If You’re Not You, Who are You Then?

womanwithquestionmarkOur efforts to be happy and successful often cause us to imitate other people.

We certainly can and must learn from others, but there is a problem if we do that at the expense of never finding out who we are. It’s especially problematic when we disguise and numb our feelings.

We can’t help but feel vulnerable when we step into being our authentic, imperfect and yet worthy-of-love selves, but it’s the only path to joy and happiness.

Shame is the root of our lack of authenticity. It’s universal. We all experience that “not good enough” feeling.

In her research on the power of vulnerability, Brene Brown, researcher, author and storyteller, discovered that people who have a strong sense of love and belonging believe they are worthy of love and belonging.

She took note of the qualities that these people share. Listen to what she shares in the video below and find out what you can do about it and the tremendous benefits of doing so. Then share what you think in the comments.

3 Tips to Gain Confidence

butterfliesinfield“Nerves and butterflies are fine – they’re a physical sign that you’re mentally ready and eager.  You have to get the butterflies to fly in formation, that’s the trick.”  ~Steve Bull

Performing in front of an audience is one of the scariest things you can do, and yet some people make their living doing just that.

Do you imagine that they are perfectly confident and never feel scared?

If you think that, you’d be wrong.

I doubt that anyone wakes up one day and is confident from that day forth.

Self-confidence is the belief that you can handle whatever comes up and that you deserve good things and happiness in your life. Confidence is an essential part of happiness

Building your confidence can be done in many ways. Here are 3 tips to get you started.

1. Look at what you’ve already achieved in your lifetime.

  • Make a list of your achievements.
  • Pat yourself on the back and accept compliments from others.
  • Refer to your list of achievements when you begin to feel down.

Give yourself huge credit if you’ve finished school, raised a family, managed your rent or mortgage for years, completed some task that at first you thought was hard, grew tomatoes, stood up and won against a company or person who was trying to defraud you, overcame an illness, reached your weight loss goals, found your way when you were lost, learned another language and so on.

Many of us take our achievements for granted, and thereby miss a key ingredient of self-confidence.

The beauty of acknowledging your achievements is you have proof of what you can do, and a reason to believe that you can do it again.

2. Make a list of your strengths.

Dwell on and build on these strengths

Get started by looking back at #1. The achievements you accomplished were likely related to strengths of character, behavior, and skills.

3. Take control of your thoughts.

When your mind begins to drift to self-doubt, pull yourself back with positive self-talk about the things you noted in #1 and #2.

That inner critic is alive and well in all of us, but you are in charge. You may well have to get rough with your thoughts in order to keep them in line. But it’s worth it.  Your happiness depends on gaining and keeping your confidence.

[See Wednesday’s post for more tips]

Is Forgiveness Essential for Happiness?

fountainpen by phil h

[Photo by phil h on Flickr]

One constant that I see in the literature on happiness, personal growth, and prosperity is the importance of forgiveness and yet, many struggle with it, stress about it and some even suffer from it. Let’s face it, forgiveness just not come easy for most of us.

The Bible is clear on forgiveness in a number of places. One of them is Colossians 3:13

Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (NIV)

Then we have the words of people who have survived horrific suffering, such as Corrie Ten Boom, the Holocaust survivor who tells why we should forgive

Forgiveness is to set a prisoner free, and to realize the prisoner was you.

Even when we are warned that failure to forgive can increase our blood pressure, stress and risk of alcohol and substance abuse, there are several reasons that still make us hesitate.

Forgiveness will not guarantee reconciliation of a relationship or a change in the offender. As a matter of fact we may believe that we are somehow punishing the offender by withholding our forgiveness or that we are letting them get away by forgiving them.

This morning when I was thinking about this topic I posted the following statement on Facebook:

Forgiveness keeps coming up as a key component of happiness and prosperity. Think I’ll blog about it.

Within a few hours I got the following reactions

Without forgiveness there can be no true happiness.

To which I agreed, followed by another Facebook friend’s comment

Forgiving whom…the offender or yourself?? If we forgive the offender it feels like letting them off the hook and giving the message “what you did was okay”..??? I am confused about the forgiving thing. Why do we HAVE to forgive an injustice, abuse, or mistreatment? Isn’t part of the offenders consequences our establishing a personal boundary that excludes that sort of treatment or behavior from our personal world. IF we “forgive” it feels like the wrong message.

Which resulted in this response.

I agree Yvonne!

Then 2 hours later, another comment

I don’t agree that forgiving an offender “lets them off the hook”. They will still be held accountable at the end of their time. A wrong never goes unpunished.

To which I responded to the previous commenter

Forgiving the offender IS for yourself. While you are holding on to the hurt, you are blocking your own good. The offender may not even be aware or care that they have hurt you. This doesn’t mean that you should become a doormat or walking victim. It is certainly useful to confront and bring a hurt to the offender’s attention if that’s possible. But once that’s done, hanging on to the hurt only damages and blocks you. At the same time, it’s your job to protect yourself from hurt by not associating with those bent on hurting you.

Then shortly after

And I don’t agree. I think we can heal and move on and be healthy and whole with out “Forgiving.” The words “I forgive you” mean to me you are no longer held accountable. Whether “God” holds them accountable is not the issue. In this life, in this world, they are “forgiven” and therefore not to be held accountable for the wrong doing. If I hurt someone on purpose, with malice, or even with ignorance. I intend to be held accountable. Law does not forgive us if we mug or rape or kill someone. We are held accountable. The victim can heal and move on and STILL hold the offender as to blame and accountable (unforgiven.)…You don’t have to agree, but this is my reality.

Another comment from the same commenter as above.

One more and I promise to get off my soap box. THe people who feel you HAVE to forgive seem to be people who are very religious. My question is, is that their heart belief or a belief they have been TAUGHT?

Since I checked last, the last comment was

I can only speak for myself. I am not very religious, though I am faithful. I believe in my heart that forgiveness is necessary for true healing to begin. I carried that burden in my heart for a long time. I chose to forgive the person without seeking them out. My reason is simply because people don’t start out bad or evil, they become that way through terrible circumstances of their own. It doesn’t excuse the offense.

This is clearly a heated topic, but we didn’t touch on the other side of the issue.

What if you are the one who needs to be forgiven? Should you contact the other person, even years later, and say “Sorry.”

That’s what some people do, but not always with great results. Sometimes the offended person wasn’t offended at all and doesn’t even remember the incident. Other times the offended has seemed to move on with their lives, but upon your opening the wound gets offended all over again.

Then there are the deathbed apologies, such as a man apologizing to his unsuspecting wife of 50 years for cheating on her 35 years ago.  Does he want to be forgiven or just to relieve his guilt so he can die in peace?

Although it doesn’t seem like a good idea to apologize in a public forum or suddenly after many years by email, there are two websites that can aid you if you’re seeking absolution:

ThePublicApology.com — you can post an anonymous apology obviously because you think it will make you feel better. The offended may never read it.

PerfectApology.com–this site gives serious tips and guidance on creating and delivering apologies in personal and business situations

My final words on forgiveness

If you’ve gotten away with murder or cheated your way through Harvard and into your top paying job, your apology is admirable, but be forewarned that it will likely affect your lifestyle and maybe even your life expectancy.