Facing your fears: Here’s why you need to do it

Facing your fears is also about doing what's necessary, no matter what.Facing your fears can be hard, and you all probably know it.

In fact, show me someone who claims to have fear of nothing, and I’ll show you defence mechanisms at work.

But does our fear serve us?

Most of you could probably be tempted to say conclusively no, knowing perfectly well how this is about confidence, empowerment, and, obviously, facing your fears. But here’s where it gets a bit tricky.

As H.P. Lovecraft said, fear is the oldest and strongest emotion of mankind, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.

And when it came to fear, he was spot-on.

Fear is what’s kept us and our primal ancestors from getting into potentially harmful or fatal situations. The logic of biology is to sustain life. Therefore, we have a built-in alarm, widely known as the amygdala. So the amygdala is, essentially, what’s kept mankind alive for millions of years.

The problem is that for only a matter of a few millennia, we’ve advanced exponentially, and just totally out-civilized the conditions of our aforementioned primal ancestors. We no longer live in small hunter-gatherer tribes out in the wilderness. There are no rivaling tribes or hungry predators.

But our physical — and, hence, neural — advancement hasn’t kept up to speed! And basically, this is why we get anxious about certain things. Things of which we can’t fully embrace the implications, or, indeed, towards which we just feel an instinctive, knee-jerk apprehension, repulsion, or concern.

Our amygdala perfectly shuns what might progress us, and it only likes what feels safe and secure. For example, twiddling around on Facebook instead of studying. Playing Minesweeper instead of doing that report. We’ve all been there, gotten the t-shirt, etc., right?

Facing your fears isn’t just about roaring with derisive laughter as you gaze audaciously into Death’s horridly cancer-pale eyes. It’s about feeling secure — to an extent where you’re absolutely convinced that you’re gonna be fine.

Really, it’s about feeling confident.

Yes, we might step out in front of a drunk driver this weekend. Or the company we work for might go tits-up. It’s that kind of planet. Birth doesn’t come with a safety guarantee!

… But if we give our energy to the ridiculously minuscule odds of anything like those things happening every day, what kind of life are we gonna get?

But wait a minute! Doesn’t that mean that you don’t need to be facing your fears at all?? LOL!

Well, like I’ve said before, we “shouldn’t” do anything. We don’t “have” to do anything. But…

If you wanna live a confident life, you need to be facing your fears.

This means, if you want that job, you gotta prepare for that interview. And you gotta go into that interview head high, beaming ear-to-ear, because you’re gonna be set on owning that interview.

It means, if you want that six-pack, you gotta hit that gym and work up that sweat, several times a week. You gotta eat that broccoli (stop whining; it tastes great, and it’s healthy), and you gotta stop eating all that chocolate and pizza.

It also means, if you wanna live your dreams, you gotta be honest with yourself; find out exactly what they are; set aside the necessary amount of hours; cut down on whatever’s taking up your time and energy; and you gotta make a commitment to yourself to never quit, no matter what.

But those aren’t fears LOL!

On the surface level, it might not seem like it. But what lies beneath each of these examples is a deep-rooted fear of more tasks, responsibilities and esteem from other people — and maybe even from oneself. It’s all based in what I call non-fidence, and non-fidence is a product of fear.

Non-fidence, of course, is the antithesis of confidence. And confidence is the antithesis of fear.

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What people falsely believe about destiny — part 2

Destiny: The idea that everything or possibly less has a reason or purpose that may or may not serve you.In my article “What People Falsely Believe About Destiny“, I argue that the entire concept of destiny is not only outdated, but potentially dangerous. Because it ultimately takes away more or less of our personal responsibility.

I’d hereby like to elaborate on the inherent flaw of the concept of destiny.

There’s a huge correlation between what I call non-fidence and having somewhat of an obsession with the idea that there are manifold powers beyond our control. And ultimately that life is something that happens to us, rather than something we create ourselves.

However, I’ve also seen the exact opposite attitude towards an analogous belief.

Not only having done research into confidence and self-development for years, but also being an entrepreneur, I’m highly aware of the vast amounts of self-development in the world of entrepreneurship.

Hell, if you’re an entrepreneur, you can’t NOT cultivate confidence and self-development. There’s not ONE single successful entrepreneur out there who has low confidence and/or self-esteem.

But here’s the funny thing. Considering the above, one could, then, very well expect entrepreneurs to think the exact opposite of non-fidents. But I’ve found that there’s a clear tendency amongst entrepreneurs to talk about destiny.

Or, maybe more accurately, about how something is “meant” to happen or “meant” to be.

The difference, of course, is that people with higher confidence often see these alleged instances of destiny as favorable rather than detrimental towards them, and to take considerably more action towards their goals rather than let themselves be overwhelmed and paralyzed.

However, it’s the exact same idea of destiny at play. And no matter how high or low one’s confidence might be, the idea is nothing but superstitious BS.

There’s a perfectly good theory surrounding how we consider our internal forces vs. the world’s external forces in our lives. It’s called the theory of the locus of control. And it basically says that we can attribute autonomous control in a certain degree towards both external circumstances, and towards internal abilities.

Why, then, would we even need to talk about destiny? In my original article, I point towards pre-scientific, outdated ideas of higher powers. And, towards how the idea of destiny has simply become ingrained in our common sayings.

The problem with sayings like, e.g, “There’s a reason for everything” is that they’re essentially not saying anything. Because the very word ‘reason’ is ambiguous.

Indeed, to what extent does any instance of alleged ‘reason’ pertain to something internal or external? And how would anyone go about demonstrating this??

There’s no manual other than what one might choose to believe.

Listen: Stuff happens. It’s what we choose to take away from it — or, indeed, not to — that gives said stuff its meaning.

Where was all the alleged “meaning” one billion years ago? Take away humankind from the Earth, and show me what meaning is. (Optionally, include all the animals.)

Nothing has any inherent meaning apart from what we apply to it. And whatever meaning we do apply speaks volumes of who we are.

But wait a minute! If entrepreneurs tend to believe that things happen for them, isn’t that simply a convenient belief that I could just totally adapt to become successful?

Well, it probably couldn’t hurt. But that doesn’t mean that things DO happen “for” you.

It’s all a matter of how we see the possibilities for growth and learning around us. And you don’t need to believe in destiny to do that.

Raise your awareness. Confidence will follow.

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Introducing… Star Wars mindfulness!

Star Wars mindfulness: Master Yoda lays it downLike any other pre-90’s kid with a beating heart, I love the classic Star Wars mythology. Now, with the obvious out of the way, you’re probably wondering what Star Wars mindfulness is all about. In fact, how are the two things related at all?

If nothing else, you’ve at least heard of Star Wars, because you have an internet connection, and a fairly normal human perception. Mindfulness, on the other hand, although a greatly expanding phenomenon, still seems to be somewhat less pervasive in the public domain.

This is also part of the reason it seems near-impossible for anyone practicing mindfulness to talk about it in a manner that doesn’t seem like they want you to join some neo-religious cult of sorts.

But if you haven’t heard of mindfulness before, it is, among other things, a way of practicing meditation. This description from Psychology Today is quite apt:

“Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.“

I shouldn’t have to elaborate as to the benefits of meditation if you’re often struggling with low confidence and self-esteem. In fact, practicing meditation could reduce quite a few of the problems of non-fident people.*

Anyway, as it turns out, Star Wars mindfulness is just totally a thing.

It first occurred to me when I was watching “The Empire Strikes Back” for the umpteenth time, having learned about mindfulness since the last time. For this purpose, I’ll be concentrating on Luke’s initial Jedi training.

When Luke first visits master Yoda, he’s restless, edgy, and impatient to get started. Yoda, being Yoda, then tells like it is:

“For 800 years have I trained Jedi. My own counsel will I keep on who is to be trained. A Jedi must have the deepest commitment; the most serious mind. This one a long time have I watched. All his life has he looked away. To the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was; what he was doing.“

Non-fident people tend to dwell on the past and worry about the future. Confident people accept their past by learning from their mistakes, and they prepare for the future by making the best of the present moment.

From then on, those Star Wars mindfulness moments just keep piling up.

When Yoda trains Luke in lifting rocks, he tells him to “feel” the rocks, and to concentrate. Of course, concentration per se might be a little misleading, since mindfulness isn’t about deliberately straining our minds.

But mindfulness IS about undivided focus. And to lift the rocks, Luke must give them this focus by “feeling” them, by concentrating on them, one at a time.

It becomes even clearer when Yoda tells Luke about the Force before he is to enter the Cave of Evil: “Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight.“ About how the dark side is “quicker, easier, more seductive”. And about how one will know the difference between the two sides when one is “calm, at peace, passive“.

This is, essentially, all another good reason to practice mindfulness. We so often give in to the basic human condition of fear that we often get carried away by it, only to find ourselves struggling negative emotions galore.

But when we’re calm, passive, and at peace, it’s much easier for us to distance ourselves from those emotions.

When Luke starts asking questions, Yoda quickly cuts him off: “No. There is no “why”. Nothing more will I teach you today. Clear your mind of questions”.

This, like mindfulness, is about acceptance. When we’re mindful, we accept things for what they are. We neither actively reject or pursue any information or idea. We simply let them pass through us without judgment.

Finally, before Luke enters the Cave of Evil, Yoda tells him that it contains “only what you take with you”. This applies to how we perceive and judge things. When we’re mindful, we observe things without labelling or judging them. But when we label or judge something, we ascribe it certain traits — positive or negative — that we bring along.

It’s only because Luke fears Vader that he sees him in the cave. — And, as he destroys the apparition and sees his own severed head, he sees how the fear might end up destroying himself.

Ultimately, when Luke returns to face Vader in “Return of the Jedi”, he is stoic and calm. You can almost detect the hint of a smile in the corners of his mouth. Having successfully learned the ways of the Jedi, he is able to withstand the temptation to fight the Dark Side, throw down his lightsaber, and take the path of calmness and peace.

Of course, Luke already has the Force within him that enables him to destroy the Death Star in “A New Hope”. And that’s kinda the beauty of it all. Because I totally think we all have the Force within us, and we should all find out how we’re gonna use it. And mindfulness helps us do that.

I could go on and on about Star Wars mindfulness. But don’t just take my word for it. Other people have long made the same discovery as I. Like I said: Star Wars mindfulness is totally a thing.

I was planning to be totally original and end this with a well-meant “may the Force be with you”. But for the purpose of generally writing about confidence and confidence-related issues, I’ll quote Yoda one last time. From when Luke complains about being unable to levitate his X-wing fighter from the swamp:

So certain are you. Always with you what cannot be done. Hear you nothing that I say?


* Sources: https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2013/03/how-mindfulness-can-increase-self-confidence/; https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/shift/201411/overcoming-low-self-esteem-mindfulness; http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ed-and-deb-shapiro/meditation-self-esteem_b_1803862.html

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Regretting past decisions is lame. Here’s why.

Regretting past decisions often involves an "I could have been [X]". Well, then why AREN'T you [X]?"We’ve all found ourselves regretting past decisions at one point or another. It’s part of being human, I guess. You live, you learn. And as we learn and accumulate experience, we begin to see our inexperienced past through experienced eyes.

This can make for regret.

We might realize an unintentional wrongdoing right away. Or, we might only realize it years later. Regretting past decisions, of course, pertains to the latter.

Confident people are usually calm and accepting towards past decisions. Whereas non-fident people tend to be governed by regret rather than acceptance.

When we’re regretting past decisions, we often make the mistake of beating ourselves up over something we allegedly “could have” had, said or done. But surprisingly often, it’s something we could have been or become.

Sure, I could have been famous….

I could have been a lawyer…

I could have been married by now, if only…

Yeah… No. No you couldn’t, and here’s why:

At any given time, we’re acting in perfect accordance with every single relevant internal disposition and external influence.

(And yes: Even when we’re regretting past decisions.)

At any time, there are a number of factors at play, all simultaneously determining the outcome of any given situation.

Some of these factors are within us; others are beyond us. Some people will claim that they’re mostly within our control; others will claim that they’re mostly beyond it. But that’s not the point here.

The point is that if you could have been something, you necessarily would have. Take any one of your statements following the logic of “I could have been [X]”, and then tell yourself why you DIDN’T become [X]. The explanation you’ll come up with is the reason why your statement is wrong in the first place.

I know this sounds harsh. So hey, take me as an example! I might tell you that I could have been a musician today. But really, I couldn’t. Because when my will to do it was at its highest, I still carried around way too much insecurity and existential indifference, and certain occurrences made me prioritize differently — in accordance with both these occurrences and my insecurity and indifference towards life.

So, am I regretting past decisions concerning my would-be musicianship? Well, I could. And I sure have. And from time to time I do find myself feeling that slight hint of regret that I didn’t practice just five minutes more every day.

Like I said, we’re human after all.

But generally, no. Because…

Regretting past decisions is lame, because we have no control over them today. Wanting to change something we can’t change is nothing more than setting ourselves up for failure.

But wait a minute! If internal and external dispositions govern everything we do and say and become all the time, what about our free will?

Yes, I’ve talked about this before. And, paraphrasing myself in all humility here, it doesn’t really matter whether we have free will or not.

What matters most is that we act rather than re-act. That we’re proactive rather than re-active. That we act in accordance with our desires and values, and that we feel good about the choices we make. No matter how many contributing factors determine these choices.

While regretting past decisions IS lame in itself, there’s still a lesson to be learned from our specific regrets. Like our physical pain is there to tell us about harm being done to our bodies, our regrets are there to tell us about harm being done to our desires and values.

Like with our physical pain, regret in itself will do you no good. But learn from the bitter memories surrounding it, and you’ll be able to see your path clearer and walk it more confidently.

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Forget about never being made fun of: Here’s what to do instead

Being made fun of happens to everyone, and it's not up to us to decide the details. So we might as well embrace it.Being made fun of is probably one of the most common fears among people with confidence and self-esteem issues. And for many a good reason.

With the possible exception of Larry David and other deliberately self-deprecating comedians, nobody likes being made fun of. When somebody makes fun of us, a part of us is involuntarily exposed beyond our control. We don’t get to decide when it happens, or in front of whom, or the specific subject matter.

If we feel particularly vulnerable towards ridicule, we might feel like preventing being made fun of by only surrounding ourselves with asskissers and yes-men. But really, show me just one person who’s effectively made that idea work.

Or, we might feel like not surrounding ourselves with people at all — yet another common go-to idea amongst non-fidents. And can you guess if that’s really a good, sensible idea?

Yeah, I thought so.

So, what do we do about being made fun of, then?

Well, as with a great many other things in life, there are options. And, as with life in general, there’s no manual. So, in practice, it really comes down to personal preference and simply winging it.

However, if we wish to take the path of confidence, there are certain things to consider.

You see, confidence is all about latitude and inclusiveness. The more confident we are, the bigger we consider ourselves. And the bigger we consider ourselves, the more we allow ourselves to contain. Even being made fun of.

This doesn’t mean we should lie down and take one insult after another like a little, submissive bitch. It means we should consider the reasons we might FEEL like a little, submissive bitch. Is it someone else “making” us feel this way? Or would we feel this way at all if we weren’t disposed towards it in the first place?

This is a provocative question, I know. And as such, it’s all the more important to consider.

And here’s something else…

Have you ever noticed how no matter what happens in any given week, satirical shows will necessarily find a way to poke fun at it?

In fact, have you ever noticed how you’re not the only person being made fun of? And, indeed, have you ever noticed how anyone can, in principle, make fun of anything, at any time?

Yes, they can. And this just so happens to include you. And me. In fact, everyone.

This is one of those inescapable conditions of being human. There’s no changing it.

And this is why, when we try to actively escape or refrain from being made fun of, it only makes us look even more pathetic and hilarious. Because, considering how far we’ve come as a civilization, certain human traits ARE still pretty inelegant.

So accept it. Forget about never being made fun of. Instead, learn to embrace and love the idea that anyone can, in principle, make fun of anything, at any time — including you. Anything else is just fear-based insecurity.

Which everybody has. It’s just that confident people act in spite of it. And Hell, confident people even make fun of themselves.

MENTAL EXERCISE

1) Turn off your phone, and eliminate all other possible distractions.
2) Close your eyes.
3) Now imagine that you’re 200 feet tall and made out of diamonds.
4) Get heavy on the details. Imagine your surroundings. Where are you at? Is it a city? If yes, which one, and which part of it?
Try walking around. What do people, buildings, animals, cars, streets, etc. look like from up there?
Engage your other senses as well. Are you hearing the wind more clearly up there? Maybe tasting the cool air?
Are you walking slowly and confidently? Do movements seem slower? Maybe less risky than usual?

Try doing this for 5 minutes. Notice how you feel afterwards.

It’s when we think of ourselves as big that we grow a little.

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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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