Official blog for the book "Just Behind the Door"

Posts tagged ‘self confidence’

Resiliency – the Winning Factor!

You are stronger than you think… take a moment and take stock. Over the past month or week have you had to confront an issue or challenge that you simply did not think would be possible to overcome? Yet, somehow you dug deep to find the strength to carry on and develop a plan to address the circumstance. You persisted until you could and see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel and form a plan. Where did your strength come from… was it there all along just waiting to be tapped?

The answer to the question is yes…simply yes – but the reason behind the yes is even more enlightening because it was due to something called resiliency. Some people develop it early in life yet for others it may take much longer. Resiliency is more closely correlated to awareness than age. All of us can experience greater resiliency by learning what it takes to develop it.

Resiliency begins to form when we know that we are loved unconditionally – that someone (family or friends) are there for us when we need them. Further, when we have people in our lives that believe in us and frequently remind us that we have what it takes to be successful it helps us believe in ourselves and our own potential. In addition, when we are truly accepted regardless of our unique – maybe even challenging – personality traits and know that our ideas and opinions are valued and considered we develop greater personal strength. We begin to develop the real deal – authentic confidence. When we stop to think about it both the verbal and nonverbal messages we received from our family imprinted on our brains – early and often – as we were growing up. Were they messages of inclusion or differences? Another extremely important factor in developing resiliency is the need to live by clear and consistent boundaries in life. While some may think that boundaries are restrictive, unnecessary, or stifle a sense of independence actually the opposite is true. Boundaries give us a feeling of security which helps us develop into confident human beings. When we are growing up we may chafe at them but deep down they bring a calm, purposeful intent to our daily existence. Living with boundaries help us formulate the true North for our lives.

As the above conditions become integral in our life we begin to find our voice, develop positive listening skills and healthy conflict resolutions skills because we have a framework upon which to build.

Think about it this way, resiliency is like a chair with four legs – unconditional love from others, frequent positive messages about our own potential, clear and consistent boundaries, and positive communication and conflict resolutions skills. To be fully functioning human beings and support ourselves we need all four legs of the chair.

The importance of developing greater resiliency in life cannot be overstated. Without it we often see people who feel both helpless and hopeless – defeated before they even started. The good news is that we can become stronger, happier and more secure individuals when we work on developing greater resiliency in our lives and the lives of those we love. There is never a time limit on growth!

Have a great few days!

Be Above It!

How do you react when someone makes a subtle or not so subtle comment to you or someone else about something you believe in or have done? Often our first reaction is to strike back – either outright or in our head – and say or think something equally negative in return. Is it really worth it?

What if we practiced a different approach? What if we chose to be above it all. To decide that regardless of who, what or when something negative is said to remain in control of our feelings and refuse to let the negativity affect us. Difficult? Yes, but not impossible, if we practice this behavior over time. If we disagree with what is said, asking for clarification is helpful if – and only if – we can do so without anger, resentment or adding negative emotion to the environment.

When we really stop to think about it there are at least a million and one ways every day to be offended or upset due to the economy, world or national news, a hurtful comment, an envious coworker, or simply the energy given off by someone who is basically unhappy with themselves. These are just a few examples in which we may think, ‘There it goes again,’ as we feel ourselves being affected by the negativity.

When you run across someone who acts as if they know the way, the truth and the light, take a deep breath and realize that they are simply operating from their ego. They choose self-importance over understanding. To prove this point, just listen to their conversations and count the number of times they use the word ‘I’ versus ‘we’ – it’s a dead giveaway. You can almost here them thinking, ‘If you did things my way all would be right with the world.’ Not so much!

When we think it necessary to change or direct others it says more about us than them. Let’s remember that we are all on our own pathway and have unique lessons to learn. Judging others, regardless of how much they get under our skin, will only delay our own soul’s evolution. We can’t expect those who are different than us to think, feel or behave as we do. We all walk in shoes, specifically designed by us, for our journey.

Not allowing ourselves to be offended gives us strength and adds to our self-confidence. Choose to be simply an observer without judgment. You will gain much inner peace in the process. After all, no one is put into this world to live up to our expectations just as we are not put into this world to live up to theirs. Inner peace develops when we live at what we are For rather than AGAINST.

Have a great few days!

Are You a ‘Fixer in Charge?’

Lending a hand, occasionally, to help others in time of need is important. After all, we find joy and reward in knowing that we have been instrumental in helping someone through a crisis. As with everything in life the ultimate issue is one of balance. At some point we might have to evaluate our efforts and decide how much time or emotional and financial support we are offering. Is it still enabling them to grow and become all they can be or has our involvement become so frequent that they now rely on us to solve their next problem or guide their next step. It’s so hard for givers to accept the reality that it may be time to back off and let someone that they care for experience the stress and challenge of their own circumstance. But when we are strong enough to stop ‘fixing’ we’ll see them experience the ultimate pride and self confidence that comes from wrestling with and overcoming their latest issue.

Life is tough and each of us has had to face a boat load of challenges and uncertainties. Some may have temporarily stopped us in our tracks. What caused us to persevere and learn resiliency in the process? Could it have been that help was no longer available or we chose to work it out ourselves by thinking ‘if it’s going to be it’s up to me?’

As givers we feel good inside when we see relief spread over the face of an individual we care about. Yet, we really do know intuitively when we are contributing to a person’s growth and when we have morphed into the role of an emotional or financial crutch. When we are brutally honest with ourselves we can admit when our ‘hand up’ has become a pattern or been reduced to simply a ‘hand out.’ It may be easier to say ‘Yes’ yet much more powerful to accept it when it is time to say ‘Enough.’

Maybe the lesson in all of this is actually ours. After all you can’t blame someone for continuing to ask or rely on you if you have established the pattern of being the ‘fixer in charge.’ We may even try to trick ourselves into believing that ‘they didn’t actually ask but we simply offered.’ Really? There are a multitude of ways to ask without verbalizing it. Taken to an extreme we may even justify our help by saying we have more or we can work harder to help ‘this time.’ But maybe – just maybe – we are unwittingly eroding their belief in themselves and causing them to become dependent on us.

Could it be that true love and caring for another is shown when we recognize if a defeating behavioral habit has been established and are strong enough to stop being complicit? It’s hard to break this habit of being there, continual giving or even rescuing someone we care about yet don’t we owe it to them?

Ultimate caring results when we are presented with an issue by someone we care about and rather than jumping in to fix it we ask them, simply and gently, ‘What is your plan?’ We show them that we have confidence in their ability to overcome. That’s heady stuff! Don’t expect to be able to do this the first time without feeling guilty. Breaking the habit of being the ‘fixer in charge’ is difficult. We may even wonder if they will ultimately hold it against us. That’s always a risk but if you love them – truly love them – set them free to experience their own trials and tribulations in life. If they come back to you it will be with a new found pride of accomplishment and resiliency in themselves that will last a lifetime.

Letting go of the fixing habit is hard but holding on past an expiration date is not healthy for anyone concerned.

Have a great few days!

It’s All About the Energy!

Constantly expanding our comfort zone is important since it keeps our blood pumping and gives us a richer, more interesting perspective on life. Following this thought I watched my first Super Bowl game ever – and was astounded to watch how the energy of both the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots changed throughout the game. You could practically feel the energy radiating from the T.V. screen as first one team led and then the other. Since I am not an avid sports enthusiast and would have preferred to have both teams win I was really more interested in the energy thing than the actually score. I found myself talking to each team throughout the game and telling them to ‘buck up’ and ‘make it happen!’ It caused me to think about how obvious our energy is to others. People can actually feel it, regardless of what our face is saying and they act accordingly by either moving toward or away from us. Just think, it all starts by the energy we are choosing to give off.

When things are going well the positive energy just seems to flow. It seems that good things just keep happening as the Universe sends back to us more of what we are giving out. Likewise when we are down things seem to happen, one after another, that overwhelm us. If we find ourselves falling into catastrophic thinking or creating mini dramas tomorrow will surely be the same as today.

Obviously none of us are Super Bowl players but we constantly have our own challenges and opportunities to handle in our own game of life. How do we learn to look for the bright side, the probability of future success when our own energy seems to be at a low ebb.

When we inhale deeply and remember that everything happens for a purpose, that we will get through this and that there really are no mistakes in life it’s a good start. Regardless of our challenges when if we calm down and realize that we can either admit defeat or look for the silver lining behind every cloud that surrounds us it goes a long way in giving us the energy to face our tomorrows. Whatever we do to help keep perspective and realize any setback we experience is really temporary it helps us dig deeper and regain a more positive attitude.

Life is not a walk in the park. Each of us has chosen unique life lessons to overcome. Some of us might even wonder, from time to time, why we wrote so many challenges in our script and may look at others and think to ourselves that their life seems to be so much easier. Caution is advised here because when we look more closely it becomes obvious that all of us experience our fair amount of challenges and disappointments- albeit in different forms.

Life is a huge balancing act. But the good news is that each of us can create our own safety net which will give us greater security and confidence along the way. Those safety nets are created from individual threads which are formed each time we overcome a life challenge. Before we know we have learned to smile with confidence as we overcome another challenge because we realize that ‘All is as it Should Be.’

Have a great few days!

Have You Seen a Miracle Walking?

Miracles can happen! I have heard of two just during the first 2 weeks of 2015. Have you ever experienced something in your life that just seemed too good to be true? Well, miracles are like that and they happen all the time. The important thing is to recognize them and be grateful.

When something happens to us that brings us greater joy, peace or love and we are grateful for it we are actually sending a message to the Universe that we are open to even more miracles in our life. It’s not magic but the power of positive thought that pulsates out to the Universe guiding more of the same back to us.

Some people seem to be miracles walking. They are the people who choose to see the goodness and possibilities that exists in this world. They are the ones who are busy helping others along the way. Their selfless acts build up just like an invisible bank account of positive energy and consequently they seem to have good things happen to them often. At first they may attribute these things simply to their good luck or hard work. Although both of those things are important the real powerhouse is in their thinking. They truly live a life of positive expectation.

When they experience difficulties they know in their hearts that it is time for a mid course correction and without fanfare or drama go about making the changes necessary. They accept responsibility for what happens – never using excuses or placing blame. They seem to have found their own special niche in life and are quick to recognize both the large and small things that happen to them as opportunities for growth.

These types of folks have the self-confidence to say no when it is necessary and yes when it is possible. They can always be relied upon to deliver what they set out to do. Their word is their bond. We can feel integrity emanating from them miles away – often just their signature alone is enough to help us breathe easier knowing things will get done.

You can recognize these folks because they seem to walk with pride and happiness as their constant companions. They are humble in their achievements and always give more than is expected. They experience genuine happiness as they celebrate the accomplishments of others.

Above all these types of folks are grateful. They have learned the importance of gratitude and know it is the key that opens all of the world’s doors to them. They just seem to be a living miracle in so many ways.

Over the next few weeks look for miracles in your own life. The more you recognize them with gratitude the more often they will happen. Miracles are beautiful messages from the Universe that you are loved.

Have a great few days!

Enough ‘Stuff!’

The holiday season is upon us and with it the choice to buy more ‘stuff.’ I’m not talking about the gifts we buy for others but about the marketing message to ‘buy something special for ourselves.’ It seems to have become a right of passage that holiday shopping is not complete unless we remember to ‘gift’ ourselves. Thus the topic of more stuff becomes a reality.

George Carlin, the comedian who attempted to raise our social consciousness for over 30 years did a classic standup routine about the importance we place on acquiring ‘stuff’ in our lives. Although he died in 2008 his observations are timeless. His YouTube video is worth watching.

Are we so superficial that simply acquiring things is our end game? If so, will that next outfit, car, or house cause us to reach a state of Nirvana where we finally say to ourselves, ‘Now I have everything I want.’ Probably not. Obsessive behavior breeds itself. Could in be that our continual buying and accumulating is simply a way to feed our insatiable egos and to keep the heavy lifting of self improvement at bay? Honestly looking at our own insecurities and doing something about them is the real gift we can give ourselves this season. The bottom line is that we will never acquire enough to give us self-confidence or peace in our lives. That takes time and courage to a whole lot of deep digging. Who we are as a person and what is truly important to us are big questions that may be worth pondering.

Put another way, is having the biggest, fastest or most stuff in our lives really the goal we want to work toward? There was a bumper sticker in the ’90’s that read, ‘The Man With the Most Toys Wins.’ Really? My question is wins what? Have we linked our identity to the ‘stuff’ we so fervently purchase? An easy way to check our values is to think about what we would take with us if we had 20 minutes to evacuate our surroundings. In a survey on happiness most people responded to this question by saying they would take their family pictures. Their response shows that love and relationships trumps things or stuff every time. Our own answer to this question reveals what’s most important in our own life.

When you think about what we will take out of this world (literally the clothes on our backs) when we pass on it puts everything in perspective. Rather than falling into the trap of accepting the holiday marketing message of ‘gifting’ ourselves we could stop, look and listen to our hearts. In so doing we may decide that turning the kaleidoscope of our thinking ever so slightly to develop a deeper understanding of self and offering true caring for others is the true message of the holiday season. If we want to ‘gift’ ourselves maybe we could do so by mending fences, seeking compromise or offering a hand to someone in need. Those are the types of gifts that keep on giving and last a lifetime.

A recent article in The New York Times stated that due to lower gas prices we will be able to buy more ‘stuff’ this holiday season. Great, just what we needed! Maybe – just maybe – we can think about a better use of our time, attention and money. Could it be it all boils down to determining what is really most important in our lives and reallocating our time to nurturing them? That’s something you can’t buy – it’s way more valuable than a mere purchase – but its worth its weight in gold. It’s something to think about…

Have a great few days!

Smart Choices Develops Confidence

You are capable of achieving life long confidence and happiness using smart power. Lasting happiness is a choice, an option that allows us to view life through a new set of lenses. If you went into a store selling glasses which could give you more confidence, peace of mind and a clearer vision both figuratively and literally, would you buy them? I’ll bet you would. Once you purchased a pair your life would be transformed. You would become more at peace with what you needed to do in life and less affected by issues beyond your control. This may sound like a trip down Imagination Lane but the reality is that each of us has the capacity to choose a life of greater confidence and happiness. This is not something that costs money, or will take more time out of our busy days. It is a gift from the Universe and all we have to do is choose to unwrap it.

How does it work? It is deceptively simple. We simply need to let whatever happens around us be. I don’t mean to let poor workmanship or excuses slide if you are the one ultimately responsible. But what I do mean is that once you redirect the effort assuring that the work is properly done you let the situation go. Letting go means you no longer let the challenge or issue at hand personally affect you. You refuse to perseverate on it after the circumstance is resolved. It also means that you will no longer allow any negative energy from others sink in and affect you. You simply let it go. Everyone has a right to their opinion. We simply need to remember that an opinion or attitude, by definition, is not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Hillary Clinton epitomizes this attitude of confidence and happiness in her latest book entitled, “Hard Choices.” She makes an important point about what she calls, smart power. She defines it as the type of power that demonstrates shared values, relationships and diplomacy. Her point is that power is on a continuum. True, some things need to be dealt with directly with greater force but viewing power on a continuum helps to enlarge our repertoire of responses. This concept of power can give us more self confidence and greater happiness because we realize that we have many options at our disposal to deal with the occasional bumps in the road. Keeping a clear eye on the prize – the goals you have set for yourself -with a belief that once you have dealt with any issue that comes up you confidently let it go creates greater confidence and personal happiness that is palpable even to others.

As a person Hillary Clinton seems to be goal driven, loyal and confident. She demonstrates the ability to see the positives and possibilities of a stronger alignment with countries throughout the world. As Secretary of State she refused to be weighed down by challenges or negative opinions. As the pundits frequently commented on something as mundane as her hair, she laughed at the simplistic nature of the observations as she continued to do her job and continued on a path of demonstrating America’s strength by forging deeper relationships among our allies. At home she has expanded our thoughts about the definition of real power. She has shown us that real power comes from a self confidence that is unbridled by negative emotion.

When we choose to view power on a continuum we begin to realize that we have a wealth of options every day to handle our ‘opportunities’ in life as they develop. We refuse to be weighed down by continually second guessing our choices or the intentions of others and just let things be… that form of confidence is the root of true happiness.

Have a great few days!

Personal Reflection is Powerful!

Personal reflection is a good thing to do once in a while. Often we are so busy doing we forget to stop, inhale deeply and think about what we have lived through and accomplished. Give yourself a few minutes to think about your life over the past five years. What are the major things, the good, the bad and the ugly that you experienced? We usually don’t see events coming and when the great ones happen we are surprised, relieved and grateful. When the really tough ones hit us they can bring us to our knees. Yet through it all consider this, you are still alive to tell the tale! That’s an indicator of just how strong you really are inside.

We all have moments of self doubt and worry – it’s what makes us human. But you might want to consider the approach of a quick review of what you have lived through and learned from the next time you are feeling stressed, worried or unsure if you can handle another challenge in your life. Your track record serves as a powerful reminder. It is the concrete evidence that proves you are capable of anything because you have made it to this point in your life and learned from the events. You have shown balance in your purpose and determination in you achievements. You are a strong person and no one can ever take that away from you.

You might be thinking… but what about tomorrow or next week… I have this thing coming up and I’m unsure if I can do it. Actually, a little nervousness is usually a good thing. It causes us to bring our ‘A’ game into play. When we are concerned we often over plan or over prepare and in so doing we go the extra mile and discover that there is very little traffic there to contend with at that point. Susan Taylor said, “our greatest problems in life come not so much from the situations we confront as from our doubts about our ability to handle them.”

By taking a moment to reflect upon the life challenges you have lived through up to this point in your life it will give you the courage and belief to know that you will be able to handle whatever surfaces next because you have demonstrated strength and tenacity in the past. You don’t always have to like a challenging event that surfaces but you needn’t be cowered by it either. By taking stock of what you have lived through you now know deep down that you can overcome anything once you set your mind to it. That’s a powerful feeling that you have justly earned.

Above all, look at the people who love you, respect you and need you from time to time. They are messengers from the Universe sent to tell you that you are important to them and perfect just the way you are … A beautiful spirit of the Universe who is on a mission to make the world a little better place.

Have a great few days!

Developing Wisdom and Serenity

This is the fourth and final blog ( the first three can be found in the March archives on my website) on the Serenity Prayer. A prayer that millions of people repeat daily to help them hang on, push forward and recognize either their own present behaviors that are limiting them in their lives or impeding their desire for change. The prayer itself, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” can be life changing when you take it apart and study the intent behind the words.

To date, we have looked at what it takes (and what limits us) to change the things we can change as well as what’s required to accept the things we cannot change. Both areas involve our inner discovery of the way we choose to look at our own fear factors, early conditioning and life experiences. The gold nugget obtained by truly thinking about what causes us to react the way we do is an important element that can allow us to move forward toward greater understanding and control in our lives.

Now, let’s look at the last part of the poem, “the wisdom to know the difference.” Many people believe that wisdom is only acquired by living decades on the planet. I disagree. In reality it is not simply the experiences but our ‘thinking about our thinking’ behind them that can cause us to become wise beyond our years.

For example, when something happens that was out of our control we live through it but do we then use the mental energy to dissect the experience and search for the lessons learned? Many people are just relieved that they have made it through the experience and try to put it behind them. However, the residual feelings of ‘what next’ or the shock and fear from the experience just lays in wait in the emotional baggage in our minds. Negative emotions buried result in a greater fear of tomorrow as we try to wrap ourselves in a protective cocoon of control.

Similarly, when we face something that needs to be changed and we know we should do something about it – but don’t – it erodes our self confidence and enthusiasm for life. Over time, this pattern results in thinking that life is simply what it is and any attempt to change a particular course is fruitless or at least not our responsibility. That type of thinking erodes our hope for a better tomorrow. It takes both courage to change things that need to be changed and grace to accept those
things that cannot be changed to fully live.

The last part of the prayer, “having the wisdom to know the difference,” is not as elusive a concept as we may think. We all experience intuition, that inner voice or gut feeling, that little nudge that let’s us know that a certain path or decision is the way to go for now. Sometimes when we are unsure we say to others, “Let me sleep on it.” It gives our minds time to process what our intuitive sense is trying to tell us. Waking to the light of a new day the answer seems as clear as a bell. This is your internal ‘wisdom worker’ activated during sleep when the daily distractions prevents it from being fully heard.

Greater wisdom and serenity can result from every life experiences we have IF we do our own mental work to discover what the purpose and reason of them were designed to teach us. The answer is usually found by asking ourselves, ‘What is the most difficult thing to accept about the experience?’ Our lives are not random pieces of material thrown together but a beautiful tapestry of life experiences, each piece sewn together with the thread of lessons learned that create who we are at our core. To create our own unique tapestry we need to keep our eyes focused, our ears attuned and our heart open to accept what is clearly presented to us with gratitude.

Wisdom and serenity then is an accumulation of both our experiences and thoughtful reflection of them. When we get into the daily habit of doing so it results in less fear and more confidence as we face tomorrow. We realize the truth in the statement, “All is meant to be,” and we receive the ultimate compliment when someone says, “How did you get to be so wise?”

Have a great few days!

Humility is Strength

Susan Scott said, “While no single conversation is guaranteed to change the trajectory of a business, a career, a marriage, or a life, any single conversation CAN.” Her message is that words and the attitude behind them are powerful things. They can build or destroy by causing us to close ourselves off to others or welcome them in. Words elicit different effects depending on our attitude, self confidence and state of mind. The word humility is one that can conjure up a vision or meekness or one of strength.

Jim Collins in his book ‘Good to Great’ investigated the most successful companies in terms of profit over a 15 year basis and once identified began to investigate what characteristics were evident in their top level leadership. As stated in his book, “these Level 5 leaders direct their ego away from themselves and to the larger goal of leading their company to greatness…they are a complex, paradoxical mix of intense professional will and personal humility.”

People who practice humility realize it improves both personal and work relationships. It can reduce anxiety by allowing ourselves to be more open to possibilities – to the ideas and suggestions of others. When we are in this type of mindset, paradoxically, it enhances our own self confidence.

Taking the time to care enough to truly listen to others and to step aside and allow the limelight and attention to shine on them, even temporarily, is a valuable and liberating act. We are demonstrating a strength and belief – a confidence – in ourselves that becomes quietly evident to others. There is always enough light to go around- the Universe is a never ending source. When we affirm people’s beliefs and assumptions we are not giving in but are recognizing that ….in their particular situation and view…they are right.

The most valuable way to demonstrate humility is to ask for input from others. The simply question, ‘How am I doing?’ not only speaks but shouts volumes about your own level of self confidence. It lets others know that you are open, interested in learning more, being more valuable to the organization. That one simple question opens doors and hearts. People feel more valued and respected when asked for their opinion and input.

Whether we are thinking of humility in our homes or workplaces the lessons are the same. Humility is strength in operation. It is a lack of arrogance which pushes others away and it allows for forward thinking accomplishments which causes others to want to be a part of our team or at least in our environment. When we become really good at this thing called humility we move from constantly seeking approval and recognition to seeking a better way … a more enlighten, confident view of life and our unique place in this journey. Life itself becomes more of a positive adventure and less of a stressful, harried experience.

It boils down to what characteristics you choose to practice in life. Humility allows us to take pride in ourselves and our accomplishments without that major turn off for others called arrogance. Sort of makes humility really important in the bigger scheme in life doesn’t it?

Have a great few days!