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“The most beautiful thing you can wear is confidence.” Blake Lively.
According to an article in Psychology Today, confidence is a belief in oneself, the conviction that one has the ability to meet life’s challenges and to succeed, and the willingness to act accordingly. A realistic sense of one’s capabilities and feeling secure in that knowledge are required to be confident.
Projecting confidence is the proverbial putting your best foot forward, and helps people gain credibility, make a strong first impression, deal with pressure, and tackle personal and professional challenges. It’s also a desirable trait, as confidence helps put others at ease.
In order to strike a healthy balance between too little and too much confidence, a realistic appraisal of your abilities will keep you grounded. Too little confidence can prevent people from taking risks and seizing opportunities in school, at work, or in their social life.
Too much confidence can come off as cockiness, arrogance, or narcissism. Overestimating one’s abilities might also lead to problems such as failing to complete projects on time.
Confidence is fluid rather than a fixed characteristic. It’s an ability that can be acquired and improved over time. It can also be shaken, or lost by experience.
Anxiety can take hold when people are plagued by self-doubt, so putting themselves into and getting accustomed to a situation they may fear can assure people that nothing truly bad will happen. And such interactions get easier with practice.
Outside of a social context, one can gain a sense of confidence from personal and professional accomplishments. Continuing to set and meet goals will foster the belief, and rightly so, that one is competent and capable.
Confidence is really just the degree to which you think and feel your actions will achieve positive results. In sports, for example, no matter how bad a shot a player takes when they shoot the ball, they think it is going in. Why else would they take the shot?
Confidence and self-esteem are not the same. Self-esteem refers to general feelings about yourself; confidence refers to your belief in and feeling that you can perform a task successfully. Some people have good self-esteem but no confidence that they could perform a difficult, skilled task, or compete with a professional athlete. The better you feel about yourself, though, or the more self-esteem you have, the easier it becomes to build confidence for a specific task.
We all know that being confident gives you an edge in life and there are many articles and books written on how to “become confident.” Most of the recommendations are the same.
Let’s instead start by looking at confidence through an evolutionary-clinical lens. After all, nobody invented confidence, it evolved because it gives you an evolutionary edge. Confidence helps you approach a task without apprehension. If you had to jump over a ledge, being confident would help you approach the task without distracting, anxious thoughts that might make you stumble.
The catalyst to bring the function of confidence to life is the realization that your thoughts and actions influence your results. In other words, “it’s up to you.” Said still another way and a way we have discussed before, if you think you can you are right and if you think you can’t you are right.
If you do not believe in this fully, you will not make efforts to do your best since under that way of thinking you believe the outcome is out of your control. Why study for a test if your studying makes no difference. Accepting that you can influence the outcome creates a sense of control and that initiates confidence.
When we look at the tons of research that identify “confident attributes” and use an “evolutionary-clinical lens,” we can make very accurate deductions about the type of experiences and behaviors that individuals who exhibit confidence must have experienced.
The most common confident attributes follow. As we go over the list, think about the degree to which experiences have been prominent or lacking in your life.
Accurate Self-Assessment: Many parents tell their kids they are great in everything, that they are talented and beautiful. This can result in overconfidence and distorted self-perceptions that inevitably are exposed in experience and in fact, devastate the individual when the truth comes to be known. Many schools are relentless in praise and often blind the student to where he or she needs to improve. Not every kid is a great artist. Many take this approach because they think it will build confidence, but in fact it doesn’t. Confidence, or self-efficacy, is built by experiencing achievement, not through hollow praise.
Confident people grew up with a realistic appraisal of their abilities and as a result knew where they stood. This allowed them to develop a strategy and plan to strengthen themselves and to use improvements to create a positive feedback loop that strengthened their perception they can influence outcomes, a perception that reduces anxiety when you enter pressure moments.
Engaged in Positive Visuals: If you can’t imagine yourself being successful, confidence will be hard to come by. Confident people have a history of having playful positive visualizations of themselves in all sorts of moments. Perhaps not as grandiose as Walter Mitty, but you must hold it in your mind before you can hold it in your hand. Catching a touchdown pass, winning a spelling contest, discovering a cure for a disease, accepting an award of any kind, running the country, all had to be visualized before they could come to fruition. The length of these mini day dreams may only be a few seconds, but having them breeds confidence.
Took Criticism Productively: Most people view criticism as a threat, a put-down, an attack. When you view criticism in this manner, it prevents you from benefiting from the information that you are receiving, information that often helps you improve and do your task better. Confident people, in grade school, high school, and college handled criticism differently. They perceived it as beneficial information that helped them grow, and as a result, improved their task performance and boosted their confidence the next time they had to perform the task.
Had a Supportive Background: Confident people grew up with strong support systems starting with parents who were encouraging and offered “unconditional love.” The confident child felt secure and thus fear of failure became minimized and learning easier when approaching a new task. This allowed them to approach their pressure moments like, trying out for a play, competing in a spelling bee, delivering a current event presentation, as examples, with a positive attitude.
Experienced a Confident Building Event: At one time or another confident people experienced an event that allowed them to believe “I can do it.” An “A” on a test, a big little league hit, getting a part in the school play, a date with a pretty girl or handsome guy; all seem like minuscule events but in truth, all are powerful events because they create feelings of confidence.
Individuals with low confidence can recall few of these events. This does not mean they did not have successful experiences when growing up. More likely, it means that they did not pay attention to their successes.
Confident people developed themselves by noting and often celebrating their micro successes and used them, probably subconsciously, to create positive expectations for more successful experiences. This experience is the root of the confidence building statement, I did it once before, I can do it again.
Sometimes it seems like there is a magic potion that separates highly confident individuals who act in the face of fear and everyone else who feel like they’re often going around in circles.
What psychologists will tell you is that there isn’t anything special behind these individuals, they’ve simply accumulated a series of habits and beliefs over time, either intentionally or by good fortune.
Aristotle has been attributed with saying, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” Like excellence, confidence can become a habit. (By the way, it was a fellow by the name of Will Durant who first wrote this phrase in a small book titled ‘The Story of Philosophy” in 1926.
But before looking closer at these habits and beliefs, we need to go back and ask the question again; what is confidence?
Confidence is simply the degree to which you believe that your actions will result in a positive outcome.
Clarifying again, this is not the same as self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a more general feeling you have about yourself, whereas confidence is the belief you have in your skills in a given task or situation. When most people say they want to be more confident, what they mean is that they want more self-esteem.
Unsurprisingly however, the more areas you become confident in, the more you are likely to naturally develop self-esteem.
But why do we even want confidence?
Confidence is an evolutionary advantage that can help you approach whatever task is in front of you without hesitation or anxiety. It can allow us to do what we really want to do with our lives.
The problem is that most of the time the advice we get about how to be more confident can be a little weak and even cliché.
“Fake it till you make it,” “Put your best foot forward,” “Talk louder,” or “Dress the part.”
To be fair, this isn’t terrible advice, it can actually have a positive impact on how you feel, but it doesn’t really arm you with the kind of deep confidence that results in real change.
Here are 5 hidden qualities of confident people.
They manage their outcome dependence. Confident people don’t worry about the outcome of a situation. Their attention is focused on the action or activity as opposed to the external result. This is a yin, or feminine energy- process instead of goal oriented.
In the event that they fail, they see it as a learning experience as opposed to a reflection of who they are as a person or what they’re worth.
They assess themselves accurately. This might seem counter-intuitive, but to develop true confidence you need to have a little bit of brutal self-honesty. Keep it real, baby!
If you have unrealistic expectations about your capabilities, you’re likely to get shocked and disheartened when things don’t go as you expected. On the other hand if you have an objective assessment of your skills, this is less likely to be the case.
Another important thing to consider here is that they are able to accept constructive criticism from others without getting defensive. The attention of confident people isn’t focused on whether others perceive them as competent but on how they can improve for the future.
They practice Positive Visualization. Ours brains have a difficult time distinguishing real memories and constructed ones. Self-assured people use this to their advantage by visualizing their competence in a certain area until their neural networks have been rewired for success.
One study revealed that weightlifters that practiced positive visualization found the practice almost as effective as the physical practice itself for performance enhancement.
They choose their activities carefully. You can’t be the best at everything and self-assured people know this. Instead they stick to what they know is going to make them confident.
Sometimes it’s simple enough to realize that if you want to feel confident, you should spend time just doing things you’re confident in.
This might not be what you want to hear, but it’s the truth. If you want to develop self-esteem, you need to push your comfort zone in a number of areas, but it is slow growth over time that will lead to deeper, long lasting confidence.
They develop their skills. To feel more confident you need to better yourself in the area you want to feel confident in, and the only way to do so is practice.
Again, this is pretty obvious, but it means being able to focus on one area for a sustained period of time until you’re competent, instead of letting your attention drift all over the place and getting what is known as ‘shiny objective syndrome.’
Confident people are action oriented.
As Dale Carnegie said:
“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
Wikipedia tells us that forgiveness, in a psychological sense, is the intentional and voluntary process by which one who may initially feel victimized, undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding a given offense, and overcomes negative emotions such as resentment and vengeance.
Psychologists generally define forgiveness as a conscious, deliberate decision to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group who has harmed you, regardless of whether they actually deserve your forgiveness.
Hoʻoponopono is a Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. The Hawaiian word translates into English simply as correction, with the synonyms manage or supervise, and the antonym careless.
The ho’oponopono prayer goes like this: “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” That’s it. … “I’m sorry, Please forgive me, Thank you, I love you.” It’s very touching, especially given how simple and universal these words are.
Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you. Forgiveness doesn’t mean forgetting or excusing the harm done to you or making up with the person who caused the harm. Forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life.
When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge, or you can embrace forgiveness and move forward.
If we don’t practice forgiveness, we might be the one who pays most dearly. By embracing forgiveness, you can also embrace peace, hope, gratitude and joy. Forgiving can lead you down the path of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Conversely, holding on to bitterness and resentment can make you sick. Buddha is quoted as saying, “Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” We have talked about how powerful the mind is and how emotional states and associated thinking can make us sick, or make us better.
Being hurt by someone, particularly someone you love and trust, can cause anger, sadness and confusion. If you dwell on hurtful events or situations, grudges filled with resentment, vengeance and hostility can take root. If you allow negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice.
Some people are naturally more forgiving than others. But even if you’re a grudge holder, almost anyone can learn to be more forgiving.
Too often these days people surrender their power by allowing external forces to control them. When you are mad at someone, they may not even know it. Or worse, relish in the fact that they led you into discontent.
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian neurologist, psychiatrist, philosopher, author of Man’s Search for Meaning, and Holocaust survivor. Frankl famously said that, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
If we are consumed by resentment, vengeance and hostility over the actions of another we have surrendered our power, freedom and opportunity for growth.
Another factor that can influence our willingness to forgive is the question of whether your heartspace is filled with love, or fear. Remember, love gives rise to all positive emotions and fear gives rise to all negative emotions. Get in the habit of doing regular check ins with your heartspace. If you’re not feeling a place of love, bring love in. This process will drive fear away and position you to be more forgiving.
From a practical standpoint, if you’re unforgiving, you might bring anger and bitterness into every relationship and new experience; you might become so enmeshed in the wrong that you can’t enjoy the present; or maybe you become depressed or anxious. When you are unable to forgive you might feel that your life lacks meaning or purpose, or that you’re at odds with your spiritual beliefs; you could lose valuable and enriching connectedness with others.
You can reach a state of forgiveness through a number of ways beyond the fundamental practice of bringing love into your heartspace.
Forgiveness is a commitment to a personalized process of change. To move from suffering to forgiveness, you might recognize the value of forgiveness and how it can improve your life; you could identify what needs healing and who needs to be forgiven and for what. If the emotional impact of a suffered wrong is too intense you might even consider joining a support group or seeing a counselor.
If you acknowledge your emotions about the harm done to you and how they affect your behavior you could work to release them. You might just simply choose to forgive the person who’s offended you.
One of the most powerful things you can do is move away from your role as victim and release the control and power the offending person and situation have had in your life. You will find that as you let go of grudges, you’ll no longer define your life by how you’ve been hurt. As a result of these healthy practices, you might even find compassion and understanding.
If the hurtful event was associated with someone whose relationship you otherwise value, forgiveness can lead to reconciliation. This isn’t always easy, nor is it always the way it happens, however.
Reconciliation might be impossible if the offender has died or is unwilling to communicate with you. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink! In some cases, reconciliation might not be what is called for or even appropriate. For your sake, though, remember, forgiveness is always possible, even if reconciliation isn’t.
Another important point to consider is that getting another person to change his or her actions, behavior or words isn’t the point of forgiveness. The point of forgiveness is more about how it can change your life, by bringing you peace, happiness, and emotional and spiritual healing.
These personal benefits of forgiveness can take away the power the other person continues to wield in your life. If you are consumed by anger or other negative emotions and the person you are mad at uses this energetic response to manipulate, you have effectively hung a chain out of your pocket and said to them, “come yank my chain!” Forgiveness retracts that chain.
And then, of course, we should consider if we are the one who needs forgiveness? The first step is to honestly assess and acknowledge the wrongs you’ve done and how they have affected others. Avoid judging yourself too harshly.
If you’re truly sorry for something you’ve said or done, consider admitting it to those you’ve harmed. Speak of your sincere sorrow or regret, and ask for forgiveness, without making excuses. Own it, as they say.
Importantly, just as you cannot force someone to change the offending words or behavior, you can’t force someone to forgive you. Others may need to move to forgiveness in their own time. Whatever happens, remember that we can only control ourselves, commit to treating others with compassion, empathy and respect.
Spiritual growth requires forgiving others as an essential component. Your experience of someone who has hurt you, while it may have been and may still be painful, is now nothing more than a thought or feeling that you carry around. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you if you continue to let these thoughts occupy space in your mind or heart. If you could release them, you would know more peace.
Dr Wayne Dyer offered a number of steps toward forgiveness. He suggested you move on. Your past history and all of your hurts are no longer here in your physical reality. Don’t allow them to be here in your mind, muddying your present moments. Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. Some are villains and others are good guys. But all of them are necessary, otherwise they wouldn’t be in the play. Embrace them all, and move on to the next act.
Make a new agreement with yourself to always stay connected to Spirit even when it seems to be the most difficult thing to do. If you do this, you will allow whatever degree of perfect harmony that your body was designed for to proliferate. Turn your hurts over to God, and allow Spirit to flow through you.
Switch the focus from blaming others to understanding yourself. Whenever you’re upset over the conduct of others, take the focus off those you’re holding responsible for your inner distress. Shift your mental energy to allowing yourself to be with whatever you’re feeling. Let the experience be as it may, without blaming others for your feelings. Don’t blame yourself either! Just allow the experience to unfold and tell yourself that no one has the power to make you uneasy without your consent, and that you’re unwilling to grant that authority to this person right now.
Learn to let go and be like water. Rather than attempting to dominate with your forcefulness, be like water: flow everywhere there’s an opening. Soften your hard edges by being more tolerant of contrary opinions. Interfere less, and substitute listening for directing and telling. When someone offers you their viewpoint, try responding with: “I’ve never considered that before, thank you. I’ll give it some thought.”
Let go of resentments. What causes annoyance and anger after a dispute? The generic response would be a laundry list detailing why the other person was wrong and how illogically and unreasonably they behaved, concluding with something like, “I have a right to be upset when so and so speaks to me that way!”
But if you’re interested in living a Tao-filled life, it’s super important that you reverse this kind of thinking. Resentments don’t come from the conduct of the other party in an altercation. On the contrary, they survive and thrive because you’re unwilling to end that altercation with an offering of kindness, love, and authentic forgiveness. As Lao-Tzu says:
Someone must risk returning injury with kindness, or hostility will never turn to goodwill.
Be kind instead of right. There is a Chinese proverb, if you’re going to pursue revenge, you’d better dig two graves. Kind of like drinking poison and expecting the other to die.
The world is just the way it is. The people who are behaving poorly or badly in the world are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. You can process it in any way that you choose. If you’re filled with anger about all of those problems, you are one more person who contributes to the pollution of anger. Instead, remember that you have no need to make others wrong or to retaliate when you’ve been wronged.
And finally, perhaps the most applicable for the times we live in, stop looking for occasions to be offended. When you live at or below ordinary levels of awareness, you spend a great deal of time and energy finding opportunities to be offended. A news report, politics, someone using bad language, a rude stranger, a cough, a black cloud, or the proverbial drop of a hat. Just about anything will do if you’re looking for an occasion to be offended. Become a person who refuses to be offended by any one, anything, or any set of circumstances.
Send love in place of judgments, resentments, anger and criticisms to others when you feel they impede your joy and happiness, and hold them in that place of love. Notice that if you stay steadfast with love in your heartspace, instead of fear, you will change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.
Expectations shape our reality. Our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors are all affected by our expectations. This makes them extremely powerful and impactful. However expectations are a complex phenomenon. There are typically two different views about expectations that you’ll hear:
“Expectation is the mother of all frustration.” — Antonio Banderas
“High expectations are the key to everything”. — Sam Walton
If you didn’t expect to get in trouble for not showing up to work on time, would you? If the people in your life didn’t expect a certain standard of treatment, would you treat them differently? Have you ever been given a “what to expect” guide on the first day of a new job or educational course? Expectations help us operate efficiently. We can make general assumptions when it comes to behavior, performance, and the situations we will be in.
Expectations can help us to set goals for higher achievement, to work hard, do our best, and motivate others to do the same.
Expectations prevent us from settling for less. Certain standards of behavior are mandatory and fair to be expected (like being respected and feeling safe in your relationships).
People often will tell you “If you don’t have expectations then you can’t be let down.” And yes, there is some merit to that. Unfulfilled expectations can be a major source of disturbance. When you hold expectations, you have a belief about how something is or how it will be. If it fails to live up to your expectations it’s going to hurt. You will feel disappointed, frustrated, and angry.
We may not fully appreciate what we have when we are expecting more or comparing what we have to what we could have.
It is important to distinguish between realistic and unrealistic expectations. It has been said that unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.
What do unrealistic expectations look like? Expecting others to do what is in our best interest but not theirs, expecting our partners to live up to what we see in romance movies, our jobs to be idealized versions we had as children, or even our lives to match up to what we see on social media.
Unrealistic Expectations That Will Ruin You -from Forbes Magazine
Life should be fair.
Opportunities will fall into my lap.
Everyone should like me.
People should agree with me.
People know what I’m trying to say.
I’m going to fail.
Things will make me happy.
I can change him/her.
The good/bad continuum of expectations pose a paradox, but one that is solvable. If we expect something to happen then we have to have a good reason for that expectation. Having expectations of things we can control is beneficial. We should be careful about our expectations of things beyond our control.
Some people suffer from a lack of healthy expectations and thus limit their potential and others set unattainably high expectations for themselves and thus assure their frustration and unhappiness. Often, expectations get in the way of our being present as our mind distorts our current experience through the filter of our needs.
In this case, we are confronted with the expectation paradox. Are expectations truly good or bad? The zen answer to this question is simply, yes. The seeming paradox around this term can lead to much confusion. A good starting point is to ask if your expectations, or lack thereof, enhance your life experience. Do they assist you in the unfolding of your life or do they justify your unhappiness?
The paradox of expectation shouldn’t be resolved by simply saying that they are good or bad. They are neither and they are both. They are what we make them and what we make of them. The responsibility lies within us. As the architects of our lives, we need to be the masters of our expectations, rather than be ruled by them. If after a thorough examination, we conclude that our expectations are authentic and self-generated and yet we still struggle in their attainment, we have an opportunity to look at why that is so. On the other hand, if these wishes are not of our own making but merely imposed upon us, we can unshackle ourselves from this burden.
Expectations frequently guide behavior and make it easier to predict what will happen next. People can develop expectations about a wide range of things. Examples of expectations include the most basic belief that the sun will rise tomorrow or the assumption that your boss will give you a raise in six months.
Expectations are determined by a combination of experience, cognitive processes, communication with others, and cultural norms. For example, if your boss gives you a raise every six months and indicates that he or she is pleased with your performance, you are much more likely to believe you will get a raise than if you have never gotten a raise or have been recently disciplined at work.
Expectations serve as hypotheses about the future and can be false. Life history, mental illness, and other issues can increase the likelihood that a person develops false expectations. False expectations can have a negative impact on a person’s well-being. For example, a person with anxiety might develop catastrophic and fear-based expectations that are not based in reality but that compel them to take drastic measures, such as refusing to leave their home or avoiding contact with other people.
A term related to expectation in the health and wellness context is expectancy. Expectancy plays a tremendous role in your day-to-day health, but it is especially powerful when you are sick and/or in a diseased state. It has been scientifically proven that focusing your attention on illness will make you sick. A 1966 study in the Journal of Medical Education titled Medical Students’ Disease: Hypochondriasis in Medical Education found that 79 percent of students reported developing symptoms.
This phenomenon has been referred to as the nocebo effect. Where the placebo effect reinforces the power of nurturing, hope, positive thinking, and expectation, the nocebo effect points to the power of negative thinking and how it can cause one to experience physical symptoms. In either case, we see the power of expectation, state of mind, and the foundation for the mind-body connection.
Expectations provide people with important guidance about how to behave. After all, if you believe the sun will not come up tomorrow, you have little reason to get your work done or to go to bed on time. Thus an ongoing problem of false expectations can alter behavior and interfere with social life. While false expectations are not in themselves a mental health problem, the inability to accurately form hypotheses about the future can be caused by a variety of issues, ranging from depression to schizophrenia.
Expectations can also influence future outcomes. For example, a person who believes his or her next relationship will be abusive might be less likely to actively seek out a healthy relationship. A person who has a false belief that he or she will get a promotion at work might not work as hard or accurately assess his or her job performance.
Tips for Navigating Expectations:
-When you go into a situation, ask yourself what you expect to happen. Ask yourself if your expectations should be this way. Where did these expectations come from and are they realistic?
-Be adaptive. Dalai Lama said, “Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.” Practice emotional detachment from your expectations.
-Remember perfection doesn’t exist.
-Develop the habit of not taking things personally and realize that each of us behaves in accordance with our unique set of standards and beliefs. When you understand this, you can move toward acceptance of both others and your own imperfect nature.
-Life is going to surprise us with curveballs. The past is the best predictor of the future but this doesn’t mean history will always repeat itself.
-If you want things to be different, focus on things you can change, things that you are in control of.
-Be gentler when expectations aren’t met – learn from the failures, make a plan for getting what you want next time.
-Never assume – communicate! It is hard for someone to live up to your expectations when they don’t know what they are. Unspoken expectations are almost guaranteed to go unfulfilled. Talking openly about what you expect from other people might improve your chances of fulfillment. At the same time, it is unrealistic to think that merely communicating your expectations clearly is going to get people to behave the way you want them to.
-Find something to be grateful about, even when things do not turn out the way you hoped and you will experience serenity rather than resentment.
-Choose to expect the best outcome & you’re much more likely to get it. Expecting the best puts you into a powerful frame of mind and when backed with preparation and action – orients you toward success.
So, as you can see, expectations and how we handle them play an important role in our lives. Some might even say they can make you or break you, they are that important. But there is another school of thought oriented around the notion of expectation and that is the Law of Attraction.
Simply put, the Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on.
It is believed that regardless of age, nationality, or religious belief, we are all susceptible to the laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction. It is the Law of Attraction that uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our thoughts and materialize them into reality.
In basic terms, according to proponents of LOA, all thoughts turn into things eventually.
If you focus on negative doom and gloom you will remain under that cloud. If you focus on positive thoughts and have goals that you aim to achieve you will find a way to achieve them with massive action.
The Law of Attraction is one of life’s biggest mysteries. Very few people are fully aware of how much of an impact the Law of Attraction has on their day-to-day life.
Whether we are doing it knowingly or unknowingly, every second of our existence, we are acting as human magnets sending out our thoughts and emotions and attracting back more of what we have put out.
Unfortunately, so many of us are still blind to the potential that is locked deep within us. Consequently, it is all too easy to leave your thoughts and emotions unchecked. This sends out the wrong thoughts and attracts more unwanted emotions and events into your life.
With that said, discovering that the Law of Attraction is at work within your life should be a great cause for celebration! When you have learned how to effectively apply the LOA to your everyday life, your entire future is yours to create.
The work of quantum physicists during recent years has helped to shine greater light on the incredible impact that the power of the mind has on our lives and the universe in general. The more that this idea is explored by scientists, the greater an understanding we have of just how significant a role the mind plays in shaping our lives and the world around us.
As physicists come to supply us with more and more information regarding the law, the more we realize that we are the creators and controllers of our life and the energy we are all made of.
The exercise of understanding the expectations paradox is helpful as a foundation for understanding the true power of the Law of Attraction.
Be happy, for the universe is always on our side! Shifting from the third dimensional analysis of the virtue of expectations to learning how to use the Law of Attraction effectively will lead to a true appreciation of how fulfilling and rewarding your life can be. There are no restrictions! Open your mind and enjoy the natural abundance of the Universe.
Episode 60: Put Yourself in the Service of Others
“Vulnerability is a paradox because the more vulnerable you allow yourself to be, the more powerful you will feel. When you are no longer afraid of what others will think, you’re more willing to put yourself out there in all the various ways there are to do that: in relationships, in your career, with your art and creativity, with your exuberance and heart.”
– Karen Anderson
The best part of being human is being able to connect with other humans. We’re hardwired for it. We live in tribes and families, work in groups, love as couples and thrive in friendships. The drive to connect is in all of us whether we acknowledge it or not.
Yet, we’re seeing more loneliness, more depression, more broken relationships, more disconnection. What’s happening?
Vulnerability is the driving force of connection. It’s brave. It’s tender. It’s impossible to connect without it.
But somehow it has been turned into a weakness in the eyes of most. Think about it, no one wants to appear weak, most want to project strength.
We’ve made ourselves ‘strong.’ We’ve toughened up, hardened up and protected ourselves from being hurt. We’ve protected ourselves from vulnerability and disallowed the surrender.
Here’s the problem. When we close down our vulnerability we are shielded from hurt, but we are also shielded from love, intimacy and connection. They come to us through the same door. When we close it to one, we close it to all.
Paradoxically, it is only the strongest among us who can embrace their vulnerability.
Perhaps one of the greatest demonstrations of the vulnerability/strength continuum is riding a motorcycle. On a motorcycle there is no protective cocoon like a car has with fenders that crumple and absorb the shock of impact. It is just you and the bike in a sea of vehicles of all sizes and shapes with drivers who look right at you and don’t see you.
But in this vulnerable state lies strength, freedom and liberation.
So too in love. It has been said that loving someone is giving them the power to destroy you and hoping they won’t.
The joy in life, the road to bliss is understanding that you could walk out your door tomorrow and a meteor could land on your head and turn you into earthbound space dust, but you get up, clean up, get dressed and face the day anyway.
Vulnerability can be defined as susceptibility to a negative outcome or the state of being unprotected from some type of danger or harmful experience. People who are vulnerable may experience feelings of anxiety, fear, and apprehension due to the risk they experience for some type of harm.
The concept of vulnerability is broad, as the term can be used in multiple contexts. In its most general sense, vulnerability may refer to the natural state of children, young animals, and others who cannot care for themselves. This vulnerability is often overcome with time.
All people experience some level of vulnerability to disaster or other types of trauma. In this context, vulnerability can be understood as the reduced capacity for a person to avoid, cope with, or recover from the impact of a hazard or other traumatic event.
Although the term vulnerability often has a negative connotation, the field of psychology is increasingly recognizing the value of being vulnerable. According to existentialism, vulnerability is part of the human condition. While being vulnerable indicates the possibility of being hurt, it also suggests one has an increased ability to live an authentic life.
Brené Brown, an author and researcher, has written much on the topic of vulnerability, and her work is widely known and highly regarded. According to Brown, vulnerability allows a person to deeply connect with others and experience emotions fully, and she believes one’s vulnerability signifies courage and strength rather than weakness.
In one example, think about a situation wherein after reading a few articles about the benefits of yoga, you decide to try it yourself. You buy a mat, find a nearby class, and put on some stretchy pants. Then you get to the studio and all of a sudden you see other students walking confidently in, their mats slung over their shoulders and you begin to feel strange. Your heart rate speeds up, your palms grow sweaty, and you think, “what the hell was I thinking to ever think I could do this?”
This shaky feeling is vulnerability, and it makes you want to turn around and run home, where you can escape the potential judgment of others and your own fear of the unfamiliar.
But by pushing through those doors, you are doing something far more healthy and transformative. You are connecting with others and experiencing emotions fully, particularly the emotions of courage and strength.
For most, vulnerability is uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure. It’s that unstable feeling we get when we step out of our comfort zone or do something that forces us to loosen control.
Brown writes vulnerability and attempts to debunk myths surrounding vulnerability, the most popular being that vulnerability is a sign of weakness. If you were to think of times that you have felt vulnerable or emotionally exposed, you are actually recalling times of great courage. These may be huge life events, like deciding to put an ailing parent in hospice care, but it’s just as present in those small moments of fear that pop up when we share our feelings with another person or ask for forgiveness.
According to Brown, what most of us fail to understand…is that vulnerability is also the cradle of the emotions and experiences that we crave. Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity,” she writes. So while going to that new yoga class may feel uncomfortable, you’re also opening yourself up to the opportunity to make new friends and learn a new, healthy habit. But if you run away the second those shaky feelings arise, you’re just reinforcing the voice in your head that says I’m not good enough.
That insecurity is present in all of us, and it’s so strong that we often go out of our way to avoid situations that might make us feel fragile. Brown has described the ways we try to sidestep the shaky feeling of vulnerability: we emotionally “armor up” each morning when we face the day to avoid feeling shame, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. The particular armor changes from person to person, but it usually revolves around one of three methods: striving for perfection, numbing out, or disrupting joyful moments by “dress rehearsing tragedy” and imagining all the ways that things could go wrong.
Do any of these sound familiar?
All of these types of armor can make us feel safe and “in control” in the moment, but they’re really doing us more harm than good.
Perfectionism can be a mega shield we hide behind. We think it will protect us but it keeps us from being seen. And numbing our emotions is doesn’t work either because it has a universal effect in that you can’t numb fear without numbing joy at the same time.
Brown’s research suggests that the urge to imagine the worst-case scenario in moments of joy (such as not being able to enjoy a hug with your child without worrying about something bad happening to him) is an amazingly common phenomenon. And why is it so hard for us to soften into joy? Brown says that it is because we’re trying to beat vulnerability to the punch. Predictably, this has a negative impact, for without vulnerability, there is no love, no belonging, and no joy.
The goal should be getting comfortable with vulnerability. It’s important to begin to recognize those fragile moments of vulnerability and work with them.
Mindfulness is a good place to start. Adopting a practice of openness and awareness of your environment as well as your own thoughts, feelings, and triggers will help you recognize when you’re disengaging because you’re afraid.
After you become aware of where you are, you will be more certain about what changes you would like to see in your life. And of course, keeping love in your heartspace leaves no room for fear and doubt.
It’s only recently that we have begun to speak about emotional vulnerability. Being vulnerable emotionally was generally compared to being weak, or at least easily hurt or frightened. Maybe it was never discussed much, because it is a natural, daily, unavoidable part of our existence as human beings, and frankly it feels bad.
If you’ve ever felt the unease of admitting something or of asking for a raise at work, you know the feeling. You may be more familiar with the uncertainty of waiting for a phone call with test results from a doctor or reaching out to a friend who just lost a loved one. It is uncomfortable, unsettling, and anxiety-provoking. It can be about as welcome a subject as death or getting taxes filed.
So why talk about it? Because as we have been discussing, allowing ourselves to be emotionally vulnerable is also a tremendous source of strength and the only way we can truly connect in our most personal relationships. Let’s try another definition; what is emotional vulnerability?
Emotional vulnerability is most often felt as anxiety about being rejected, shamed, or judged as inadequate; uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.
Think about that for a moment. Uncertainty is a given in every day of our lives. It is deeply tied to anxiety (like the meteor example above). In fact, very often those who suffer from chronic anxiety have particular difficulty accepting the uncertainty in their daily lives.
Let’s look at risk, for example, the risk of feeling rejected if the object of your love does not love you back (the power to destroy you and the hope that they won’t!). Or, that your boss will not only deny the raise but will also tell you why you are not worthy of it.
And emotional exposure: You’ve decided to partner with someone, and you begin to feel the fear that this person will get to know you better than you know yourself.
These situations are more frightening to some of us than to others, depending upon our personal histories, our cultural backgrounds, and our basic personality traits. The feeling of shame is a particular risk for many individuals, especially if they were raised in a shame-based culture. However, nearly everyone struggles with emotional vulnerability to some degree every day. (The exceptions are those with no desire to feel connected, such as extreme narcissists and sociopaths.)
How can vulnerability be a strength?
It is only through allowing ourselves to be vulnerable that we can understand, feel empathy, forgive each other, and know that we are worthy of love and belonging. Emotional courage is sharing our feelings with those who are important to us and accepting their feelings as valid and important. Being vulnerable allows us to create new ideas and to see fresh possibilities that were previously blocked from our minds. We take the risk that our creations will be judged poorly or rejected and that we may feel shame or inadequacy as a result.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you practice mindfully embracing vulnerability in your own life:
Recognize that facing vulnerability takes enormous courage.
Take small steps out of your comfort zone and be proud of your bravery when you do.
Let go of the constant worry about what other people think of you. Most people are focused on their own internal struggles, not you.
Feeling overwhelmed? Focus your attention gently on your breath and the sensations in your body for a few moments before returning your attention back to the task at hand.
Don’t worry about being perfect. In fact, don’t even consider it. No one is perfect, and the more you hold yourself to an impossible ideal, the more easily you will give up.
In the end, in order to have the chance of success we must risk failure. Embrace your own vulnerability and that of the people that you love. Be open to sharing what you feel and taking those risks when your sense of judgment tells you that the risk is well worth it.