Increase your self-belief with 3 simple questions

Increase your self-beliefTo increase your self-belief is, by definition, to increase your confidence.

Confidence is about believing in yourself. In fact, that’s pretty much the definition right there.

And I submit that we need confidence to be successful in whatever we’re doing. Because otherwise, you’re not gonna be able to accomplish very much worthy of mention in this one life of yours.

If you think that you’ve heard that before, it’s probably because people have found this to be true time and time again. So, how can you increase your self-belief, then?

Well, whatever you’re doing, there’s three things you should ask yourself…:

1. How does this align with your values?

Because, if it doesn’t really, then that probably has something to do with it. Because our confidence is always in a dialectic relationship with our commitment to whatever it is we’re doing.

Therefore, your level of commitment at any given time is largely a product of how whatever it is you’re doing is aligned with your values. If it’s not, you’re not gonna be engaged with it.

And if you’re not engaged with it, it’s not really gonna matter to you. And if it doesn’t really matter to you, how do you think your level of confidence is gonna be like?

Not exactly very high, yeah?

And I’m not talking about everyday routines that you can do perfectly well without necessarily being passionate about it, like doing the dishes or checking your email. I’m talking about bigger, ongoing endeavors here.

Checking your phone first thing in the morning is NOT the way to increase your self-belief.
But of course, if you’re a downright FB-status update-reading PRO, then who am I to argue?

So whatever your current job or project is, make sure to ask yourself how it align with your values. If it doesn’t align with your values, you might wanna reconsider your engagement with it.

But if it does, move on to question number two…:

2. What do you need to believe in this even more?

Is it knowledge?
If yes, exactly what kind of knowledge?

Is it skills?
If yes, which skills do you need to improve?

Is it habits?
If yes, what specific habits would be good to cultivate?

Or is there something you need to cut out of your life?

 

Increase your self-belief by cutting out instant gratification
Mnaaaaah…

Question number 3 will probably come as no surprise:

3. With the above in mind, what specific actions can you take right now to increase your self-belief?

– If there’s a book you need to read, what’s stopping you from finding it on Amazon right now?
– If there’s some specific info you need, what’s stopping you from looking it up on Wikipedia right now?
– And if there’s a certain skill you need to develop, what’s stopping you from googling any courses or meetups near you right now?

Et cetera.

You have all the information in the world at your fingertips. I mean, chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re online, yeah?

There’s ALWAYS, NECESSARILY something you can do to increase your self-belief. And everything else you might be telling yourself is exactly just that:

Something you’re telling yourself.

It’s only true if you keep on insisting upon being right about it. And where does that leave you?

Yeah, I’ll just answer that one: It leaves you in a place where you don’t have to take action because you’re allowing yourself to feel confused and overwhelmed instead of focused and empowered.

And believe me: That’s not exactly an attitude that’s gonna have you believing in yourself anytime soon.

In the immortal words of Steve Perry:

Don’t stop believin’.

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The law of attraction: Thoughts upon a kind of personal case study

You’ve probably heard about the ‘law of attraction’, and how we can use visualization as an aid to attain our goals and dreams in life, right?

I think the whole phenomenon of ‘law of attraction’ has gotten a bad rep since “The Secret” became household.

It seems like basically a lot of bored, middle-aged housewives saw it and then just started imagining themselves having stacks of money without doing any actual work towards earning any.

Only, of course, to eventually lose their patience and blame it on the movie and the whole idea of visualization. Like any clueless outsider when initially presented with something which they don’t yet know how to use.

“WEH WEH IT’S STUPID AND IT DON’T WORK WEH WEH WEH!!”

Well… Here’s where it gets interesting.

I’ve been wanting to move to Málaga for about a year. So last spring, I got this neat little picture as a background on my laptop and iPad:

The law of attraction: This picture helped me realize and utilize its power.

It is, of course, a view of the beautiful city that is Málaga.

Now, compare with this picture which I’ve snapped myself recently…:

Having visions for yourself is a funny ol’ thing, isn’t it?

When a commercialized product like “The Secret” hits the stores along with its big, salesy promise, it will, necessarily get picked up by a majority of people who will CONSUME it but not USE it.

Because the sad fact is, that’s what the majority of people do. They read a book, go to a seminar, buy an online course, consume it, and then do nothing.

Even the good people behind those books, seminars and courses recognize this. (But of course, it’s not exactly something that sounds good in their sales pitches.)

And another problem is, of course, that some people kinda “try it” for a few weeks or months and then get discouraged and bitter when nothing happens. So they blame the people who try to teach HOW the law of attraction works.

This is why having a clear vision and taking consistent, relevant action is the key to achieving anything. (Which, in turn, is why coaching is so powerful.)

Now, I’m not saying that I — or anyone else for that matter — can logically explain how having a background picture of Málaga has somehow helped me get here.

It probably has to do with keeping focus. Eyes on the prize and all. And it probably has to do with something in my subconsciousness. (Hell, what doesn’t?)

But really, I don’t care. Because the important thing is that this whole law of attraction thing actually works. Whether we like it or not.

It’s in effect whether you let it, or whether you don’t.

Whatever you want, get specific on it. The clearer you can picture it, the better.

And start taking action towards it NOW.

There’s always something you can do. And whatever you do, the closer you’ll get.

Or, you know, you could just lie around and picture it, and se what good that’ll do you.

Your call.

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How action reduces fear

Action reduces fear, because doing something scary effectively tells our fear to shut up.Action reduces fear, so act.

Truth be told, this neat little quote isn’t my own. It’s one that I came upon while reading a summary of David Schwartz’ classic “The Magic of Thinking Big”. But it stuck with me.

For someone plagued by low confidence and self-esteem, the idea that action reduces fear could very well seem counter-intuitive. Because often, it’s when we need to take action on something — especially something important — that fear arises.

There’s the fear that we’ll mess something up, and that, as a result, people will judge us and ridicule us. But there’s also the fear that we might successfully carry through with our endeavor and advance to a higher level. — We’d have expectations coming at us from all sides! And responsibilities!

Whether it’s one or both, or some other fear, fear associated with taking action is definitely real. So, why would anyone claim that action reduces fear??

To find the answer, take a moment to think about another topic that seems to cause non-fidents a lot of pain: Over-thinking.

We’ve all been there. Stuck with a seemingly unsolvable choice, entirely unable to weigh out the pros and cons. Or, having done just that, unable to make a decision because either option seems just as good — or bad — as the other.

No-one’s exactly a fan, that’s for sure. But still, as it is said in the personal coaching world, there’s always a pay-off.

You see, over-thinking is, deep down, a defense mechanism. When we over-think something, it’s because of exactly those aforementioned fears.

No-one likes over-thinking. But it still feels way less uncomfortable than having to make a tough decision or do something that makes you feel exposed and put on the line.

Over-thinking, then, is the antithesis to the action that it prevents. The two cannot co-exist. It’s either one, or the other.

Sometimes, the over-thinking wins, and we end up doing nothing at all. That’s when we really give in to our doubts and fears.

And so, it’s when we stop thinking and just do it that action reduces fear.

Action reduces fear, because when we act, we only do it because we’ve sufficiently silenced that fearsome part of our brains telling us to abort and run away. Like I said, the two cannot co-exist.

But doesn’t that mean that I’d have to compromise my thinking if I want to get things done? What if I, like, really treasure my thinking?”

Sounds like a defense mechanism to me. 😉

No, seriously, it does. But I DO get where you’re coming from. I was there.

The thing is, thinking isn’t necessarily good for us altogether. Thinking isn’t a means to an end. We have more thoughts every day than can be measured, and that’s not exactly beneficial.

On the contrary, many a study have been done on how meditation helps us by training us to simply observe our thoughts and stay focused on the ones that matter, rather than blowing the insignificant ones out of proportion.*

Also, after we’ve done whatever frightening actions we’re doing, we can evaluate ourselves and get better at it the next time. And, of course, we wanna start out by taking babysteps. This goes for whatever we’re doing. Some people even get help from a confidence coach. (Something I obviously highly recommend doing.)

Bottom line: If you’re feeling anxious about doing something, it probably means it’s important, and you should do it. And really, there are lots of ways to go about your challenges safely and securely. But only the action reduces fear. And, as another quote from the initially mentioned summary goes: Nothing happens just by thinking.

Yes, it’s scary. Do it anyway.


* Sources: https://nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation/overview.htm; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2719544/; http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967

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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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On the paradox of finding comfort in low confidence

No matter how safe you might feel, staying with your low confidence is the biggest risk of all.If you know anyone with low confidence, you’d want them to feel more confident, right?

However, things aren’t always that simple.

Low confidence is a lot like depression. In that it has that one counter-intuitive paradox to it:

Depression and low confidence holds us back. But for that same reason, they can actually feel safe.

Indeed, confidence can be scary!

… Well, actually, it’s not confidence in itself that’s scary. On the contrary, confidence is the antithesis to being scared.

However, if one has low confidence or none at all, the IDEA of having it can sometimes be quite frightening.

Indeed, if you have low confidence, confident people can come off as brash, intimidating, and careless towards other people’s sensitivities.

Therefore, staying in your “safe spaces” can seem all too easily obvious. You don’t speak up; you tend not to disagree; maybe you don’t even get out much.

Ultimately, your low confidence can end up as a sort of trusted companion to you. Because not taking any risks can seem safe and secure.

And — you guessed it — here’s what’s wrong with that…:

Deep down and honestly, beyond all the fear, doubt and superficial comfort, we all know that we want more than that. Some of us might even know that we actually CAN DO better than that.

But taking action can be scary. Because often, we wouldn’t know where to start. Nobody told us. How would we know?

And what if we mess it all up beyond repair?? We could ruin our reputation, right?! And other people would maybe LAUGH at us!!

Here’s what we all need to realize:

The biggest risk is not taking any action at all.

Altogether now:

THE BIGGEST RISK IS NOT TAKING ANY ACTION AT ALL.

Only when we’ve made it fully clear to ourselves that our perceived comfort in low confidence is by far the bigger evil can we move towards action.

And the good part is that often, the biggest difference is not what action we take, rather than the fact that we take action in the first place.

See, if we truly wanna get confidence, we gotta start by getting used to taking action. And, popularly speaking, this means, get off your ass and deal with your circumstances.

But no, really: If you don’t take action on your own behalf, who do you expect will do it for you?

Nobody will! Your parents won’t be around forever. And your friends’ support, however generous, only goes so far. Their food budget isn’t yours, and you can’t stay on their couch forever. (Or, indeed, any couch.)

And of course, this only applies to those lucky enough to have parents and supportive friends. Not everyone is.

Whatever’s the case, it really is up to you to take action.

ACTION ITEM:

This week, stretch yourself. Challenge yourself in an area of your life where you have particularly low confidence. (And if that’s “all of them”, just pick one.)

If you’re anxious about approaching other people, do it. Ask a stranger for directions anywhere and exchange a few words in the process. If you feel like you could have done a lot better, do it again.

Getting our of our comfort zone is the true killer of low confidence.

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