7/28/09

Reading, Writing, Self-Confidence

You can achieve anything when you put your mind to it. How many times have we heard that or a variation of it? We may have heard it from parents, teachers, coaches, or friends. We read it in newspapers and hear it in films. Unfortunately, many of us lack the confidence to believe we can have a fraction of what we want, let alone all of it. Without confidence, most goals will remain unattainable. So how can we develop self-confidence?

One of the best ways to start developing your self-confidence is to gather evidence of all of your skills and talents. Make a list, and then read and rewrite it frequently. By gathering this evidence, you begin to appreciate yourself. By reading it over frequently, you reaffirm your self-appreciation. By writing it over repeatedly, the evidence filters down to the subconscious so that you can begin to believe in yourself.

In making your list, the first step is to think about your past and current situation. Think back all the way to the time you were small up to the present day. What did you used to do well or do well now? What awards, scholarships, commendations, or other special recognitions have you received? What skills have enabled you to succeed professionally, socially, athletically, etc.? What leadership roles have you held in professional, social, or other organizations? What makes you unique? Write all of this down.

The second step is to think in a larger circle. Think about those who love, like, respect, or care about you. What do you think they like about you? What are you complimented on? What do you have that others envy? What nice, thoughtful, or helpful things have you done for others? What can you do as well as or better than anyone else you know or admire? Write all of this down on your list.

Once you have exhausted your own thoughts, the third step is to ask close friends and family members to check over your list and add their suggestions. Ask them the same kind of questions you asked yourself. This will help them to think of a wider range of skills and talents, including those that they might have otherwise overlooked. Write this on your list.

Now that you have a lengthy and informative list full of ways in which you are unique and special, the fourth step is to believe that this is true. Every day, you will read over your list, add to it, and copy it out again by hand. By reading it, you are seeing visual proof of your worthiness. By adding to it, you are increasing your awareness of how special you are. By writing it out, you are internalizing the information. This repetition will send the evidence down to your subconscious, where it will take root. Your confidence will begin to grow and flourish as a result.

Building self-confidence takes time. If you give up too quickly or too easily, then you are telling yourself that you are not worthwhile, that you don't deserve to feel good about yourself. That is not true. You do deserve to feel good about yourself. By taking the actions above, you can begin to believe in yourself. Once you believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.


7/14/09

Portable Home

Now that summer is upon us, many people look forward to having time to return home. For many Japanese, this means traveling to the countryside during the Obon holiday. For many foreigners, it means flying overseas.

It's wonderful to have a place where you can feel 100% at home. Unfortunately, many Tokyo residents feel like we have to travel someplace else to feel that way. Why should it be that home is someplace other than where we live?

When we are at peace with who we are, we feel at home no matter where we are. We are able to adapt to different cultural, professional, or social expectations and demands without losing our sense of self. By remaining true to ourselves, the feeling of being at home becomes portable.

We can remain true to ourselves by taking time daily to reflect, meditate, or pray. Quiet time for ourselves is often undervalued and overlooked, but it's essential to developing and maintaining a sense of peace and balance. Time spent reading, listening to music, watching tv, or exercising does not count as quiet time. These are activities that stimulate the mind, rather than quieting it.

If you choose to reflect, this does not mean judging yourself. Reflection means recalling pleasant memories, noting progress or achievements, or dreaming of the future. If you choose to meditate, this does not mean you follow your thoughts when they intrude. Instead, you just notice them as they arise, then let them go and return your focus to your breathing or mantra. If you choose to pray, this does not mean focusing on what you lack and begging for assistance. Prayer means expressing gratitude for prayers answered and then turning your problems over to God.

By taking time daily to reflect, meditate, or pray, you will come to know and understand yourself more fully. As a result, you will find it much easier to remain true to yourself. You will develop a sense of calm and peace that you can carry with you. When you make time to quiet your mind, you cultivate a sense of being at home in your own body. That is something you can carry with you wherever you go.

7/1/09

Think Positive

There are many benefits to positive thinking, but negative thinking has it benefits too. For example, when you design a product or launch a company, you need to believe it will succeed, but you also need to think of everything that could possibly go wrong so you can prepare for and prevent it. That's a good balance of positive and negative thinking.

Unfortunately, for many of us, positive and negative thinking can fall out of balance. Some people might be overly optimistic when some negative thinking would be useful. Fortunately, optimistic people bounce back from problems easily because they know the next time will be better. On the other hand, pessimistic people who encounter problems find it harder to bounce back because they expect the next time will be the same or worse. This can lead to further negativity.

Negative thinking can lead to excessive self-doubt and self-criticism. Self-doubt can be useful. If you think your public speaking skills aren't up to par, you might be motivated to work on improving them. Self-criticism can help you refine your techniques. But excessive self-doubt and self-criticism can lead to an erosion of self-esteem and self-confidence. Negative thinking that continually undermines your ability to value and believe in yourself is not productive and can lead to depression. You can halt and repair the damage by replacing negative statements with positive statements.

This may sound too easy to you. It may sound like it would never work. The fact is you may have already spent many years telling yourself negative messages or hearing them from someone else. Repetition bypasses our critical thinking and gets ideas into the subconscious. This is why commercials and nursery rhymes are repeated over and over. The good news is that repeating positive messages to yourself can override and rebuild the confidence that has been eroded. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can speed up the process considerably.