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How to Handle Career Struggles that are holding you Back?

 

 

Bad Career Story
Struggling in your Career?

We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy, but regardless of what we tell ourselves, all of these stories boil down to FEAR. We want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Do you feel stuck in a job you don’t like? We often make up excuses to stay in jobs that make us unhappy.

Leaving the security of a job, especially during tough economic times, is a frightening thought – but so is continuing to work in a place that leaves you unfulfilled and unsatisfied.

I want to debunk some of the myths we tell ourselves around staying in a bad job.

Myth: Things are tough, so I can’t make a career change right now.

Truth: Sometimes negative events can be a catalyst for positive change.

Whether you are experiencing tough times on a personal or global level, it can be difficult to think of adding a career change on top of those stresses. Sometimes however, tough times can reveal a new purpose or meaningful opportunity.

There are countless stories of people who have turned tragedy into something meaningful. It can be done. You just have to let yourself be open to the idea of change.

Right now we are all experiencing one of the most challenging periods in history. We have seen a downturn in the economy due to COVID-19. While it is true that fewer companies are hiring and there is more competition, the roles are still out there. There are companies that are innovating to adapt to the changing world. There are also companies who have seen an increase in demand during this time.

The key is making yourself stand out by highlighting your passions and skills. It may not be a quick or easy change, but don’t let fear be the thing that stops you from finding something better.

Myth: I’m just lucky to have a job.

Truth: It is possible to be grateful for a job, but still not love it.

As we see unemployment rise and more companies go through layoffs, it is normal to feel gratitude for what we do have. It is also a good thing. There are proven benefits to expressing gratitude and it is something that should be part of your daily routine.

But it is also okay to be grateful for what you have while admitting you long for something better. Accepting what is because you know it could be worse is twisting gratitude into an excuse to hold yourself back. Allow yourself to strive for more. Do you know what you want? Do you have a dream job?

Myth: I can’t afford to leave my job right now.

Truth: You don’t have to leave your job (yet) to start the career transformation process.

Make dreams come true
Make dreams come true

How to Handle Common Career Struggles

A career can be a source of great joy and great pain. If you relate more to the latter, chances are you have experienced one of these common career struggles. Fortunately, you do not have to continue suffering.

Do not settle in your career! If you are not happy, it is time for a career transition!

Here are some  solutions to some of the obstacles most frequently faced by professionals.

Problem: You hate your job and/or chosen career path.

Solution: If you know you are not happy and have yet to take steps to remedy it, you typically fall into one of two scenarios:

  1. ‍You are fearful of making a change. There are many stories we tell ourselves that can cause us to stifle our own success. “I’m not good enough.” “What if I fail?” “What if I make a change and it’s worse?” It is critical to recognize what story you are telling yourself so that you can start to isolate those thoughts and address them. Bringing your fears to the forefront of your consciousness is the first step in being able to overcome them. Once you recognize and acknowledge the fears, applying some simple but effective tools can render them powerless in holding you back.
  2. You do not know what will make you happy. You have recognized you are not happy, but you do not know what will bring you joy. This can be especially difficult when you have spent your entire career in one field. It is time to do some discovery work. Finding your purpose is a key place to start. Once you know your purpose, make a list of your strengths and passions. If you start to see some similarities between the lists, follow that path.

Problem: You are struggling to get to the next level in your career.

Solution: It is time to expand your network. You have got the experience and you need to highlight that to the right people – whether it is a decision maker or someone who can make a referral. They can be at your current company or at a potential new employer. Connecting with the right people can make all the difference. Expanding your network does not mean you have to attend in-person networking events, especially in the age of social distancing. There are great digital tools, such as LinkedIn and Shapr, that allow you to build relationships with other professionals. Find an authentic way to connect with others that is enjoyable to you.

Problem: You are not standing out to potential employers.

Solution: Most recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of resumes for a single position. That number increases the more desirable the role and company are. Standing out is difficult, but possible. We recommend that every job seeker approach their career as if they were an entrepreneur building a company. Your career is your business. You must determine your product (your skillset), your unique selling proposition (your strengths and passions) and your target market (the companies YOU want to work for). Once you have defined your professional brand, you need to ensure that it is reflected everywhere – your resume, your cover letter, your online presence, and especially how you show up for interviews.

Now it is time to market yourself. You have to do more than just submit your resume to job posts and boards. Connect with the right people and make sure you are visible. Focus on your strengths and passions, especially if you do not have the requested experience.

If you need help defining and marketing your personal brand, we can help. Chat with one of our coaches here

It is time to transition in your career.

Career transitioning does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes time and commitment.

Deciding you want to find something better does not mean you have to quit your job tomorrow. It simply means you are ready to start the process of identifying what kind of career will bring you joy, and what kinds of companies will value who you are. THEN taking the steps to find them and go after them.

What can I do to find a career I love?

Ideal Careers offers several courses, for wherever you are in the process. If you are looking for total Career Transformation OR looking to Transition Into another Career, we offer programs, as well as coaching, to get you started. If you are already in process or looking to ease into career transitioning, we offer a single-modules that focuses on a particular area of making a career change. Book a chat with one of our advisors Its FREE. 

Do not let fear hold you back from finding happiness and fulfilment in your career!

Your career plays a major role in your life. Settling and being complacent in this area can leave you feeling unfulfilled. Find the right solution for you at Ideal Careers.co.za

Resilience

Resilience – Super Glue of the Psyche

tree of hope

You know you are having one of those months when the crow’s feet have turned into vulture’s claws, when your sense of humour has completely failed you and you feel like you are stuck in some bizarre combination of the twilight zone and groundhog day.

You get times like that don’t you? My current blame du jour are the retrogrades, that those in the know predicted would throw all unfinished business and all that has been emotionally papered over, into deep fractures.

Change is one of life’s inevitabilities and as much as we are digging the vintage vibe or doing the ostrich thing to the stuff we can’t bear; change is the only constant.  We are all having to dig deep these days. Not just profoundly into our pockets but into our psyches too, to help mend and make do and get through in these volatile and uncertain times.

Redundancy, relationship crises, health issues and financial worries are becoming an increasing life burden for all of us. When the future is foggy, we struggle to find an anchor to keep us from feeling like we are drifting aimlessly and uncontrollably. We want black and white answers when those 50 rainbow shades offer an overwhelming and altogether unsexy prospect.

So, the buzzword to hold on to is Resilience.

Simply put, it is the ability to dig deep within ourselves to find that reserve of energy and resolve we need to help us through the tough times. Resilience is a skill and it can be practiced just like practicing to play a musical instrument or a sport.

Easier said than done for many, especially when you feel like jelly and you find yourself on shaky ground. Where is that strength you need to draw upon?

It is right there at the core of your being. You must have faith in your own instincts and abilities which will help guide you along the way. Digging deep into hitherto unknown reserves of self is what Japanese author Haruki Murakami writes about in his book on spirituality, philosophy and marathons What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.

Keeping the goal in mind and consistently reminding yourself that things will get better; as you take baby steps each day towards it. Coaching is great for this. Ordinarily we seldom, if ever, need to dig that deep for our everyday lives. It is however, worth creating systems which you can turn to when you feel the ground shaking and your nerve is heading for the Exit with someone else’s coat.

Here are a few coaching tips to help consolidate Resilience.

  • Maintain good relationships with your family and friends. Accept their help in times of stress. Offer help to those who are less fortunate than you are – and YES there are always others in a worse situation than you are. Give generously and earnestly, especially when you feel you have little to give. We feel at our best when we are able to help those less able than ourselves. The smallest act of kindness done in earnest will open the door of abundance.
  • Try to look at the big picture of life and avoid viewing difficult times as insurmountable. Take small steps toward your goals and take one day at a time. Avoid the pitfall of trying to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Deal with what you can deal with today, do it well – tomorrow is not guaranteed. Stay focused on what you can manage today, right here, right now. Remember there are things you can control and there are things you cannot. So do what you can do, manage what you can manage and keep moving forward.
  • Accept that change is a part of life and acceptance of what is – is key. Keep working toward your goals every day, and keep asking yourself “What can I do today to move in the direction I need to go in? Small consistent acts in the right directly get results.
  • Maintain a positive view of life and visualize what you want. When we feel like our resolve is fading, often times our energy levels tend to wax and wane as well. It is critical at these points to take care of yourself. Eat well, sleep and exercise to keep yourself healthy – even if you only do a quarter of what you would normally do. This is especially important during times of stress. There will always be an obstacle or hurdle that we will need to navigate in our lives. Learn to navigate these hurdles with confidence in your own abilities is key. Fear and anxiety will always rear their heads – it’s perfectly okay to recognise that you are fearful or anxious. The trick however is to not allow it to paralyse you into inaction.
  • Make the Decision to Prevail. This too shall pass. As the Good times come and go so too, do the Bad times. Nothing is permanent – as sure as day follows night these periods of volatility and uncertainty will pass.

 

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress. Learn and practice self-compassion and recognize that everyone suffers. Being gentle and kind to yourself is a much more effective road to healing. If your best friend were going through a rough time you would be kind and gentle with them; NOW go and do the same thing for yourself.

Another sure-fire way of developing some psyche superglue is to hire a coach. Book your 30-minute trial telephone session today by emailing me at renatafester@career-coach.co.za

 

 

Coaching Package to Choose From

During these unprecedented times we all need a little help. Here are a few packages which may tickle your fancy and provide some help along the way to redefining your normal.. If any of these sound like something you may be interested in doing click here to connect with me and we can schedule a FREE consultation session with no obligation.

If this is not what you are looking for let me know how I may be of Service and we can tailor make a packed to suite your unique needs.

Click here to connect with Me  

4-Week Coaching Packages
4-Week Coaching Packages

Coaching

Change your thinking

4 Short Stories that Will Change the Way You Think

The past week has been an interesting one, filled with both joy and sorrow.  As is want to happen the new week arrived in all its magnificence and serendipitously, I found these Four Stories that gave me pause to reflect. These are old familiar stories and you have probably read them before with slightly different people and contexts however the lessons remain the same.

Change your thinking
Change your Thinking

Story #1:  All the Difference in The World

Every Sunday morning I take a light jog around a park near my home.  There’s a lake located in one corner of the park.  Each time I jog by this lake, I see the same elderly woman sitting at the water’s edge with a small metal cage sitting beside her.

This past Sunday my curiosity got the best of me, so I stopped jogging and walked over to her.  As I got closer, I realized that the metal cage was in fact a small trap.  There were three turtles, unharmed, slowly walking around the base of the trap.  She had a fourth turtle in her lap that she was carefully scrubbing with a spongy brush.

“Hello,” I said.  “I see you here every Sunday morning.  If you don’t mind my nosiness, I’d love to know what you’re doing with these turtles.”

She smiled.  “I’m cleaning off their shells,” she replied.  “Anything on a turtle’s shell, like algae or scum, reduces the turtle’s ability to absorb heat and impedes its ability to swim.  It can also corrode and weaken the shell over time.”

“Wow!  That’s really nice of you!” I exclaimed.

She went on: “I spend a couple of hours each Sunday morning, relaxing by this lake and helping these little guys out.  It’s my own strange way of making a difference.”

“But don’t most freshwater turtles live their whole lives with algae and scum hanging from their shells?” I asked.

“Yep, sadly, they do,” she replied.

I scratched my head.  “Well then, don’t you think your time could be better spent?  I mean, I think your efforts are kind and all, but there are freshwater turtles living in lakes all around the world.  And 99% of these turtles don’t have kind people like you to help them clean off their shells.  So, no offense… but how exactly are your localized efforts here truly making a difference?”

The woman giggled aloud.  She then looked down at the turtle in her lap, scrubbed off the last piece of algae from its shell, and said, “Sweetie, if this little guy could talk, he’d tell you I just made all the difference in the world.”

The moral:  You can change the world – maybe not all at once, but one person, one animal, and one good deed at a time.  Wake up every morning and pretend like what you do makes a difference.  It does.  (Read 29 Gifts.)

its all about Perspective
Perspective

Story #2:  The Weight of the Glass

Once upon a time a psychology professor walked around on a stage while teaching stress management principles to an auditorium filled with students.  As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the typical “glass half empty or glass half full” question.  Instead, with a smile on her face, the professor asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

Students shouted out answers ranging from eight ounces to a couple pounds.

She replied, “From my perspective, the absolute weight of this glass doesn’t matter.  It all depends on how long I hold it.  If I hold it for a minute or two, it’s fairly light.  If I hold it for an hour straight, its weight might make my arm ache a little.  If I hold it for a day straight, my arm will likely cramp up and feel completely numb and paralyzed, forcing me to drop the glass to the floor.  In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it feels to me.”

As the class shook their heads in agreement, she continued, “Your stresses and worries in life are very much like this glass of water.  Think about them for a while and nothing happens.  Think about them a bit longer and you begin to ache a little.  Think about them all day long, and you will feel completely numb and paralyzed – incapable of doing anything else until you drop them.”

The moral:  It’s important to remember to let go of your stresses and worries.  No matter what happens during the day, as early in the evening as you can, put all your burdens down.  Don’t carry them through the night and into the next day with you.  If you still feel the weight of yesterday’s stress, it’s a strong sign that it’s time to put the glass down.  (Angel and I discuss this process of letting go in the Adversity and Self-Love chapters of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)

Story #3:  Shark Bait

During a research experiment a marine biologist placed a shark into a large holding tank and then released several small bait fish into the tank.

As you would expect, the shark quickly swam around the tank, attacked and ate the smaller fish.

The marine biologist then inserted a strong piece of clear fiberglass into the tank, creating two separate partitions. She then put the shark on one side of the fiberglass and a new set of bait fish on the other.

Again, the shark quickly attacked.  This time, however, the shark slammed into the fiberglass divider and bounced off.  Undeterred, the shark kept repeating this behavior every few minutes to no avail.  Meanwhile, the bait fish swam around unharmed in the second partition.  Eventually, about an hour into the experiment, the shark gave up.

This experiment was repeated several dozen times over the next few weeks.  Each time, the shark got less aggressive and made fewer attempts to attack the bait fish, until eventually the shark got tired of hitting the fiberglass divider and simply stopped attacking altogether.

The marine biologist then removed the fiberglass divider, but the shark didn’t attack.  The shark was trained to believe a barrier existed between it and the bait fish, so the bait fish swam wherever they wished, free from harm.

The moral:  Many of us, after experiencing setbacks and failures, emotionally give up and stop trying. Like the shark in the story, we believe that because we were unsuccessful in the past, we will always be unsuccessful. In other words, we continue to see a barrier in our heads, even when no ‘real’ barrier exists between where we are and where we want to go.  (Read The Road Less Traveled.)

Changing Seasons

Story #4:  Being and Breathing

One warm evening many years ago…

After spending nearly every waking minute with Angel for eight straight days, I knew that I had to tell her just one thing.  So late at night, just before she fell asleep, I whispered it in her ear.  She smiled – the kind of smile that makes me smile back –and she said, “When I’m seventy-five and I think about my life and what it was like to be young, I hope that I can remember this very moment.”

A few seconds later she closed her eyes and fell asleep.  The room was peaceful – almost silent.  All I could hear was the soft purr of her breathing.  I stayed awake thinking about the time we’d spent together and all the choices in our lives that made this moment possible.  And at some point, I realized that it didn’t matter what we’d done or where we’d gone.  Nor did the future hold any significance.

All that mattered was the serenity of the moment.

Just being with her and breathing with her.

The moral:  We must not allow the clock, the calendar, and external pressures to rule our lives and blind us to the fact that each individual moment of our lives is a beautiful mystery and a miracle – especially those moments we spend in the presence of a loved one.

Your turn…

How do you think differently today, than you once did?  What life experience or realization brought on a significant change in your way of thinking?  Please leave a comment below and share your story with us.

How to build resilience and cope with stress

Resilience is not ignoring your situation

What is Resilience?

We all demonstrate resilience in some form or the other at some point in our life. This is a very ordinary and normal process we all go through when we need to rebuild our life.

Being resilient does not mean that we do not experience difficulty or distress, emotional  pain or sadness. Quite the opposite the road to resilience is often paved with considerable emotional distress.

Resilience involves the behaviours, thoughts and actions that we can learn and develop to navigate the emotional distress.

We have all dealt with the death  of a loved one, loss of a job, serious illness or some other traumatic event that has left an indelible mark on our life. These are all very challenging  life experiences and many people react to these circumstance with a flood of strong emotions and a sense of uncertainty. Eventually though they adapt well over  time to these life-changing situations and stressful conditions. What enable s them to do so? It is resilience –  the ongoing process that requires time and effort and taking a number of steps to enhance and build their resilience.

Here are Six Strategies that can help you Build resilience

Change the narrative

When something bad happens, we tend to relive the event over and over in our heads. We step onto this merry-go-round and we rehash the pain the event has caused. This process is called rumination; it is the proverbial cognitive spinning of the wheels, and it doesn’t move us forward toward healing and growth.

The practice of Expressive Writing can move us forward by helping us gain new insights into the challenges in our lives. It involves free writing continuously for 20 minutes about an issue exploring your deepest thoughts and feelings around it. The goal is to get something down on paper. You do not necessarily want to create a memoir-like masterpiece.

Research conducted back in a 1988 study found that participants who did Expressive Writing for four days were healthier six weeks later and happier up to three months later compared t those who did not write or those who wrote about superficial things. The act of writing allows us to slow down our thinking and forces us to confront ideas one by one and give them structure, which may lead to new perspectives.

 

By doing this we are actually crafting our own life narrative and gaining a sense of control. We are also able to find the Finding Silver Linings which requires us to list at least three positive things about the experience or the lessons we learnt through this process. This helps us to become more engaged in our life post the event and increases our optimism over time. This in turn reduces our depression levels suggesting that looking on the bright side is something we have to practice regularly.

 

BOOST YOUR CONFIDENCE

 Face your fears

The practices above are helpful for past struggles, ones that we have gained enough distance from to be able to get some perspective pn. What about those knee-shaking fears that we are experiencing in the here and now?

The Overcoming a Fear practice is designed to help with everyday fears that get in the way of life, such as the fear of public speaking, heights, or flying. We can’t talk ourselves out of such fears; instead, we have to tackle the emotions directly.

The first step is to slowly, and repeatedly, expose yourself to the thing that scares you—in small doses.

For example, people with a fear of public speaking might try talking more in meetings, then perhaps giving a toast at a small wedding. Over time, you can incrementally increase the challenge until you’re ready to nail that big speech.

This kind of “exposure therapy” helps us change the associations we have with a particular stimulus. If we have flown 100 times and the plane has never crashed, for example, our brain (and body) start to learn that it’s safe. Though the fear may never be fully extinguished, we will likely have greater courage to confront it.

Practice self-compassion

Fears and adversity can make us feel alone; we wonder why we are the only ones feeling this way, and what exactly is wrong with us. In these situations, learning to practice self-compassion and recognizing that everyone suffers, can be a much gentler and more effective road to healing.

Self-compassion involves offering compassion to ourselves: confronting our own suffering with an attitude of warmth and kindness, without judgment. The Self-Compassion Break, is something you can do any time you start to feel overwhelmed by pain or stress. It has three steps, which correspond to the three aspects of self-compassion:

  • Be mindful: Without judgment or analysis, notice what you are feeling. Name it and acknowledge it.  Say, “This is a moment of suffering” or “This hurts” or “This is stress.
  • Remember that you are not alone: Everyone experiences these deep and painful human emotions, although the causes might be different. Say to yourself, “Suffering is a part of life” or “We have all felt this way at some point in our life” or “We all deal with some kind of struggle in our lives.”
  • Be kind to yourself: Put your hands on your heart and say something like “I give myself compassion” or “I accept myself as I am” or “I will be patient with myself during this time.”

If being kind to yourself is a challenge which it can sometimes be. Consider how you would respond if your best friend were going through what you are going through. How would you respond and support your best friend; what would you say or do for your bestie? Now go and do that for yourself.

Once we start to develop a kinder attitude toward ourselves, we can crystallize that gentle voice into a Self-Compassionate Letter. Just as yo would write words of understanding, acceptance, and compassion towards your best friend write those same words to yourself in a letter.

In the letter, you might remind yourself that everyone struggles, and that you are not alone; if possible, you could also consider constructive ways to improve in the future.

Meditate

As mindfulness gurus like to remind us, our most painful thoughts are usually about the past or the future: We regret and ruminate on things that went wrong, or we get anxious about things that will. When we pause and bring our attention to the present, we often find that things are…okay.

Practicing mindfulness brings us more and more into the present, and it offers techniques for dealing with negative emotions when they arise. That way, instead of getting carried away into fear, anger, or despair, we can work through them more deliberately.

Strong feelings tend to manifest physically, as tight chests or knotted stomachs, and relaxing the body is one way to begin dislodging them. There are thousands of meditations techniques and practices available.The Body Scan is one of the many you can use to focus on each body part in turn—head to toe—and can choose to let go of any areas of tension you discover. Being more aware of our bodies and the emotions we are feeling might also help us make healthier choices, trusting our gut when something feels wrong or avoiding commitments that will lead to exhaustion.

 

Cultivate forgiveness

If holding a grudge is holding you back, research suggests that cultivating forgiveness could be beneficial to your mental and physical health. If you feel ready to begin, it can be a powerful practice.

Both Nine Steps to Forgiveness and Eight Essentials When Forgiving offer a list of guidelines to follow. In both cases, you begin by clearly acknowledging what happened, including how it feels and how it’s affecting your life right now. Then, you make a commitment to forgive, which means letting go of resentment and ill will for your own sake; forgiveness doesn’t mean letting the offender off the hook or even reconciling with them. Ultimately, you can try to find a positive opportunity for growth in the experience: Perhaps it alerted you to something you need, which you may have to look for elsewhere, or perhaps you can now understand other people’s suffering better.

If you are having trouble forgiving, Letting Go of Anger through Compassion is a five-minute forgiveness exercise that could help you get unstuck. Here, you spend a few minutes generating feelings of compassion toward your offender; s/he, too, is a human being who makes mistakes; s/he, too, has room for growth and healing. Be mindful and aware of your thoughts and feelings during this process, and notice any areas of resistance. Research suggests that letting go and forgiveness rather than ruminating on negative feelings or repressing them cultivates compassion, more empathy, positive emotions, and feelings of control.

That is an outcome that victims of wrongdoing deserve, no matter how we feel about the offenders.

Develop mental agility

It is possible, without too much effort , to literally switch the neural networks with which we process the experience of stress in order to respond to rather than react to any difficult situation or person. This quality of mental agility hinges on the ability to mentally “decenter” stressors in order to effectively manage them. “Decentering” stress is not denying or suppressing the fact that we feel stressed, rather, it is the process of being able to pause, to observe the experience from a neutral standpoint, and then to try to solve the problem. When we are able to cognitively take a step back from our experience and label our thoughts and emotions, we are effectively pivoting attention from the narrative network in our brains to the more observational parts of our brains. Being mentally agile, and decentering stress when it occurs, enables the core resilience skill of “response flexibility,” which renowned psychologist Linda Graham describes as “the ability to pause, step back, reflect, shift perspectives, create options and choose wisely.” We often tell our children who are upset to “use your words,” for example, and it turns out that stopping and labeling emotions has the effect of activating the thinking center of our brains, rather than the emotional center a valuable skill in demanding, high-performance workplaces everywhere.

 

Are you stuck in “Perfectionism” Trap

 

from perfection to passion

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough. – Julia Cameron

Perfectionism… “To be, or not to be?” That is, the ultimate question! There are certainly arguments for and against it. Those who support perfectionism may tell you that it is a measure of attention to detail and thoroughness when getting tasks done. It’s all about achieving those higher standards that give them the edge in a competitive environment.

This view implies that perfectionism is a form of excellence where you strive to perform at the highest possible level.

Is it really about striving for excellence?

You will discover, that perfectionism is certainly not all it is cracked up to be. In fact, it can be as debilitating as it can be helpful; and when it is mismanaged it can potentially sabotage all your good intentions. Why? Because [as I discovered] perfectionism is something that is built upon fear, inflexible rules, and unreasonable standards that have absolutely no basis in reality.

Before breaking down these details, let us look at what perfectionism actually means.

To be a perfectionist means being overly concerned with personal achievement. Everything needs to be done perfectly or otherwise you simply can not move forward. This often stems from the notion of all-or-nothing thinking, where things are either perfect or things are  just not good enough.

When we step into this all-or-nothing space our life stagnates and we are unable to move forward as we need to because we have created in our mind a set of unreasonable and often lofty expectations.

Perfectionists persistently pressure themselves to reach these unachievable objectives, often to their own personal detriment, without ever realizing that perfectionism is in constant flux. It is based purely on interpretation. The reality is that what is perfect for one person is far from perfect for another person.  Additionally, what is perfect today will often be far from perfect tomorrow. The more we learn about something, the more we  realize how much we actually don’t know.

Therefore the question becomes does perfectionism actually exist? I have come to realise that it does not. It is a misnomer that we fool ourselves into believing more often than we may care to acknowledge. 🙂

You might be thinking that perfectionism is all about  going out there and doing your best in every situation. This is a valid argument – Doing our very best and trying to live up to the highest of standards can certainly be of tremendous value, however, there is a healthy and an unhealthy way to go about this.

Those who do their very best and strive for excellence do so from a place of empowerment. These people have a high level of self-worthself-esteem, and self-confidence in their own ability to get things done at the highest of levels. This behaviour is healthy because these people come from a place of yearning for growth and development. It is this behaviour that helps them perform at the highest level.

The flip side of this coin however, is the unhealthy form of perfectionism. People who succumb to this do so from a place of fear that often translates into procrastination. They engage in the act of perfectionism as a means of avoiding something they fear, and as a result, they succumb to bouts of anxiety or/ and procrastination.

This often manifests in inflexible thinking, self-criticismperformance anxiety, and guilt. The underlying factor here is, these people have very low levels of self-esteem. They just don’t believe they are good enough and therefore operate from a sense of failure, which impairs their personal growth, productivity, and performance.

In an attempt to make up for all these shortcomings, they set the highest possible standards for themselves thinking that striving for perfection will help ease their fears. This strategy almost never works because the underlying problem still exists.

A lack of self-esteem means that you are constantly comparing Yourself and your performance to others. From the outside this can seem competitive, but this competitive spirit often comes from a place of weakness and vulnerability. There is a consistent need for reassurance  and as a result, they are quite vulnerable to  criticism and rejection.

They become so engrossed in the act of doing things perfectly that “making progress” and “forward thinking” take a back-seat to the idea that “things are just not good enough”. As a result they don’t take any meaningful action towards the attainment of their goals and objectives, and they remain stuck. Unable to move forward and unable to break free, they engross themselves even further into a world of unrealistic expectations and unreasonable standards that can never be met. All this is a direct result of their inability to handle fear.

The Evolution of Perfectionism

Now that we understand how perfectionism manifests in our lives, let us  take a look at how it evolves over a lifetime. There are numerous influential forces that can make a person prone to falling victim to bouts of perfectionism. For starters, there is our temperament we are born which becomes less of a factor as we age and undergo social conditioning.

Growing up you might have received unusually high levels of praise from your parents, guardians and/or peers. As a result, you now have very high expectations of yourself and rather inflexible beliefs in certain areas of your life, which can manifest in perfectionistic behaviour. On the flip-side, there might have been an absence of praise while you were growing up in which case you would gravitate towards perfectionistic types of behaviour in an attempt to make-up for your perceived shortcomings. This is a way of proving to other people that you are deserving of higher praise.

Being overly punished for making mistakes while growing up can also trigger perfectionistic behaviour. As a result of these mistakes, you feel  you are just not good enough, smart enough, strong enough, etc. Today, you strive to avoid experiencing this pain by doing things perfectly to avoid punishment/pain that you still believe will result.

Being overly dependent upon receiving rewards from other people can also lead to perfectionistic behaviour. While growing up you might have consistently been rewarded for completing certain tasks and activities to a set of standards that your parents or others set for you. As a result, you have been conditioned to receive rewards when completing a task to the highest possible level. You now, indulge in perfectionism in order to keep receiving those rewards. Those rewards have probably changed quite significantly since you were a child, however, the expectation of getting something in return, even if it is just praise, is enough to keep your perfectionistic indulgence alive.

The Maintenance of Perfectionism

We can relate to these examples at some level however, what these examples do not explain is WHY, throughout our adult lives, we continue to indulge in perfectionism.

The underlying reasons why perfectionism might still be prevalent in your adult life, has to do with these three core factors: fearsunhelpful thoughts, and rules which work together to satisfy your hunger for perfectionism.

Fears

Your inability to deal with fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of making mistakes and even the fear of success can all lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

You indulge in perfectionism because fear breeds uncertainty and when things are uncertain this creates doubt. When there is doubt you procrastinate, instead of avoiding the task altogether, as most procrastinators tend to do, you try to trick yourself into believing that you are actually making progress. You do this by completely absorbing yourself into an easy part of the task that you feel comfortable with. You convince yourself that you cannot move onto the next part of the task unless this first part is done perfectly. This is, of course, a ploy you use to distract yourself from the fact that you just can not bear dealing with the fear that is waiting for you.

For example, let’s say that you have a presentation to do which you have been putting off for weeks. You convince yourself that you are not ready and spend all your time preparing for the presentation; making sure that everything is perfect. Of course, this is a ploy you use to avoid the FEAR you experience when you think about actually delivering this presentation. You are afraid of stepping out of your comfort zone and therefore indulge in perfectionism to help ease the tension and uneasiness you feel.

Unhelpful Thoughts

Your unhelpful thoughts that lead you astray. Your fears actually stem from these unhelpful thoughts you indulge in. These thoughts hinder how you view the events and circumstances of your life. As a result, you tend to make inaccurate assumptions about how things are and about how they could end up being, if you follow-through with a specific kind of action.

You might, assume that if you make a mistake while giving the presentation that people will judge you. This, of course, triggers the fear of failure or criticism. You now believe you need to do everything in your power to try and avoid this. This means that you will continue to plan and prepare your presentation in order to delay the inevitable moment for as long as possible.

These are only two examples of the types of unhealthy thought patterns that could be letting you down. There are of course others but you get the point.

Psychological Rules

Your inflexible rules. These rules are of course interlinked with your unhelpful thoughts and fears. In fact, there is very little separation as all these components work together to lead you down the path towards perfectionism.

When it comes down to the reluctance you feel about giving your presentation, your rules could be :

I can’t move forward unless I am able to find the right graphics for this presentation.

I must conduct thorough research for the topic in order to impress my boss.

I should spend more time on preparing myself in order to avoid making mistakes.

All of these rules that you have created for yourself keep you within a perfectionist cycle. It is a “cycle” because even if you find the right graphics for this presentation, there will be yet another excuse that will keep you stuck.

The Formation of Unreasonable Standards

The above three factors come together to form your personal standards and the expectations you bring to every situation. Your personal standards are guidelines you use to measure your success. These guiding principles of behaviour help direct what you focus on and how you end up focusing on things.

These affect the choices and decisions you make when it comes to indulging in perfectionistic behaviour. Take into consideration the personal standards you have set for yourself in an area of your life where you tend to indulge in perfectionism and ask yourself:

Are my personal standards in this situation 

 – realistic?

 – achievable?

 – flexible?

What problems tend to result from indulging in these high standards?

How does this affect

  • me?
  • the situation?
  • my life?

Answering these questions will hopefully begin to break down the walls that form the belief systems you have supporting this kind of behaviour.

Was this useful? Leave a comment and let me know how you have dealt with Perfectionism. Stay tuned for the next article which will cover How to Beat Perfectionism.

Self Image

All you need to know about Self Image

Self Image

It is not what you say out of your mouth that determines your life, it is what you whisper to yourself that has the most power! – Robert Kiyosaki

 

What is a Self-Image?

A self-image in its most basic form is an internalized mental picture an idea you have of yourself. It is how you think and feel about yourself based on your appearance, performance, and relationships that consistently impact your outlook on life as well as your level of happiness and fulfilment.

Whenever you ask:

How do I look?

How am I doing?

How important am I?

These are all examples of the internalized mental picture/idea you create of yourself that builds the foundations of your self-image. However, this does not provide us with nearly enough information about what this “self-image” thing is all about. So let us break this down even further.

Your self-image is the impression you have of yourself that forms a collective representation of your assets and liabilities. In other words, your self-image is how you see yourself based on your strengths and weaknesses.

These assets and liabilities often are evident through the labels you give yourself that describe your qualities and characteristics.

For instance, you might say:

I am intelligent… therefore I can…

I am loser… therefore I believe I can’t…

I am outgoing… therefore I am able to…

I am shy… therefore I am unable to…

I am a late bloomer… therefore I take longer…

These are just some examples of the many labels you potentially give yourself and the inevitable conclusions you may reach as a result. It is these conclusions you make about yourself that either form the foundations of a healthy self-image or an unhealthy self-image. Moreover, these labels form the foundations of your belief systems.

Your self-image is not something that is based on reality. In actuality, your self-image is built upon your perception of reality and that is influenced by how you believe you are being viewed by society and other people.

Your self-image is something that gradually develops over a lifetime of experience through learning and societal influence. It is, however, something that is constantly changing over time as you gain more life experience, as you think and reflect, as you learn, and as you interact with other people.

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Self-Image

So what does a healthy self-image look like? What does an unhealthy self-image? What  is the difference? And what impact do both have on your life?

Let us answer these questions by breaking down what it means to live with a healthy and an unhealthy self-image. As you read through these two examples, take inventory of yourself and identify whether your self-image borders more to the healthy or toward the unhealthy side of the scale.

An Unhealthy Self-Image

A person with an unhealthy self-image tends to consistently focus on their flaws and limitations. They persistently criticize themselves and tend to judge most of their decisions and actions:

What was I thinking?

That was such a stupid decision.

I can’t believe I just did that.

I am so useless.

I can’t do anything right.

This constant critical judgment tends to distort their imperfections  making these seem larger than life. In fact, everything on the negative side tends to be exaggerated and blown out of proportion. This often happens because they are heavily influenced by other people’s opinions of them; to their own detriment.

In fact, these peoples’ lives are very much defined by societal views, opinions, standards, norms, and expectations. As a result, they are consistently comparing themselves to others and trying to live up to other people’s expectations. When they notice that they just don’t measure up, this sends their emotions into a tailspin which triggers doubt, pessimism, insecurity and eventually leads to discouragement and potentially depression.

Whenever a person builds their self-image upon external factors, there will always be drawbacks. People’s opinions change and societal expectations constantly shift. When these opinions and expectations are weighed in our favour this leads to a positive outlook and greater fulfilment. However, when they flip and become unfavourable or unhelpful in respect of the outcomes we would like to achieve, this causes upheaval by sending our emotions into a tailspin. Why? because suddenly the perfect mental picture/idea we had of ourselves has been thrown out the door. It is certainly not a healthy way to live. Inevitably these people find themselves on a constant see-saw of feeling good about themselves and feeling terrible about themselves.

A Healthy Self-Image

A healthy self-image is primarily based on an individual’s personal feelings and perspectives. Here individuals are no longer influenced by other people’s opinions of them or by societal expectations. They instead make up their own minds about the internalized mental picture/idea they have of themselves. As a result, these people often have a more optimistic outlook on life and thereby more confidence in themselves and in their own ability. Why? Because they feel a greater sense of control over themselves and over their life.

A person with a healthy self-image doesn’t deny that they have flaws. In fact, they are realistic and clearly understand and accept the fact that they have their personal shortcomings. However, there is no critical judgment here. They acknowledge who they are and how they are in this very moment and they do the best they can with what they have.

A healthy self-image is of course built upon a high level of self-worth. These work together to help shape a healthy personality, which effectively builds the foundation of an empowered life. An empowered life in turn allows us to incrementally improve those areas of our life we believe requires improvement.

How to Build a Healthy Self-Image

Here is a four-step process that will help you build a healthy self-image. This process is closely tied to the process we used for building more self-worth. Because these two are related, there will be some crossover. Having said that, there are some variations here that will help you dig a little deeper in this area.

Step 1: Explore Yourself

Your first step is to explore who you are and what that means to you. This is an important first step because unless you clearly define who you are, you will never really develop a clear and accurate picture/idea of “you”.

Ask yourself:

Who am I?

How am I?

What defines who I am?

How do I see myself?

How accurate is this view?

Is this who I really am? Is it really?

Is this my true self? Or is there something more below the surface?

It is important that you keep digging deeper and deeper using these questions. It is very much like peeling back the layers of an onion. The surface layers will reveal a fuzzy picture of who you are. However, as you dig deeper and deeper by peeling off more layers you begin to get a clearer picture/idea of yourself. This is why it is important to periodically question the accuracy of your view. Your goal is to get to the core of who you really are without the need for all those external layers.

Step 2: Take a Personal Inventory

It is time to take a personal inventory by listing your positive qualities, goals, passions, and purpose.

Ask yourself:

What are my positive qualities? I am… therefore I can…

What do other people say are my positive qualities?

What personal strengths do I have? I am… therefore I am able to…

What goals would I like to achieve?

How could I live with more meaning and purpose?

What does all this mean to me?

Why is all this important?

The purpose of this step is to unlock all the good things you feel about yourself; to unlock all the things you have going for yourself that will now add layers back onto that onion to help form a strong personal impression of who you are today from a bigger picture perspective.

In the previous step, you were removing unnecessary layers to get to the core of yourself. Within this step, you are adding layers to that core to form a definitive and comprehensive picture/idea of yourself at this very moment. And it is, of course, that very picture that forms the foundations of your self-image.

Step 3: Analyze Your Struggles

A little earlier I mentioned how a healthy self-image is primarily based on our own personal feelings and perspectives. In other words, how we think about ourselves as well as the opinions and labels we create are all critical components that go into building a healthy self-image.

A person with a healthy self-image does not rely on outside opinions or circumstances to define who they are. They must instead rely on internal resources for this purpose. It is therefore absolutely critical that we take personal control of our internal world because it is the only thing that really matters when it comes to building a healthy self-image.

To get an understanding of this internal world we need to take a look at four key areas. These areas include your critical voice, your unhelpful thoughtsbeliefs in the form of labels, as well as incorrect assumptions you might be making about yourself.

Here are some questions to help stimulate your thoughts in these areas:

How do I tend to talk to myself throughout the day?

When things go wrong, what is my internal dialogue like?

Am I mostly critical or encouraging?

Given the outcomes I would like to achieve are my thoughts mostly helpful or unhelpful?

How do my thoughts tend to distort my reality?

How do I tend to label myself?

Are my labels helpful or unhelpful?

Are these labels rational? Does it even make sense for me to label myself in this way?

What assumptions do I tend to make about myself?

How are these assumptions potentially hurting me?

Working through these questions will effectively help you get a better understanding of how your critical voice, unhelpful thoughts, beliefs, and assumptions are shaping the picture/idea you have of yourself that builds your self-image.

If you discover that you tend to be overly critical of yourself; that your thoughts tend to be unhelpful; that your labels are negative; and that you tend to make assumptions that lead you astray, then it is important to work through these areas one by one in order to solidify your self-image.

If you are constantly being critical of yourself, then this is an indication that your self-image is not as healthy as it could be. It is therefore important to silence that critical voice and begin using more encouraging words.

Changing your language patterns in this way will help settle your thoughts and help you think more clearly and effectively. This subsequently means that you will be less likely to make negative assumptions or label yourself in unhelpful ways.

Step 4: Create an Accurate View of Yourself

The final step is to create a more accurate view of yourself that you can use as the foundation for building a healthy self-image. This view of yourself must be built upon all the positive qualities and strengths you outlined in Step 2 of this process.

Take those positive qualities and strengths and ask yourself one simple question:

How would I ideally like to be?

Take time to really have a good-long-hard think about this question and answer honestly how you would like to “be” starting today. There is, no one right answer, but rather a variety of answers that go into building your self-image. You will still have flaws and things that you might be struggling with. Accept these things. They are a part of you in the moment. You can work on improving these areas as you go along.

What is important here is that you are honest, genuine, authentic and real. This is who you are and this is how you see yourself with warts and all. In the end, building a healthy self-image is all about you. It is all about HOW you alone without external influences see yourself. It is this picture/idea of “you” that is what matters above all else. You are in the driver’s seat here; you alone define how you see yourself, and that is what counts in the end.

How to Strengthen Your Self-Image

Within this final section let us discuss some ideas to help you strengthen your self-image. Some of these suggestions are quite self-explanatory. In fact, many of them are simply decisions you make or  slight shifts in the way you think about yourself, think about your life, or how you approach circumstances. Other suggestions will require a little conscious effort and self-discipline. So all-in-all there is nothing complex here. Strengthening your self-image is simply about doing  small things consistently over time that will make a big difference in the long-run.

Do not Allow Society to Define You

Many people walk through life as a passive bystander. They accept how things are and allow society to influence/manipulate them into thinking and doing things in a specific way. They may have an opinion, but they rarely stand up for what they believe in, and instead allow society to shape their attitudes and opinions. As a result these people are at the mercy of the society.

They experience a roller-coaster ride of emotions because their internalized mental picture/idea of themselves shifts and changes depending on what is happening around them. They are therefore rarely satisfied and never completely fulfilled because they are always comparing themselves to others and trying to live up to societal expectations, opinions or views.

We often get stuck in this scenario because we regrettably take responsibility for other people’s problems. This is harmful because, for the most part, we are unable to control or influence these problems, and yet we lay the burden on our own shoulders. At times this is not even of our own doing. Other people place the burden of their problems on our shoulders and we suffer as a result.

It really should not be this way. Everyone should take responsibility for their own problems. In fact, you must be the one to take responsibility for your own choices, health, happiness, finances, relationships and life. Do not burden others with these things. You and you alone shape your life with purpose, and only in this way will you gain the personal power you need to develop a healthy and empowered self-image.

It is important to begin primarily living through our own internalized representation of ourselves and not relying on society to define us. This of course, starts with fully understanding and accepting who you are and then taking charge of the mental processes that are running your life.

 

Don’t Indulge in Self-Judgement or Self-Criticism

When you judge and overly criticize yourself, that is a clear indication that your internal voice is taking over your life. What I am talking about is that type of judgment and criticism that leaves you feeling helpless and deflated. That is the self-talk that it hurting your self-image and depleting your reservoirs of self-confidence.

While constructive criticism can be helpful, constructive criticism does not leave you with a foul taste in your mouth. It is rather something that leaves you feeling hopeful, optimistic and motivated that you can do better next time.

Instead of judging and/or criticizing yourself, choose to give yourself feedback. Feedback will provide you with an avenue for improvement and will help you to progressively develop the self-confidence you need to build a healthy self-image that allows you to be the best you can possibly be in every situation. After all you are not perfect, and you will make mistakes and fail miserably at times. That’s just part of life.

Actually, it’s just part of being human. You are not perfect and you will never be. Accept yourself with warts and all because a healthy self-image always comes through self-acceptance, which of course stems from self-understanding.

Don’t Expect Others to Complete You

When you rely on other people to complete you, you are at that very moment giving away your personal power. You are building your self-image on external factors (people). This might initially make you feel great about yourself and will undoubtedly help you boost your levels of confidence, however, the problem with this is your self-image is now at the mercy of other people.

If one day they tell you they do not love you anymore, then suddenly you feel unlovable. Or if suddenly they vanish from your life, then all of a sudden there is this empty hole inside that makes you feel incomplete.

You are not this other person, and they are not you. You are your own individual self and you certainly do not need other people to complete you. All you need is to gain a deep sense of understanding of who you are. Get to know your strengths and weaknesses. Then take full responsibility and control of your internal habitual patterns, and finally, fully accept that you are complete in your own right.

Other people can add value to your life, but in-and-of-itself you are complete in every way. This does not mean you are a finished product. You are not. There is much room to grow, develop and evolve in the coming years. However, this growth comes from within and then expresses itself outward in everything you do. That is the key to developing an empowering mental picture/idea of “you”. It starts from within. It starts with how you see yourself. It starts with building a healthy self-image.

Always Follow-through with Your Word

Your word must become your law. In other words, the promises you make to yourself you must keep. Promises kept help you create consistency, and you need consistency to build a healthy self-image.

Consistency is important when it comes to building a healthy self-image because a healthy self-image is not something that suddenly fluctuates with changing opinions. It is something that is steady and steadfast. I am not suggesting that your self-image does not change over time. Of course, it does. You certainly do not see yourself the same way today as you saw yourself a few years ago.

In fact, you might see yourself very differently in a variety of roles and/or situations. Your self-image is fluid, however, it requires consistency and consistency come from your ability to keep your word to follow through and do things a certain way.

A person who does not keep their word (the promises they make to themselves) is often the person who is heavily influenced/swayed by other people and their opinions. When you keep your word you are sending a strong message that you are running your life based on your own feelings and perspectives. You are not swayed by outside circumstances. This, does not mean you can’t change your mind. But that “change of mind” must come from a decision you make from within that is not primarily based on external factors.

When you reach this point you know that you are the one in the driver’s seat of your life. This is when you know you are the captain of your own ship.

Build Your Self-Image Upon Strong Foundations of Self-Worth

Finally, a healthy self-image is built upon the strong foundations of a high level of self-worth. Self-worth is of course all about how much you value and regard yourself despite what others might say and/or despite unfavourable circumstances. When you have a high level of self-worth nothing shakes or phases you. Likewise, when you have a healthy self-image you don’t look to outside sources to define who you are.

You alone create your own definition of who you are. You create the impression you have of yourself in each and every situation. You alone mould and shape the person you are today, and the person you become tomorrow.

Was this article helpful? Please leave a comment and let me know how you have built on your self image, I would love to hear from you.

Self Confidence

HOW TO BOOST YOUR SELF-CONFIDENCE

 

Self Confidence

 

Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy. – Brian Tracy

What it Means to Have Self-Confidence

To have self-confidence means being able to fully accept oneself and others. It also means being free from self-doubt, and having the necessary self-belief and self-assurance to follow through with desired actions and intentions without falling into the trap of indecision or hesitation.

To have self-confidence means not defining your personal value or self-worth on outside sources such as people and outcomes. Self-confidence is  something that comes from within each of us. It comes from a place of “knowing”.

It is not something that you try to do or be, but rather something that you just “are”. It is something that you just  accept wholeheartedly. It is part of you and you are a part of it, and that is why it is called Self-Confidence.

I am not saying that you cannot develop self-confidence. You can most certainly boost your levels of confidence, however, it doesn’t really become part of you until and unless you become one with it.

I can, pretend to be confident, but that is not self-confidence. Pretending to be self confident and acting as if I am confident still comes with doubt and hesitation. When I become “one” with what I am doing and fully let go of the fear of making mistakes, succumbing failure or anything else that frightens me, that is when I begin developing actual self-confidence.

Anyone can decide to feel confident, but a feeling of confidence is fleeting and it often depends on what is happening outside of you. While things are going well you will feel confident, however, if things are not going so well,  that confidence will quickly fade.

As such, true self-confidence cannot be a feeling, it must instead be a part of who you are no matter what is happening around you. For example, imagine undertaking a task you have never done before and saying to yourself one of the following two statements:

I’m feeling confident…

I have self-confidence…

Now, answer, which of these two statements is the more powerful statement? Most people would say that the second statement is the more powerful statement because “to have” something is much more powerful and permanent than simply  “to feel” something. Within this example lies the key to help you develop true and lasting self-confidence.

 

Self-Confidence is Very Much Like a Muscle

Developing self-confidence is not always easy and it does take time. The good news is that it is much like a muscle that you work on at the gym. Imagine for instance doing bicep curls at the gym. Your goal is to develop muscle growth, however, you will fail to achieve muscle growth if you make any of the following assumptions:

  • Expect that your muscles will grow significantly after one or two sessions.
  • Expect that you will achieve muscle growth by lifting very light weights.
  • Expect that you will attain muscle growth by working out inconsistently.

We all realize that these are flawed ways of thinking about muscle growth when it comes to working out at the gym. Your bicep muscles will only grow significantly after several weeks, months and years of training. Only when you keep increasing the intensity as you improve and consistently commit yourself to working out for an extended period of time, will you finally see the results you are looking for. We can of course throw in the importance of rest, nutrition, and other factors into the mix, but for the most part, that is how you grow your muscles.

Similarly, that is also how you develop your self-confidence.

Your level of confidence is just like any muscle in the body. It only grows stronger when you use and develop it by taking action towards a goal, over time. Breaking through your fears; gaining new experiences; and daily self-acceptance and self-love are what is going to build self-confidence.

You can only develop self-confidence when you fully accept yourself and cultivate self-love.  Without these, self-confidence cannot grow and become a part of you.

The sad fact is that most people never fully accept themselves, and that is where their problems lie. Without self-acceptance, they just do not have enough faith in themselves to follow through with their actions. They just do not trust themselves to get the job done. Without faith and trust, there is no real self-love and by extension without these elements in place, true self-confidence cannot exist.

Often times these people will try to “fake it to make it” and pretend to feel confident in order to overcome a fear or get through a difficult situation, but this seldom works; why…because they make the same three mistakes.

They expect:

  •  their confidence will improve significantly after a couple of tries.
  • to see a big boost in their confidence by doing small things that never take them too far outside their comfort zone.
  • that working on their confidence occasionally by making small changes which really doesn’t take too much out of them will create lasting change.

These tactics do not work for developing your bicep muscle, and they certainly will not work when trying to develop your self-confidence. I am not saying that we can’t develop confidence by taking small steps. Small steps in the right direction will help and is a good strategy. However, it is  a bit like lifting those tiny weights and never increasing the resistance. Without additional resistance, the muscle is not being put under enough strain in order to grow.

Likewise, without pushing yourself beyond what feels comfortable into the realm of discomfort, your confidence will also not grow. This is of course where  we do need to be completely honest with ourselves about whether we are ready to make the changes necessary to build self -confidence. Telling ourselves and others that we want to; is only the first small step. Being ready and willing to actually make the changes is of course a very different conversation. We must be willing to get very uncomfortable in order to begin boosting our confidence levels.

The Self-Confidence Self-Analysis Process

Before delving into methods to help you develop true self-confidence, it is important to  understand  where your starting point is, when it comes to your current level of confidence in areas that matter most.

First and probably most important of all, it is important to fully accept where you are currently in your life. Take time to acknowledge your fears and insecurities and how they are preventing you from moving forward.

Ask yourself:

What insecurities do I have about various aspects of my life?

What fears are holding me back in these areas?

Fully accepting your answers to these questions will help to pave the way forward for positive change.

Your next step is to acknowledge areas of your life where you feel confident. These are your greatest areas of strength and accomplishment.

Ask yourself:

Where do I feel most confidence?

What am I good at doing?

What’s something worthwhile that I have accomplished?

How does all this make me feel?

Your answers to these questions will help you to get a sense of what true self-confidence feels like.

The next step will be to transfer the self-confidence you have in these areas of your life into areas where you are lacking in confidence. How? by doing more of what you do to make you feel confident.

Your final step is to acknowledge some of the goals you would like to accomplish but can’t at the moment because you’re lacking in self-confidence.

Ask yourself:

Which area in my life specifically would I like to be more confident in?

What specifically would I like to be more confident with? Specify the time, place and situation. Perhaps create some SMART goals

How exactly do I want to be in this area of my life?

Why is all this important? Why do I want this so badly?

What will having self-confidence in this area of my life allow me to do?

Notice I did not mention “feeling confident” above. Feeling confidence can certainly be a first step towards having self-confidence, however, most people never get beyond that “feeling” in the areas that matter most.

This is a barrier you must cross if you desire to accomplish your goals.

Having acknowledged the areas of your life where you would like to feel more confident, will help you to know and recognize the obstacles that are likely to prevent you from moving forward towards being confident.

Ask yourself:

What obstacles could I likely face along this journey?

What specifically will these obstacles prevent me from doing?

How will I handle these obstacles when they arise?

Many people struggle with identifying obstacles because obstacles are scary. These are often elements that we would rather not face, yet many of these obstacles are inevitable. Sooner or later these will show up in your life, and if you are not ready and able to deal with them, you will slide right back into the confines of your comfort zone.

Acknowledging what obstacles you are likely to face can be overwhelming and can potentially weaken any sense of confidence you originally had when you set your goal(s). However, we can very easily shift perspectives and look at obstacles differently by taking the time to understand potential obstacles you might face can help boost your levels of confidence as long as you develop a plan on how to overcome them.

The act of “having a plan” in place to successfully move beyond obstacles will help you develop a deeper sense of confidence. This is by no means “self-confidence” as there is still plenty of hesitation and doubt, but you are making progress in the right direction. having a plan to deal with obstacles also allows us to be mentally prepared for any potential setbacks or hurdles which could scupper our progress. When you have a plan you are prepared and therefore not caught off guard and you know exactly what to do to navigate the hurdles.

Shifting Perspective About the Obstacles You Face

It is important to acknowledge above all else that self-confidence is a state-of-mind. It is not something you do, but rather something you “are”. It is a mindset you bring into every situation, and that is what makes all the difference.

When you are self-confident you naturally see failure, rejection, criticism, embarrassment, uncomfortable change or a mistake you made in a very different light compared to the person who does not have that same level of self-confidence. This difference in how you think makes all the difference in how you handle situations.

For most people, these kinds of circumstances are difficult to face.

It is very easy to get down on ourselves when facing failure, criticism, and rejection for instance. Just the very thought of these circumstances immediately makes people cringe and their confidence quickly plummets. Why? because their confidence comes from a “feeling” rather than a sense of “being”. They feel confident only when circumstances are favorable. However, the moment things change and they face adversity, they panic and as a result, their confidence level sinks.

The key to developing self-confidence is to begin progressively shifting how you see/perceive these circumstances. You can either choose to see things more favourably than the more unfavourably, however, the choice is always yours to make.

So how do people who have a tremendous amount of self-confidence perceive failure, rejection, embarrassment, fear, criticism,  uncomfortable change and making mistakes? How do they consistently play out these circumstances in their mind? Well, let’s take a look.

A Perspective for Failure

People who are highly of self-confident see failure as an inevitable part of life. They understand that the more risks they take the more likely the chances of failure are. Simultaneously though, they also appreciate that the more risks equal higher probability of success and they are okay with that. They realize that failure is simply a part of success. In fact, they see failure as nothing more but a stepping stone to success because every failed attempt provides feedback. They use this feedback to make better choices and decisions in the future. That is why their self-confidence never fades.

For a comprehensive analysis of what it means to fail, please read Understanding Failure and Overcoming Failure.

A Perspective for Making Mistakes

People who have high levels of self-confidence see each mistake as an opportunity to learn and grow. They do not see failure as a person affront or an attack but rather they view failure as a learning opportunity. They learn about what worked and what didn’t work; what played out as expected and what did not. This allows them to make the necessary tweaks and improvements which will lead them to success in future attempts.

They use this knowledge and information to do better the next time around. In fact, they see that the more mistakes they make the more wisdom comes from experience and the insight they into what works and what does not work. The more they “know of” what doesn’t work, the better their odds of success are the next time around. That is the way they see mistakes, which is why their self-confidence does not waver when mistakes are made.

For a comprehensive analysis of what to do when mistakes are made, please read Learning from Mistakes.

A Perspective for Facing Rejection

People who have high levels of self-confidence never take rejection personally. They understand that rejection can often result from a misunderstanding of some kind. Clear up the misunderstanding and that by itself can clear up the rejection. However, they also do recognize that at times other people simply have differing beliefs, values, and opinions, and as a result, they will never look favorably upon them or their opinions. That’s just how life is. People are different and that’s what makes us unique in our own right. They accept that this is a fact and just move onto the next person who could have more similar values, beliefs, and opinions, and that is why their self-confidence never wavers.

For a comprehensive analysis of how to handle rejection, please read Understanding Rejection and Handling Rejection.

 

A Perspective for Facing Criticism

People who have high levels of self-confidence clearly understand the value of criticism. They accept that every piece of criticism provides them with valuable feedback that they use to better themselves; to better their ideas; or to better their approach. Even when criticism does not come across as constructive, they still take it on board and try and use it to create positive changes in their lives.

They also realize that some people’s criticism has nothing to do with them but rather everything to do with the other person. The other person might just be feeling angry or frustrated; maybe they had a bad day, or maybe they are envious of them for some reason. Often people will throw harsh criticism at others because they either do not quite understand or they are just struggling with their own self-esteem issues.

Self-confident people understand this, and that is why their self-confidence never wavers.

For a comprehensive analysis on how to face criticism, please read How to Handle Criticism.

A Perspective for Dealing with Fear

People who have high levels of self-confidence understand that fear exists primarily because of uncertainty. Anything new that they have not done before will always bring with it a little uncertainty, and with uncertainty comes fear.

However, they are not phased by fear because they recognize that feeling fear signifies that they need to be more focused and patient. They must take their time to practice and gain the necessary experience to turn what was once “uncertain” into something more certain. And that, of course, comes with the experience of gaining new skills, knowledge, support and/or the tools that are required to help them move through this uncertain situation successfully. They challenge their fear head-on and watch it disintegrate over time. That is why their self-confidence never wavers.

For a comprehensive analysis on how to deal with fear, please read Understanding FearConquering FearOvercoming Fear and Eliminating Fear. These titles may sound similar but each article tackles fear from a different perspective.

A Perspective for Handling Embarrassment

People who have high levels of self-confidence aren’t phased by embarrassment. They understand that the fear of embarrassment is simply an extension of the fear of failure and the fear of making mistakes. Those two fears are simply outcroppings of the fear of criticism and the fear of rejection. The result, of course, comes in the form of embarrassment and not wanting to do something because one of these fears is prevalent in one’s life. They clearly understand that feeling embarrassed is all in the eye of the beholder. What one person finds embarrassing, another person will revel in. They overcome this fear by absolutely “owning” everything they do no matter how poorly they do it at first. These people also acknowledge that they are human and they are perfectly imperfect. That is why their self-confidence never wavers.

For a comprehensive analysis on how to get over the fear of embarrassment, please read Overcoming Embarrassment.

A Perspective for Dealing with Uncomfortable Change

People who have high levels of self-confidence see unexpected change as a natural part of life. Just like the seasons change every year, these people understand that life also goes through ebbs and flows throughout a lifetime. They accept these changes and adapt to them accordingly. In fact, often they revel in these changes because they clearly understand that an unwanted change can often bring unexpected benefits and new opportunities that would ordinarily not have occured.That is why their confidence never wavers.

For a comprehensive analysis on how to deal with both expected and unexpected change, please read How to Embrace Change and The Seasons of Transformation.

How to Construct Your Self-Confidence

Let’s now take a look at some guidelines to help you purposefully construct your self-confidence in the days, weeks and months ahead. Some of the suggestions that follow are quite straightforward. However, don’t let that fool you into thinking that you tried this before and it doesn’t work. The key to success is “consistency”. Doing something once or even once in a while will not get you results. It is a commitment to consistent action that will get you the results you desire in your life.

Find Mentors and Role Models

It is said that you are the average of your five closest friends. Therefore if your five closest friends consistently experience low levels of self-confidence, then it is very likely that you also experience the same. The longer you hang around these people the more likely your levels of confidence are likely to plummet. You either raise other people up to a higher level, or they will pull you down to their level.

Given this, it is absolutely critical that we regularly associate with people who will raise our levels of confidence in various situations. I am talking about people who are energetic, upbeat, passionate and inspiring. People who seem naturally confident and capable in any situation, and who will do nothing but encourage you during the toughest of times. Those are the people you need to be around to get a sense of what having self-confidence actually feels like.

However, when it comes to finding mentors and role models it is also important to look outside of your social circle, and turn to books, movies and/or documentaries for guidance and inspiration. Read about how people overcame life’s greatest adversities and get a sense of how they surmounted their lack of self-confidence. It is these real-life stories that will give you a sense of what it takes to rise above all the things that at the moment give you jitters. But reading about these people is one thing; it is a whole step-up when you begin modeling their behavior, decisions, and actions.

Consistently Model of Confident People

Everything in life follows a set of patterns. From the planets to the moon, to the seasons, to the migration of animals, and to the behaviours of human beings. From the largest to the tiniest objects within the universe; absolutely everything follows a very specific pattern. This is good for all of us, especially for those who want to improve their self-confidence. Why? Because self-confidence can be modelled and practiced.

Your peers, mentors and role models who have the self-confidence you are wanting to instil within yourself, are lived out through daily patterns. Their daily patterns are reflected in the way they sit, behave, dress, talk, think, walk, interact with others, and even how they spend their time. Within each one of their actions they “ooze” self-confidence, and that is exactly what you need to bottle-up and drink for yourself.

Have a think about all the people with high levels of self-confidence and ask yourself:

How does this person behave in various situations?

How do they tend to talk even when dealing with uncertainty or when handling pressure?

How do they typically walk? What is their energy and vibe like when they walk?

How do they tend to sit? What is particularly striking about this? What insights can I gather?

How do they interact with others especially when dealing with conflict and other social pressures?

How do they typically dress? What does their style of dress say about them?

How do they tend to spend their time?

How do they think and reflect on their circumstances?

What is empowering about all this?

What do they typically believe about themselves, others and their circumstances?

What skills are they good at?

Why, specifically, are they proficient at these skills? 

 

What additional patterns of behavior can I see that might be of value to help me better understand what it takes to have self-confidence?

Taking the time to answer these questions will provide you with surprising insights about what it takes to “have” self-confidence”. The key then, of course, will be to use this information to make small adjustments in the way you live your life.

 

Ask yourself:

How can I begin modeling these people even in a small way at first?

How can I use this information to help improve my own self-confidence?

For instance, you can begin by dressing the part of a person with self-confidence. Immediately your self-image will improve and as a result, the confidence you have in yourself will expand. Remember, it is all about taking small progressive steps. Do not try to model everything at once.

Start with one thing first until you develop a habit, and then move onto the next thing. With consistent effort, what you started out consciously modeling will eventually become second nature.

For a comprehensive analysis of what it takes to model another person’s behavior, please read Modeling Successful People. Moreover, you might like to gain some practice by Modeling Richard Branson’s Mindset.

Improve Your Physiology

One critical area to work on to help you develop self-confidence rests within your physiology. I have already discussed in detail the link between physiology and our mindset in the Physiology of Excellence article so I won’t go into too much detail here.

However, it is important to point out that how you move your body, how you walk, how you sit and how you breath all have an impact on how you think about the events and circumstances of your life. If you take a little time to compare the physiology of a person with self-confidence and a person without it, you will find that they use their body very differently. In fact, it is worlds apart.

A person who has self-confidence will move faster, breathe more deeply, walk and sit more upright, etc, than a person lacking in confidence who will often move sluggishly, breathe in a shallow manner and sit slouching over. These are all key factors that influence how both these people experience reality. Making adjustments in any one of these areas will immediately transform how you see the world and the circumstances of your life.

Be Curious and Adventurous

People who are self-confident are very curious and adventurous. They are willing to try new things and step outside their comfort zone to expand their horizons. Moreover, they accept the fact that by trying new things they will make mistakes. And all this is okay because they have an adventurous spirit.

Being adventurous is not easy for the person who has close ties to his/her comfort zone. Adventure always begins with a curious mind, and therefore cultivating curiosity is certainly a great place to start.

Curiosity is what will encourage you to step outside your comfort zone, to take risks and chances. It is the one thing that will open your mind to new possibilities and perspectives. Curiosity begins with the act of asking effective questions. The more questions you ask about what exists outside of your comfort zone, the more curious you will become. And with more curiosity, you will naturally develop a more adventurous spirit, which is, of course, a requirement for developing self-confidence.

Set Achievable Goals

In order to stretch your comfort zone and follow your adventurous spirit, you will need to set some achievable goals that are just beyond your comfort zone. These goals should be challenging but reachable with a little work and some discomfort.

Goals are important because these will help you live with a deeper sense of purpose while also keeping you focused and motivated on what is most important. However, effective goals are set using either The GROW Model method or the SMART Goal Setting method. Either style of goal setting can be of value to help you get the results you desire to create in your life.

Always Encourage Others

One very simple and overlooked way to develop your self-confidence comes through encouraging others in times of difficulty. When you encourage others you boost their levels of self-belief and self-confidence. They have someone who supports and believes in them, and that goes a long way towards helping them break down barriers they struggle to move through by themselves.

All this is helpful for you because through the simple act of encouraging others you begin to feel better about yourself. Moreover, people will very often give back to you what you gifted to them. They will encourage you in return, and you now you have someone in your corner who supports you through thick and thin.

That by itself can do wonders to help you develop self-confidence. However, you must be wary not to rely on others in this way for the long-term because they might not always be there for you. You must instead internalize that self-confidence and draw it out of from within. More about that in the self-confidence mindset.

Improve Ability to Solve Problems

One sure way to improve your self-confidence is to become a better problem solver. We often struggle with our self-confidence because of our inability to solve problems. Unfortunately, this is something that we cannot escape from because the sad truth is that problems are simply a part of life. In fact, life is full of endless problems. And your ability to solve those problems essentially determines the quality of life you live.

It is therefore absolutely paramount that you work on developing your ability to solve problems creatively and even commit yourself to using specific models such as the six thinking hats method for solving problems. With practice, what you will find is that your self-confidence will naturally grow from “within” every time you successfully solve one of your life’s  dilemmas. 🙂

Unlocking a Self-Confidence Mindset

Earlier in the article, I mentioned that there is a major difference between “feeling” confident and “being” self-confident. And that “difference” essentially comes down to our mindset.

A person who is feeling confident only feels that way because of how things are externally. The moment circumstances change, their feeling will likewise change and their confidence levels will subsequently be affected.

On the other hand, when someone is self-confident this means that their confidence comes from within themselves. The events and circumstances going on around them are irrelevant.

Therefore, no matter how things change in the external world, their confidence remains at the same level because they gauge their confidence from internal sources. This comes down to “mindset”.

It is the mindset that these people bring into every situation that makes all the difference. Bringing a very specific mindset into a situation influences the decisions one makes and the actions one takes in that particular situation. Therefore a “mindset” in this context is not only about how you think or perceive a situation, it also encompasses how you behave and act in that situation as a result of your thoughts and perspectives.

Let us now take a look at the mindset of self-confidence in a little more detail by breaking down all the relevant components that go into shaping it.

The Qualities of Self-Confidence

When thinking about the individual components of self-confidence, what typically comes to mind?

Maybe

passion or curiosity?

courage and gratitude?

self-discipline, patience, and determination?

Self-confidence is made up of these parts working together as a unit. Therefore in order to develop more self-confidence, it is important to focus on growing yourself in each of these areas. The more you grow and develop yourself in each area, the higher your levels of self-confidence grow.

 

Here is a quick break down of the value of each area:

  • Passion is required to keep you focused and motivated on the highest value activities. It fuels your self-confidence.
  • Curiosity is required to help you gain the insights you need to work through problems successfully.
  • Courage is required to help you face your fears head-on, giving you the self-confidence you need to overcome your problems.
  • Gratitude is required to help you see the blessings in every problem and situation.
  • Self-Discipline is required to help you stay focused and on target for extended periods at a time even when things might not seem to be working in your favour.
  • Patience is required because to have self-confidence you must be willing and able to grow from each experience. Self-confidence only comes through experience, and for that, you need ample patience.
  • Determination is required to help you persist through the difficulties you will inevitably face.

Using Empowering Language

Self-confidence is about how we think about our lives and circumstances, it is also how we tend to talk to ourselves about our lives and circumstances. Those people who are self-confident use empowering language that helps them break down barriers that stop other people in their tracks. But it is not just about the words they speak, it is also about how they express those words and the power of their language that makes all the difference.

Expecting Positive Outcomes

One of the primary differences between a person with self-confidence and a person without it comes down to having positive expectations. A person who has high levels of self-confidence always expects the best. Yes, things will go wrong at times. In fact, Murphy’s Law may come into play time-and-again, however, this does not change their demeanour. They clearly understand that every problem presents an opportunity. It is a blessing in disguise, and they, therefore, look for the positive outcome in every situation, and that is what gives them the confidence to keep moving forward.

Asking Solution-Focused Questions

This, of course, comes back to cultivating curiosity and having the willingness and courage to ask solution focused questions that move you towards your desired outcome. What this habit actually helps you avoid doing is making excuses.

When you ask solution focused questions you cannot make excuses. You are instead looking for answers and potential opportunities that you could take advantage of. That is what is required to develop high levels of self-confidence, because the more questions you ask the better answers you will get and the more you will know what to do the next time around. This will improve your levels of self-confidence.

Challenging Limiting Beliefs

We all have at some level limiting beliefs about certain aspects of our lives. However, self-confidence requires that we consistently challenge these limiting beliefs whenever possible. If you fail to do this then you will lack the necessary self-confidence you are searching for because your limiting beliefs will always get in your way.

These limiting beliefs will sabotage you time-and-again because they are in conflict with your desired actions. Self-confidence simply cannot exist unless and until you eliminate these limiting beliefs from your life. If you ignore this fact, then you will constantly struggle with self-sabotaging forces controlling your life.

Cultivating Laughter and Humour

Laughter and humour are very important for self-confidence because along our journey through life we will undoubtedly face a great many struggles. For most people, the struggles are a burden. Emotionally they struggle to handle these problems and as a result their self-confidence plummets but it doesn’t have to be this way.

People who have self-confidence face problems that they are unable to solve all the time. Typically this would deplete their self-confidence, right? If I can’t solve something I am obviously not feeling very confident about it. But if I laugh about it or find the humour in the situation, then just maybe I can start seeing the situation from a very different perspective. I no longer see myself as a “victim” of circumstance, but rather I see the situation as something I can potentially control because it doesn’t affect me emotionally. And the fact that I mm laughing about it relaxes me and this immediately frees my brain to search for answers.

Upgrading Personal Standards

People who have high levels of self-confidence set very high standards for themselves. Their high standards encourage them to think and act in a way that goes above and beyond how normal people would think and act in typical situations.

These people expect more from themselves in every situation, and because they expect more they are naturally more confident that they can get the job done. Confidence comes from reaching those personal standards, which is why they don’t set standards that are beyond what they are capable of.

They instead set achievable standards and then raise the bar over time and as they gain more experience and confidence. That is one of the key ways to grow your self-confidence over time.

Avoid Self-Confidence Depleting Habits

Self-criticism, procrastination, perfectionism, dwelling on failure and mistakes… all of these things will immediately deplete your levels of self-confidence, which is why people with high levels of self-confidence never dabble in these habits. In fact, they avoid these habits like a plague because they fully understand the negative impact these can have.

Criticizing yourself goes against the habit of curiosity and using humour and empowering language. Dwelling on failure and mistakes go against the habit of gratitude and asking solution-focused questions. Indulging in procrastination goes against the act of setting higher standards.

Perfectionism, this is a form of “patience”, however, it is also a form of procrastination that hides fear and indecision, which certainly does not mesh very well with self-confidence.

Ultimately, you have a choice. You can either choose to indulge in habits that deplete your levels of self-confidence, or you can choose alternate habits that will over time raise your levels of self-confidence. And that choice, of course, is yours to make, so choose wisely by asking:

Is this habit I have chosen for myself building up or tearing down my level of self-confidence?

 

Did you gain value from this article? Please leave a comment I would love to hear form you?  🙂

HOW TO STOP SELF-SABOTAGE YOUR OWN SUCCESS IN ITS TRACKS!

But I do nothing upon myself, and yet I am my own executioner. – John Donne

Are You Caught Up in a Repeating Cycle of Self-Sabotage?

Have you ever wanted something so badly… for so long… trying so damn hard… but time and again you ended up failing miserably?

Have you ever set goals and objectives that you just didn’t or couldn’t reach?

Have you ever wondered why you keep repeating the same patterns of behavior over and over again and keep getting precisely the same pitiful results?

All of us at one point or another go through these repeated cycles and phases. In fact, many of us go through our standard self-sabotage cycles like clockwork each day. As a result, we rarely live up to our full potential in any area of our lives.

What is more, is that we continuously regret the things we did not do then wonder why we keep getting stuck indulging in these limiting patterns of behaviour.

Given all this, you might be wondering whether there is an answer for getting unstuck? Is there an actual solution for avoiding these repetitive and limiting patterns of behavior?

And the answer to these questions is a resounding YES. There is a solution, but first, we must come to understand what self-sabotage is all about.

What Exactly is Self-Sabotage?

Self-sabotage is any behavior, thought, emotion or action that holds you back from getting what you consciously want. It is the conflict that exists between conscious desires and unconscious wants that manifest in self-limiting patterns of behavior.

Self-sabotage prevents you from reaching your goals and plays the part of a safety mechanism that protects you against disappointment.

What this essentially means is that your brain is protecting you from getting hurt by doing what it thinks is best — which is to keep you within the confines of your comfort zone.

The Real Reason Why You Indulge in Self-Sabotage

Self-sabotage tends to linger in our lives because of a lack of self-esteemself-worthself-confidence, and self-belief.

Moreover, we suffer from self-sabotage patterns because we have great difficulty managing our daily emotional experiencesWe tend to react to events, circumstances, and people in ways that hinder our progress and prevent us from reaching our goals and objectives.

Self-sabotage is also used as an effective method for coping with stressful situations or high expectations.

For example we sabotage ourselves when we are unable to reach the high bars of expectation that have been set for us. We feel incapable of reaching these expectations and thereby indulge in self-sabotaging behaviour as a means of coping with the situation.

No matter what our reasoning for self-sabotage, it is quite clear that if we do not do something about it, we will continue to live a life full of regrets and unfulfilled expectations.

The Manifestation of Self-Sabotage in Our Lives

Self-sabotage can come in many forms and often manifests in our lives in various ways.

Here is a list of typical methods we tend to use to sabotage our own success.

 

When it comes to our limiting thoughts, we must pay close attention to the excuses we tend to make that prevent us from moving forward. Here are some examples:

This won’t work…

I can’t do this…

I’m too busy right now…

I’m just not ready yet…

I’m just not good enough…

Here are 19 more excuses you’re making that might very well be keeping you stuck.

Each of the patterns listed above has its own set of consequences that manifest in a variety of ways in our lives. Some are very obvious, while others might be a little more difficult to identify.

The key for us here is to list down and pinpoint the thoughts, feelings, and actions that lead us down the path of self-sabotage.

Only then, through conscious self-awareness can we begin to put a stop to these patterns of behavior.

4-Steps for Eliminating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns

There is a simple yet very effective method we can use to eliminate self-sabotage patterns from our lives.

The process involves 4 steps. These 4 steps can help you take conscious control of the behaviours that are currently influencing your choices, decisions, and actions.

These steps include:

  1. Identifying Your Self-Sabotaging Behavior
  2. Recreating Your Self-Sabotage Patterns
  3. Identifying a Healthy Replacement Behavior
  4. Practicing the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed

Let’s have a look at how each of these work

Step 1: Identify the Self-Sabotage Behavior

Your first objective is to Identify the Self-Sabotaging Behavior that is preventing you from moving forward.

To do this, we must become consciously aware of our daily choices, decisions, actions, and the resulting consequences. Use the list in the previous section to identify the various types of self-sabotaging behaviours you tend to indulge in.

Once your behaviours have been identified, it’s necessary to pinpoint specific triggers that may be causing these behaviours to manifest in your life. These triggers could include people, objects, specific times, events, locations, etc. Ask yourself:

What specifically triggers this behavior?

How exactly does this behavior manifest in my life?

Next, we must ask ourselves whether it’s possible to avoid these triggers altogether.

Simply removing these triggers from our lives we will be better prepared to take conscious control of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

However, there is another factor that we must take into consideration. This factor is the limiting beliefs we have associated with each particular self-sabotaging pattern.

The key is to identify these limiting beliefs, then work on converting them into positive empowering beliefs.

One of the simplest ways to do this is to question the validity of your belief. Take just two minutes and ask yourself:

What is it that I believe in this situation?

What is it that I believe about myself and my own abilities?

How did my belief about this, trigger my self-sabotage pattern?

How is this belief ridiculous and/or  impractical?

What would others say about this belief?

What is another more helpful perspective I could take of this situation?

These questions are a good starting point. Use these to help you weaken the beliefs that govern your self-sabotaging behavior.

Step 2: Recreate Your Self-Sabotage Pattern

Having worked through the previous step, you should now be able to consciously recreate the self-sabotage patterns by outlining all the triggers and the associated behaviours that manifest as a result of these triggers.

It’s important that you are very clear about how this behaviour manifests in your life before moving onto the next step.

Ask yourself:

How exactly does this self-sabotaging behaviour tend to manifest in my life?

What typically triggers this behaviour and how?

What patterns am I seeing that could help me to better understand this behaviour at a deeper level?

Once you have a good understanding of the patterns surrounding this behavior, you can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Identify a Healthy Replacement Behaviour

To eliminate an old pattern of behaviour, we must first replace it with a new pattern that is more practical and helpful.

This is fundamental…why … because at times it is difficult to avoid certain triggers such as people, objects or circumstances that cause us to react in unresourceful ways.

We must take time to develop a more resourceful and appropriate way of responding.

Ask yourself:

How could I respond in a more appropriate, resourceful, and practical way that would help me get what I want in this situation?

How and why is this a better way to respond in this situation?

What are some reasons for making this change?

What are the long-term benefits of changing how I respond in this situation?

What are the key advantages of this new behavior?

Remember that change will not happen if there is a lack of motivation behind that change.

If you cannot find reliable enough reasons to make a change, then you simply won’t have the necessary desire or drive to follow through with the change.

Step 4: Practice the New Behavior Until a Habit is Formed

Once you have identified your new behavior, you must now take the time to practice implementing it as often as possible until a new habit is established.

To do this, begin by going through your response (your healthy replacement behavior) to the situation in your imagination. See every detail in large pictures with lots of colour or music or anything else that is fun for you. Feel the positive energy churning through your body as you continue to enlarge the details of your new habit. Do this a few times daily and each time add more colour, more fun to your picture in your head and very soon you will overcome the old self-sabotaging pattern.

Now that your imagination has been activated, you are ready to put yourself in real-world situations that will naturally trigger your old patterns of behaviour. This time though, you are primed with a new response mechanism that you will continue to practice over the next four weeks until a new empowering habit is formed.

 

10 Practical Ideas for Eliminating Self-Sabotage

To eliminate our self-sabotage patterns, we must make a concerted effort to stay conscious and aware of our behaviours and actions at all times.

At the same time, it’s helpful to put into action a variety of strategies and tactics that can help to eradicate these behaviours once and for all.

Here are 10 suggestions for you to experiment with.

Consistently Learn from Mistakes

Take time at the end of the day to reflect on how you responded to events and circumstances.  Learn from these mistakes and experiences by writing down how you will respond differently tomorrow and in the future.

The more you reflect and learn, the better prepared you will be to face these scenarios in the future.

Think Bigger and Bolder

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own destructive patterns of behavior that we lose sight of what’s most important. When we have a narrow  focus, we fail to see the bigger picture.

Given this, it can, therefore, be helpful to take the time to think bigger and bolder. This can help you to expand your understanding and perspective of the situation.

Ask Better Questions

Questions are the keys to the locks that hold our problems in place.

Asking better and more effective questions, we naturally gain a different perspective on our situation. This can help us to become more consciously aware of the self-sabotage patterns that are ruling our lives.

Ask yourself:

What have I learned from this experience?

What would I do differently given another opportunity?

What could the potential benefits be?

How will changing my response allow me to get what I want faster?

The questions you ask will help expand your choices and options moving forward. Giving yourself more choices and options you will be in a better position to work through your self-sabotaging behaviours in optimal ways.

Treat the Process of Change as an Experiment

Just like we did not master the process of walking in one day, changing old habits will also not happen in one day. However, it does happen over time.

When you took your first steps, you must have stumbled more than once. However, you got back up and continued to struggle until you eventually mastered the mechanics of walking. It was one of your little life experiments that I imagine you succeeded at over time. 🙂

The process of change is precisely the same. Treat it as an experiment that will take some time and effort.

You will probably not be victorious after the first or even second attempt. However, over time you will get better at it  as long as you persist. Eventually you will win the war over your self-sabotage patterns.

 

Seek Advice from Other People

It’s important to always ask for help .Seek advice from people who have had practical experience dealing with what you are currently struggling with. Trust me, you are not the only one who is /or has gone through this. They know from personal experience the struggles you are likely to face along the way. They will, therefore, be more than happy to  give you practical advice and suggestions that have helped them; to try. You never know if one of those pearls of wisdom will allow you to move beyond your self-sabotage patterns.

 

Make Sure to Plan in Advance

We often struggle through life when we do not know what to expect, or have little to-no-idea how circumstances will unfold.

However, when we begin to lay down solid plans for how we will respond to situations, people, and circumstances, we begin taking control of our lives.

While laying out these plans; take a moment to consider possible challenges and obstacles that you might face along the way. Acknowledge that  obstacles may exist, then consider how you will respond if or when these occur. Even if you don’t deal with these effectively at the time, you will at the very least learn from your experience. This will allow you to adjust your approach the next time around.

 

Focus on Exploring Solutions

Sometimes we get so caught up in our own inadequacies and limitations that all we see are problems and setbacks. This particular way of looking at life only leads to further challenges.

Instead, take time to consider possible solutions to the problems you are dealing with. This begins by asking more effective questions that focus your brain on finding answers, insights, and ideas, not problems.

 

Adjust Your Expectations

Our expectations can sometimes lift us up to new heights, or they can demoralize us emotionally. This is why it is so important to always keep our expectations in-check. Managing expectations ensure that we are not aiming too high too quickly and allow us to avoid  disappointment.

 

Set your expectations high, however, give yourself permission to be flexible to make changes should  your circumstances, conditions, and resources change.

Remind yourself that you didn’t master the process of walking in one day. You instead mastered it over time. The same is true when it comes to mastering your own behaviour patterns.

 

Take Intelligent Risks

More often than not, those who take more risks have fewer regrets than those who play it safe and struggle with uncertainty. The same is true when it comes to transforming your behaviour.

You need to take risks, you need to take a chance on yourself, and you need to snap out of old unresourceful limiting patterns of behaviour that no longer serve you.

 

The best time to start making changes was yesterday. The second best time is Right Now.

The only person can make the change is YOU.

 

Take Time for Self-Reflection

The people who get ahead in life are the ones who actually take the time to consistently think through their daily choices, decisions, and actions.

Successful people learn from what worked or failed to work. They adjust their course of action by taking a different approach.

Only through self-reflection will you gain the necessary insight, perspective, and understanding to begin the process of change and transformation.

 

Concluding Thoughts

Self-sabotage is like a grenade that suddenly and unexpectedly explodes; pushing us away from our deepest wants and desires. However, there are no excuses, because we are the ones who consciously control the movement of the pin.

It is therefore, up to us to make the decision that we will no longer fall prey to our self-sabotaging patterns of behavior ever again.

 

The choice is yours. It’s in your hands. You now know what to do and how to do it. The real question is when will you get started? When will you finally commit to putting an end to the self-sabotaging behavior that is preventing you from living the life you truly desire to live? Are your goals  worth making the change? Are you worth making the change? 🙂

 

What have you done to change your limiting beliefs? Leave a comment – I would love to hear from you.

Pearls of Wisdom

Hello there hope you are having a fabulous week.

So I have been reading this book about mindset and this thought crossed my mind. I wonder how many other people may need to read some of these pearls of wisdom I have been reading. I then realised that you may not have the time or the interest in reading a book on mindset and how our thoughts influence our daily lives. More importantly how our thoughts can change our reality.

I know I was a bit skeptical at first too but I kept reading anyway. I came to realise this is not magic, its not some new age pop-psychology or even something reserved for those “enlightened gurus” or “flower-power” types. It is all quite real and surprisingly well researched. In fact it is used very successfully by many people who many of us know [maybe not personally but we know who they are].

You know who Arnold  Schwarzenegger is right – like him or loath him go read his story. There are many like him who have used these little pearls and have made remarkable changes in their lives.

Truthfully what do you have to loose – that was my view anyway so I decided to give it a bash. I have only just started so will let you know how it goes. Why not give it a try and let me know how your reality changes. Or maybe just try it for sniffs-and-giggles and see what happens. Looking forward to hearing from you.

 

So here goes the first little pearl of wisdom I came across.

Visualization is using your imagination to see yourself in a situation that hasn’t yet happened, picturing yourself having or doing the thing you want, and successfully achieving the results you desire.

  1. Decide what you want to do or have.
  2. Relax. Spend several minutes unwinding so that you are comfortable in body and mind.
  3. Spend five to ten minutes visualizing the reality you want.

The mental pictures we indulge in, become a blueprint for our goals, a mold into which we pour our energy.

The more the thought is repeated the more energy and power it generates, and the more readily it is able to manifest itself.

Strong and concentrated thoughts are strong and concentrated forces.