Okay, so you messed up. Now what?

If you messed up something, you might feel embarrassed. But mistakes are necessary if you wanna build confidence.Okay. So you did something wrong. Maybe you made a social blunder; maybe you carried out some task and failed. In short: You messed up.

For people with low confidence, failure can be downright devastating.

I know. Because I used to be ashamed of things I did or said. All the time.

And I’m not talking about calmly realizing one’s wrongdoing and immediately learning from it. I’m talking an involuntary panic-anxiety-attack-like-muscle-spasms-complete-with-grinding-teeth-and-making-noises sorta sensation.

With an inner voice going like: “Screw you! You messed up, and you’re useless! You’re unable to do anything right, and you should be locked away! You messed up, and that’s all you’re ever gonna do!

Every day, several times.

And it doesn’t even have to be something big. It could be a misused word, a social faux pas… anything.

When non-fident people react drastically to making any kind of mistake, it’s because non-fidence is often accompanied by low self-esteem, perfectionism, and insecurity.

When we have low self-esteem, we tend to judge ourselves more vigorously than we would our peers. If we don’t like ourselves, we’re hard on ourselves. Simple as that.

But moreover, if we don’t allow for ourselves to make mistakes, we develop perfectionism. Which, in turn, makes it seem so much worse to us when we do make a mistake. — Or even do something in a manner less than “perfect”. (Which, as I’ve written about before, is a BS notion.)

And then there’s the insecurity, which doesn’t allow for much space for mistakes, nor for even trying. This is governed by the amygdala — the reptilian part of our brain — most commonly known for our “fight or flight” mechanism.

See, amongst our primitive ancestors, social identity was way more important than today. Dangers were all around. If you messed up something, it could get you expelled from your tribe and thrown out into the wilderness on your own.

All of this perfectly illustrates the dangerous downward spiral of non-fidence. If we have low regard for ourselves we make less space for ourselves to make mistakes. This, in turn, causes making mistakes to be even more likely, which, then, will only lead to much more self-loathing and shame.

Because we DO make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes. We know this perfectly well, yet tend to act like we’re the only flawed person alive.

But here’s the kicker:

Confident people make WAY many more mistakes than less confident people.

The more confident you are, the less regard you give to other people’s opinion about you. The higher you think of yourself, the less you worry about making mistakes. You know perfectly well that your rights outnumber your wrongs. You know perfectly well that you’re able to learn from your mistakes.

Indeed, if you don’t make mistakes, you can never learn. And if you don’t learn, you don’t grow.

In other words:

For every time you messed up something in life, you had the opportunity to learn, grow, and prevent yourself from making the same mistake again.

So get out there and mess up. Badly. Learn, improve, repeat. And as you learn and grow, watch as your confidence grows with you.

ACTION ITEM:

The next time you’re embarrassed about something, use the following method:

  1. Stop what you’re doing.
  2. Breathe. Ten long, deep breaths.
  3. Think. Realize that whatever negative response on your part are merely thoughts, and that they’re not necessarily true, constructive or favourable.
  4. Choose how you want to feel about what happened. Do you genuinely want to be ashamed? Or would you rather accept, learn, and grow?

The choice is yours.

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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.

ACTION ITEM:

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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