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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.

Goal Setting is the thing to do right…Wrong! – Part1

 

Dreams and Goals

This is Part 1 of 2

 

Goal-setting seems like a smart thing to do in a career change. However, this might actually be exactly what is keeping you stuck. Renata explains why big targets can be a false friend. Here is what she recommends doing to start making progress towards that Ideal Career instead.

Let me tell you a short story

A little while ago I was doing a cupboard purge something I had not done in a while.

I found a black hard cover notebook. I immediately recognise this old faithful companion that contain hundreds of lines of my handwriting and doodles, in different colours of ink and pencil.

Journal entries, to-do lists, thoughts I had jotted down. Pages and pages of confused, frustrated outpourings about my work, my life, my future. I took a moment to read those words and I was transported back to that year in a deeply visceral way that I haven’t felt for a long time. The desperate awkwardness of feeling like a fundamental misfit in a career and a life that was not for mine. The sense of being caged in and stuck, trapped by the very life choices I myself had made in the years before. The  dark emptiness ahead of me when I tried to imagine what else I could do.

As I flipped through the pages of that old book one page in particular hit me hard.

It was a list of goals.

Big, ambitious, hopeful goals. The only kind I had, back then.

And then next to them, in a different pen, clearly written later in a fit of irritation, a series of scrawled, pointy, sarcastic flippant questions…

      • “Have three reasonable career options I’m truly excited about.” LOVELY. HOW, EXACTLY?
      • “Start a side line income to make extra cash” WHICH YOU’LL DO IN WHAT SPARE TIME?
      • “Have  ($6000) saved by June.” WHAT FOR, GENIUS?
      • “Hand in my notice by September” YEAH, RIGHT!!

 

Reading the contents of that page was like watching a snippet of the perpetual state of the inside of my head – the never-ending back-and-forth of a hopeful, fierce optimist and an angry, hurt cynic.

I made a lot of lists like that.

I remember how painful and pointless those felt, once their initial balm wore off.

Unrealistic, hollow-feeling goals, created mostly because I didn’t know what else to do.

They sounded nice, but I rarely did much about them.

It wasn’t a question of what I wanted on a grand scale.

It was the specifics I had no clue about. I still did not know the steps to take to get there.

Sound familiar?

Goals are not very helpful in the day-to-day logistics of a career change.

YES goals can feel productive, and make yo feel good in the beginning. Perhaps these goals even feel good the day after you write them down.

But beyond that initial feel-good sensation you have initially it can actually have the opposite effect on you making any meaningful change.

Here’s why.

Fulfilment isn’t SMART

Anyone who has ever done any goal-setting has come into contact with the idea of SMART goals at some point:

We are told Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-based.

This is Fair enough however finding fulfilling work is not quite so neat.

Setting SMART goals is an organisational task – finding the logical pieces, breaking them into chunks, and putting them together in a way that leads you forward, step by step.

Finding fulfilling work however feels more like trying to jump off a jellyfish into an ocean you are not convinced actually exists.

You do not really know where you are going, so being specific i.t.o goals setting is laughable.

You are not sure how exactly to measure fulfilment (beyond ‘Makes me want to poke myself in the eye / Doesn’t make me want to poke myself in the eye’), so that’s a shaky one too.

You do not even completely believe it’s possible, so how can it be achievable or realistic?

And time-based… if ONLY a deadline could fix this mess.

So sitting down to write some goals for your career change… eerr if it feels ridiculous, that’s probably because it is, a little.

Extrinsic motivation is not effective

Imagine you have set yourself a goal to lose 10 kilos.

You start going to the gym every day, because someone told you that gym exercise gets faster weight-loss results than anything else.

You hate the gym. You hate the smell of the changing rooms, you hate the perky gym bunny types who take up all the machines, you hate the music they play, and you hate running towards your own reflection in a mirror for half an hour and traveling precisely nowhere.

You start taking a salad and a Thermos of cabbage soup to work every day. You hate salad. You hate cabbage soup. You are starting to hate your life.

But you would love to loose those 10 kilos.

So you put up with it. You eat the soup, holding your nose and visualising your life once you’ve hit your goal. You endure the gym, wishing you could just hit your goal and never have to go back there again.

What are the chances of you hitting your 10-kilo target – and, more importantly, maintaining it afterward? I would say Pretty low, no?

Goals that do not inspire you or give you that “hell yeah” feeling or rely on extrinsic motivation such as an external, tangible result or outcome you need to achieve will not be achieved.

These goals feel heavy, looming over you menacingly until you have hit them. The process of working toward them often doesn’t feel enjoyable and takes a lot of effort despite the rewards at the end.

So you’re less likely to take the steps you need to take to achieve them.

Extrinsic motivation has repeatedly been shown to be less effective than Intrinsic motivation, which is driven by enjoying the activity itself.

Extrinsic motivation: “If I walk five miles today, I can have that piece of chocolate cake.”

Intrinsic motivation: “I love dancing – I’m going to dance in the kitchen just because it feels great.”

Extrinsic motivation: “If I spend the next month learning about the political system in Uzbekistan I’ll look really smart at the university dinner party.”

Intrinsic motivation: “How DOES the inside of my remote control work? This is fascinating…”

In other words, given the choice between rewards or enjoyment, you are far more likely to do things you enjoy.

So, ironically, you are more likely to lose 10 kilos by throwing the scales in the bin and going dancing every weekend than you are by trying to haul yourself to the gym every day if going to the gym is not your thing.

In your career change, you are more likely to find fulfilling work  (albeit counter-intuitively) by doing things you enjoy than you are by setting yourself a goal to change career.

Pressure encourages procrastination

There is a fair amount of pressure involved in goal-setting.

Either you hit your goal, or you don’t.

There is no room for the grey area on the way.

And if you don’t hit it, you’ve ‘failed’. Unpleasant. Scary. Dunce hat. Ugh.

Procrastination is based in fear. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change: all fears that grow from an attachment to a specific outcome… otherwise known as ‘a goal’.

In career change, this often looks like vacillation, over-thinking, endlessly weighing up options, researching things to death…

Sound familiar?

What if you get it wrong? What if you don’t hit your target? What if it never happens?

High stakes creates high tension – and the higher the tension, the less likely you are to act.

So if you have set yourself a goal and you are getting stuck in procrastination-whirlpools, this might be why.

You are not the boss of everything

Unfortunate, but true.

No matter how hard you try, or how much effort you put in to achieving a goal, sometimes the world just gets in the way. Life happens.

Maybe you twist an ankle and can’t train for the marathon.

Maybe the taxman slings you an unexpected curveball and your savings goal hits the deck.

Maybe your company withdraws its plans to offer a round of voluntary redundancies next month, like you were expecting.

Maybe your kid gets sick and you spend your week curled up on the bathroom floor mopping brows and blowing noses and you don’t get your LinkedIn profile up to date like you said you would.

These moments hurt. Partly because they throw a spanner in the works and we have to deal with the possibility of failure.

Partly because it forces you to realise that you can’t control results.

You can ONLY control what you do, but not what happens next.

      • You can create a perfectly written LinkedIn profile, but you can’t control whether or not people will read it.
      • You can reach out to someone you admire, but you can’t control whether or not they will respond.
      • You can go to an event you have never been to before, but you can’t control whether or not it will spark a new career idea.

Trying to consistently hit your goals when you are only responsible for part of the process is a pretty heavy expectation.

Don’t just set goals, build habits.

Looking back at my notebook, I’m pretty proud to say that  I have achieved pretty much all l the goals I set back then and am working  on achieving the new ones I have set.

I found a way to visit amazing places met some truly amazing people and do work I am completely in love with.

That wouldn’t have happened without giving myself the space to dream ridiculously big and commit to consistently doing things I had no idea how to do BUT learnt that it was possible and I could them.

continue …

Read part 2 next

promotion problems

Transitioning back to work after lockdown

promotion problems

Staying mentally healthy as the country begins going back into workplaces.

Life as we knew it has changed and our reality is very different today than it was 100+ days ago. Many of us were in various stages of lockdown for extended periods of time. and even as many of the initial restrictions were lifted , many have still remained and will remain for the foreseeable future.

As we begin to emerge from what felt like hibernation for many, we are all to aware that life is very different and things will never go back to the way they were.

As we start to return to work, and our children return to school there is a lot to think about. Lockdown has affected us all in different ways, and it is normal to feel uncertain about what the future holds.

Many people feel confused, worried and apprehensive about going back to the workplace and even more feel anxious about sending children back to school. Amid this worry there is also the harsh realisation that indefinite lockdown is not sustainable and life still needs to carry on.

Organisations are considering a range of adjustments to the way work is done, to comply with government recommendations. These adjustments will depend on your job, and your individual circumstances.

Everyone’s situation is unique. However, as you  return to work, there are some general principles that will give you the best chance of getting back to work and staying mentally healthy over the coming months.

 

Talk and connect

It is important to keep in touch with colleagues and your line manager. You don’t need to talk about work, but a quick check-in will help you feel connected. We have all been impacted by the coronavirus in different ways. You may have been bereaved, felt overwhelmed or isolated, or been unwell. If you share this with others they will be better able to help you in the months ahead.

Plan and prepare

Think about your job and your situation. Does anything need to change to help you do your job well? If you haven’t been told what to expect, ask what provisions have been made to create a safe work environment. It can be helpful to think through what will happen on the first day back:

  • How will you get to work?
  • Will anything be different as you enter the building?
  • Who will be there?
  • Will you need to do things differently to get your job done?
  • Are you on a rotation schedule?

Have a return-to-work conversation with your line manager

If you have not received a return-to-work briefing from your line manager ask for one.

This is a chance to identify your work priorities and raise any concerns or questions that you have. If you have something important you want to talk about, make a note of it for when you have a briefing or perhaps drop your manager and email with your concerns. This is an unprecedented time for all of us and we are all trying to figure things out as we go along. NO one person has all the answers so raise your concerns and ask your questions – chances are you are not the only one who has the same concern.

Try not to panic and slip into a paranoid space

Take things one step at a time

The way we all work is likely to keep changing in the coming weeks and months so we will need to keep adjusting. Don’t expect everything to quickly return to normal. The life you knew and were familiar with prior to lockdown is gone and will very likely never return. We have a long journey ahead. We may never be able to go back to our old ways of working so this could give us an opportunity to do things very differently, and even better. Look out for yourself, look out for others and take one day at a time.

Monitor and review how you are getting on

It is important to have regular check-ins with yourself (How am I coping? Could I do more to help stay mentally healthy?) and check-ins with your team members and manager (How are we working? Is there anything we could do differently to work better together?). This way you can address issues as they come up and start to plan and prepare for the journey through COVID-19 together.

Be mindful of those who may have been directedly affected or infected by this virus. Be supportive and check-in if a team member has had to deal with the illness or loss of a family member due to COVID-19. many of those in  essential services have has to deal with unimaginable conditions from and emotional and psychological perspective. Many of them have brought these  traumas home and family have had to deal as best they could. so be gentle and be kind with those who are struggling you may not know what they have has to deal with on the home front.

Finally

Everyone is finding their own path and things might not always go to plan. It is important to be kind to yourself and to be kind to others as we all find our way. Returning to work is not always easy, but having support can make a huge difference. If you are finding it difficult, ask a trusted colleague or friend to help you work through the questions and identify some concrete actions that you, or they, can take to help you.

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.

 

How do we see Ourself

HOW TO IMPROVE YOUR SELF CONCEPT AND IMPACT YOUR LIFE?

How do we see Ourself

We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done. – Henry Longfellow

What Exactly is a Self-Concept?

A self-concept is an understanding we have of ourself that is based on our personal experiences, body image, our thoughts, and how we tend to label ourself in various situations.

 

A self-concept can also be defined as an all-encompassing awareness we had of ourself in the past; the awareness we have of ourself in the present, and the expectations we have of ourself at a future time.

 

Our self-concept is built upon how we perceive ourself based on the knowledge we have gained over a lifetime of experiences.

A self-concept is a perception we have of our image, abilities, and [in some ways] of  our own individual uniqueness.

This perception we have of ourself is based on the information we have gathered about our values, life roles, goals, skills, and abilities over time.

Our self-concept is a collection of beliefs we have about our own nature, qualities, and behaviour. It is about how we think and evaluate ourself at any given moment in time.

To truly understand what a self-concept is and its impact on our life, we first need to break down the three components of a self-concept. These three components are based on the work of Humanist Psychologist Carl Rogers.

 

Our Self Image

Our self-image comes down to how we see ourself in the present moment. This includes the labels we give ourself about our personality and the beliefs we have about how the external world perceives we.

It is, however, important to note that our self-image is not necessarily based on reality. For example, a person with anorexia may have a self-image that makes them believe they are obese, however, in reality, that is far from the truth.

Given this, it is crucial to recognize that a self-image is only our own perception of ourself and has no real basis in reality.

Our Self-Ideal

Our self-ideal is how we wish we could be at a future time. This is our ideal self or the ideal person we envision of being and becoming. Often times, how people see themselves and how they would like to see themselves does not quite match up. This is precisely what causes problems and often leads to self-sabotaging behaviour patterns and emotional struggles.

 

Our Self-Esteem

Our self-esteem encompasses our current emotional experiences. It refers to the extent to which we like or approve of ourself or the extent to which we value ourself. We might, for example, have a positive or negative view of ourself. When we have a unfavourable view of ourself, we are seen as having low self-esteem. This often manifests in a lack of confidence and pessimism.

On the other hand, when we have a favourable view of ourself we are seen as having high self-esteem. This often manifests in a confident disposition, self-acceptance, and optimism.

A healthy self-concept will help us to get ahead in life. It will allow us to maximize our potential and get the most from our strengths, talents, and abilities. A weak self-concept on the other hand, will hinder our progress. In fact, a fragile self-concept will most likely lead to self-sabotaging behaviour. As a result, we will struggle to follow through with our actions. Subsequently, we will fail to achieve the goals and objectives we set for ourself.

 

The Value of a Healthy Self-Concept

The value of having a healthy self-concept becomes more evident when we recognize how much it influences our ability to manage our emotional experiences. However, it does not stop there. A healthy self-concept also determines how far we will step outside our comfort zone to solve a problem or achieve a goal. It also influences how we utilize our physiology while confronting challenges, obstacles, and problems.

 

A healthy self-concept impacts the questions we typically ask ourself each day. It also affects how we interact with people, how we think about ourself, others, and circumstances.

 

When we put all this together, our self-concept effectively determines what we will do or choose not to do at any given moment in time. It, therefore, influences our inherent potential to do, be, have and achieve our desired objectives.

 

The Forces Influencing Our Self-Concept

There are a number of forces that shape our self-concept and, therefore, impact its health and vitality over time.

Some of these forces come from internal sources, while other forces come from external sources.

Internal sources include what we think about ourself and/or others, what we pay attention to, how we interpret the events and circumstances of our life, and how we reframe both failure and success.

External sources include the environment we spend most of our time in, our interactions with others, and how other people tend to label us.

The most important thing to note here is the impact that other people have on our self-concept.

Through rejection, judgment, ridicule, and criticism, other people often influence how we feel about ourself, the labels we give ourself, and fundamentally what we believe about ourself, about our own abilities, and the world around us.

In many ways, our self-worth is tied to the people in our life. Therefore, if we are struggling with an unhealthy self-concept, then it could very well be a direct result of the interactions we have with other people.

The bad news is that all of these internal and external sources have a profound impact on our self-concept. The good news is that starting today, we can begin taking affirmative and proactive action to improve our self-concept and optimize how we live our life.

Tell-tale Signs that We Have an Unhealthy Self-Concept

An unhealthy self-concept is something that often drags us down in life. It’s something that limits our opportunities, denies we access to essential resources, and undermines our potential.

An unhealthy self-concept implies that we have a low value of ourself. When we have a low value of ourselves we typically lack the confidence needed to move boldly in the direction of our goals. Without self-confidence, we lack the resourcefulness needed to overcome uncertainty, to solve problems, and to effectively manage change.

Life rapidly gets overwhelming and difficult to bear. We struggle with our emotions and make poor decisions. Everything essentially becomes a struggle and things really should not be this way.

Our unhealthy self-concept is getting in the way of living our life to our best potential. It is filtering out the reality of how life is and creating an alternate reality that we have unfortunately accepted as the truth.

What  is more is that we become so caught up in our own lives, that it is difficult to pinpoint whether or not we are actually struggling with a weak self-concept.

There are, however, specific signs to look out for that can help us identify whether or not we are struggling with a weak self-concept.

We likely have a weak self-concept when we…

  • Fail to give affection.
  • Always compare ourself to other people.
  • Succumb to jealousy.
  • Consistently reject compliments.
  • Perpetually criticise ourself and others.
  • Indulge in negative self-talk that manifests in pessimism.
  • Persistently suffer from guilt about what we could, should, or would have done.
  • Undermine our own personal needs in favour of other people’s needs.
  • Suffer from poor emotional and physical health.

Taken individually these symptoms do not signify that we have a poor self-concept. However, if you have ticked 3 or 4 items off this list, then it is probably a clear indication that your self-concept has taken a hit.

If we have a low self-concept, then it is time to commit yourself to upgrading your thoughts, beliefs, decisions, and actions moving forward. Only in this way will you transform your self-concept and optimize how you live your life.

Given all this, it is important to note that all these signs are nothing more than defensive mechanisms that protect us from emotional harm.

Our body and mind are doing their best to cope with life, events, and circumstances. However, frequently these coping strategies do not quite work to our advantage.

What is worse is that we might succumb to indulging in limiting behaviours in a feeble attempt to feel better about ourself.

We might:

  • Shift into “denial mode” and deny that anything is wrong despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Make assumptions and/or justifications that are not based on fact but rather on our biased “rose-coloured” view of reality.
  • Launch into a verbal barrage where we attack ourself and others based on false perceptions of how we see things.
  • Choose to bask in negativity. Life sucks as it is, so why not just wallow in self-pity and experience the full brunt of our negative feelings?
  • Try and avoid people and circumstances by distracting ourself with addictions and other unhealthy habitual behaviours.

All of these semi-coping strategies might provide us with some semblance of control. They may even provide us with some relief and temporary satisfaction. However, in the long-run, they will only hurt us. We will hurt because we struggle to face the reality of our situation.

We are incapable of facing the truth and without the truth, we won’t make the necessary changes that will transform our self-concept and help us take charge of our life.

How to Improve Our Self-Concept

Transforming our self-concept won’t be easy. In fact, it will take a great deal of patience, time, and effort.

Along this journey, we will likely need to release old habits, limiting beliefs, and unhelpful thoughts. We will essentially need to question the value of how we have been living our life, which includes the choices and decisions we have been making.

If the choices we make are not stretching our comfort zone and pushing us toward our goals then change is something that needs to be on the horizon.

Even though this journey and the inevitable transformation will not be easy, it will, however, be worth your while.

No longer will we be at the mercy of our rose-coloured view of reality. Instead, we will have taken control. With control comes confidence and with confidence comes potential to transform our life with purpose.

It is important to note that the quality of our life is a direct reflection of our emotional state of mind. What this means is that when our emotions are healthy and serving our greater good, then the quality of our life will likewise improve.

Our life improves because life always comes down to the emotional experiences we choose to indulge in. When our emotional experiences are of a healthy and positive nature, this improves the quality of our thoughts. As our thoughts improve so do our choices, decisions, and actions. When we make better choices, we get better results. With improved outcomes, we feel immeasurably better about ourself and when we feel better about ourself, our self-concept grows stronger.

That is, in essence, the key that will help transform a poor self-concept into something that can help optimize how we live the rest of our life.

Lets have a look at the steps we can take to Improve our Self-Concept

Step 1: Make a Personal Contract

Before we begin working through these suggestions, it’s imperative that the very first thing we do is make a personal contract.

Write up a contract with yourself that gives You the green light to initiate the process of change.

Acknowledge that:

Things must change…

I am responsible for this change…

I am committed to making this change…

If for any reason you are unable to tick-off all three boxes, then you are just not ready to instigate change yet.

Let us look at this in a little more detail.

Firstly, acknowledge that changes need to be made. If you are unable to admit that there is something wrong, then there is no point moving forward with this process.

Secondly, you need to take responsibility for making these changes. Nobody is responsible for your life but YOU. Without YOU this can not be done. Only You can make this decision. If at any point you feel or believe or think that someone else is going to or should be involved in this process for you or with you – You are not ready to initiate changes yet.

Thirdly, you must be committed to making the necessary changes to improve our life. Without commitment, there is no motivation and without motivation, there just are just not enough reasons for you to initiate change. You need to know WHY you need to and want to make the changes. Without a solid WHY to keep you motivated things will fall apart.

You therefore, need to acknowledge that things must change, You need to take responsibility for this change, and You need to commit yourself to follow through with the change.

Once you have ticked all three of these boxes, you will be ready to take the first step along your journey toward a healthier self-concept.

Step 2: Discover Who We Are then Bridge the Gap!

Your next step to transforming your self-concept is to discover who you are.

Now, on the surface, this might seem kind of silly. We already know who we are, right? I am me and yo are you! We are a physical beings living a life that is uniquely ours. However, below the surface, we are in reality so much more than that.

So, my question is, do you honestly know who you really are?

What we are going to try and do here is identify the gap between “who we are” and “who we are seeking to become.”

To strengthen our self-concept, we must figure out how to bridge this gap successfully. We must essentially merge the ME [YOU] in the NOW together with the ME[YOU] in the FUTURE.

This, of course, is not going to be easy. In fact, there will always be some kind of discrepancy. This is important to understand because without a discrepancy there is no motivation to grow and develop ourselves over time.

However, if this discrepancy is too significant between the YOU of today and the YOU that you  desire to become in the future then your self-concept will never bloom into its full potential. There must, therefore, be congruence, or otherwise, self-actualization is impossible.

With this in mind, take time to answer the following questions:

Who am I?

Who am I really?

Who am I physically?

Who am I socially?

Who am I emotionally?

Who am I spiritually?

Who am I in terms of my accomplishments?

Who am I in terms of my failures and mistakes?

Who am I in terms of my goals?

Who am I in terms of my social roles?

Who am I really? Why?

Who am I not? Why not?

The purpose of these questions is to identify how we see ourself in the present moment and then compare that against the final set of questions laid out below. The final set of questions focuses on what kind of person we are seeking to become.

As we go through each question, we will gain various insights and perspectives into who we are. And that is perfectly okay. Embrace these differences, because this is in essence how we see ourself each day.

It is also important to note that there are no incorrect answers. Things are the way they are.

What is most relevant here is whether or not these answers are congruent with the answers we give to the following set of questions:

Who am I ideally seeking to become?

How do I see myself in the future?

What kind of person is this person? What is this person like?

What kinds of qualities does this person have?

How does this person think?

How does this person talk to themselves?

What kind of questions does this person ask themselves?

What kind of emotions does this person experience?

What kind of habits does this person indulge in?

What experiences does this person have each day?

What kind of goals is this person working towards?

What kind of person is this person really?

Our ideal self must be congruent with our perceived self in the present moment.

If there is a significant difference between the two, then we must work on bridging that gap thereby strengthening our self-concept.

Let’s take a closer look at that gap.

Ask ourself:

What is the gap between my perceived self and my ideal self?

Where is the gap most significant?

Where is the gap not so significant?

Is the distance between the gap realistic?

How could I begin bridging this gap starting today?

 

Our objective for the remainder of this journey is to begin bridging that gap between our ideal self and the self we are experiencing at this very moment.

The more congruent both of these “selves” are, the stronger and healthier our self-concept will become.

Before moving on, I do have a few words of caution.

Our self-ideal must be realistic and achievable otherwise, we will struggle to meet our highest standards of performance. Subsequently, our self-concept will continue to suffer.

The key therefore is to ensure that our self-ideal is not entirely out of this world at least not at the beginning.

Given this, be sure to look at your standards and expectations to make them more achievable. Only when you reach these set standards and expectations should you incrementally raise the bar higher.

Remember though that your self-image is often not based on reality BUT rather based on your interpretation of reality.

Therefore, if your self-image is based on false assumptions or distorted perspectives, then you will first need to work through these issues before moving through the process outlined here.

Our discussion here is more about using this process to help build our self-confidence so that we can then take the necessary action steps to achieve our desired goals and objectives.

 

Time to Make Some Key Changes to Improve Our Self-Concept

Below you will find numerous suggestions and guidelines to help you transform your self-concept. Some of these suggestions are easy and quick to implement, while others might take a little time.

What is, however, crucial here is what you focus on while making these changes. This essentially comes down to three fundamental things:

  • Changing Your habits of thought.
  • Changing Your self-talk.
  • Changing Your belief systems.

No matter how we proceed, every particular change we desire to make comes down to just these three fundamental things.

No matter what ideas we decide to implement, be sure to always keep in mind how these changes can be made in relation to your thoughts, self-talk, and the belief systems that govern your subconscious behaviour.

Let us work through the following ideas and this will start making more sense.

Our first objective is to look within and become very consciously aware of our daily thoughts, self-talk, belief systems, psychological rules, and the questions we tend to ask.

Ask ourself:

Are my thoughts aligned with my self-image?

What kind of thoughts do I allow myself to dwell upon?

What are these thoughts doing to me?

How do these thoughts make me feel?

How do I tend to talk to myself?

What questions do I tend to ask myself?

What are the consequences of my self-talk and the questions I ask myself?

What do I tend to believe about myself?

What do I tend to believe about my abilities?

Is this congruent with my self-ideal?

How does all this make me feel?

How do these “rules” influence my daily undertakings?

Are all these things congruent with my self-ideal?

How can I make the necessary adjustments to match my self-image with my self-ideal?

Our objective is to reach congruence in these areas.

Our self-image will never directly align with our self-ideal. However, we can certainly make the necessary adjustments to our mindset to move in the right direction.

To assist you with this transition process, it is necessary to give yourself time for meditation and visualization.

Meditation will help clear the clutter in your brain. It will encourage you to think and act more mindfully throughout the day. This will subsequently improve your ability to make effective decisions. Visualization, can provide you with the necessary vision you need to better understand your future direction. This will likewise help you lay down a much clearer path toward your desired outcomes.

Remember, that how we think about things has a lot to do with our perceptions and interpretations of reality.

Interpreting things one way will give you access to a particular set of resources and opportunities. However, interpreting things another way will provide you with access to a different set of resources and opportunities. Ironically, it might even deny you access altogether.

It is therefore paramount to keep in mind that how we frame and/or reframe our experiences essentially determines what we gain or lose from those experiences.

Therefore, when problems arise, it is not what happens to us, but how we interpret what happens that makes all the difference.

Transforming Our Physiology

When it comes to our physiology, it is important to remind ourselves that the body and mind are intrinsically connected.

What this means is that how we think and how we emotionalize our experience influences how we use our physiology. Likewise, how we use our physiology influences how we think and emotionalize our experiences. These are both interconnected, and therefore what we do to one directly influences the other.

With that in mind, have a think about your body and how you use it throughout the day. Do you move your body with confidence, or do you tend to move it sluggishly? What about your breath and posture? What is that like? How active are you during the day or do you tend to spend your days confined to a specific room or area without much movement?

By making small adjustments to our physiology, we will indirectly influence our inner world. As our inner world changes we will begin bridging the gap between where we are today and our ideal self.

Improve Your Lifestyle Choices

Try this little exercise. Close your eyes and see Your Ideal Self. What do you look like?

When it comes to your lifestyle, you need to start making some choices that will help move you toward your ideal self.

Ask ourself:

What kind of life does my ideal self live?

How often does my ideal self exercise?

What kind of food does my ideal self eat?

What kind of environment does my ideal self spend the majority of time in?

What does my ideal self spend time on?

How does my ideal self tend to work? Where? On what?

What kind of lifestyle choices does my ideal self make?

How can I begin bridging the lifestyle gap between where I am today and my ideal self of tomorrow?

As we go through these questions, we will get a strong sense of the changes we might need to make to bridge the gap between where we are today and our ideal self.

Above all else, keep reminding yourself that it is all about reaching a state of congruence where your current self (self-image) matches your future self (self-ideal) on as many levels as possible.

Strengthen Your Self-Confidence

When we have an unhealthy self-concept, we will typically struggle with our self-confidence.

If we struggle with self-confidence, we are often very susceptible to falling prey to rejection, to criticism, to judgment, and to the influence of others.

To strengthen our self-confidence, we need to explore self-love. Before we can feel confident in the external world, we must first find confidence in ourself and that comes through self-love.

Self-love means fully accepting ourself despite your flaws, despite our weaknesses, and despite our inadequacies. It means feeling comfortable in our own skin no matter what we look like or how we feel. To find our self-love, spend time with yourself. However, do not just spend time watching mindless television, actually, spend time pampering ourself. Get a massage, enjoy a hot sauna, go for a nature walk, etc.

First and foremost, the key is to reconnect with yourself. It is only when we have found that connection with yourself that you will tap into your true sense of confidence.

Gain Relevant Knowledge and Skills

Your ideal self-has certain skills, knowledge, and abilities. Identify what these things are and then go to work acquiring the relevant knowledge and skills you need to help bridge the gap between your self-image and your self-ideal.

You will often find the information you need in books, by taking courses, by volunteering  your time to a cause, or by connecting with people who already have the knowledge and skill you desire.

You could, get a mentor or life coach. Find someone who could guide you along your journey toward your self-ideal.

Build Your Support Network

As we work on developing our knowledge and skills, we will most certainly need support along our journey. We will need people to help us through the tough times and struggles. We will need people that can be relied upon for emotional support and we will need people who will accept us unconditionally without strings attached. 😉

These people must, be positive, inspiring, creative, passionate, and caring. They must be giving and generous, joyful, and happy souls. These are the kinds of people that should comprise your support network.

Our support network might, be made up of friends, colleagues, family members, life coaches and/or mentors. These people will be there to prop you up when you are facing difficulties. They will be there to help keep you motivated, focused, and inspired as you make progress toward our ideal self. Your support network will be your voice of reason, and your sanity check and most of all these are the people who will hold you accountable.

Use your support network for guidance and direction. However, don’t give up control of your own life by putting your destiny in other people’s hands. This will never work out well in the long-run. You must be in charge of your own choices and decisions. To be in charge means not concerning yourself with what others think. It means not worrying about criticism or rejection and it means not comparing ourself with others.

We are all on our own unique path. Our support network is there to support us, but ultimately we make the final decision that determines the direction we will take.

Set Inspiring Goals

Having inspiring goals means that our life has purpose and meaning. This keeps us motivated and active. However, we don’t just want to set random goals. We actually want to set goals that match our self-ideal.

So ask ourself:

What goals is my ideal self working towards?

What purpose is my ideal self striving for?

What inspires and motivates my ideal self?

Once you have your answers to these questions, set some inspiring goals and lay down a plan of action that will help you bridge the gap between where you are today and where you ideally would like to be in the future.

Concluding Thoughts

Building a healthy and robust self-concept no doubt takes some work and consistent effort. In fact, it takes time. This is not something that we can build or transform overnight. Likewise, it is not something that we work through once and then forget about for the rest of our life.

Transforming our self-concept is something that we need to work on consistently over time. It is something that must continuously change and evolve as we reach new milestones along our life’s journey.

This journey certainly does not need to be difficult. There is no need to complete this process in one go, or even set timeframes to it. Take your time. Set small daily objectives, and over many weeks, months and years you will make considerable progress as you sculpt who you are and whom you desire to become.

 

Was this article helpful? – What skills or techniques have you used to transform your concept? Leave a comment 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?

 

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Bad Career Story

HOW TO BUILD SELF-WORTH

Bad Career Story
I am useless

What is Self-Esteem?

Any discussion about how to build our self-worth must start with a definition of self-esteem. The two are, of course, related. Your self-esteem is undoubtedly influenced by your self-worth. However, they are not the same.

Self-esteem is primarily built upon sources outside of yourself that you don’t actually control.

Self-esteem encapsulates the thoughts and feelings you experience at each moment. These thoughts and feelings have a direct impact on your results, your behaviour, and your performance.

Self-esteem is primarily built upon the value derived from doing the things that get your desired outcomes. But it’s more than just about “doing” something. It is a direct outcropping of how you feel about yourself at any given moment. This is based purely on your actions.

How you feel about yourself is heavily influenced by how you think you are fairing compared to others. In other words, your self-esteem is derived from what you think others “think” of you, based on your results and actions.

Given all this, it is quite clear that self-esteem is not something that comes from within ourselves, but rather something that comes from outside of ourselves and subsequently influences how we feel at any given moment.

How we feel at any given time has nothing to do with reality, but instead, it is purely based on our perspective and interpretation of that reality. Given all this, it’s quite clear to see that self-esteem is very fickle and can shift with changing opinions and circumstances. However, this isn’t true for people who have a high level of self-worth.

A high degree of self-worth naturally enhances our self-esteem, thereby providing us with the self-confidence needed to follow through with our chosen decisions and actions.

What is Self-Worth?

Self-worth is an internal state of being that comes from self-understanding, self-love, and self-acceptance.

It is a state that is somewhat timeless and unchanging because it is a direct measure of how you value and regard yourself in spite of what others may say or do. It is therefore, something that does not quickly or easily change when external factors or circumstances change. Self-worth is steady and unflinching, and therefore, holds power to radically transform your life for the better.

This is, all well and good, but what does it actually mean to have a high level of self-worth?

A high level of self-worth means having a favourable opinion or estimate of yourself. It means having unshakable faith in yourself and in your ability to follow through and get things done.

Having a high degree of self-worth means feeling worthy of good things. It means feeling deserving of happiness, health, wealthsuccess, and love — irrespective of the difficulties you face, the disappointments you experience, or of people’s opinions. It is unflinching.

To have a high level of self-worth means accepting yourself wholeheartedly at all times despite your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations. It is about recognizing the real value of who you are at this present moment.

To have a high level of self-worth means never allowing yourself to be defined by outside forces, including people’s opinions. It means never allowing outcomes to shake your confidence, faith or resolve.

All this essentially means that no matter what happens you are steadfast. Nothing outside of your “being” influences how you feel about yourself. Your influence alone is the only thing that matters.

You alone are the most significant factor in how you feel about yourself, about your life, and about your circumstances. And that is essentially where your personal power comes from.

How to Build Your Self-Worth

Having a high level of self-worth is no doubt of tremendous value. So, the question still remains, how do we go about building our self-worth? How do we create enough self-worth to empower our daily decisions and actions in a way that will help us achieve our desired outcomes?

What I would like to share with you is a five-step process for doing exactly that step-by-step.

This is not something that you can do just once and then forget about. It is something that you must consistently work on. That is the only way you will build anything of real value. Placing one single stone down on the ground doesn’t build a fortress. However, over time, as you lay down more stones on top of each other an impenetrable fortress begins to take shape. This takes time. Building a high level of self-worth will take time.

This is a long-term process that you need to work on consistently over time. The same as you would work out at a gym to get that ripped and toned body. Slow consistent daily work will get the fortress built and will grow more impenetrable and substantial until it becomes almost unbreakable. No matter what life throws at you, because you put in place a solid foundation that you consistently built over time, you will be able to withstand some of the toughest storms life has. That is the strength of the fortress. And that’s precisely where the power of your self-worth comes from as well.

With that in mind, let us jump into the five-step process to build your self-worth.

 

Step 1: The Self-Understanding Stage

Your first step involves getting to know yourself at a deeper and more profound level.

Imagine for a moment that you woke you one morning to find that absolutely everything you had was suddenly taken away. I mean literally everything including your possessions, careermoneyrelationshipsfriendships, accomplishments, and anything else that is physical and tangible. Ask yourself:

What if absolutely everything I have was suddenly taken away from me?

What if all I had left was just myself?

How would that make me feel?

What would I actually have that would be of value?

 

This is an interesting scenario. It is a scenario that many people probably never really take the time to imagine. It is interesting because how you feel about yourself after everything has been taken away is the measure of your self-worth.

If you have a high level of self-worth, then having everything taken away from you won’t change who you are as a person. Furthermore, it won’t shake your self-confidence because you do not measure your value by external circumstances. Instead, your value comes from within.

This is why it is absolutely critical to take the time to think long and hard about that question and answer it with genuine honesty.

 

What would I actually have left that would be of value?

The deeper you dig into this question, the more you will discover within yourself what you do actually value.

You must seriously take the time to ponder this question. The more time you take to consider the answer to this question, the more you will find,  that this is where self-worth is comes from. It comes from understanding that…

No matter what happens externally and no matter what is taken away from me, I am not affected internally.

And that is what matters most when you begin to build your self-worth.

So let us look deeper into your true value by posing another set of questions that will help unlock how you see yourself with no masks or inhibitions.

 

Ask yourself:

Who am I? I am… I am not…

How am I?

How am I in the world?

How do others see me?

How do others speak about me?

What key life moments define who I am today?

What brings me the most passion, fulfilment, and joy?

 

Who you are and how you see yourself are keys to understanding your true value. How others see you and how they speak about you, is also, important. This is not so much about them but rather about how you feel about yourself as a result of how others see or speak about you. That is another measure of your self-worth.

Then there are those key life moments that bring you the most joy, passion, and fulfilment. These are the things that help you unlock the value you bring to the world.

However, this is not about pretty little rose petals and rainbows. This process involves being genuinely real with yourself.

Given this, let’s be real for a moment and take a look at your weaknesses and struggles.

 

Ask yourself:

Where do I struggle most?

Where do I need to improve?

What fears often hold me back?

What habitual emotions hurt me?

What mistakes do I tend to make?

Where do I tend to consistently let myself down?

 

Let us get real and accept the fact that we are only human. And as a human being, we all have our weaknesses and face our own personal struggles. We must be real and honest with our assessment of ourselves.

Only then will you be able to build a high degree of self-worth over time. And only then will you get the depth of understanding you need about yourself to move forward through this process.

And since we are being honest, let’s take a look at your strengths.

 

Ask yourself:

What abilities do I have?

What am I really good at?

Your strengths are the things that help build your self-confidence. They are the things that allow you to move forward with greater self-assurance. However, true strengths are only strengths by your own measure.

If you are relying on other people to tell you whether or not you are good at something, then that is not a true strength that comes from a sense of personal power.

People could very well change their minds then abruptly your strength turns into an afterthought. However, this does not need to be the case if you truly believe in your own personal value. That is what counts, and that is what truly matters when it comes to building your self-worth.

 

Step 2: The Self-Acceptance Stage

At this stage you presumably understand how you see yourself within the world around you. You probably also have a pretty clear picture of your current level of self-worth.

There will naturally be good things, neutral things, and things that you might not be too proud to admit. However, to build genuine self-worth, we must be real and authentic with ourselves at all times. This requires wholeheartedly acknowledging your true nature including the good, the bad, and the ugly.

We are all human and therefore none of us are perfect. Yes, you have flaws, you’ve made mistakes and failed miserably time and again. However, this is you. This is the true you. It is who you are. Perfectly imperfect.

Forgive yourself for everything you have done or not done in the past and accept yourself unconditionally without judgment or excuses.

This is you. This is who you are. Accept that by acknowledging that…

I accept the good, the bad and the ugly.

I fully accept every part of myself including my flaws, fears, behaviours, and qualities I might not be too proud of.

This is how I am, and I am at peace with that.

Fully accepting yourself in spite of all your flaws, weaknesses, and limitations is absolutely critical for developing a high level of self-worth.

This is you. You are being vulnerable, authentic, and real. Embrace who you are fully and completely. Embrace the fact that you will no longer allow outside forces to define you. Only in this way will you finally let go of everything that has been holding you back all these years.

 

Step 3: The Self-Love Stage

Having fully accepted yourself, it is now time to acknowledge your true value. To do this, it is important to begin practicing a little self-love. Which basically means treating yourself with kindness, tolerance, generosity, and compassion.

Yes, you have flaws. Yes, you have so many limitations and weaknesses, but so does the rest of humanity. That is part of being human. It is time to let all that go and begin to practice being compassionate with yourself.

Compassion, of course, comes through self-love, which comes from self-acceptance, which stems from self-understanding. Ironically these are the steps we went through as we moved through this process.

One simple method to begin practicing self-love is to get into the habit of speaking to yourself and about yourself in a positive and supportive way.

I feel valued and special…

I love myself completely…

I am a worthy and capable person…

 

Talking to yourself in this way brings your focus and attention to the beauty hidden within you.

You are no longer looking at outside circumstances or people for approval or acknowledgment. You are instead searching for that approval within yourself. And that is one of the biggest steps you can take toward building your self-worth.

 

Step 4: The Recognition Stage

When you have an understanding  of yourself. When you have fully accepted yourself and when you reach a stage where you practice self-love and self-compassion, that is when people, events, and circumstances no longer define you. You instead begin to define yourself.

Given this, it is helpful to acknowledge and recognize that you no longer need to please other people. Other people have their own opinions, and they have their own life. You also have your own opinions and your own life. No matter what people do or say and irrespective of what happens outside of you, you alone control your own perspective and attitude.

You, hold the power to respond to events and circumstances of your life based on your internal sources, resources, and on your resourcefulness, which are all a reflection of your true value.

It is important to recognize your true value regardless of your earnings, career, possessions, social rank, relationship status, etc. Your true value is no longer measured by these things. It comes from an internal measure that you have set for yourself. That is where true personal power comes from.

 

Step 5: The Responsibility Stage

The final step in this process involves taking full responsibility for your life, for your circumstances, and for your problems. Now it is worth mentioning that I am not saying that you should be a martyr. What I am saying is to taking full responsibility for everything that happens to you  is about owning your contribution to where you are without giving away your personal power.

To take responsibility means to acknowledge that YOU have the personal power to change and influence the events and circumstances of YOUR life.

 

Concluding Thoughts

When you have a high level of self-worth, you are no longer relying on other people to make decisions for you. You alone hold yourself accountable, and you alone hold the power to make positive changes in your life.

There is no more complaining, blaming, judgment, or excuses.

You now hold the power…

Today is not a good day

  • Because you fully trust yourself and trust your ability to make decisions that put you in the driver’s seat of your life.
  • Furthermore, you are no longer are you swayed by the changing winds.
  • You are steady and self-assured.
  • You understand who you are, you accept yourself fully, love yourself unconditionally, and recognize that you are the captain of your ship.
  • Regardless of the circumstances happening around you and in spite of the rumours of mutiny, you are focused and able to stay the course.
  • You make adjustments on the fly, and you take charge of your ship.
  • You are not rattled or phased by external circumstances.
  • Yes, the outside world is a crazy mess, however, your inner world is as steady as can be; and that is what makes all the difference.

These are the things that keep you safe and it is all because you took the time to build your self-worth.

 

Did you gain value from this article? Is it important that you know and understand this topic? Leave a comment below I would love to hear from you.🙂