Hello-Hello, everyone! Welcome to my blog column where today I’ll be addressing some self-help topics that so many of us experience each and every day.
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There are many ways to describe and define self-help, but the most universal definition I’ve come up with is, “Self Help is something you do for yourself that improves your quality of life.” Pretty straightforward and simple. You do something that’ll help your quality of life increase in some way, shape, or form. Easy Peasy, right? Sure, but not always.
How do you start working on your personal development when you don’t know what kind of help you need? And how do you help yourself with things you need help with? Good questions. So, in light of these questions, I’m going to cover a handful of self-help topics that seem to be of interest across the board.
Confidence seems to be a hot topic in the world of self-help. With social media only portraying the absolute best or absolute worst in people, it’s hard to remember that we’re all human and we all live and operate somewhere in the middle of the two polarities. Even with people having bodies like Greek Gods and Goddesses, even with their posts about healthy eating, and the seemingly effortless road to overnight success, those people are regular humans like everyone else. The difference usually lies in the choices we make, and this is directly related to confidence. Being confident enough to face your fears, overcome adversity, believe in your own abilities, and pursue your ideals gives you an advantage over anyone else who second guesses themselves.
For the folks who aren’t as confident, stepping outside your comfort zone can be intimidating. Luckily, I’m going to share an exercise with you that will help you come out of your shell. The first step is to go out, smile and say hi to a random stranger. You might do this at a coffee shop, on the commuter rail, or at the market you always go to. Just wait until you’re within 10 feet of any given person, look them in the eye, smile and say hi. If the person doesn’t say hi back, keep moving. It’s an exercise and a numbers game. You’re going to do this repeatedly. The idea behind this is to engage with people with proactive communication that you would normally shy away from. Proactive communication is when you initiate communication. Reactive communication is when you respond to someone’s proactive communication. Chances are, you only react to the world around you and are a bit timid about initiating engagement. This is due to a low level of confidence. This exercise will help break down your timidity.
Another exercise to help increase confidence is doing something you normally wouldn’t. So, I want you to go take a class. Any class. Look for a Groupon, look for local adult learning centers and find a class on something you wouldn’t normally do. Take a welding class, a knitting class, a painting class, or like many people do today, take a fitness class. Just get out there. Want to really step it up? Take a fighting class. Any form of fighting: boxing, MMA, karate, kickboxing, wrestling, etc. Taking a class puts you in a vulnerable position, and the more you expose yourself to vulnerability, the stronger your coping skills become, which increases your confidence. Your confidence will also grow with the new skills you learn, especially with the people you take the class with. You’re all in the class to learn, so there’s a common ground that you’re all on, which is a great opportunity for bonding and relationship building.
Now, internally, you have a battle that other people may not even realize is happening. This usually comes from comparing yourself to others. You see someone who has more than you, and you compare yourself to that standard. By doing this, you are creating a self-image of insignificance and inadequacy. Before getting to that point, ask yourself what’s important to you and what makes you happy. Ask yourself what you want to do with your life. This will help redirect your mind towards the things you want, and not the things that other people have. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Talk yourself out of those feelings, literally. When you’re alone and you feel those feelings of inadequacy, talk out loud and challenge those thoughts. By confronting your inner self you begin to grow from the inside out, which is where true confidence lives. Build yourself up by proving your worth to yourself. You are the only person you need to prove yourself to.
Another big topic in self-help is getting motivated. How do you kick start yourself into gear to start working towards your aspirations? That depends on which motivation drives you more: intrinsic or extrinsic motivation? Intrinsic motivation is the drive that comes from wanting to complete something for your own happiness and praise. Extrinsic motivation is the drive that comes from wanting to complete something for the rewards or recognition received from outside sources.
I’m rebuilding a motorcycle and I am intrinsically motivated. I want to complete this project for my own happiness that comes from getting the bike up and running for my own personal pleasure. A person who is extrinsically motivated may rebuild the bike to show others or to enter into a competition for custom builds.
The motivation for success works the same way. Some people are motivated for fame and fortune, for the glamor and prestige it comes with. Others may just want the financial success for the security it provides. (Extrinsic vs. intrinsic)
You first have to figure which type of motivation drives you most, then you can use that knowledge to fuel your desires. Once you figure this first part out, your next step should be to capitalize on micro-wins. Micro-wins are the tiny successes that trigger your brain’s reward center and the release of dopamine. In the military, each soldier makes his or her bed before anything else. It is the very first thing they do. The reason for this is it triggers the reward system with the tiny success of completing and accomplishing a small goal and task. This initial step begins the soldier’s day off with a positive, rewarding start. Give yourself the same treatment so you reap the rewards of accomplishment. Continue with micro-wins as you work towards the bigger wins. You will grow in success, develop sustainable motivation, and build your confidence at the same time.
#3) Self Understanding
Know thyself. It’s a well-known phrase, but how many of us really know thyself? Reflect on Motivation and Confidence. Why do you struggle with confidence? Why are you motivated in one way vs. the other? Do you make decisions based on fear? To know yourself takes time with yourself. You’ll need to brush up on your analytical skills and apply them to yourself in an objective manner. I do this constantly to myself and after my root cause analysis, I’m sometimes left in awe at how I got to the point I’m at. How did I get here? What did I do to cause this and why did I make those decisions? Hopefully, the answers provide a lesson learned and anything deemed as a mistake is not repeated. Don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been making the same mistake over and over again and finally realize it. It’s more about what you do after you’ve realized your root causes and begin to know yourself more. In my book, “May, I Work For You” which is based on A Living System™, Module 3 is about relationships, and I discuss the importance of building your relationship with yourself. Without knowing yourself, you will never be able to build confidence, mature, analyze why your life is the way it is or any other personal development. While confidence is one of the top topics in self-help, knowing yourself is the most important.
#4) Strengths and Weaknesses
What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Seems like an easy thing to distinguish, but the truth is for those of us who are not confident, it’s a bit of a sensitive subject. Funny thing is, for those of us who play the ruse of being confident, this can be one of the most sensitive subjects of all. Even if you are confident in yourself, you may be ignorant to your own strengths or weaknesses, mistaken about them, or in plain denial, even if it’s one of your strengths.
You see, strengths and weaknesses come with a bias. In my book, “May, I Work For You” which is based on A Living System™, Module 3: Relationships and Module 5: Habitual Thinking discuss a person’s belief system, where is comes from, and where it stands present day. If the world sees assertiveness as a strength, yet you were always told your assertiveness was aggressiveness, then you may not see it as much of a strength. On the other side of the same coin, someone who is aggressive may believe they are merely assertive. It’s difficult to identify your strengths and weaknesses without truly knowing yourself. Sometimes it takes an outsider to give us a reality check and teach us something about ourselves in order for us to grow. Weaknesses can be strengths and strengths can be weaknesses. Start by knowing yourself and then being confident enough to be honest with yourself, or confident enough to ask for another’s honest opinion.
My best advice is double down on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses, and when you have the extra time work on your weaknesses. Right now is the best time to use your strengths and do what you do best. It’s important to value yourself based on what you’re good at, not what you’re not good at. Example: If you can make a great sandwich and people will line up for your sandwiches, roll up your sleeves and start making as many sandwiches as you can as fast as you can. If you work in IT and are great with networks but you can’t code very well, don’t take on a coding project, leave that to the coders. Keep working on networks, NAT-ing IP’s, and keep those servers optimized! Catch my drift?
The long-standing question “Why am I here” has addled humans for as long as we can recall. Knowing our purpose in life has been left to religious faith, the grand destiny of life, or has been totally eluded due to its massive contemplative demands. It’s a big subject to tackle, but an important one nonetheless. Having a purpose in life is as important as having food to eat. A human must have a reason to get up every day and strive. If not, existence becomes a vicious cycle of mundane monotony. In this case, zero personal growth can happen and the topic of self-help would fade away like the Winter’s snow in the Springtime.
Luckily for me, people are still soul searching and the self-help industry is still alive and kicking. A human being’s purpose is the fuel to the flames of desire. It’s the reason we continue to try in the face of adversity, the reason we push to overcome challenges, and the reason why will never give up. Finding your purpose can be a journey in itself, but a journey that is worth every step of the way. So, how do you find your purpose? You must ask yourself “Why?”. Why do you get up every day? Why do you work? Why do you pay your bills? Why do you avoid danger? Is it for yourself? Is it for your family? Is it a vendetta you must fulfill? (Try not to live for a vendetta. Leave that to Hollywood)
Every person has a purpose. There is some reason why we all continue to take in nutrition and why we continue to survive. My purpose is to be the best husband and father I can be. I have sub-purposes that support the main two like building a business and leaving a legacy for my children, increasing online sales and regain personal time to spend with my family, and helping others with A Living System™ so I can change the world and make it a better place. I have my personal reasons why I strive like a motorcycle project that keeps me learning more and more about bikes, but my main reason, my main purpose is to be the best man I can be to my wife and our children. I want to give them the best version of myself and give them all the fruits of my labor because I love them. I guess I can say my ultimate purpose in life is love.
What’s your purpose?
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Clinton N. Downs
ClintFit Consulting website