence, you have no problem putting your own needs ahead of others’. Confidence, among other things, means conviction that you deserve whatever you want in life.

“But how can I be convinced of that?? We’re all just people! So how am I “better” than anyone else??”

Nobody said you were. But nobody said you weren’t, either. And if anyone did, what would you expect to gain from listening?

Also, if you please others more than yourself, aren’t you living by something equally as arbitrary, only self-destructive?

Think about it: If you don’t put your own needs first, how do you expect to get anywhere in life??

“But if I put my own needs first, won’t people think I’m being selfish/egotistical/stuck-up/narcissistic/etc.?”

Yeah, notice how that’s still worrying about what other people think.

First and foremost, we need to realize that opinions, whether our own or others’, are simply opinions.

They’re not necessarily true or false, they’re nothing more than different perspectives. So, we need to ask ourselves, “What perspectives can I use? And what perspectives are harmful to me?”

Now often, we do NEED other people’s perspectives. So as not to get stuck in our own, and so as to provide a certain amount of experience when needed. But there’s a world of difference between that, and living by other people’s opinions.

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This week, assert yourself just one more time than you normally do. If that means just once, it’s still better than none. It might mean not taking a certain task upon you even if urgent. It might mean putting some time off for yourself each day. Or it might just mean telling someone to piss off, plain and simple. Turn off your phone and work on something that’s important to you.

Anyone should do that every single day. Because it doesn’t make you an asshole; it just makes you self-assertive and confident.

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Two major mistakes you should stop making right now

Two major mistakes you should stop making in life: Underestimating yourself and overestimating others. There are two major mistakes you should stop making in life. As you ponder what they might be, try to see if any of these sound familiar:

“Why can’t I just figure stuff out like everyone else?”

“Am I the only one who doesn’t know how to take control of my life yet?”

“How did everyone else learn know how to handle all these challenges?”

“How come everyone else seem so freakin’ content all the time?”

Ring a bell?

Ever notice how we tend to think that we’re the only one who hasn’t got it all figured out yet?

Of course you do. We all think like this sometimes. After all, we’ve never been as old as we are at any given time. And since we haven’t, then how are we supposed to know what to do about everything?

It’s funny, then, how “everyone else” seem to be perfectly on top of things, even though the same condition applies to them too.

… Of course there’s always that one utterly clueless idiot, but generally, “everyone else” doesn’t seem like much of a stretch when it comes to these things.

What if I told you that most people think this way about others – including you?

Why is this?

Well, for one thing. Our minds still haven’t evolved much in the last 10.000 years or so. We’re still subconsciously on the lookout for potential threats anywhere, anytime. But today there’s no sabre-toothed tigers anywhere. Our subconscious mind, then, considers our main threat to be other people.

Therefore, we tend to not only overestimate others, but, accordingly, underestimate ourselves.

(And yes: These are the two major mistakes you should stop making right now.)

We want to keep up appearances because they serve us like a barrier towards… well, unpleasant stuff.

Look at the average Facebook pictures. You’ll see people’s vacations, their nights out, and other social gatherings. The status updates will be about pets, babies, and plain ol’ food. So… nice things, really.

What you probably won’t see are people’s marital arguments. Their sudden panic attacks while at the store. That one time they got too drunk and embarrassed themselves at a family reunion because deep down they were miserable.

Those things aren’t comfortable… So we put a lid on them.

Since we tend to be closed about these unpleasant sides of our lives, it’s easy to mistake other people’s apparent lack of problems for success. Which, of course, it’s not. It’s simply cultural taboo doing its thing.

Furthermore, it’s easy to get caught up in one’s own problems. After all, you’re the one having them, right? Nobody knows your problems better than you, and they’re no bigger to anybody else but you.

(And yes: I know this might also encompass being told about what mistakes you need to stop making in life. Read on still? Thanks.)

The combination of those two things — overestimating other people’s apparent success + underestimating one’s actual blessings, advantages and abilities = one debilitating combo.

The problem is, it’s easy to let it deceive you.

The good news is, it’s exactly that: Nothing more than effective deception.

Statistically, you’ll be off like the majority when it comes to having problems. And chances are that you’ll be blowing your own ones out of proportion.

If our primal minds are constantly on the look for trouble, they’re gonna find it whether it’s there or not. This is why people create drama when they’re bored: It’s what our brains are hardwired to do!

We actually NEED a certain amount of problems in our lives. Otherwise, we’d go insane! Because problems – and the overcoming thereof – feels like purpose, like meaning.

Ever been alone with nothing to do, read or watch for hours on end? We’d go crazy if we didn’t have any kind of task, leisure or distraction.

However, to function properly we need to distinguish and prioritize between realistic, relevant problems and perceived mountains where there’s only molehills.

When we’re aware of these things, we can overestimate others a little less, and underestimate ourselves a little less.

In time, we might even be capable of making realistic assessments of the world. How about that?!

In short, and in other words:

The two major mistakes you should stop making are: Never underestimate yourself, and never overestimate others.

(But of course, don’t do the opposite, either!)

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Three magic words for depression and tough times

No matter how deep your depression, there's always a light at the end of the dark. Whether we see it or not. If you’ve never experienced depression, consider yourself lucky. But show me one human being who does not profess to at least having been upon hard times, and I’ll show you a liar.

(Well, either that or one lucky bastard.)

Even the bigshots, the Sylvester Stallones and Tony Robbinses of this world, will tell you that they did most certainly not get where they are today without having to endure goodies like stress, depression, financial rock-bottom, and seemingly insurmountable obstacles galore up front.

So, then, what’s their secret?

While there certainly isn’t one single answer to that one, I believe there’s somewhat of a common denominator.

When normal people face hard challenges, they usually give in, give up, adapt to their new circumstances, and/or simply let things run their course.

Look at the number of people with depression in the US. It’s alarming, and it goes to show that not many people actively do something to change their current circumstances rather than let their current circumstances have their way with them.

Of course, as in the case of depression, this can be totally understandable. Sometimes we simply can’t. Sometimes things need to run their course. And sometimes, like with most depressions, it really DOES get better.

Of course, we should always try to take action whenever possible. Even though things seem futile and hopeless, there’s often something we can do to improve our situation. But however things are, we could always use some encouragement.

For those darkest of days, I’ve found this quaint little reminder. I used it a fortnight ago when I was seriously ill. Usually, I have a kickass immune system, but I felt like I literally might need extensive medical treatment, and that I was in grave danger. I mean, it was messed up.

And so, while impotently slumping on the couch like a sack of rotten apples, trembling with cold and quietly mewling from aching joints and muscles, I continually forced this one mantra through my near-feverishly-delirious mind:

THIS
WILL
PASS!

Remember those three words. Because it’s these words – or any equivalent thereof – which goes through the minds of great people who endure and overcome stuff more wicked than you and I can imagine.

I’ve used this mantra before, but never so intensely as the other week. And while it doesn’t do anything to better one’s current predicament, it really does help on one’s awareness and outlook.

Because…: EVERYTHING PASSES.

Neither summers nor winters last. The inevitable march of time does not give two shits about you, me, or anyone else. (And we all end up dying, and there’s no Santa Claus.)

But getting stuck in a negative focus is all too easy, and we probably all know this all too well. And so, oftentimes, we could use an anchor connecting us to the positive side of things.

“But what about people who have terminal cancer, or AIDS, or [insert deadly illness of your choosing]?”

Well, there’s not one saying that applies to every imaginable situation. What I’m saying is that whenever one comes upon harsh circumstances, chances are that things WILL get better.

And no matter how bleak things appear, we need to know it, and to act like it. Because that way, we set ourselves up to win. And otherwise, we set ourselves up to lose.

So the next time you fall upon a seemingly dark period, remember those three words:

This will pass“.

Let them be your light in the dark. Because, whether you can see it or not, the light really is there.

We just gotta know it, remember it, and live by it. Only then can we move with safety and confidence.

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What people falsely believe about destiny

If something is "destiny", how would you be able to make a choice? I’m tired of hearing people going on about “destiny”. About how they were “meant” for something, and about how something was “meant” to be.

Because…

“Meant” by who or what? And when? And why? Is everyone and everything “meant” for something? Or is it only certain situations? Are the resulting actions thereof also “meant” for something? And the resulting consequences of those actions? Etc.

How many couples head over heels in love with each other would say they’re “meant” for each other? How many times have you heard someone say this about their current infatuation?

(Hell, maybe you’ve even been in a relationship like that.)

… And then a couple of years later they break up after months of deteriorating sex and bickering over mundane problems.

Oops.

It seems it’s one of those sayings that doesn’t hold up to the simplest of scrutiny or logic. Try doing some basic, reasoned questioning the next time someone talks about someone being “meant” for something.

They’re not gonna be able to provide satisfactory answers.

Why do we still seem to entertain the notion that anyone or anything can somehow be “meant” for something?

While I don’t know, I’m fairly certain the answer has a couple of components to it…

  • It’s one of those things that people say without giving it any thought. Such sayings permeate our language. (No one is being literal when they tell someone to “get bent”, either.)
  • For thousands of years, our ancestors have believed in magic and the idea of an omnipotent creator of everything, often one who made a “divine plan” for us. — Simply because they didn’t know any better.
  • It’s a deceitfully easy way of looking at the world. Because ultimately it supports the idea that we’re not in charge of our lives, and that we don’t have responsibility for our actions. 

    While there are interesting aspects to every point, we can potentially learn the most from the last one. Because it tells us about how we tend to shun responsibility in even the tiniest of ways.

    But that’s not what I meant at all!” No, of course not. But from a purely semantic standpoint, it’s actually pretty much what you’re getting at. Albeit unintentionally.

    But God gave us free will!” Sure. And Apollo could predict the future, and Thor had a magic hammer, and Noah was 950 years old when he died.

    Look. If something is predestined for anything beyond the scope of human will and control, it is, by definition, not subject to human influence. However we act towards it becomes futile and meaningless.

    All considerations about the source of “destiny” aside, if everything is “destiny”, it means we’re not in charge of our lives.

    While I do believe that there’s no inherent meaning to anything other than what makes sense to the beholder at any given time, what truly empowers us is the very appointing of said meaning. Acknowledging that there is no meaning but what we appoint to things when we make a decision, take a stand and choose a path for ourselves.

    And then, of course, we need to do it. We need to realize that there’s no sensible reason to believe that anything beyond our own, inherent human traits and nature somehow “destines” anyone for anything.

    We need to realize that we have the ability to be proactive and creative in building our lives. That we can always overcome challenges, and that we need not settle for anything or take anything for granted.

    And that very insight is true liberation.

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Here’s what REALLY makes you stronger

If you don't learn from your mistakes, how do you expect to improve yourself? Yes: I will hereby tell you what really makes you stronger. But of course, it’s not gonna be without a little background for reference…:

See, back in the 19th century, there was a profoundly cool, albeit rather eccentric man – (a Ger-man!) – by the name of Friedrich Nietzsche.

While he has since been sadly misunderstood by many, Nietzsche is generally considered one of the all-time greatest Western philosophers.

You might know him by this one catchy little omni-quoted paraphrase:

That which does not kill us only makes us stronger“.

This one quote is all over the place. But most often heard in situations where someone needs to give themselves or someone else a little pepping-up.

One might argue that the saying has been watered down. After all, if Kelly Clarkson AND Kanye West have centered songs about it (presumably after having seen it in one of those “inspirational” internet pictures), perhaps it shouldn’t exactly be considered philosophy anymore.

But more important, the saying is not entirely true.

On the contrary, one might argue that if we got stronger every time something simply didn’t kill us, by far the majority of Earth’s population would be pretty fucking amazing.

… But we’re not.

An alcoholic breaks up his home and his family drinking. He loses his job and his house, and ends up on the streets. And yet, he keeps on drinking. Because his addiction is stronger than his will.

An unemployed person sends out a standardized job application to 200 companies, of which only 10 answer him, all saying that they’re not hiring at the moment. But they’ll “keep his application and let him know if anything becomes available”… Which they don’t. And as he sends out 200 more applications, he keeps wondering why they never write him back.

Ring a bell?

And, of course, aging itself will eventually stop the regeneration of our cells, slowly withering us until our bodies finally quit. Oh, and if someone chopped off my arms and legs or injected me with HIV, I’d be facing Hell, dead or not.

(Happy times!)

Fortunately, we CAN grow stronger. But as with most other things in life, WE have to do the hard work. Meaningful growth simply doesn’t happen unless we learn from our mistakes.

If you don’t learn from your mistakes, how can you expect to improve yourself??
And furthermore: Do you want to be someone who keeps making the same mistakes over and over? Of course not. Nobody does!

What really makes you stronger, then, is to learn from your mistakes.

I’ll say it again if I have to:

What really makes you stronger is to learn from your mistakes.

However, when most people mess something up, or have something bad happen to them, they pity themselves and blame circumstances rather than prevent their problem from occurring again, – or even prepare for it!

Why is this? I see a couple of possible explanations:

1) Self-pity is a comfortable and convenient source of instant gratification — and possibly attention.

2) People are afraid of the judgment that might come from being the source of their own problems. Playing the blame game is easy and comfortable because it conveniently ignores one’s own responsibility for one’s own life.

3) Both of the above are way easier than to get one’s act together and do some focused, proactive work.

When we learn from our mistakes, something funny happens:

It stops being a mistake!

Not only have you ensured it’ll never happen again, you have also improved yourself. Suddenly, it goes from being a mistake to being an improvement point.

Speaking of quotes, Thomas Edison, (although he was a complete tool who stole most of Nikola Tesla’s ideas) had this one great quote on learning from our mistakes:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10.000 ways that don’t work“.

Just remember: There’s nobody to do it for you. It’s up to YOU to locate your improvement points, and act upon them.

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Why the idea of “perfection” is BS

Leonard Cohen, rest his weary bones, knew, perhaps better than most, that perfection is BS.This one should go without saying, right? I mean, of course perfection is BS. Nobody could take an abstract ideal like that serious, could they?

Well, actually, it would seem so.

How many times have you looked at the cover of any men’s magazine and thought, “My God, Carmen Electra’s just perfect!” – only to immediately deem her out of your league? (Substitute for any model of your choice, if you will.)
Or, if you’re a girl, that your body could never be anywhere near as perfect?

I know, right?

Perfection is BS, because it is, pretty much by definition, something unattainable. So why do people keep striving for it?

While everyone may not literally be striving for perfection, we sure do tend to act like it’s a real thing, – and then ultimately feel bad about how it’s beyond our reach.

I’m willing to bet that 100% of anyone reading this has, at some point in their lives, compared themselves or something they did to someone or something else that they considered perfectly flawless, only, then, to feel imperfect – and, in turn, inferior.

To a certain extent, this is what made me quit playing the guitar. I thought that I could never possibly be as outerwordly gifted as Dimebag Darrell. – And when I tried pushing myself towards his levels of speed, all I got was beginning signs of tenosynovitis!

When we do this to ourselves, we’re unconsciously being self-destructive. By holding ourselves to preposterously unfair standards, we fixate ourselves in a sense of inferiority. We think of ourselves as being of lesser worth.

This type of thought and behavior is ultimately dangerous because it’s self-affirming: The lesser we think of ourselves, the more we see perfection anywhere but ourselves, thereby effectively downward-spiraling deeper still into low self-esteem and depression.

“Well, shit. What’s the good news?” Glad you asked:

The notion of perfection – flawlessness; precise accuracy etc. – doesn’t even apply to our daily lives!

Unless you’re dealing with geometry or mathematical concepts (even which, for all intents and purposes, are merely principal human constructions), there is no such thing as “perfection”. Perfection is BS.

Now say it with me:

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS “PERFECTION”. PERFECTION IS BS.

One man’s masterpiece is another man’s garbage. Even my favorite books, movies, and albums could be improved upon one way or another. Hell, even Carmen Electra probably has some sort of cosmetic flaw or irregularity (of which I wish to remain blissfully unaware).

By and large, “perfection” is an infinity-multiplied notion of one or more positive qualities. – An idealized matter of personal opinion. Which, for the record, does not equal “truth”.

However, that doesn’t mean that the idea of perfection is utterly useless. On the contrary, we can use perfection as a means of motivation.

When used right, perfection should be considered nothing but a principal ideal to pursue – not to ultimately attain. If we aim for perfection, we can’t help but improve a little all the time. It’s when we expect perfection that we set ourselves up for failure.

As the saying goes, “Strive for progress, not perfection”. Or, as another saying goes, “Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars”.

(Whichever you prefer).

Or, as my personal favorite goes:

I say never be complete. I say stop being perfect. I say let’s evolve.

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First post!

Break on through...

Greetings!

Welcome to my blog. Since this is the very first post, I’ll make it short and introductory.

On this page, I’ll be writing about cool things like empowerment, confidence, strength, self-esteem, motivation, good health, well-being, and, of course, how to obtain it all.

I’ll be sharing my ideas about depression, low self-esteem and -confidence, and any other problems that my clients usually deal with. I’ll be questioning and debunking some of the bullshit that is so pervasive in self-development.

I’ll be writing about things like how different methods and actions work, about the connection between mind, body and outer environment, about how to change the habits that are holding you back, about the importance of being open to, and ingraining, new ideas, and about a whole lot more. Every once in a while, I’ll be introducing some rad concepts with which most of you are probably unfamiliar.

As for the frequency, as a general starting point, I’ll be posting about once every week. Other times, like when I’m on vacation, it’ll only be every once in a while. There’s a lot going on right now, so I can’t say much for sure.

Depending on the frequency of relevant news-like material, like site updates etc., I might be posting certain news here as well. And also, I’ll probably be setting up some social media buttons in the near future.

Please be patient. This is all so very new.

If there’s anything you’d like me to write about, please let me know via mail@getconfidencecoaching.com.

That’s it for now. ‘Till next time,

Rise above!

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