Today’s post is one of simple reassurance. If you subscribe to a blog like this, you are undoubtedly a person who is driven to learn and utilize secrets to an amazing life. It is worth noting and something we must be careful of when working to improve our lives, we must enjoy the process. This can be difficult to do during the best of times, but takes special care when we feel like we are failing or even moving backwards.
When we are trying to improve any aspect of our lives there comes a time when we face an obstacle or a set back. It can seem as if we are trying to push a giant marshmallow up a hill. Maybe we are doing our best to improve our physical fitness and we sustain and injury. After weeks of rest, going back to the gym and having to ‘start all over’ can be quite deflating. Perhaps we are working on completing our next book and accidentally hit ‘delete’ instead of ‘save’, wiping out weeks or more of work. (I did this once, it was followed by feeling of being nauseous) All of these moments can lead to doubt. What can doubt do? As Shakespeare said, “Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.” There is a lot said in that one line, and all of it is true. Doubting ourselves can lead to giving up too soon or even failing to try.
Once returning from injury to the gym, I remarked how deflating it was to have to lower the weights so far from what they were prior to injuring myself. I was told something that not only applies to the gym, but to every other task in life – “You are still further ahead than everyone who is just sitting on the couch.” Unless your job is a professional couch tester, this is quite true. Were you supposed to write 1000 words and only could come up with 750? That is better than sitting on the couch (which is where I am writing this ironically) not writing anything.
Some days you may fail all together. What about those days? There are expected too. If you are striving to be your best, that is what counts. We often do not succeed at the level we wish to. We can use it for motivation to work harder the next day. We can recall days that we crushed it more than we expected and realize it all balances out in the end. We can also realize that we are going to have days that we try and fail and even a few where we fail to try. As long as they are the exceptions and not the rule, we should not be too hard on ourselves. Just make sure to get back up and kick butt again!
Has there every been something you really thought could be fun, but did not try because you were afraid of trying it? I think this is something we all have faced. Our minds are designed to keep us in our comfort zones at all costs. There is the fear of looking foolish the first time try something an fail. The sad part about this is what we miss by not trying.
I would like to offer a personal story to illustrate the point. I LOVE going on tropical vacations! Everything about it makes me happy. Sun, beach, happy vibes, rum, fresh fruit and relaxation. One of my favorite things to do is snorkel off the beach. I enjoy diving as well, but snorkeling is quicker and cheaper. Before I went snorkeling for the first time I was not so excited about it. Giving up time relaxing on a beach sipping some delicious cocktail? Learning to breath through that awkward device? No thank you. Trying to put flippers on while being tossed about in the waves? How about putting the flippers on before you get into the ocean and trying to walk across the sand without falling or resembling a penguin? It all seemed like a bit much.
For the longest time I did not do it. When I look back on my hesitation, all the great exercise and scenery I missed it saddens me. Whether it is tropical fish in Jamaica, conch shells in the Bahamas or a rubber duck in the bathtub, I can’t imagine a tropical vacation without time in the ocean. I am very excited and looking forward to the first tropical vacation with my lovely and wonderful Margie this year. You can be sure it will be filled with plenty of fun, sun, love and time in the ocean.
If you are faced with doing something new and the thought scares you as much as sitting in the waiting room at the dentist, do yourself a favor and jump in with both feet! Do so knowing full well that you will make mistakes and may even look foolish at first. That may not sound inviting, but it may help in the long run. I recall spending way too much time worrying that I would make a mistake and look foolish. It often caused me to be rigid and nervous in my approach. This not only increased my chances of making a mistake, but took a lot of the joy out of it. The joy in being absolutely terrible at something is there is a tremendous chance of improvement. Knowing you will get much better than you are now should allow you to shrug off any feelings of inferiority. Have fun. Use it as practice to laugh at yourself.
Start off a new experience with the thought, “I am new at this and will probably make some mistakes and look foolish, but I will sure have fun and get better each and every time!”
This is a book my lady bought for me for my birthday. It was written in 1938, but not published until 2011. Why? The author’s family thought it be too controversial to publish.
Why would that be? This book questions a lot of what we think about education, religion, and thinking in general. Which I feel is healthy. No matter what you believe spiritually, this book speaks to the inner devils we all fight with.
It gives us practical advice to fight the evils of fear, doubt, and anger. I highly recommend reading this.
This is one of my favorite quotes. Here is why, it is something that I used to be victim to quite often. As someone who takes great pride in his knowledge and always strives to learn new things, there is one thing I really dislike. The one thing that I try my best to avoid is looking foolish. I suppose on the surface that may not really be a bad thing. After all who wants to look foolish right? This is true to a point. My fear of looking foolish stemmed from doubting myself. What happened then?
Here is what the fear of looking foolish, and doubting myself did for me. Often times it kept me from trying something new. Everything we learn to do we go through a period where we are not yet skilled. Think of the job you work at right now. Recall your first day there, did you know everything you know now? Of course not. Even things like finding your way around, or knowing where the bathroom is. One cannot expect to start something new and know it all. Intellectually I knew this, yet emotionally that is what I did to myself. If what I was thinking of trying included a period of looking foolish before you got it right I would do one of two things. Either I would wait to try it until few or nobody was around, or worse yet I would skip trying it at all. Some of you may feel that same way.
So how does one face this fear and more importantly overcome it? Begin to look at things in two ways. One, think of all you will miss by not doing what you fear and two, think of all you will gain by doing it. It also wouldn’t hurt to consider other things in your life you might have overcome the new/learning period to become capable or even quite good at. One of my favorite examples is snorkeling. I love the tropics and love the ocean. I also happen to enjoy rum. So while on vacation I always saw snorkeling available. All my mind focused on was not knowing a thing about it from what equipment is good, to how to not drown while learning. That kept me from ever trying it. That is until one day when a nice young man by the name of captain Morgan whispered in my ear that I should give it a try. The first trip out took some getting used to, but by the end of that trip I learned how to dive under water with a snorkel, how best to swim and a million other things. Now when I go to the tropics about 8 hours of my day is spent in the ocean, a lot of that with a snorkel on. I could kick myself for all the fun I missed before all because I was afraid to try.
So think about your doubts, what are they keeping you from trying? You may discover a new passion, some new friends or a new skill you never knew you had. Now if you will excuse me I am going to put on my snorkel, get in the bathtub and dream of Jamaica.
Last post we discussed focusing on the positive possibilities and how that can transform your life for the better. We also touched briefly on something we could do to start that process. I highly recommend you go back and read that post. Ok, we discussed starting a gratitude journal, writing five things a day that you are grateful for and why then reading them as a bedtime story. Here is what that does, it begins to have you focused on the good things that are happening in life. Another fun exercise I have seen online lately is a happiness jar. Where once a day for an entire year you put inside the jar one good thing that happened to you. Then at the end of a year you have 365 good memories. When you consider that means 365 good things happened in your life you may begin to shift your thinking. try it for a month and review it. I am going to begin doing this myself and I am sure it will add a sense of joy and gratitude to my life. It adds something else as well. I force that will aid you in accomplishing your goals, that will render obstacles powerless.
What is this power? Faith! Every religion on earth will tell you about the power of faith. They may kill each other over their differences, but they all agree on the power of faith. Now I am not here to tell you what to believe. There are other blogs for that. So whatever your faith is in, be it a higher power, the universe or even yourself, faith is worth it’s weight in gold. What is faith? Faith is a sense of certainty. When you are certain things will work out you do not fret that there seems to be a delay or obstacle. You see them as the temporary things they are. It provides you the reason to keep going. It provides comfort when things seem upside down.
So how does one develop faith? This is a personal issue and one I work on daily. I suggest focusing on things you have already overcome. Also recall situations when a solution showed up where none seemed possible. Once again I refer to a tool mentioned in my book A Happy Life for Busy People that is a journal. If we do not record these memories they may be lost to time and not able to recall.
I invite you to do your own research on developing faith. Also if you have practices you are currently using or are going to try, feel free to share them here for the benefit of our other readers.
“Your value doesn’t decrease based on someone’s inability to see your worth”
-quote from the website ‘livelifehappy.com’
I have posted on this subject before. To often we let outside circumstances determine how we feel. The most obvious situation in which this manifests is relationships. Someone is with an abusive spouse and they find themselves doubting their own value. Perhaps they just have a string of bad relationships and ask “What is wrong with me?” I am not going to go into too much depth about that as the other post was dedicated to that. What I do want to talk about with you today is the other ways in which these feelings can come about. If you are a member of a certain race or culture and are the unfortunate victim of harassment for that you may even subconsciously start to believe some of those stereotypes. There is even another way in which people and circumstances can make you feel less than valued and that is in the job market. Perhaps you expected that raise or a good review and did not get it. Perhaps due to downsizing and office politics you find your position has been reduced or even eliminated. That actually happened to me last week. Now you can find yourself asking “Why me?” or feeling anger for your boss, supervisor or whoever was responsible for that decision. Most of all you can find yourself feeling under valued and under appreciated. So how can we prepare for any of these or the countless other situations that can leave us doubting our own value? Be proactive! If you find yourself in the middle of one of these situations this exercise will still work, but it would save a lot of heartache and self-doubt if you were to do it before one even comes up. The simple answer here, determine your own value. Grab your trusty pad and paper and begin to list all of the things that make you the amazing person you are. If you find yourself having a hard time accomplishing this list you could employ the help of a trusted friend. Another idea is to carry a pen and paper with you and note what people compliment you on. I’ll give you an example of what I had written in my case. 1.) I knew I provided great customer service skills in an organization that greatly needs them 2.) I genuinely care about my customers and have brought several great things to the communities I serve. 3.) I have great attendance and can be counted on to be there when I am needed 4.) I am an honest and loyal employee. Now when you do have your list of positive attributes down even if it is just a few, you have a great foundation for several things. One, you have great material for a job interview or to accent on a first date depending on what you may be using this for. You also have the beginnings of a great self-confidence booster. Once you do realize how much you bring to the equation you will be less willing to settle for less than you are worth be it in a job, relationship or any other circumstance. Then outside events fail to maintain their ugly grip on your emotions. If you find yourself struggling to come up with much of a list then you may consider developing a list of skills you would like to bring to the table…but that is a subject for tomorrow’s post!