Taken from The Best Way to Be More Confident.

If you are feeling worthless and try to suppress those feelings, you will never be able to do what it takes to improve. If, on the other hand, you come to terms with your negative self-views and accept the fact that you are not as good as you would like to be and, especially, that you are unhappy with yourself, you will be able to focus on what you need to do to improve.

Dissatisfaction is the mother of change, and only change can drive improvement.

The choice between the two options is a no-brainer. Deliberate attempts to increase your confidence are bound to result in failure and demoralize you, whereas attempts to improve your performance can result in not just competence gains but also a genuine boost to your confidence. The answer to the question, “What should I do about my low confidence?” can hardly be simpler:

Embrace it.

Think about it. A lack of confidence isn’t a problem; lack of confidence is actually the means to a solution. When you accept your weak points, your flaws, and your imperfections then you can motivate yourself to make changes and improve. Hide from your weaknesses and you’ll always be weak. Accept your weaknesses and then work to improve them and you’ll eventually be stronger–and more confident.

Most people like the idea of being exceptional, but not enough to do what it takes to get there… everybody says they want to be slim, healthy, attractive, and rich, but few people are willing to do what it takes to attain those things, which suggests they don’t really want those things as much as they say or think.

Paul Arden, former creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi, sums this up nicely by explaining that typically when we say we “want” something, we actually just mean we want to have it, but with no implicit assumption that we’re willing to do any work to get there. In reality, wanting something should equate with being prepared to take the necessary steps to achieve it. If you are serious about your goals, then you will do whatever it takes to attain them; your confidence is secondary.

What matters is the desire you have to attempt to achieve your goals.

Just pick a goal, a goal you truly want to achieve, and take a clear-eyed look at your weaknesses–not so you’ll feel less confident, but so you can determine exactly what you need to work on. Then get to work. Celebrate small successes. Analyze your weaknesses. Keep going.

As you gain skill you’ll also gain a feeling of genuine confidence, one that can never be taken away–because you’ve earned it.

Re-Writing Old Tape

All of us have stories that we tell ourselves. Some may be treasured family heirlooms. There is a tale in my family of the trip where we went out West one summer vacation. I was just out of 5th grade. It was great except for the power steering falling out of our brand new van somewhere around Sheraton, Wyoming. While we waited for a part to be sent to the dealership from Detroit, we tried to have fun in the area. One of these activities was horse back riding. I had been begging to do it throughout the whole trip. When asked if any of us were experienced riders, my mother said that my father was… which seemed funny because I had not seen him ride a horse during my lifetime.

Nonetheless, the whole family saddled up and spent a pleasant afternoon riding until we decided to give the horses a water break. While they drank at the stream, my reins became entangled in my father’s horse’s reins. When the horses moved, my father fell off his horse. My big, 350 lb. father, laying on his back in misery was a sight. But, as the family tale gets told…my mother was more concerned that if the horse was injured, it would die. So she screamed, “Is the horse okay?”

My father suffered greatly from that fall, but we did get a lot out of that joke. My father paid it back to my mother when he bought her a painting of a horse’s ass as a souvenir. This story has been told so often that it is automatic. It is meant to be funny, but in hindsight there is a lot of passive aggressiveness to it.

A lot of stories we tell ourselves reflect why we do things or think the way that we do. They are told the same way so many times that we fail to notice that even if they are rooted in truth, they may not be serving us anymore.

Every day I am trying to reexamine my old tapes. The ones that are outdated, not serving me need to go or be re-written. I have noticed that it isn’t as simple as a quick clean and dump. Telling yourself these old stories is like exercising a muscle, and these taps are part of the muscle memory. They are the automatic response to events or situations in your life.

The first step to rewriting them has been just recognizing that it is there. I might not hear the words of these old tapes in my head, but I’ll go to the emotion or feeling behind them pretty quick. If I am hearing words or feeling emotion sneak up on me, I have been trying to center myself and just observe it without judging. It can be helpful to give the person saying the crap a name. Mine is Olga. She is not bad. She is there because of protection. I just don’t want my world being run by her negative voice anymore. If I hear her voice, I just recognize it and acknowledge it.

Sometimes, that is enough to stop any negative thoughts and tapes from going on constant replay in your head. If it keeps bothering you though, you might have to dig deeper. What I have found is that when you do this, you might come up with a story of how that situation affected you when you were younger. Your mind goes to the tape and replays the ills of that moment. This might be okay to initially indulge in, but there has to come a point when you can look at it in hindsight and try to think about things differently. The more empathetic you can feel towards the participants or yourself, the better. If nothing else, it might just be an opportunity to acknowledge and forgive.

I have done a lot of this type of examination in order to rebuild my self-worth and esteem. You can do it with a counselor, or with a great friend. Once you get on a role, it does change your life. You’ll also find some areas of tape are easier to clean up than others. Food and finances are the toughest ones for me right now.

I think that when you are diagnosed with cancer, a lot of people give you permission to feel sorry for yourself. You could create tape where you are featured as a victim and or helpless. People might be more willing to listen to you bitch, or expect you to. You don’t have to buy in to it though. I have been using this as a time to reexamine how I got here and make lasting change for a long and prosperous future.

What stories do you tell yourself? Are they serving you?

Helping a Friend

I have been feeling so good recently. I am feeling loved. My body feels good. My mind is so hopeful and enthusiastic. Being on the high-flying disk is a radical experience. I am finally comfortable being me, authentically me. The pain of self-judgment melts into the comfort of self-acceptance. For someone who has spent decades feeling so bad, this joy is ecstasy.

Still, no one can be in this place always. I think the more accountability you hold for your own emotions, the easier it can be to stay. I have heard over and over again that people join you at the vibrational energy you give out. Sometimes when we are in extended relationships with family members or loved ones, what holds us from changing is incompatibility of the vibrational energies.

Alex and Max, again, have been with me from the beginning of this year. They probably even started the ball rolling on this year of releasing judgment. I remember Max, in particular, talked about the excruciating desire to change our lives and that they wanted me on the bandwagon so I wouldn’t get left behind.

It sounds selfish, but I think it was one of the most loving things anyone has done for me. I love you. I see our current path heading to undesirable outcomes. I have to change this pattern for me because I know the joy that is behind it. It is my deepest desire that you take that journey with me. To participate in it. To embrace it. If you can’t, I love you so much as to let you go so you can find what you need in life. But, my deepest desire is that you stay right here with me so we can expand together.

All three of us have progressed so far. We have found aspects of ourselves that have truly inspired us and brought us joy, but we have also felt the feelings we have kept in order to hide these aspects from ourselves. We are all becoming much closer to who we really are.

I believe that this process has been radically sped up because we are doing it in unison. When each of us experiences a breakthrough, it inspires the rest of us. When someone experiences a set back, we all learn from it.

This week in particular, I was feeling great. I attribute one night in particular to a magical experience. For someone who has always questioned what she really wants, visions were coming fast and furious. I had an inspired day of writing. So much seemed to be going my way.

When I saw Alex and Max latter that day, I couldn’t hold back my excitement and joy. I was so filled with positive energy that I thought they must be flying as high. I attributed them to the cause of my feelings, why not?

They both stated that they were having a difficult day. Max had woken up late and was beating himself up for not accomplishing stuff on his to do list. Alex and Max live an existence where they don’t have to keep a normal schedule. They don’t work desk jobs. Still, the pull of society is that everyone goes to work at 9am and gets off at 5pm; good people get to sleep by midnight, really tugged at Max.

Alex refers to this as “hall monitor” syndrome. Whenever we were having a great time, there would come a point where Max felt he needed to act like a parent in order to get the kids to behave. He was the oldest in his family, and often felt like he played a parent to his younger sister.

Max is not a boring, lifeless person. He is one of the kindest, more compassionate and caring people that I know. In recent years, when he starts feeling the need to play the “hall monitor” or if his blood sugar is getting low, he can become pointed.

Before, when he made these switches, it killed me. As someone who barely had any self-esteem and felt like they had even fewer friends, when my best one bit back it ruined me. Sometimes it would for days. If the person I loved more than anyone else could treat me that bad, why should anyone else?

I often would never say anything to Max about how I felt when these incidents occurred. Having experienced my parents’ blowouts growing up, I learned that the best course of action was to shut up and hide.  Often, it took Alex to point out to Max that his mood was elevated.

As I began to release the disease to please and recapture my voice, I learned that I had to confront Max during these times. It was so horrific at the beginning that Alex would often have to sit us down to work it out. As I became more honest and assertive, I felt these attacks less.

One of the things we all learned about was the power of blood sugar. All three of us are insulin resistant or diabetic. Back in the day, Alex would hit low blood sugar, step out of a car, and demand to walk home.  When I had it. I would get incredibly weepy. I would refrain from turning on others and just go on a death spiral of how horrible I was. Max has always just gone to a super bitchy place.

This week, Max was feeling very stagnate. He has witnessed our forward momentum, and he doesn’t want it to stop. In his world, we need to get on the bandwagon. Eat right. Go to the gym. Get on a schedule. Write down our plans and start executing them.

This came to a head in a Mexican restaurant. The boys asked if I was hungry, and if I would like to eat there. Now, they don’t really like Mexican food…not the way I do. I also know that I like this restaurant more. I was surprised, honored, and delighted that they asked to go there, knowing it wasn’t their first choice and that I hadn’t asked to go there. I felt as if they where honoring me for no other reason than the fact that they wanted to.

My delight was a little short lived because I knew both of them were low blood sugar. Max in particular was having difficulty. I tried to get Max to describe his feelings and he would run into a brick wall. Everything went back to being fat, not following through, having all these tasks left undone, etc. Knowing that had nothing to do with it, I kept digging. As it brought up something, he would verbally lash shut down. He was having so much difficulty being vulnerable.

I looked at Alex and he looked spent. I could feel his pain through his eyes. He had been dealing with this for a while and had come to terms with what was right for him. If Max couldn’t change his path, he felt like they might have to separate in order to continue growth. Somehow I knew that Max was at the crucial point of change. He was so close that it tasted so far away.

I gave the boys some words of encouragement and let him know that I had faith that this could be worked out. I was flying on my high-flying disk, still looking at the positive aspects of the situation. I used my newfound knowledge to listen, really listen. I shared how I saw comparisons to my growth and what I had to do to change.

I know they were listening, but I know it is annoying to hear someone that you are use to commiserating with or feeling better than because they were at least more miserable, try to tell you what to do. It is a switch of hierarchy. There also has to be some real faith and trust that the other person isn’t blowing smoke up your ass as well.

At the end of the meal, I felt compelled to share one of the lessons that I wrote about previously…but I kind of got left at the table. I took a really deep breath. It was the moment that I was completely knocked off my disk. I was upset that I had let it get to me. I was discouraged because I desperately wanted Max to feel better, but I didn’t know if I knew what to do. The frustration turned into momentary anger until I reminded myself: NO ONE is responsible for your feelings but you. Yes, Max might have knocked me off, but I was the only one keeping myself away from the high-flying disk. It was totally within my control.

I also reminded myself that the quickest way to get into the vortex was to love something, anything. I went through all the things I was grateful for and retapped into my love for Alex and Max. I was immediately back on the disk.

We took a break to do some things and regrouped. When everyone was calm and nourished, Alex and I turned to Max and told him that we love him and wanted to help him. We kept asking clarifying questions, waited for his response and digged further. We reflected back to him exactly what we saw him to be and how much we loved him. The glare of the truth light was excruciating for him. He would hide under blankets or yell at us, but you could tell that he wanted to be released.

What came to head was that his trigger bad emotion is embarrassment. He is afraid of being embarrassed. He is afraid of others embarrassing him. Embarrassment is the gauge he uses to determine his worth all the time. The “hall monitor” was installed to keep anyone from feeling embarrassment. On the other hand, when Max felt threatened…he would release a verbal lashing to instill embarrassment in others.

This was so affective with me. Max and I are so alike. In me, he saw me struggle with the same demons he did. I was worried about being a disappointment, but the same things he thought were embarrassing did often not embarrass me. That way, when he got frustrated that I was beating myself up, he would embarrass me about something I felt okay about. This would cause me to second guess myself, and feel even worse.

I had been so self-conscious about my lady bits that I grew cancer in them and had to rip them out. I told him, you can continue on this path with a similar result…or you can just relax and find some way to appreciate that which embarrasses you so much.

Often times, the solution is just finding some aspect to love. You might have to start with easier things around the target, but eventually….you have to look at the thing you hate the most and either decide to keep resisting it or just let go and learn to love it. So often, the object of your obsession is not as horrific or unique as you think it is. Only by shining the light of love and acceptance on it, can you fully accept how wonderful and marvelous you are.

We are at our best when we are most in tune with ourselves. The more we can honestly say we love ourselves, the more joy and happiness we can feel. It is only then that we can manifest exactly what we want for our lives. This is our purpose on this planet. Just like in the Never Ending Story, the Universe is built on all of our dreams and desires. There is nothing exactly right or exactly evil…..everything is good.

Feel better.