Tag Archives: Confidence

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When most of us make important decisions, we look to and ask what others have done. We usually feel confident when we know that people have already done what it is that we are in question about. And when we do what has been recommended by those we look up to and respect, we usually feel that what we’ve done is right and acceptable. Our measure of success is often governed by our sense of being in proper alignment with what our culture has suggested is the right thing to do. But even in doing the suggested right thing we sometimes feel a gnawing inside suggesting that something might be “off” but we can’t quite put our finger on it. Most of us will just chalk it up to an assumption that we just didn’t have enough information about the decision we needed to make and move on confident that things will work out the way we prefer because we’ve done what was suggested by those who have more experience than us.

However, a small portion of us will choose a different route. We listen to our gut and do what we feel will be best regardless of what others may think or have done. We don’t trust others because we feel that they can’t know our personal situation and all the mitigating factors. We think, “They haven’t walked in my shoes. So, how can they possibly know what I’ve experienced?” In this light we feel that it’s necessary to dope things out ourselves. We may then feel comfortable with our own choices but then may wonder whether we are ignorant of some other factors that we might be missing that someone else might see. Then we say to ourselves, “What will be, will be, and I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it” trusting that we will be able to handle what’s needed if something is different than expected.

We are generally taught both approaches by our parents and elders in varying degrees. However, they usually attune us mostly toward the approach that they most use themselves either through direct and conscious instruction or through the example of their own, mostly unconscious, actions while watching them as we grow.

However, both approaches may be used by the same person depending on the circumstances involved. If we’re dealing with something that we’ve had experience with, we may be more likely to trust that experience. If we’re not, we may be more likely to ask for assistance from someone who has had more experience than we in the decisions being made. Alternating this way is the most mature and balanced option to be adopted. But there are people who almost exclusively use one approach but not the other. This will tend to indicate that there may be some personal issues that need to be worked out. Each of the approaches have their own etiology and need to be handled differently. Let’s look at the first approach.

I call this approach the Outie. I call it such because, like the belly button, our center of “gravity” is outside of ourselves. Like when we are children, we are drawn outside of ourselves to receive the love, affection, and the support of our parents. This is our unconscious attempt to regain the wholeness or lack of detachment we had while in the womb. I say unconscious because in the womb there is no sense of detachment or disconnect from what we become aware of needing once we are born out of the inner landscape of our complete world inside the womb. Once we are born though, that detachment becomes more and more apparent as we are unable to replace the completeness we felt in the womb. We soon learn to become aware of being divided into self and not-self. Then, the outside world is born to us.

As we focus as an Outie would, we seek counsel, permission and information from our parents, elders, superiors, and anyone of authority in whatever venue we are needing to make decisions about. Sensing that the outer world determines how our life will go, we consistently search outside of ourselves for the cues and values that will allow us to align with the part of that world that can and should provide us with what we need or want. Growing up, the standards for our thought take on more of a scientific perspective as we look for evidence or “proof” that what we’re doing or deciding “earns” our objectives. We rationalize our actions, we come to believe (a choice) that the outer world determines what our actions should be. Our next step in reasoning arrives at determining whether we deserve what we need or want. We now remember childhood responses coming from our parents telling us how well we were, or weren’t, aligned with what they wanted or expected of us. If what we did was desirable by them, we may feel entitled. If it wasn’t, we may feel undeserving. If entitled, we now assume that others will also be obligated to provide what we need or want provided we did what was required. If undeserving, we instead learn to manipulate others into providing it.

Being primarily an Outie provides us a perceived benefit in terms of how we view our accountability for our actions. Being externally directed by our actions gives us permission to be free of blame for anything that we do. After all, if others tell us what is right, and then we do it, how can we be responsible for our actions? This is often one of the unconscious underlying motivations as to why people immerse themselves into religions or cult groups. Follow the leader and you’re blame free and forgiven.

So, being an Outie means primarily taking our directives for how we think, what we do and what we’re responsible for from external sources and from those whom we believe have authority over us or those to whom we’ve given our authority. Now, let’s take a look at the alternate approach of being an Innie.

All of us start off as an Outie but as we get further into responding to the outside world, something inside starts to rebel against yielding our power over to others for our choices and thinking. The “terrible twos” are a prime example. Remember that point at which we began having a gnawing feeling inside suggesting that something might be “off” but can’t quite put our finger on it? This is the point where things start to change. Somehow, the physical world starts to lose some of its “persuasion” over us and our feelings and intuition begin to regain the dominance and influence they had in the womb. Our spirit or inner sense of ourselves grows stronger where we are less likely to follow others or do what we are told. This is not to be confused with the Outie reaction of rebelling against authority. Rebellion still operates under the belief that the outside world controls our circumstances and is still taking cues from the outside world by simply taking an opposing or resistant viewpoint. As an Innie we may still have the urge to recreate the conditions we felt in the womb. We feel that we would rather do it ourselves rather than leaving it in the hands of others by acceding to what we believe they want from us.

Being primarily an Innie puts a whole different spin on things and marks the beginnings of becoming accountable whether we’re conscious of it or not. Granted, following our own path may provide us the self-directiveness that we would prefer, however, not taking into account others in our environment and what they may feel or say about what we say or do may have its own consequences. Let’s look at the motivations.

Being an Innie leans us more into trusting our own judgment and experience rather than soliciting the advice or suggestions of others. We feel this to be an advantage as it gives us is a much stronger sense of our own ability to direct the world as we’d like it to be. We determine how our life will go. We take steps to put things in motion. It’s under our control.

As we progress in this approach our experience becomes the validation for our choices. This allows us to judge our value based on our own experience and not depend on the recommendations or responses of others to determine whether we’re a “good” person or not in the eyes of our peer groups and elders. In a sense, we become our own bosses. We ignore what might contradict our personal common sense and reasoning. We become the person that Outies come to for advice. To excess, we become a non-violent anarchist ignoring anything that runs contrary to our feelings or that appears to be "politically correct." In the extreme we might even become violent or narcissistic.

Being an Innie has its advantages. After the world has responded to our choice, we can plainly see our successes and failures without the need to share the credit or blame with anyone. It’s all on us. We know that those credits and successes are solely the result of our own efforts and choices. We have a clear understanding of our own worth relative to our values and, only if we’re listening, the values of others. This creates and then reinforces the trust we have in our own intuition and gut feeling. For the Innie, trusting ourselves and following our hearts are the most important contributing factors in how we see and handle our involvement with life.

Innies are more likely to be introverts. Those who are Outies, extroverts. Introverts are more influenced by their own feelings and thought processes where extroverts are usually more influenced by the perceived feelings and assessments coming from others. Innies like to spend more time alone and might even avoid others. Outies generally often fear being alone and more often seek others for companionship, reflection and self-validation. The motives for both Innies and Outies may be conscious or not.

Being solely an Innie or solely an Outie will each weight us toward differing problems with our elders, children and peer groups. Innies in excess will often be seen as snobbish, anti-social, narcissistic, and evasive. Outies in excess will often be seen as meddlesome, wishy-washy, solicitous, and manipulative. Most people will avoid either of those types unless they are “commiserating” in their common excesses while supporting each other’s insecurities through rationalization and projection. Misery loves company even if it’s unconscious.

Being in any great extent toward either approach is not particularly healthy. However, we may behave toward one extreme or the other only in specific areas of life. For example, in technical issues we could be highly effective, proficient, and confident in that we have consciously developed experience and skills in such areas as art, business and trade where human responses are not as involved in how we perceive our own performance. Yet, in the area of people skills, we may not have as strong a sense of self or confidence due to our emotional history and upbringing leading us toward being weighted toward one approach or the other. The reverse may also be true.

Living in the world with others and being able to survive generally leads toward needing to have skills that balance our inner and outer experiences in our interactions with the world. The healthiest individual will have well rounded and integrated Innie and Outie approaches. Each one should seamlessly flow into the other when the landscape shifts from personal to public and vice versa. This will ensure that our personal integrity and social standing will maintain a clean and open interchange. The result will be an honest bi-perspective blanketing of self-reliance and confidence in almost all the different areas in our lives. Some of us will be able to embody this balance early on if we’ve received enough encouragement from our caregivers for acknowledging and supporting our own inner feelings and intuition in our upbringing. Some of us will end up struggling throughout most of our lives to come to that point. Others may never reach it. This balance is the primary mark of emotional maturity and personal accountability. We must all strive to become conscious of our patterns and balance them with the world we live in. If we are successful, we can truly be in the world but not of it.

Much more on this subject can be found at: www.EmotionalTroubleshooter.com

 

self-doubt-7With every endeavor on untried ground there rises within us some measure of doubt as to whether we will be up to the task, accomplish what we desire or how we will appear to others as we conclude our efforts. But what is doubt? Where does it come from? Is it something that we’re born with or is it something that is learned and acquired? My belief is that it is learned and acquired.

When a baby begins to walk, talk or eat, these activities occur naturally, without effort or concern. Why? The thought processes that qualify or judge what we are doing have not been formed yet. Ask yourself this question. Have there been activities like painting, cooking, sculpting, reading or running that you have become so involved in doing that time, environmental circumstances and your concern with other issues never came to mind? It’s like you’ve been out of phase with the world, taken out of the loop, out of touch. What’s truly interesting is that after such an experience you end up feeling recharged, refreshed and more grounded and centered than you were before you started. Why? It’s because the mind and it’s judgments didn’t interfere with what you were doing.

Our judgment of the world comes from the workings of the mind. This is something that we were taught whether by our parents or from the feedback we get from others assessing our activities. These judgments come unhindered and are quietly incorporated into our beliefs about ourselves and who we are and then slowly and easily submerge into our subconscious. As children we become so attuned to what pleases our parents and family that we ultimately either transfer their authority and opinions to other significant people in our lives such as relationships, friends, enemies, neighbors and more or attract others to us who embody those same standards. As humans, we seek to create familiar circumstances over and over in our lives so we can feel security in the continuity of things. As children, and often as adults, we’re trained to take to heart what other say and feel about who we are and how we perform. As a result we go through a constant process criticismof comparing what we want to do with our perceived opinions, needs and requirements of others. Then, as we consider doing things that others may disapprove of or believe that we are incapable of, our mind very slowly begins to rationalize the validity of their opinions and judgments to the point that our own internal conversation begins to convince us that what we’ve chosen to do is unreachable or self-defeating.

Our doubt comes from two places: personal experiences that didn’t measure up to our expectations and learned internal dialogues that echo our parents and the opinions of others over our own. The first view necessitates the garnering of courage just to try again what we’ve attempted but from, perhaps, a different approach. This scenario is usually manageable and easy to overcome since this type of limitation is completely under our own control. However, if our doubt was initiated by training from others, it’s a bit more difficult to overcome, especially, since we had no control over the forming of what we now believe about ourselves before we even knew that we had a choice in such matters. Children almost always carry on their parents’ assessment of them throughout their lives, if not consciously, most certainly unconsciously. If their parents taught them to not believe in followtherulestheir abilities but to trust others over their own judgment instead, doubt will be a predominating influence in everything they do. What makes this so difficult beyond the fact that it has been incorporated into our belief system is that we also have no control over the doubt reinforcing feedback we receive from others. Because it’s ingrained in us, we tend accept those limitations at face value never questioning their validity.

If our investment in the opinions of others about whom we are and what we’re capable of is strong, doubt will be the primary limiting factor in every activity we consider doing throughout our lives. It acts like a hidden virus coming from a small seed, growing and overpowering our lives. Our self-worth will be sabotaged at every turn and we will feel powerless and insignificant at our core rationalizing that our perceived ineffectiveness comes from the world and the obstructions provided by others. In that light we never realize that our limitations came to us through our own early training. To extricate ourselves from this perspective we must first come to the understanding that doubt is a product of our own minds and training and that we must learn to trust our own feelings rather than the opinions of our parents and others in spite of our fear of their possible negative judgments and assessments. This is the hardest scenario for us to overcome.

If our faith in the judgments of others over our own is not as strong, our doubt may creep in intermittently depending on the circumstance triggered. There may be some situations where in we feel confident and others that we don’t. We must sort out which are which and work on the ones that are the most limiting through asking questions of ourselves as to where our doubt about them is coming from. Once the source is recognized, we can consciously take steps to intentionally create new experiences within the same issues thereby reprogramming our attitude and trust after Pic-The Thinkersuccessful completion creating a new assessment of ourselves and removing any potential for doubt. Restoring confidence can only come from personal experience regardless of whether it is spontaneous or planned. No amount of coaching or positive affirmations can substitute for the personal inner work that must be done. How we feel about ourselves is our own choice. Even as a child this is true but subject to much more difficulty since, as a child, we don’t know yet that we have a choice.

Doubt is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is probably the most lethal opponent to our ambition and self-confidence. It is a viral agent capable of sabotaging every effort an infected person is able to muster. But it can be eliminated with care, patience and keen observation of how we feel when we choose to invest in any endeavor.  If you doubt its potency, simply consider what microscopic entity saved our hides in the movie War of the Worlds. It was odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye. Yet, it annihilated an entire invading force…and they never knew what hit them.

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1Raising kids in this day and age is no easy task. And as if that is not enough, you have to know that you have very stiff competition. That competition’s main aim is to find what it is that sets them off, maximize their triggers in order to sell them their wares and ways and to keep them as returning customers. That competition is the media. They’re masters at salesmanship and propagandizing.

The most important factor for any salesman is their knowledge of what it is that their customer, your child, is feeling at the moment and what it is that they want to do or become that answers those feelings. Right now, they’re way more ahead of the game than you are. It’s not that they’re innately better at it than you. It’s that they have taken the time to think through how to reach them. Remember, that’s their job. It is their only goal; to make them addicts for whatever it is that they’re peddling. Right now they’re doing a better job at raising your kids than you are. The key that is their “edge” is that they have the time and ability to listen. But you have an edge too. The media knows this. It’s that you’re their parents and that your children want you to listen and care. So, the media’s best ally is the time that they have available with your child that you don’t. If you don’t believe me, just look at all the influence and advertising above and beyond TV, their biggest tool. Your best ally is that your children want you to care. Knowing this, you’re making the time to listen can be your best ally in regaining the control of their futures for them.

Stressing over billsSo, what is it that thwarts your ability to invest the time? Life. Just life. Paying the mortgage, putting food on the table, clothing you and your children, planning their education, finding the means to pay for it and a whole host of other distracting factors that steal time away from you being able to be with and emotionally support your family. All the terrorism, politics, murders, school shootings, pedophilia and a whole host of other things that the media over-emphasizes in their incessant broadcasts only serve to heighten your fear of protecting your family and doing the “right thing.” They’ve got your number too.

Scolding-1So how can we make up for lost ground in regaining an effective rapport with our kids? We must make the time to re-prioritize our lives so we can have the meaningful conversations with our children that answer their emotional needs showing them that we are listening and that we do care. Telling them all the things that we’re sacrificing for them and all the things that they must do in order to make their lives run better (than we did) only serves to make them feel guilty, resentful, obligated and drives them further away. If that’s all they hear, of course they don’t want to listen! How did you feel when your parents told you what they were sacrificing for you, what to do, how to think, what to want and what will happen if you didn’t follow their lead? Your kids are not stupid. They see the stresses you’re facing. Do you think they want to saddle up for that? I think not. They’re looking for something more meaningful than just advantageous survival, although they’re just not experienced enough to realize it yet. Perhaps you are. Perhaps you realize that if you had had conversations with your parents that would have addressed what you felt and you thought, you might have grown up feeling a little more trusting and confident in your own ability to handle life and its twists and turns a little better than you have up to this point. All I’m saying is that, most likely, your Self-Trust and Confidence were never really addressed or encouraged by your parents. They were just doing and reacting to what they were facing in the outer world and protecting you from it just like you’re doing for your kids right now.

So, how do we converse with our kids so that we hit pay dirt in helping them to find value in something more than what the media is peddling? We can ask the following questions that will do two things; show them that you actually do want them to know that you care about them and are emotionally supportive of what they’re feeling and starting the ball rolling in a direction that gives them the Self-Trust, Confidence and opportunity to develop their ability to direct their own lives through addressing their inner urges and needs…what it is that we didn’t receive from our parents. So, let’s start with the list.

There is one parameter or condition I’d like to set here before we begin. Our kids will all benefit from our encouragement beginning at any age but I’ll address the following questions to children beginning around the age of puberty since they’ve had, at the least, some time in accumulating life experience and are in the process of developing some of the rational capabilities minimally needed to think through what they’ll be facing for the rest of their lives…no easy task for a teenager.

Teenage actor1. Ask them what excites their interest. What it is that excites them and arouses their curiosity in life? What and who would they would like to be like and live like? What is it that they long for? I don’t mean getting a fancy car, having a date with their most preferable partner, having lots of money and freedom or being old enough to stay out late. We all know what most teenagers want at that age. It’s what the media has made them fantasize or romanticize about. But what is it they have an inner burning urge to do or learn about? Every little kid wants to be a fireman or an actress. But, are they draw to archery? Painting? Music? Science? Another culture? When they imagine themselves in that role or doing that activity, what do they feel? What do they think it can do for them?

Teenage archeologist-1Once you’ve asked this question and they’ve answered, and they will probably look very surprised that you did, ask them what they think that they could do now or what can they plan in the future that will put them within the grasp of fulling that imagined role. This question alone will open two doors for both of you. First, it will begin to let them know that you truly do care about them and what they feel. And second, they may realize you as an optional resource or sounding board for bouncing off ideas as to how they might be able to arrive at their most private dreams.

Parents-Report-Card-12. Ask them how they think you’re doing as a parent. This question alone may come as a shock to them. The fact that you care about what they feel relative to how they’re being raised will show them your openness to their feelings and perceptions about your parenting. But it does something more. It puts you on an equal footing, person to person basis rather than a parent/child format. This temporarily puts aside the authority/obeisance rapport that parents and children almost always get locked into producing irreconcilable resistance over a developing autonomy. It doesn’t mean that you have to stay in that space always requiring their input, but it lets them know that you acknowledge that they too are growing and becoming an adult which shows your allowance and encouragement of their self-determination which, in turn, will earn their respect for you and that lets them know that you have respect for them. If your parents showed respect for your growing maturity, this will be easy for you to do. If not, you will have to “feel” your way through this domain sensing when the parent or authority role must take precedence over a person to person equanimity. It lets them know that a parent/child rapport is not always necessary and that a shared adult person to person rapport is possible and in the works.

Archery kid-23. Ask them what they would like you to do with them, and then make time to do it. Time is our most valuable and most evasive resource, especially when we’re so pressed into providing the material support required to maintain our family’s survival. We show love by giving our time and attention to another. By asking and following through with your child’s request for your time and attention will do a whole lot in showing them and helping them to believe that you care about them and that they have support. There are way too many “latch key” children in our culture. When children don’t feel like anyone cares about them, they seek their nurturance from peer groups. This accounts for many of the gangs that kids find themselves in leading them toward acquiescing to hazing and rites of passage simply to earn the loyalty, love and comradeship they’ve been unable to get at home. In doing this they earn a pale reflection of their potential personal worth. It is my belief that the obsession many people feel with Face Book substitutes for much of the family love and intimacy lost through our culture’s dissolving nuclear family and prior felt closeness. The loss and inability to initiate and maintain personal intimacy learned in our earlier historical family structuring is a much more serious issue than current day psychologists allow credit for. For many people, feeling unloved and unlovable has escalated to epidemic proportions. The sad part is that we don’t even know that it is such a dominant part of our contemporary emotional landscape. Is it really any wonder why so many people are on anti-depressants and other mood altering drugs or seek to escape themselves through hallucinogenic and illicit drug use? We can’t even name, let alone recognize, the unworthiness so many of us are feeling. Perhaps, even the increasing advent of teen suicide is testimony to feelings of emotional isolation and desertion being on the rise as they come to feel that they’ve no support in handling what should only be considered the natural ephemerality of our feelings. In other words, having feelings of emotional isolation and unworthiness and feeling that they have no support and one to talk to about it is slowly becoming accepted as being “normal.”

6-fear4. Ask them what makes them happy, sad, angry, afraid or lonely. Doing this will do three things. First, it will allow you to assist them in putting into words and thoughts feelings which are natural and often fleeting as their situations change. Second, it will subtlety let them know that you are an avenue for them to process these feelings so they can, third, allow themselves to relax into them knowing that they are temporary and that they have the ability to reframe how they perceive them or if they feel they can’t, know that “this too will pass.” This line of thinking is an underlying current helping us, and them, into understanding that we are much more than what we perceive about ourselves in the moment. Interacting with your children in this way also eases some of your own emotional residue left from early experiences and faulty perceptions assumed about yourself and your worthiness. The more you are able to process your own self-worth and Self-Trust, the better the job you will be able to do with your kids. Raising them is a two way street for self-awareness and emotional understanding.

Ironman-15. Lastly, but I’m sure there are many more variations of what I’ve described here, ask them whom they respect and why. This will give you valuable insight as to where and how they place value on their lives, you and their interactions with the world in general. Respect is a synonym and reflection of the ideals they’re beginning to form. It can be an indicator of both whom they admire and whom they fear, which often can be the same person(s). Our life experience and what we feel about it are prime movers for how we form our chosen beliefs contributing to how Superman-George-Reeves-1will continue to address the world and how we assess our place in it. This is why every generation has had a fascination with super heroes and why the media has capitalized on our idealization of their abilities. It allows us and our children to see how it’s done, believe that it can be done, imagine ourselves performing the same feats and what Self-Trust and Confidence would look like and feel like in action. The question then becomes, can we, and our children, transfer that respect and admiration to those in the real You can do it-1world around us but, more importantly, can we accept and activate those qualities within ourselves? Listening to our children is one of the best avenues for helping them to develop their Self-Trust and Confidence and assisting them in believing that they can become self-determined in their world. This is probably the most valuable gift that you can give them. Can you be secure enough to allow it?

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