I can’t think of any other person worth getting to know better than myself; and hopefully you feel the same way about you as well. You see, you must be the first person who takes interest in you. If you don’t know who you are, how can you introduce yourself to someone else or share with them who you are?
Lack of self-knowledge can cause quite a bit of confusion, especially in relationships; including the one with yourself.
If you don’t know you, who does? People may know who you are by:
· The way you carry yourself
· Your mannerism, attitude, appearance, and behavior
· What you say and how you say it
· Listening to others who know you or have observed you
· Spending time with you
This explains how others may know you or may get to know who you are; but if you don’t know who you are, you will send mixed messages to others. This will create confusion in their minds, because they can’t be clear about who you are if you’re not clear and consistent.
The way you can become clear and consistent on who you are is to get to know yourself.
You can get to know yourself by spending time with you. Be a friend to yourself and just listen and observe your own behavior, thoughts, and responses.
For example: you’re invited out for dinner. The person asks you where you’d like to eat. You shrug your shoulders and say anywhere is fine. He insists on taking you where you want to go; so, he awaits your decision. In order for you to decide, you must have an idea of the types of food you like to eat.
Do you have any allergies or intolerances, preferences, likes/dislikes or favorites?
If this is a guy who’s trying to get to know you better to see if he’s interested in taking the relationship further, your decisions, or lack thereof will help him with his choice. You must know who you are in order to answer the questions asked.
This reminds me of a movie I saw, “Runaway Bride”.
One of the main characters didn’t know who she was or what she liked; or didn’t like, for that matter. Because of this, she ended up liking whatever it was the person she was with liked. She was inconsistent and became confusing to others.
When this was brought to her attention by another main character, she denied it. But later, in her own private time she realized there was some truth to this. She prepared eggs every way she could think of so she could once and for all decide how she liked HER eggs.
Her focus was always on someone else; outside herself.
People had to bring things to her attention in order for her to look within and get to know her own self. Her best friend was another person who was able to help her see this; which speaks to how each of us at some point in time of our life need someone who can speak into our life and help us move forward. That can be a friend, a spouse or significant other, family member, or close confidant.
Once she had awareness of this, her confidence and the way she carried herself and dealt with others changed. It was very noticeable.
People can tell when you have or lack confidence. It shows. The way this character went about getting to know herself was by spending time with herself alone; by asking questions of herself and waiting and listening for answers. Any woman desiring to get to know herself can go about it the same way.
Other suggestions include:
· Find a place where you can be alone for a period of time
· Sit quietly (at a park, the library, in your parked vehicle with a nice scenery, or at home where you won’t be disturbed, a bath soak, etc.)
· Journal (free write/brain dump whatever comes to mind without judgment)
· Look in a mirror at your face and notice everything you can about it
· Take a nature walk
· Experiment with your taste buds for what you really enjoy
· Acceptance of who you are at your core
· Seeing a movie alone, noticing your own thoughts and feelings as they appear
These are just a few suggestions of the sort of things you can do to help you become more self-aware. As you do, you won’t tolerate what you don’t like or want in your life, or for yourself or from anyone else.
Question. How do you know whether you like or dislike strawberry ice-cream?
You won’t unless you try it. You can’t tell just by looking at it or smelling it. The same goes for whether your system can take or hold something down. This is how people learn they have allergies; by eating, trying, or testing something they haven’t before.
If you want to be certain, some things you just have to try. This goes for your taste in foods, as well as in people. Some personalities you’ll get along with, while others may rub you the wrong way. You may not know or understand why, but just pay attention to your internal cues.
When you take out the time to study and learn yourself you can answer others from that place of knowing, because you have spent time with you.
So, the next time you’re invited for dinner and you get to choose the place, you can call it like it is, because you know; or you’re getting to know. Keep spending time with yourself and learn new things as you continue to grow. This will change as you grow and evolve, so don’t hesitate to tell someone you used to like this, but not any longer. It’s all a part of growth.
The more you take out the time to be with yourself, the more you will learn and appreciate being the unique individual you are, and being okay with it.
Spending time with yourself not only improves and builds your confidence in who you are, but also helps you to like who you are. This is the one and only body (house) you have to live in, so at best, learn to love it, AND you.
Barbara Ann Williams, LPC, MS – www.barbaraannwilliams.com
Being self aware is critical in being able to know yourself.
Being self-aware means that you are able to reflect on your feelings and how you are expressing yourself. This does not to mean that you should over obsess about how others perceive you but rather that you have some awareness of your behavior and how it impacts those around you.
Getting to know yourself means that you are willing to be honest with yourself.
Being honest with oneself sometimes dredges up feelings of discomfort. Learning to sit in our discomfort is important in being able to process something that is emotionally distressing. If we have to address our behavior, we need to reflect on the reason behind the need to address the behavior.
- Are you having angry outbursts?
- Are you procrastinating so much that it is jeopardizing your job?
- What is the origin of the behavior that is causing you or others distress?
For example, you keep picking fights with your boyfriend. You notice a pattern in your last 3 relationships. You start looking for reasons to break up with him about 6 months into the relationship. You justify it by finding flaws and escalating conflicts to give you a reason to fight and avoid spending time with him.
These fights then justify you breaking up with him or him breaking up with you. The relationship ends each time at about the same stage in the relationship.
What is the dynamic in each relationship that keeps repeating and ending with the same result?
Maybe you start getting too close and you are afraid to take the next step and so you leave before you get too serious. Maybe you enjoy the honeymoon phase of the relationship and dread falling into a boring place in your relationship. So in order to avoid confronting your fears of commitment or to avoid doing your work when the relationship starts to get serious; you create a situation that increases conflict between you and your partner in order to force a separation.
Being honest with him cannot happen if you are not honest with yourself.
By avoiding the truth about how you really feel, you create a situation in which you avoid sitting in your own discomfort and confronting uncomfortable feelings.
So what happens when you really want to be with someone and you don’t have the tools to work through those uncomfortable feelings? If you want a meaningful relationship, you cannot avoid these feelings forever. This is where knowing yourself is extremely important.
You don’t want to force yourself to do something that does not work for you. At the same time you want to gently challenge yourself when you are confronted by uncomfortable feelings and learn to work through your discomfort and soothe yourself.
Just be honest with yourself first.
You do not have to share your feelings with others or justify your behavior. In order to know yourself, you simply need to be honest with yourself and be objective in your assessment of yourself.
Being honest with yourself keeps you in your integrity so you don’t have to make excuses later or back out of situations you create to avoid conflict. Being honest with yourself means that you may have to reflect on your behavior and how it is affecting your relationships.
An example might be that you are angry at someone you love. When you see this person, you become overwhelmed and act out in a passive aggressive manner. You have difficulty expressing your anger and articulating what you are feeling. Maybe you don’t feel safe expressing anger or you grew up being told that nice girls don’t get angry.
Being angry doesn’t mean that you are not a nice girl. Knowing yourself well enough to recognize that you are angry is important. Being honest with yourself about why you are angry is essential to having healthy boundaries.
Know yourself well enough to respect how you feel and establish the necessary boundary to cope with the situation that is making you angry. Know yourself well enough to understand that you are only injuring yourself by avoiding or denying your feelings.
The following are some things that you can do to help you get to know yourself.
It is important to stay positive and look for support when you are struggling with something distressing and emotionally heavy. Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you learn to recognize aspects of yourself or become aware of feelings that you may be avoiding.
1. To help sort through and organize your thoughts, try journaling about your feelings. Try not to put too much emphasis on what you think you should be like. There is no right or wrong or good or bad.
Integrity is about being honest with yourself.
This includes not torturing yourself trying to be something that you are not. If you do not like something, don’t force yourself to accommodate others by making yourself to do it. Don’t judge your feelings harshly and oppress yourself by labeling and invalidating the way you feel.
A simple example would be dating a non-smoking vegan. You smoke and eat red meat. There is an essential incompatibility in this relationship. If the both of you can live with your partner’s preference, then all is well. If you try and force yourself to stop smoking and eating red meat only to find yourself sneaking a smoke and a burger when your partner is not around, you are not being yourself. You should be able to smoke and eat your burger in front of your partner.
If you want to be healthy and your desire to change is organic, then that is your choice.
If you change to accommodate your partner then you will create tension for yourself in the relationship. This tension will manifest in the form of avoidance, denying, mistrust and dishonesty because you are not really being yourself. Know yourself from the beginning by knowing your limits and be realistic about them.
2. Ask a friend that you trust to give you feedback on your friendship. If you really want to grow, you need to be able to hear what others say to you about your behavior. It is never easy to hear about an area we need to work on. Try not to view it as criticism, but as an opportunity at insight that can help you be the best version you can be.
Maybe you were engaged to be married, but as the wedding day approached you started to have second thoughts. These thoughts kept nagging at you and you cancelled the wedding the day before it was scheduled.
When you ask your friend what she thinks happened, she might say that he was a nice guy but just not the guy for you. She might tell you that she thought you were doing it because it is what your family and everyone around you expected you to do.
After all he is such a nice guy and he is good for you too. At the same time, you just weren’t ready and despite everyone around you saying that it was the best thing for you, you just weren’t feeling it. She tells you that you were not being honest with yourself.
The good thing is that you called it off before it moved to the next level. When you know yourself, you trust your own feelings and choices about what is best for you.
I have worked with many clients who felt they made major life decisions based on what they thought they should do or what others expected of them.
They were not honest with themselves about their own needs and ignored who they really are. They did not know themselves well enough to recognize they were strong enough all along to do their own thing on their own terms.
3. Talk to a therapist and be open about exploring things that make you uncomfortable. Therapy is a safe place to process your feelings and reflect on areas of personal growth and development. A therapist can support you while you sit in your discomfort. A therapist can help you identify tools to help you internally validate and self-regulate your emotions when you are processing uncomfortable feelings outside of therapy.
4. Learn to reframe as a tool to help you examine a situation from different perspectives. Reframing means that you look at all aspects of the situation and discern between the things that are working and the things that are not working. For example, you broke up with you non-smoking vegan boyfriend and you are disillusioned at the loss of someone you thought was a “catch.”
The break-up is disappointing, but on the flip side, you are free to meet someone else who may be more compatible and who you can be yourself with. Additionally, you don’t have to sneak around to have a smoke or eat a burger.
By reframing, you look at the positive as well as the negative.
Keep a balanced view of the situation that is making you uncomfortable and keep it in the right context. Don’t judge yourself so harshly that you sabotage yourself. In other words, we all make mistakes. Don’t let your mistake define you and instead learn from the experience. If you fail, try again. Every situation is different and you carry over what you learned from previous experiences making you wiser and more self-aware.
Be confident and accept yourself as you really are. Don’t compromise your integrity by ignoring your own needs. Being self-aware enough to confront ourselves about how we really feel takes courage. Working through our stuff is never easy. It can be extremely uncomfortable to be honest with ourselves because it sometimes means that we need to confront things that need to change. There is no judgment.
Take it one step at a time.
Get to know yourself slowly by developing a trusting and non-judgmental relationship with yourself. You need to allow yourself to be safe with your own thoughts. Appreciate the clarity that comes from knowing the depth of your truth.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net
First of all, one of the most important things to realize is that self-acceptance, while a worthy goal, is not something that you can just do once and then never worry about again.
In fact, the most useful way to think about this concept is as an ongoing practice in your life. “Sure,” you might be thinking, “That’s easy for you to say! But just how am I supposed to go about doing that?”
Here are 4 simple steps to help you put into practice something that will prove itself to be more powerful to your emotional, psychological and spiritual well being than just about anything else.
1. Become aware of when you fall into the ditch of self-criticism! This is about noticing when you are being hard on yourself. If you don’t know when you are being too hard on yourself, then there is NO way you can fix it. So first become aware of the times when your inner voices are yelling at you things like “This will never work! You can’t do that! Why couldn’t you figure that out?”
2. Reduce amount of time spent berating yourself! So once you have figured out what the most likely times are when you berate yourself, now you have to start to change your internal self-talk. So think about the kind part of you that would NEVER say something cruel or harsh to a friend if they made a mistake. When you feel the pull to say to yourself the harsh thing – just imagine a STOP sign and STOP the thought.
3. Increase amount of time spent being kind to yourself! To do this, imagine one of your kindest friends (and if you don’t have ANY kind friends, then start there!!) and what they would say to you under these circumstances. Then say that to yourself – out loud if you can and don’t worry if it seems weird. A good plan is to look at yourself in the mirror and say the kind words, and NOT the harsh words.
4. Then STOP the whole process! This is one of the most important things to remember. After you have stopped the harsh thoughts (by becoming aware) and said the kind things (by thinking of a kind friend and what they would say to you in any given situation) then the next and last step is to STOP the process.
Get OFF the merry-go-round of self-recrimination after you have said the kind thing to yourself. And move along in life…until the NEXT time something comes up. And then start again from Step 1.
One great physical signal to yourself when you are trying this NEW way of thinking is to put your right hand on your heart and think to yourself, “This is hard to do and really hurts.” Feel the acceptance and kindness in this gesture. You ARE worth it!
Repeat as needed. Is this hard to do? Yes, sometimes it can be. Can I get better with practice? Yes, you absolutely can – and in fact, thinking about it as a practice can help you get better all the time.
So get out there and PRACTICE!! It can change your life!
Kirsten Lind Seal, PhD, LMFT - www.kirstenlindseal.com
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson
Confidence is our sunshine.
Many of us want confidence in our lives, but we are often overshadowed and the confidence gets displaced in insecurity. Having sunshine doesn’t make us cocky or arrogant (which is a fear of many).
Confidence is grown and hindered in many ways.
We are the only ones that can actually grow our confidence, but anyone, including ourselves can hinder our confidence. Let us look closer at confidence.
Confidence is one of those things that we see in other people and crave for ourselves and even sometimes resent.
Many of us want to be confident, we don’t walk around saying I want to be insecure and uncertain about ourselves. Most people want it, but don’t know how to work toward building a more confident and strong self. There are many ways to approach building self-confidence, but I want to focus on the idea of how we get in our own way of being confident.
We demand so much from ourselves that we typically beat ourselves up over things that we miss or things that we struggle with day in and day out. Even when we conquer an uphill battle at the end of it we expected it of ourselves or “it wasn’t that big of a deal”. Either way, it never seems like we can win with ourselves, we are always fighting to be good enough.
Here are three major things you can do to start increasing your confidence every day.
1. Stop Beating Yourself Up
We put so much effort and use so much energy on correcting, critiquing and criticizing ourselves. The way we look, our performance, our personal life, among other things. We aren’t “pretty enough”, “thin enough”, “smart enough”, “wealthy enough”, “busy enough” or “happy enough”. These are all things that some of us say to ourselves on a daily basis, and hearing these thoughts stream in and out of our head can leave us feeling pretty insecure and uncertain with ourselves.
What difference would it make if for every criticism you had instead you had a compliment for yourself?
This is something you can try: every time you catch yourself saying something negative or critiquing yourself you have to say two positive or uplifting things about yourself in that situation. Every time you judge yourself you have to do something nice for yourself in respect to loving what you judged.
2. Give Yourself Credit
When we do something good we often times just expect that thing to be done or to be completed in that manner. If someone tells us good job we often quickly jump to “it was nothing” or “oh you really thought so? Because I thought…” or that is how I am supposed to be or perform or you are just trying to be nice, it wasn’t good at all. These are just a few of the many conclusions that we jump to when we accomplish any task.
Think about how different things would be if you were able to give yourself a compliment or even accept one.
Try walking through the day and allowing yourself to be humbly proud of the accomplishments you have made. Allow others to say good job and simply say “thank you” instead of the thoughts that down play or degrade your work or appearance in anyway. When you are able to appreciate who you are and the work that you do, you will find yourself being much more confident in your abilities and personal life.
3. Be Compassionate To Yourself
When we make a mistake we are often so quick to jump to all of the things we should have done and all of the things we aren’t. We find it so easy to come down on ourselves for mistakes and missed opportunities, and often think that our actions are who we are. Yet, often we are quick to offer affirmations, grace, and a caring gesture to help others who make mistakes.
We are supportive and caring and we don’t judge or criticize them. We show them compassion. Why can’t we do the same for ourselves? This is one of the hardest things for people to grasp, simply because we do expect so much from ourselves. We want to be perfect, but we should also want compassion for ourselves because our view changes a lot when we give ourselves a little grace to move forward.
There is a big difference between “I messed that up” versus “I am a mess up”.
This is many times where we go wrong in giving ourselves compassion. We don’t see how we ourselves could be given grace because we internalize our mistake and make it part of our identity instead of looking at the mistake as an action. It is much easier to look at an action and given compassion to the person who made a mistake than it is to give compassion to a person who is the mistake.
Taking a second to reframe what has happened as an action rather than as an identity is key to being able to give ourselves to compassion and grace we need when we fall flat on our face.
If you can walk through and move those criticisms to compliments or to grace, we can build confidence.
It is so easy to beat ourselves up over our wants and our dreams, but the reality of it is if we beat ourselves down we can’t build ourselves up in order to achieve those wants and those dreams. We must love ourselves and build ourselves up in order to gain confidence a move toward a more well-rounded sense of self.
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
Rebecca Frank, MA, LPCC, NCC - www.courage2connect.com
Did you know that the primary cause of low confidence is negative thinking patterns?
Do you frequently put yourself down or negatively compare yourself to others? If so, you may be suffering from low confidence.
The journey from low confidence to high confidence may feel like a long one but it doesn’t have to be. I have seen people turn the corner quickly after implementing these 5 simple steps for overcoming negative thinking patterns.
Step one: Create a space for awareness.
The first step to creating freedom of thought is to actively choose what you will think and believe rather than by operating by default. By this, I mean that you have to become aware of your routine thinking patterns.
What do you say to yourself or others?
Do you call yourself “stupid” or “lazy” or “unattractive?
The best way to uncover and recover from negative thinking patterns is to create a space for awareness. This can be done through meditation, journaling, noticing your inner and outer self-talk, and paying attention to your reactions. What story do you tell yourself through your daily thinking patterns? Is the story of a hero or a sad, washed out character?
Step two: Engage in self-reflection.
Take a moment to write down what you noticed after your space for awareness. What thoughts or feelings came up? What do you believe about yourself? Why do you believe this? Where does this belief come from?
Step three: Identify your core beliefs.
Core beliefs are usually strong, rigid and inflexible ideas we have about ourselves, our life or others. Core beliefs develop early in life, and are maintained by our tendency to focus on information that supports them, while ignoring information or evidence that contradicts them. Core beliefs come from having the same thought over and over again until it becomes a pattern of thinking.
What is your core belief? Do you believe you are unloveable? Do you believe you are not good enough?
Negative core beliefs will rob you of confidence.
Step 4: Replace negative core beliefs with positive core beliefs.
Start to practice positive self-talk. Be willing to believe the opposite of your negative belief. Do not reinforce the negative belief! Instead, nurture the new, positive belief. Start to speak about yourself in a positive way. Notice your good qualities. Accept compliments.
Step 5: Keep practicing good habits to raise and maintain your confidence.
Do things that make you feel good about yourself. Take good care of yourself. Live according to your values. Reduce negative comparisons. Limit your time time with negative people.
Practice these 5 steps for 30 days and see the difference it makes in your life. Notice the feeling of confidence that comes into your life when you are not engaging in negative thinking patterns.
Dr. Shannon Tran – www.shannontranphd.com
I am going to share some of my personal story on how to build self-confidence.
This process not only led to my building confidence but also opened the door for so many other blessings to follow.
Twenty-seven years ago I was a non-functioning train wreck of a person. I literally could not function on any level. For example, I could not hold a job, couldn’t mange a simple checking account, couldn’t maintain any sort of relationship with men or women, had page after page of F’s on my college transcripts; you get the picture?
Overall my self-confidence was below zero, I didn’t think I could succeed at anything!
However, I was determined to change the way I was living and found a way to recreate myself. In the years since “hitting bottom” I graduated Suma Cum Laude with page after page of A’s (literally nothing in between), learned to have healthy relationships with solid boundaries, and not only manage a checkbook but own two corporations, I built a successful therapeutic practice and now also own and manage a healing arts center.
Most importantly, along the way I learned to love me, to take care of me, and to become my own best friend.
While most people are not the hot mess I was, the process of healing is the same for us all. The method I used is permanent, it is liberating, it is healing to mind, body and spirit, and it is hard work.
Along the way, I have tried most other healing modalities (prayer, meditation, yoga, anger management, Native American rituals and ceremonies, implemented Buddhist philosophies, acupuncture, Qigong, talk therapy, stress management, changing thoughts, etc.). All of these techniques are wonderful for supporting the body, mind, and spirit!
However, the thing that helped me to change my patterns at the deepest level, to bring about permanent life style changes, that gave me enduring self-confidence, was by taking a look at my baggage and doing my emotional healing work.
Eighteen years ago, I was still very insecure but at least able to function at a pretty high professional level and could fake self-confidence. While I projected an image of confidence I still doubted myself, the fears weren’t significantly changing with all the things I had been doing. I looked better on the outside but wasn’t much better on the inside.
One of my Native American mentors told me to “let it go”.
The frustrating part is that I thought I had been getting go, so had no idea exactly what that meant or exactly how to do it. I felt like I was even failing at this too. So I decided to let go of the feelings, literally.
As emotions came to the surface during different situations I would tuck them away until I was by myself and then let the feelings flow in private. While out on my early morning jog or hike I would put on dark glasses and start feeling the feelings I had neatly tucked away. I was literally crying with sunglasses on jogging around my neighborhood at 5:30-6:00-6:30 every morning. I would start “picking the scabs” of the past and opening the little boxes stuffed deep inside and then let those feelings bubble to the surface.
Using emotions to fuel a workout gives you quicker and greater results on both ends.
Then at the end of the workout, I stuffed away all the feelings just like I had been doing my whole life and went to work. The positive effect was immediate. I started feeling lighter, more peaceful and more confident. I did this nearly every day for a long time. It becomes intoxicating because after releasing the emotions the benefit is immediate and noticeable.
Over time I became more and more deep down confident, I wasn’t taking things so personally anymore, I was saying no to drama and toxic people, I was feeling much better about myself. All I did was be brave enough to feel my feelings.
I know very few people have an extra 30 minutes daily or a few times a week to spare. Some things that have worked for clients is getting up 30 minutes earlier, saying no to after work obligations, and learning to put your needs ahead of others.
No, this is not selfish. Selfish is spoiled rotten brat stuff.
This is self-centered and comes under “if I don’t take care of me, I can’t take care of anyone else”. Growth is mandatory for life. Carve out time anywhere you can find it.
If you don’t exercise, then journal out the feelings.
Write with streams of tears pouring down your face. When alone cry into a pillow (make sure the home windows are closed so you don’t scare the neighbors), punch a bed if you need too, get a sponge bat and beat a chair. You can also get into your car and go to a park or private spot, and let the feelings out while in your car with the windows rolled up (be safe and make sure you are stopped). The important thing is to not make excuses as to why you can’t and figure out ways that you can.
By getting rid of the old stuff we create room for a new way of living.
This is the process we use in my therapy practice to make all sorts of behavioral changes. Not just superficial changes that revert back in a few months but permanent, life long changes. I hope this serves you as well as it has me.
Cynthia Pickett, LCSW – www.cynthiapickett.com
We often hear think positive and decide we are going to put that on our to do list or New Year’s resolutions but then it falls of and we stop, resigning to do it again.
So we need to make this change daily in our actions and thoughts, you can begin by following these steps.
I understand that you might have skepticism but I am living proof these steps work. I use them daily and have achieved thinking positive and the goals I want daily, monthly and yearly.
1. Say all the affirmations you want to be your life daily out loud
Affirmations can be for love, finances, family, work anything. Say them as if they are currently occurring in your life and do them daily. A few things will happen. You will start to see them come to be, you will believe in them and you will start changing your thinking from trying or maybe to things happening and being.
Ex: I started the affirmation that” I add at least two clients a week” when I started my private practice and have had that goal achieved every week since to where I have had to take breaks from this affirmation so I could get it to stop.
2. Reframe your thinking every single time it goes to the negative
As you are working on thinking positively, you will have times it starts to go to the negative that you are used to. When it does this notice it, acknowledge it for what it is then change it to a positive thought and do this every single time you start to go to the negative.
Ex: When my ex-husband decided not to have any involvement with the kids at all, I would start to have the negative thought of “Why do I have to handle everything.” I grew tired or became negative and angry and wanted to do something about it. So every single time, I would have that thought I would change it to “I am so lucky I get to have all the memories and events with my kids.” It took a little bit of time but truly changed my thinking and feelings.
3. Look at who you surround yourself with
Often when we are working to think positively, we are still spending the majority of our time with people that are still very negative. We need to look at this and decide if they are wanting to be positive as well or if we need to change who is in our bubble.
Ex: I took a hard look at who was in my circle of friends and evaluated if they were truly positive or negative. I then made changes as to who could be in my “bubble”. I let others be part of my acquaintances but not in my bubble. I started making friends with those that were positive thinkers and am thrilled to have them as my dear friends today.
4. Practice, Practice, Practice
It may sound odd but thinking positively like any behavior change takes practice to become a habit. We need to think positively, speak positively and live positively day after day to the point that it becomes our norm not our new behavior.
Ex: I made as much of an effort to change this behavior as I would an exercise program I was starting so that each day I felt different and more positive.
5. Argue for positive and be grateful
One of the best ways to change how we think is to argue for change with others. As others give me negative thoughts, I make it fun to spin it to the positive. It leaves them feeling better than they did and helps me with my new way of thinking.
Ex: I use this in my individual therapy sessions and groups all the time. When someone will come at me with all the horrible things in their life, I search and express the positive and how lucky we are to have those.
This creates a positive group that then feeds it to each other and uses it with the negative members when they come in. This ties right into being grateful. When you say every night what you love about your life and are thankful for it breeds positivity.
I can attest to the fact that these things work because I use them all the time. I love that positive breeds positive and the life that creates.
Neesha Lenzini, MS - www.relationshipsinneed.com
Decluttering sounds so cathartic!
Get rid of the old! out with the JUNK! We can get very motivated and energized by the idea of decluttering and then be left in the dust (bunnies) when it comes to acting on it.
Decluttering is as much a state of mind and practice as it is an action.
So lets discuss what decluttering is and how to integrate it into our lives and natural day–to-day thinking.
There are many books and methods to decluttering that take it in small 15 minute bites everyday or large fast room-cleanings in one weekend.
Both are simply the “how” though the more important is the “why”.
- Are you losing things in your home and having to re-buy them?
- Are you tired of dusting useless objects?
- Is your home just filled to the brim?
- Are you realizing that you do not use things and want to sell them to pad your vacation account?
- Are you wasting time looking for items?
Start with learning what your motivation is to act. This motivation may be different for each part of your life.
My van is full of cluttered kid art, snacks, extra diapers, and some work or errand items. I can usually find things, though it is a spacious mini-van, I have to clear clutter and toss things around to let a friend ride shotgun or to let a kid crawl to the way back and get a ride home. I also have items that roll out during the elementary school drop-off loop and stopped my door from closing – embarrassing and I blocked traffic.
So, to ease this mess, embarrassment, and even lessen work in the future I can attack the job. So in this case it is not to get rid of items, but to organize and restructure. I use a bag in each area to hold what is needed: baby supplies, snacks, work items, random art/kid toys, and errand items. I also move what does not need to be at-hand to the trunk in a basket so that it does not roll around.
Simple, though without knowing the focus and reason, I would end up with what happened 2 weeks ago: my husband cleaned out my van to help and left me with no back-up baby diaper, no snacks, and no book to read when waiting for school to be let out. He did not first focus on what my vision of my van is – its purpose and place in my life.
Simply getting rid of things is not decluttering – it is the act of bringing order and purpose, value, to your items that brings about decluttering.
When I declutter my closet, it is the same, just more complicated. I have a lot of hand-me-downs that my Mom thinks I would like. I also have maternity clothes, chubby clothes, items I have not worn or considered for a long time, and many scarves even though I live in Arizona.
Decluttering the closet is a big task due to managing the many problems happening in the closet. I cannot just organize and I cannot do this too quickly because there is thought that needs to happen. Though, if I address my closet each day with the thought that I want to have it be beautiful, joyful, and useful, then I can work.
Starting with a vision of a closet being for clothes that are beautiful, joyful, fit, and are for all seasons and events in my life.
The vision of its purpose then lets me pull out bags of blue jeans, maternity clothes, and obvious items that do not match the vision. Then slowly, as I find them, remove damaged, outdated, big clothes. I personally keep a bag for alterations, a bag for donations, and a bag to sell in my closet – I stash items there as I find them, then deal with the bag when I feel like it or when it gets full, making it easy to get rid of anything that does not match my vision and purpose of the closet.
This also means that as I look for a specific scarf, I can see that my old method of folding them in a basket is not working. I then bought a scarf hanger and put them in view (while removing the ones I don’t think fit my style).
What this all goes back to is having a mindset to make my life simpler, easier, and more fitting with me.
Decluttering is to allow yourself to make things a better fit and to not make yourself endure what does not match your lifestyle.
So, start decluttering your car and closets, then, use the same mindset to declutter friends, activities, and behaviors. Get rid of what does not match your vision and focus in life, then use what is there to be accessible and joyful.
Dr. Chelsie Reed, PhD, LPC - www.drchelsie.com
Life is filled with ups and downs and can sometimes throw us curveballs.
This can lead to feelings of self-doubt and shake one's confidence. The downs might seem never-ending and can be very difficult to navigate through. This can have such a lasting effect, that even when things improve, one still struggles with their confidence. Thankfully, there are ways to counter this! One example is doing things that make you smile.
Your general mood and your self-esteem are greatly correlated.
Doing things that make you feel good often leads to feeling accomplished, productive, capable, and more ready for whatever life throws your way Therefore, if you do things that make you feel good, you increase your confidence level. When you do something that makes you smile, you are essentially creating positive emotions, thereby increasing positive feelings about yourself.
Steps to building positive emotions:
Engage in pleasant events DAILY: A pleasant event is something you enjoy and that makes you smile. The other key factor is making time for this every day. You don't just want to use this as a solution for when you are feeling down, only doing pleasant events to improve a current bad mood.
If you regularly participate in pleasant events, it will keep your baseline mood up and lessen vulnerability to triggers of negativity. Make sure to designate at least 20 minutes of your day to this. If possible, it can also be helpful to put 15-20 minute increments of fun activities sporadically throughout your day.
Be Mindful: Focus your attention on the activity and don't multi-task. Doing multiple things at once takes away from the enjoyment and lessens the impact it can have on your mood. Try and keep your thoughts on the positive experiences, and shift back your thoughts if you find them wandering.
Be unmindful of worries: Don't be consumed by thoughts like when will the positive experience end, all the other things you have to do, or wondering if you deserve this happy moment. It can be very difficult to enjoy positive things if you let anxieties take over. Remember to go back to step two, and shift your thoughts if you find this happening.
Change it up: Make sure not to just stick to the same 1 or 2 things, which can be monotonous and counterproductive to the overall goal of improving self-confidence. At least once a week, try something different and out of the box to keep things exciting and enjoyable.
This is definitely easier said than done. How can we account for potential roadblocks?
Time: Scheduling can be difficult for many people. There might not seem like there is time for fun things due to everything else on one's to do list. Therefore, put pleasant events in your schedule.
If you keep a planner, add doing something that makes you smile as a daily task. Whether or not you have a concrete written schedule, it is helpful to allot a set time each day for a pleasant event.
Don't let feelings of "I have too much to do" get in the way. When those thoughts arise, remind yourself that it is important to make the time for things that make you smile, and you can ultimately be more productive if you do so. See below for more tips on the self-talk involved.
Uncertainty of what to do: Deep down, you know what kinds of things you like to do. Create a list of all the things that you enjoy doing and that bring a smile to your face. Then you can pull from this list when you are blanking on ideas. If you are struggling to make the list, the internet is a great place to look.
Use Google or your preferred search engine and use search terms like "fun things to do," "things that make people smile," etc. Pinterest can also be a great resource for ideas.
Lack of motivation: It can be hard to find the energy and enthusiasm to make the time for the things that make you smile. Self-talk is really important here! Create a script that will encourage you to make the time. Read the script every morning when you wake up and at night before you go to bed.
Additionally, if you find yourself in the moment struggling to engage in pleasant events, read the script to help motivate. Something like "It is important for me to make the time each day for pleasant events. This will help me be better able to carry out the tasks I have to do and will help me be in a better mood.
Not making time for this can lead to burnout and thus, increase feelings of self-doubt and incompetency. In order to avoid that, it is important I make the time for pleasant events."
Examples of pleasant events:
- Doing something creative (i.e. painting, drawing, needlepoint, etc.)
- Learning a new language
- Learning new skills
- Taking a walk
- Watching T.V.
- Going out to eat
- Playing video games
- Taking a shower or bath
- Watching funny videos
- Going for a drive
- Playing or watching Sports
- Being spontaneous
- Going to a show
- Going to a museum
- Building something
- Throwing a party
- Karate, Judo, or the like
- Listening to music
- Getting a manicure or pedicure
- Getting a haircut
- Wear shocking clothes or makeup
- Getting dressed up
- Getting a massage
- Doing a puzzle
- Interacting with animals
- Taking a bath or shower
- Horseback riding
- Board games
Remember, there is no right or wrong activity. It's about finding what works for you!
Alyssa Mairanz, LMHC - www.alyssamairanztherapy.com
One strategy that may help improve self confidence is to focus on something that you are good at, or that you enjoy.
Try and make connections with others who have similar interests. When we aren’t feeling good about ourselves it is easy to hear the negative self talk, which usually includes criticizing yourself and putting yourself down. This can be very damaging to self confidence.
Life can feel overwhelming if you are trying to lose weight, looking for a new job or if you are depressed. I say this, because instead of looking at the big picture, try and focus on something you enjoy.
For example if you are trying to lose weight and you like bike riding, maybe try a spin class at the gym or join a meet up group where you can meet others and ride together. If you are a big reader; look for a book club in your area.
Connecting with others who have similar interests can be extremely beneficial.
Usually when our confidence is low, it is hard to put yourself out there; maybe fearing others ill judge you or that you are good enough. When we start with things we enjoy doing and that we feel confident doing it; it is a little easier to join a group and put yourself out there. Connecting with other people helps improve overall mood, self esteem and self confidence.
Lastly if you hear the voice inside your head criticizing yourself; try and counter act that thought with a factual statement. ( I know it is hard to just say turn that thought positive) so I am suggesting that you counteract the negative self talk with a factual rational statement.
For example: negative ( also called automatic thoughts): I will never make any new friends, no one likes me. Rational Thought (factual statement:) I have made friends in the past so I should be able to make friends.
Although it feels harder as an adult, I could join a group of people that are interested in what I am interested in perhaps a running club or a book club. Also, it is not true that no one likes me because I know for a fact that my family and a few close friends love and support me.
Be kind and compassionate to yourself during this journey. Good for you in attempting to build your self confidence!
Trisha Swinton, LPC, LMFT – www.trishaswintoncounseling.com
Do you compare yourself to others and constantly feel as if you fall short?
This is a painful way to go through life. As Theodore Roosevelt famously said, "Comparison is the thief of joy."
Consider where did you get the idea that you’re not good enough as you are, and that someone else is better.
What do you think about yourself needs to change for the better? Weight? Martial status? Employment status?
where you got this notion that you need to be better in some way, to be lovable or good enough.
of someone you compare yourself to favorably. What do you imagine would change if you had her (or his) looks, weight, life?
what aspects of yourself – physical, intellectual, mental, emotional – that you appreciate about yourself .
yourself to be perfectly imperfect, instead of holding yourself to an impossible standard.
the qualities that make you unique and special. When you feel good about yourself, you’re less likely to turn to destructive coping strategies for comfort or distraction, or to prove anything about yourself.
Dr. Nina Savelle-Rocklin - www.winthedietwar.com
To be or not to be…confident. That is the question.
When we think of someone who has confidence, we envision someone who has it all and perhaps is in a constant state of happiness. Our minds could go towards something unrealistic.
Confidence is not a fixed state of being.
It could fluxuate, like the waves on the beach.
At times, we internally may not feel confident. We may go through the motions and live under the radar, not fully stepping into the spotlight of our own lives.
As a registered drama therapist, I look for the roles we most identify with and help people move towards new roles which support them in a positive way.
Someone who is confident may identify and behave like a hero, survivor, warrior, or optimist. Consider how a hero, survivor, warrior, or optimist move and speak.
Step into the confident part of yourself by enacting and embodying the role of someone confident.
When we get a stuck in a role, this is when we experience suffering.
One step towards building one’s confidence level is acknowledging and identifying what is getting in our way. For example, fear tends to hold people back from living an empowered life.
Once we can name what gets in the way in our confidence, we can identify what we need.
What does that fearful part of ourselves need?
If we feel afraid, what we may need is to trust and believe in ourselves more.
If we start believing in ourselves more, we can act the part of someone who has deep levels of confidence in who they are.
What comes between one’s fear and belief in themselves is their guide role.
Our guide role is that wise and knowing part of ourselves.
Our guide role can help us move towards living a more confident way of life.
Identify and act on the part of your guide role.
For example, your guide could be the Wise Person, the Child, the Artist, the Hero, or the Healer.
This guide part of you needs integration. Your wise self needs to be integrated into your heart and mind.
Once we acknowledge what is getting in our way, what we need, and what our guide role is, we can act the part.
Acting the part of our wise self or our guide role will help us build our confidence levels.
Like watching a captivating film, embodying, enacting, and speaking from the place of someone who is wise will help us feel more confident within ourselves.
Step into the spotlight of your own life and act the part of your inner guide.
Our guide will always bring us joy and increased confidence.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
Confidence helps us move forward in life. Helps us get where we want and what we want. Many of us struggle with confidence, often feeling less than or comparing ourselves to others.
To help you gain more confidence, start with gratitude.
Change the lens you see yourself and the world through. Instead of seeing lack, and what you don’t have. Start to see everything you do have. When you come from a place a gratitude, you feel better about your circumstances, the world around you, your life and yourself.
When you can open your heart, and start to view life through the lens of gratitude, you gift yourself a new perspective, one of hope and positivity.
Try the exercises below to create your daily gratitude ritual.
1. Wake up grateful and go to bed grateful. Count 5 things you are thankful for. Or count on your fingers and toes everything you are grateful for. Don’t censor yourself, let it flow.
For example, when you wake up be grateful for the new day. For eyes to see, nose to smell, ears to hear, voice to speak and sing, skin to feel, air to breathe. When you go to bed, count the different things you have, to be grateful for. Feelings and experiences.
You can be grateful for transportation, food, shelter, books, your favorite television show, clothes, friends, family- you name it, you can be grateful for it. You are tapping into the feelings that each experience, feeling or item brings you- happiness, comfort, well-being. And when you feel happy and comfortable you feel better about your life and yourself.
2. Find the simple things- sun on your face, wind in your hair, coffee, chocolate, the person who smiled at you. Each day find the simple things to be grateful for. The simple things that put a smile on your face.
3. Create a gratitude journal. Each day write in your gratitude journal. Everything you are thankful for. Nothing is too big or too small. This is your journal, it’s what you are grateful for.
Remember anything goes, don’t censor yourself. You are tapping your stream of happiness to build confidence. Check out step one for more tips on what to write in your journal if you are struggling.
4. Create a gratitude jar. Decorate it, make it shine and make sure you put it someplace you can see it. Get some sticky notes or cut up some paper so, when you are feeling grateful you can write it down and add it to the jar.
Don’t forget to add the accolades from others. It’s okay to be grateful for the praises of others. This too creates a sense of well-being and builds your confidence. When you start to feel down, take a message from the jar.
5. Bless everything. When you bless everything, you feel better about yourself. You feel blessed and feeling blessed creates joy and well-being and confidence.
If you incorporate one of these steps, you are one way to feeling better about yourself. Remember, each day that you are grateful is a step towards feeling better about yourself and your life. You have the power to change and create the feelings you want!
Margaret Bell, MA, NCC – www.forwardkindheart.com
Confidence…. When you think of the word you may envision a gorgeous girl or a handsome man who effortlessly cascades through and captures a room... it may seem to be something that only those who are “lucky” or are “perfect” possess… but the reality is that no one is “perfect” everyone has fears and insecurities… doubts.
No matter how amazing we are, we all have bad days, we don’t always win the tournament, catch the fish, or get the guy or girl.
Being confident isn’t about always coming out on top, it’s about being OK regardless of what happens.
It’s taking the risk because you know that if you fall, you can get back up, knowing that if no one else in that moment sees you, it’s all good because you see and know yourself.
Confidence is an inside job and there are certain characteristics we can embody, actions we can take, etc. to inspire our own inner confidence.
In my opinion one of the best ways is through Kindness & Generosity.
I remember looking back on my journey, a time when I was in a bit of an awkward stage, if you will… I remember just not feeling confident or great about myself and I remember clearly asking… now I don’t know who exactly I was asking, maybe some higher power, maybe my higher self… but I said “how do I feel more confident, more beautiful?” and very clearly resounding!
Through my being, I heard “from the inside out”. I always heard that beauty came from the inside out but not until that moment did I TRULY grasp what that meant. I had to start with the thoughts I told and engaged in about myself….I had to embody a more kind and generous version of me i.e. my truest self, at the core we are all love.
How can we be more kind and gentle to ourselves?
Can we think more positive thoughts and have gratitude for our beautiful bodies that carry us around every day?
Instead of beating ourselves up for whatever we feel we are “lacking” we can choose to be kind and have compassion for ourselves, even for our deemed short comings and mistakes.
This level of self kindness will create a deeper sense of inner calm and peace, a healthier mental spiritual and emotional environment and this will exude outward and affect us physically as well.
Haven’t you witnessed someone radiating when they are in love with their lives, when they are living there passions and truly being gentle with themselves and others?
How much better do you feel when you do something as small as holding the door open for someone or paying a compliment?
When you are kind to yourself, it naturally extends to others.
- Start by looking in the mirror as you get ready and kindly telling yourself how much you love ALL of your features
- Pay a small but sincere compliment to a stranger… don’t just tell them you love their blouse tell them why- ex. “That blue top is gorgeous on you, it brings out the color of your eyes” be sincere and real.
- Buy yourself a new outfit, you deserve it… get your hair done too…
- Donate the clothes you’re no longer wearing to a shelter or to someone you personally know who can’t afford new ones at the moment
How can we be more generous not just with funds and physical, wordly things but with our love…with our time… with our hearts, our presence, which in my opinion is the greatest present of all.
When we are with our loved ones, we can be TRULY there. Drowning out distractions thoughts and worries… which goes back to ultimately being kind to ourselves… kind enough to choose better thoughts and to feed better stories, not the worries and fears.
When we are truly generous we give from the deepest part of ourselves, not always in the ways people expect but in the ways that we truly feel.
When we are really generous we give because we desire to, not because we feel forced. When we truly give of our hearts that is one of the best feelings in the world, and it definitely enhances your ‘self love meter’ i.e. inner confidence.
Be kind! Be generous! Start with yourself, you of all people deserve your love, and then share it with everyone else…. Oh how lucky will they be? You’re worth it.
Ashley Davene, Relationship Counselor - www.ashleydavene.com
As evolved women, we should know that loving and accepting ourselves for who we are, warts and all, is the most important job we have to do to create authentic happiness.
Learning to love the skin you are in, regardless of what trends society equates with physical beauty, is the end goal.
And most men truly love us with all our perfect imperfections as well. Once self- love is honed, we can experience true freedom and confidence to truly be ourselves, and honor the perfect beings that we are.
Nothing is more radiant than self- love and acceptance.
That being said, developing true confidence is a multi-faceted experience. It is an internal process, as we know. However, it is extremely important never to underestimate the value of taking care of the external as well.
Grooming is in fact, a form of self-love.
When we nurture our physical beings, as well as our emotional beings, then we can experience genuine health, peace and confidence. When we are able to view the process of grooming as an act of self- adoration, and adornment, that light shines brightly and attracts others like moths to a flame.
So what does healthy grooming look like and how does that express or contribute to self-confidence?
It means taking care of our physical bodies so that we feel healthy and attractive. Whether we like it or not, we live in a visual world where people do make innumerable assumptions about us based on our appearances. Therefore, when we can at least live up to our standards we set for ourselves, then our confidence will be boosted.
The most important element to never lose sight of is that grooming is just the icing on the cake.
Here are some important steps to remember regarding grooming and confidence.
1. Diet and nutrition: Feeling healthy and fit is the first and most important aspect of grooming. Taking care of our bodies by nurturing with healthy food and exercise gives us the genuine glow of health, and of course boosts our happiness. Your body is your canvas.
Start with a strong healthy core, and the rest is easy. Make sure to explore nutrition, and healthy diets that are easy to incorporate into your everyday life. Make exercise a daily part of your life, and have fun trying new things. Variety is the key to keeping engaged in regular workouts. Try to incorporate cardio, weights, and stretching into your weekly routines.
2. Hair: Nothing can boost your confidence more than a great cut and color. If you are in a hair rut, or haven’t changed your style for awhile, make an appointment for a consultation with a stylist.
Check out magazines and social media sites like Instagram to see what current trends are, and what you may be drawn to. That being said, if you know what you like, and it is working for you, stick with it. Just make sure to get regular cuts and blowdries.
3. Clothes/Fashion: We all know how we feel when we are wearing a brand new outfit that we know looks great on us. Nothing beats that level of confidence you feel walking into a room. A toned fit body is your canvas, as mentioned above, but the right colors, and flattering cuts on clothes tailored for our bodies is the real art. No one says you need to break the bank to look great.
If you are not a fashionista, definitely make an effort to consult a personal shopper or even a sales girl in a store you love, and ask for some advice for your body. That is their job, and usually they will be happy to help. Or, of course, bring a friend and help each other by giving honest feedback in the dressing room. You really only need a few awesome outfits to make all the difference in your confidence level.
4. Makeup: Knowing how to enhance your features with the right makeup for your skin tone is just one more tool in your belt of tricks to increase confidence. Ask a lady at the counter in a department store or Sephora for a makeover if you need to brush up your skills. Or, watch Instagram tutorials and try to repeat the looks.
Experiment with different colors and techniques to find several choices and options that make you feel comfortable. And if you are not a makeup person, at least have some cover up, lip gloss, and mascara on hand for special occasions.
5. Skincare: After the age of 25, our skin automatically begins to show signs of aging. No one can escape the effects of living and breathing on this planet. All our life choices manifest on our skin. Maintaining clear glowing skin requires effort. Aside from regular washing and product use, facials, along with lots of water, keep our skin at its peak.
Don’t be afraid to explore all of the innumerable options out there to improve our skin. Having a healthy glow is bound to get compliments and once again boost self-confidence. Also, make sure to groom your eyebrows and remove any unwanted facial hair.
6. Nails: Finally, gorgeous clean nails and toenails not only make you feel put together and complete, but also make a statement. I remember someone telling me once, “ you can really tell that you love yourself when you look at your nails. Like, you take the time to adorn yourself.”
That statement and feeling made an impact on me. And it is relevant because it does show the world that you take the time to value yourself and that that is how you want to be treated. Feeing polished and put together with a great mani/pedi feels good and is a great symbol to show the world that you are confident and worth the effort.
Although grooming oneself can seem superficial, or unimportant in the big picture of life, it is so much more. Making time for oneself, especially as busy women, mothers, wives, entrepreneurs, friends, etc. is so easy to out off.
When we prioritize ourselves and keep ourselves well-groomed, we are giving the message to ourselves that we matter. Realize this connection and know that you deserve to look and feel good everyday. This message will surely translate into more positive energy coming your way.
Dr. Alisa Ruby Bash - www.alisarubybash.com
Aren’t there a few things you should be doing other than reading this article right now?
You know. The annoying tasks that you need to get off your plate but seem to keep piling up? Paying the bills, doing chores, calling that client. The list may seem endless. Or better yet, aren’t there a few dreams you could be working toward right now?
You know the ones.
The dreams that haunt you, that keep coming back into the forefront of your mind when you have a moment to breathe... The dreams that you always feel so excited and alive just thinking about. The ones that you yearn for, that felt so right that you knew that only you could make something happen about it.
If only you could get to a place where you were able to finally take the actual steps needed to achieve the dream, to make it a reality. If only, you weren’t so busy. If only you had more money. More time. More resources. More knowledge. Those sorts of dreams are for other people, anyway, the lucky ones...
This is procrastination.
Whether you are looking at your situation in terms of the little things, or the big goals... procrastination is your worst enemy. It is the killer of dreams. The silencer of change, and the ender of goals, before they really even have a chance to begin.
It is the constant, subtle lie that you fight to protect yourself from. The whisper that tells you that you cannot rest easy, but would have you be restless for your entire existence. Not to mention, it makes each day more unsatisfying, more stressful, and less productive. Literally sucking vital life force and enjoyment out of the small, passing moments.
But what is this enemy, really?
Some might chalk it up to laziness. Some to a sense of apathy, unimportance, or perhaps waiting for a better time. The right time. Sounds smart enough, right? Practical? Sure. So sit down and enjoy your Netflix programming. Sleep in another hour or two. And you can get to that assignment at the end of the weekend.
Sounds nice, right? Feels good, sure.
Procrastination, in those moments where you buckle and agree with it, is your friend, you say. It wants me to feel warm and fuzzy, you say. It wants me to relax. What I really wanted to do isn’t all that important anyway.
So go ahead and do whatever sounded better than doing that boring assignment, that unpleasant chore, that nerve-wracking phone call. Stay in the safety of your job, the one you never wanted in the first place. You’ll get in great physical health next year, when things calm down. And there is no need to budget for that life-changing trip you always wanted to take. There will always be time later for that.
The truth is, procrastination is another form of anxiety in disguise. Procrastination wants you to stay small, unhappy, and afraid.
We know that as humans we generally tend to follow the pain and pleasure principle, which means that most of us go our whole lives avoiding pain and maximizing our pleasure responses. If you allow them to be, those pleasurable moments where you give in to those temptations, those voices of justification, will be in control.
We don’t need to be super-freaky driven and uber-hard on ourselves.
We cant be robots after all. But we do need to get our priorities in check. Is it more pleasurable to you to keep putting off what you know you want to do deep down inside? What you know would make you feel fulfilled, at peace, and even truly happy? Or is it painful to know that it is quite possible that you won’t make any of your dreams a reality this year, or next year, or even the year after that?
We must learn to master this principle, of pain and pleasure, so that we can come face-to-face with what we really want, and take the steps to make it happen, even if its just to get the monkey of a chore off of our back.
But, you don’t feel motivated.
I hear this so often. I really do. I even told myself for years that what I needed was motivation. So I looked for it. I read books. Articles just like this one. I watched inspirational movies. I surrounded myself with affirmations. I went to therapy. I even tried to think myself into a place where I would unblock my creative power.
In my mind, this was the only way that I would ever get past this big, bad nightmare. The one where I am not accomplishing my dreams. The one where I am stagnant, not reaching my potential. But ultimately it wasn’t enough, and eventually I began to realize how unhappy I was. How anxious it made me feel to let my life pass by and my dreams fall by the wayside. To keep playing small.
I began to wonder if motivation, this thing that we search for and strive for and yearn for, could be part of a big farce.
Think about it. If we put the amount of energy we spend trying to motivate ourselves, waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, the right feeling... Think about what would happen if we put that energy into taking the small, mundane, unpleasant, annoying, intimidating, and frankly painful steps it takes to truly get anywhere when it comes to doing anything.
“Knowing is not enough. We must apply. Willing is not enough. We must do” -Bruce Lee.
It all comes down to ACTION STEPS. YOU MUST DO.
Even if it is about non-doing, like creating a meditation practice. If you are trying to get out of depression, or stuckness. If you want to pursue a new job skill, or education path. If you are working on getting better about swearing, or trying to learn a new language! Even if you just want to be kinder to yourself and others. It doesn’t matter what it is that you are trying to change, or accomplish.
Failing to plan is planning to fail! It really is that simple. Instead of waiting for and chasing the motivation, expect to act. The action will change the outcome, and ultimately your reality.
So what is the ultimate reality when you decide that motivation isn’t important?
When you decide to stop allowing yourself to be fooled by that old feeling, and start taking small steps, begrudgingly, toward making your dreams a reality.
Change starts to happen. Growth takes place. You are on your path, showing up, taking accountability for your time here on this planet. And happiness ultimately follows. Trust me, it doesn’t feel like it right now. But those painful actions are exactly what you want, exactly what you need, and it is very likely that taking them would allow you to live up to your true self, your true potential, and become the best human that you can be.
This doesn’t mean that you aren’t kind to yourself. It means that you can sleep at night, knowing, that you have done your best. Whatever that may be, each and every day. And that is a day worth celebrating.
Natalie DeFay Foster, MA, LAMFT - www.integrativearttherapy.net
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