Tag Archives: Competence

Prescription-1...if you’re healthy enough to have sex. Really? Have we slipped so far into not listening to our own body that we have to ask an outside authority for permission to indulge in pleasure? What does it mean that we now feel so compelled to rely on others for personal validation?

Our western culture has become obsessed with experts, specialists, licensed professionals and “board approved” authorities. We pay others dearly for bodily assessments, psychotherapy, emotional coaching, career planning, financial and legal advice, dietary recommendations, performance enhancements, chemically extended sexual prowess, tuition for private instruction in career advancement and a whole host of other capacities that we and previous generations used to perform ourselves. Is it just the time that we feel is needed to “educate” ourselves sufficiently enough to be “qualified” to perform tasks for ourselves? Or is there something else that lies beneath the threshold of our Board Certified-1awareness creating fear and apprehension about anything we might choose to do for ourselves that’s not part of a skill or career offered by others and not sanctioned or legalized by some authority or board approval?

One of the factors underlying this obsession is our fear of “making mistakes.” That is, we doubt ourselves so fully that we are not as much vexed by not being able to perform a particular task or function but that we will feel embarrassed when we have to “call someone in” to assess our actions and make “corrections” so we can feel like we’re “back to normal.” But our fear of “making mistakes” goes much deeper than our perceived helplessness and the shame involved in its observation by others. The perceived self-doubt and the feeling of having to consult 404-errorothers comes from an absence of childhood training in assessing ourselves, our situations and our “qualifications” and coming up short in self-assertion and self validation.

Trusting ourselves and our own judgment is a very elusive quality to be able to pinpoint as to the origins of its enabling. For very few of us this confidence may have been innate but for the majority of us it came from building and accumulating experiences in which we performed tasks and received validation from our parents and caretakers for being proficient if not, at the least, competent. The validation comes from our parents and guardians in the form of their allowing and encouraging our personal choices even if they are not in line with what our confidence-2guardians believe are “the right” choices by conforming to their life experiences. Generally, if a parent has confidence in their own value and proficiency, it will be relatively easy for them to acknowledge and encourage their children’s choices without having to impose and have accepted their own values in order to validate their own self worth.

As second factor, and probably the one which has created the most personal damage to our self-image in our process of gaining and maintaining a feeling of competence and personal validation is the media. There is no doubt that there exists a bank of psychologists and sociologists studying the methods in which the retail and service markets could have the most influential effect on us, the general public, to encourage the purchase of their products and services. It is difficult enough navigating our lives in a confident manner after almost or never having received the encouragement that would have enabled our Self-Trust but the media has Mirror mirror on the wall-44taken this handicap one step further. To intensify the effect of this childhood deficiency they have projected an emphasis on us through their assertion that we are not good enough as we are. We need whiter teeth. We need a better education. We need a flashier car, a bigger house, more money, more free time and, most of all, their products and services that will gain the envy and approval of our friends and enemies alike.After receiving little, if not contrary support and discouragement toward building our own self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining life style and compounded by our parents’ inability to allow us to make our own decisions without appeasing their need for our actions to validate and accommodate their approach to life, we’re now hit with advertisements that only bring our learned perceived shame and incompetence directly to the surface of our awareness and potentially for all to see. Now, we’re petrified of exposure. We do all we can to hide our “imperfections.” In the face of the media and its diminished projected standards for us, we begin to believe that we are less than and that others, our parents, caretakers and the media, know better than we about our own lives and personal experiences. After all, if the outside world says it’s true, and they’re only an extension of our parental authority, then it must be true. So why do we believe that we must have others perform the tasks that we used to perform for ourselves? Because we’ve been taught to believe that we are incompetent and need the assistance of others to bring us to a state of being acceptable.

In deference to some of us who are not fully “in the bag” by believing that we are “imperfect” or even incompetent, and there are a few of us who have retrained ourselves and reprogrammed enough of a competent and self-sufficient self-image through long and hard work on ourselves, a third factor encourages us to seek outside assistance. In our very busy and filled up world there are tasks that we neither have the time to fix nor the opportunity to learn how to better manage. Even then we feel we have to “call in the experts.”

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1So, is it any wonder that most of us have been brainwashed so badly that we have to ask our family doctor if we’re even allowed to seek pleasure for ourselves let alone if we are able or “competent” to do so?Our ability to listen to our own body and our faith in our own judgment has been so thoroughly stamped out under the threat of disapproval, excommunication and the withholding of any support or affection that we now believe that our fate and prosperity rests solely on the approval of those to whom we’ve assigned authority over us and our personal accountability to on the chance that we might make a mistake and expose our imperfections. What’s so ironic is that we all make what we perceive as mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. Then, how is it that we have accepted training that says it is possible not to make mistakes? And what is a mistake anyway but the unmet expectation of those to whom we have assigned authority over us?

There is no one at fault for programming us in this way. Generally, our parents and caretakers did the best they could with what they understood about their own validity as adults. They have also become a victim of poisoned media thinking that perfection is possible, so, now, they naturally expect it of us; their children. And if we’re not perfect like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Ozzie & HarrietKnows Best and the TV portrayals of all the other nightly family situational serials from the 50s and 60s (we now call them sitcoms but they we’re deemed funny then) then there must be something inadequate with our parents’ child-rearing abilities; aka, they must feel left to assume that they are incompetent parents. Now, let me ask you. If you feel discouraged about your own competence and validity as a parent, are you going to be able to encourage your children to be independent and competent, especially, if you no longer know how that feels? Of course not. You’re going to instill the same fear of imperfection and making “mistakes” in them. And so it goes on and on. And now we hear an echo from the bible, and probably many other scriptures, saying, “The sins of the father (and mother) become the sins of their sons (and daughters).”

There are many ways to regain our personal power and Self-Trust. There’s not enough space to go into them all in a small article let alone the time. But in our first steps toward redeeming them it’s extremely important to recognize and understand why and how we have given away our power and Self-Trust in order that we may remain in a feeling that we belong, to feel that we are acceptable, even with all our abhorrent imperfections and that if we follow all the rules and Courage-Cat-Liondo what we’re told, we won’t be called out, exposed, withheld from, excommunicated or deserted. What a terrible price to pay for the illusion of being loved and the elusive security of belonging. The courage we can show in trusting ourselves and risking the exposure and possible disapproval of our personal expression and individuality while allowing others to have the choice to reject them are some of our most important components of loving ourselves and the world…as it is.

So much has been proffered and promoted about affirmations as being an energetic path toward realizing our desires and ambitions. Yet, little is understood about how they actually work. Most of us share a common belief that if we say something enough times, it will slowly come to pass. This is only partially true. There are other dynamics at work that can either augment the effects of that practice or weaken it if not totally extinguish its effects. Let’s take a look at what we think we are working with as compared to what is actually happening when we use an affirmation.

affirmationsThe simplest definition that I can offer is that an affirmation is the verbalization of a wish or desire with the assumption and hope that enough repetition will produce it. This seems simple enough but we must realize that there are factors that we must consider and understand for this to work for us.

First, if we are choosing to use an affirmation we must realize that, most likely, it is to have or be something that we feel that we are either lacking or unable to be or accomplish. This feeling may be conscious or unconscious. The unconscious feeling is the one we will find the hardest to ferret out and recognize. The conscious ones are those that we can understand “straight up.” The problem with an affirmation arises when what we really feel and believe about ourselves is too far off from the affirmation and our intended change. Let’s use a simple and common example.

There are a great many people that feel and believe that they lack the competence and confidence to accomplish a goal that they might wish for themselves. The goal, whatever it might be, is not as important as the feeling we have about ourselves that triggers the desire for the affirmation. Feeling doubtful about our competence is a lot less damaging than feeling overtly incompetent. Our rational mind recognizes the difference and will direct energy and support effort toward the doubtful while assuming that we still have the potential for “adjustment” but sees an overt feeling of incompetence as being a hopeless investment. So, affirming that “I am a competent and confident person” and feeling its opposite not only cuts off the energy toward becoming competent but serves to reaffirm the feeling of incompetence confirming for it deeper and more powerful roots.

OverconfidentAny affirmation that we use must allow for the possibility of success and failure for the mind to see the potential for “adjustment.” So, rather than affirming that “I am a competent and confident person,” better to say, “Each day that I work on being more competent and confident I am growing stronger and stronger.” This phraseology allows for the possibility of defeat but focuses on our wanted progress which allows for the uncertainty of doubt.

The active principle behind using an affirmation is that the affirmation focuses the energy consistently toward our desired goal or as meta-physicians describe it, “staying positive.” On the flip side of this perspective, when we verbalize our perceived short-comings and inadequacies,tug-of-war-1 our energy is fed into the resistance we feel toward accomplishing what we want or hope to do or become. Our desire then gets locked in an energy "stalemate." Of this the Chinese have been known to say “to acknowledge our enemy gives them power over us.” There is also an old Shamanistic story that is told to a youth by an elder. When the elder tells the youth, “A good wolf and bad wolf both live within our hearts” and asks, “Which one will win?” When the youth is unable to answer, the elder tells him, “The one that we feed will be the one that wins.” If we acknowledge and follow no other laws in the universe, we should know that energy follows thought and attention directs energy.

There is another understanding that I’ve learned that I’d like to impart. It’s that the difference between Self-Talk and affirmations is that the Self-Talk is dynamic and that the affirmation becomes static through becoming wrote or ritualistic. Let me explain.

When we repeat an affirmation over and over with the same words and cadence, the rhythm and the cadence start becoming wrote or automatic. When something becomes automatic we tend to lose the contextual feeling and the meaning that originally powered the affirmation. It becomes mindless. When we no longer feel the context, the energy diminishes and the affirmation loses the potency of its edge and its power. We’ve all noticed the “fall off,” if I can call it that, from when we’ve begun an activity or action we’ve really had an urge or a taste for all the way to the time when we conclude the activity. The feeling of novelty has worn off and it feelsenergy-follows-thought like we’re now just going through the motions. When we no longer feel the novelty or context, the feeling stops powering the affirmation. When this occurs we lose momentum and, more importantly, we become less conscious of what our original intention felt like. Like the law that energy follows thought we can also say energy follows feeling.

When we do an affirmation it is important to maintain an awareness of the feeling behind it so it continues its momentum of power and effect. If your affirmation has lost its “umpf,” change it up periodically by phrasing it slightly differently and by changing the words and cadence. When you do this it will regain “novelty” by sounding and feeling fresh and different enough to get you to pay more attention to its focus and intent. In this way your refocusing becomes dynamic as opposed to static in a constant process of evolving the energizing of your desires.

Lastly. Phrase your affirmations in the present tense. That is, don’t say, “I have become more…” or “I will be more…” But say, “I am becoming more…” Focusing in the present channels the energy into action not just a memory (past) or potential (future).

So, to recap: focus in the present tense. Allow more for your success and failure in its phraseology. Change up the words and cadence to keep it fresh and focused and speak of your progress in small bite sized pieces not in larger than life sweeping assertions that your mind can’t accept the logic behind. Hopefully, these tips will help. Affirmations do work but only in certain situations and we must craft them carefully so they don’t backfire on us. Enjoy and keep it simple.

When we have the urge to do something that will directly benefit how we feel about ourselves there are two ways in which our ability to motivate ourselves can be sabotaged. The first is simply negative programming carried over from our childhood catalyzing our self-doubt and the second is input from others when we tell them what we are planning to do. Repairing the first influence can be very difficult and time consuming and often involves a long process of replacing our harmful experiences with new and encouraging ones. The second way is a lottell no one easier to compensate for if not openly overcome. The method is to minimize or eliminate the external inputs that may undercut our ability and confidence in creating and maintaining the motivational momentum that inspired us toward a new experience in the first place. Simply put, if we don’t tell anyone what we’re doing or planning to do, there is no possibility that their input or feedback will have a deflating effect on our motivation and momentum. Let me explain what happens when we tell others what we’re going to do while we’re looking for support.

When we tell others what we’re doing or intend to do two things occur. First, the energy we would have used for our project gets split and disbursed between the project itself and the process of making ourselves open to the input and influence of others. Many hands may often make light work but what if those hands have different intentions that take our project in a direction different from our intentions? Then our energy becomes dissipated diminishing our motivational momentum. Second, the feedback we receive from others about our project often resonates with the training we may have received in childhood that contributed toward doubting ourselves. Remember, our tendency toward the friends we choose, let alone confide in, almost always repeats our family connections and conditions due to our need for the security of recreating a familiar emotional environment. The word familiar itself is testimony to the strength and focus of that recreation. Most of the time, the discouragement we receive is given to us unconsciously. But sometimes it’s borne of jealousy and takes on a more sinister focus and direction. We usually don’t recognize the unconscious undermining but we do recognize the intentional undermining since we’ve been trained into learning how to become aware of malicious intentions and to spot intentional interference. We then might ask, “Why would we have or want either?” The answer is simple. Since we unconsciously base our friendships on the same standards, cautions and patterns that we grew up with, we repeat our family conditions and programming. And those family conditions often point only to the past cautions and “what ifs” that originally triggered our self-doubt. Let’s look at an example.

Suppose as a younger person we’re gifted with the ability and talent of an artist and a passion for it to match. Our dream may coalesce into a desire for schooling in Rome or Paris to study art in the home environment of the masters. After dreaming and pondering this for a while we realize we must tell our parents if there is to be any possibility for this to occur. As young as we are we have little or no other options. However, we all know what we’re going to hear. “Who’s going to BalloonPinPoppay for the school? You don’t even know the language. What if you can’t sell your art after you graduate? How will you support yourself?” These comments and many more are geared to present a need for caution as our parents do tend to worry. But what so often happens is the passion, the desire and motivation which arose in us during our dreaming and pondering process ends up getting squashed in the light of our parents’ personal experience, practicalities, fears and concerns for our welfare. There is nothing wrong with our parents sharing their concern for our safety and welfare with us. They usually only speak from their heart and with our best interests in mind. But our parents and the majority of our culture have been trained to look at the hurdles that must be overcome rather than learning to apply the passion that might fuel them toward what can be done.

As children and adolescents there really is no other way for us but to tell our parents and the people we care about what we want to do. This is done mostly out of a need to gain their permission. But as we get older and as we pick friends who reflect our family’s characteristics, how can we not expect to have the same type of focus, fears and advice we received as children? Unconsciously we are often still asking them for their permission as we did of our parents aszip your lip children. Even as adults and due to the similarities our friends often focus on the cautions and fears that our parents conveyed to us. Expecting the same response we got from our parents, the best thing we can do to preserve our dreams and their momentum is to not tell them of our dreams and plans…at least until we become a lot stronger in our Self-Trust and confidence to power our own actions.

Not telling our friends and acquaintances of our plans or dreams, especially when we have low Self-Trust and are suggestible by others, is a primary way of conserving and building our energy and emotional strength. When we reclaim the power of our own Self-Trust we can then divulge Peak performanceto others what we plan to do, especially when we’ve matured toward running on our own steam. This is one of the first and simplest ways we have in altering the defeating programming we may have received as children. The best way to maximize our Self-Trust is to minimize the influence of others on us while we’re building it.

The title might not make much sense at first glance but as I cover how we connect with others, especially when we first meet, it will begin to.

When we first meet someone we all go through a process. For some of us it is conscious. For others it isn’t and just seems to occur instinctively. In every interaction, whether conscious or not, we assess the other person as to our perceived safety with them, our susceptibility to their influence and how it is that we might benefit or lose through our interaction with them. Based on our assessment we will commit to memory our experience and prepare a future approach or response to them in order to be ready for future encounters. The underlying motivation for this is to preserve our feelings about our safety and maintain our personal integrity in relation to our view of ourselves. The response we prepare for them will have boundaries gauged by our need for safety but, more importantly, how much we believe we need or are allowed to defend ourselves against their influence if we perceive them as potentially harmful. ...continue reading