Friday, July 20, 2012

What Confidence Is and Is Not

What do you believe confidence is? Maybe you’re right, and maybe you’ll be surprised.

Maybe you, like many, confuse confidence with competence. And that’s understandable because you’re advised to enhance your skills, knowledge, and expertise, and presto: The confident you will emerge and flourish. Well, in a way. You would feel confident about what you know and can do, but would you absolutely feel overall confidence as an individual? Not necessarily. Competence does not guarantee confidence. Confidence based on competence alone can be shaken the moment something goes off-kilter or you enter unfamiliar “territory”.

When confidence is low, we don’t feel and really aren’t fully present in whatever moment we find ourselves in. When confidence is low, our thoughts are wrapped up in anxiety, usually with garbage from the past and fears about the future vying for equal time. And amid that thought chaos, we’re busy thinking or worrying about what we’ll say or do rather than listening to what’s being said or observing what’s going on, and responding appropriately for us and according to what’s happening right then.

If you’re someone who feels you lack confidence or could use more, or know someone who feels this way, notice that when doing something interesting, engaging, or relaxing, confidence isn’t a concern. So when is it an issue? Any time there’s concern about what others will think about you.

Augusten Burroughs wrote: “Unscripted, unedited, and wholly authentic people are almost universally admired, especially if they have flaws, are not afraid to make live, red-blooded mistakes, and rather than trying are busy simply being.” Isn’t it interesting that people with these traits are admired and seen as confident when these traits are the very ones we’re discouraged from or even punished for demonstrating? Burroughs also said that when you desire more confidence, what you really desire is to control what others think about you. Let’s look at one reason low confidence may be an issue for so many.

Low confidence may have its origin from one “technique” parents and other authority figures use with children to get them to behave a particular way: They use shame instead of validation or guidance. Validation or guidance may take time and energy, or be a totally unfamiliar process for them, having been shamed themselves as children. Shame is a high-speed road to confidence issues. Even if the words “You should be ashamed” weren’t used, that message was implicit in whatever criticism was (or is) given. And, those shamed as children grow into adults who mimic this technique, as well.

Shame becomes like a garment worn into adulthood, one that covers or shrouds the authentic self who, as Burroughs stated, makes mistakes and keeps going, unimpeded by the opinions of others. Self-esteem or confidence issues stem from feeling some level of shame about being you, seeded by someone else’s disappointment or disapproval expressed to you. More often than not, their disappointment or disapproval was way more about them and their issues than about you. “What will people think about ME if you do that (don’t do that, look like that, etc.)?!” is often, but not solely, motivation for shaming rather than guiding. Ingrained feelings of shame lead people and their lives, but not in the direction they desire.

Shame causes you to believe you can’t do certain things or shouldn’t attempt them because “somebody” (other than you) may or will disapprove or be disappointed, especially if your attempt doesn’t have “perfect” results. Perfectionism blocks your ability to be creative and authentic. It denies your right to be uniquely you, to make mistakes and grow from them, to feel more fearless about discovery and exploration of who you are and what you can make of your life.

Are you beginning to connect how fear of being you, possibly or probably seeded by being taught shame, could affect your confidence and self-esteem? If you don’t trust your self, what can you trust? Confidence isn’t about always knowing the answer or doing the exact right thing, it’s about knowing you’ll seek and find an answer and are willing to learn and live who you are and came here to be.

Low confidence—confidence being that deep, true connection with your authentic self—is why many procedures and processes like plastic surgery, weight loss, and makeovers don’t always create the lasting feeling inside that the person hoped for. In fact, a study showed that the people who do feel good about themselves and continue to do so after such changes felt good about themselves before the change. They were also a very small percentage of those who underwent such changes.

It seems then that many of the externals we change or seek to are attempts to arrive at one thing: To feel good about being ourselves. We mistakenly think part of what will create that feeling for us is to do whatever it takes to make others approve of us. We chase our own tails with this one. If we feel good about ourselves, there will be people who enjoy or appreciate us for who we are. Maybe not everyone will feel that way about us, but getting everyone’s approval is a waste of energy and is unrealistic. It also puts us last instead of first, where we need to be if we’re to live our best life.

It’s time to acknowledge there is and ever will be only one of you. Stephen Greliet wrote something that may be familiar to you: “I shall not pass this way again . . .” Whether you believe in reincarnation or you don’t, who you are in this lifetime will never happen again. It may take time to take root, but remind yourself of this unique-you fact each day and as often as needed.

Confidence isn’t a show, despite that we’ve believed it is. It isn’t about being competent, though competence can lead to satisfaction within us. Confidence is about being at home with yourself and your right to your place in the world. It’s about being present with your self, being in the moment, and doing what’s appropriate and fulfilling for you and your process of self-discovery, rather than focused predominantly or only on the opinions of others. Ask yourself what feels right and true for you. Apply this question to topics, areas, and moments of your life, and do this at a steady, gradual pace. Discover and embrace how much there is to appreciate about you and life. It’s a good practice.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Sunday, July 15, 2012

What Causes Negative Thinking?

Do you ever wonder if or wish there was an On-Off switch when it comes to negative thinking? Maybe if you know what causes it, you can find the switch and flip it.

What we usually notice about negative thinking first is the Effect, not the Cause, of it. In fact, we may not even be aware that we’re thinking negatively, we’re just aware of how we feel in response to it. Some of those feelings may include tiredness or exhaustion, frustration or depression, discontent or anger, anxiety or fear. And, we sometimes (or often) mistakenly attempt to fix or adjust only the Effect, or the process, rather than the Cause. Process and Effect follow the leader: Cause.

What is this Cause, and where is its On-Off switch? I believe it’s what Ernest Holmes calls a cross current of thought. That is opposite thoughts colliding in your subconscious or subjective (programmed, trained or habituated) mind. This reminds me of the original Ghostbusters movie when they used their equipment for the first time. They turned on their machines, and a current of energy streamed from each machine. One of the guys yelled that they were to avoid crossing the streams. When asked what would happen if the streams crossed, he stated, “It would be bad.” We get an undesirable result when we cross currents of thought and experience one or more of the feelings listed above or others. Actually, it’s like the riddle: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The feeling or the thought? The origination is interesting but it doesn’t matter, ultimately, the result does.

Look at some examples of cross-current thoughts and see if you can identify negative feelings that might result (use the list above or whatever descriptors come up for you):

I want income BUT I hate my job (or am bored with it).

I want a joyful, loving relationship BUT I have a low opinion of men/women and/or myself.

I want abundance and prosperity BUT I don’t deserve this because (fill in the blank).

I want to be successful BUT I don’t know what success means to ME, and only me.

There are numerous variations of these and other statements, but you can see that what comes after the BUT is what holds the greater emotional charge. And the emotional charge, your energy stream, is the vibration you transmit to the Law of Attraction match-up field of manifestation. Even those who think Law of Attraction is a lot of hooey or too much effort still meet up with the effects of cross-current thinking.

We have to face the fact that we will have feelings; we are meant to. But we can face the fact that we are not tied to our feelings except by choice or habit. We also can face the fact that what is in our hearts (the feeling aspect of our subconscious, subjective mind) is directly connected to our thoughts. We think according to what we believe (feel), and what we believe is more often about the stories we tell ourselves rather than about the Truth of who we REALLY are and what we are really capable of.

The idea and practice of having negative thought patterns kicked into gear for you quite early in your development. Maybe as a child, you not only heard people express negative opinions about anything or everything and others, but perhaps about you as well. Whether they really meant what they said or not doesn’t matter. The fact is we learn behaviors and thought patterns so early in life that, as a rule, we don’t have a conscious awareness of them . . . until we begin to notice their Effects and begin to seek their Cause. It’s almost like, or maybe it’s even exactly like, a form of voodoo. And like voodoo, the spell or curse only works if or while you believe it.

So here you are years later, wanting to be a more joyful, fulfilled version of you, wanting your life to be more joyful and fulfilling, but you operate with cross-current thoughts. What can you do about this? It will help to make up your own BUT statements about areas of your life you struggle with or want to improve, to see what’s revealed. Like learned behaviors, we are so used to practicing the BUT side of our statements, we don’t even see this for what it is when we do it; we may even call it being practical.

Remember that what comes after the BUT acts like a voodoo spell (or curse) over you. Realize you are not tied to believing it. Realize that Law of Attraction doesn’t do anything to you; it works THROUGH you. You can change BUT statements to AND statements:

I want income AND I can get it by doing something I enjoy, love, and find fulfilling.

I want a joyful, loving relationship AND I’m willing to find out what that means for me, and my partner, and do what is appropriate.

I want abundance and prosperity AND I’m open to appreciating what I already have and receiving even more.

And so it goes.

If we contemplate the Good (make this a regular or consistent inner experience), we’ll experience the good we contemplate. We don’t contemplate the Good by thinking about its opposites. Holmes wrote, “Ignorance of the law [of attraction] excuses no one from its effects; but knowledge [of it] clothes us in the seamless robe . . . .” (In ancient days only those who were aligned with prosperity as their reality could afford a seamless robe.). You can “fail” to not use Law of Attraction, but you cannot fail if you use it as it’s meant to be used: with direct line of thought rather than cross-current thoughts.

Use the BUT/AND statements to help you find those switches so you can flip them. Lift the negative “spells” off of you and your life, and practice more supportive statements and stories about yourself, your life, life in general, and the bigger picture. Find what leads you to or allows you to align with BELIEVABLE statements and stories about you and life, ones aligned with the larger, universal Truth about you and what the Creative Consciousness has available for you. Kick the BUTS from your thoughts. It’s a good practice.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Mechanics of Manifestation

You don’t need to know how a clock works to get the time; but if you struggle with Law of Attraction, it helps to understand what makes it “tick”. It also helps to know how the mechanics of your mind participate.

Ernest Holmes explained that the Law of Attraction can only obey us; it doesn’t decide for (or against) us. However, we don’t will the Law to do anything, but we do impress our subjective beliefs on it, like a cosmic memory foam mattress. This is why, as Holmes wrote, “The idea of a successful life will create success.”

Pause and really FEEL that for a moment. Now exchange the words “successful” and “success” for any words that fit an experience or result you desire. Let’s use abundant/abundance. If you don’t feel your life is abundant, do you really and truly have the idea inside you that life is or can be abundant . . . not “should” be, Can Be, for You? When you hold such a thought, or any thought, consistently, it becomes a habit to think that way. It always comes down to how and what we really think.

What causes us to think a certain way, and how can we change this, if needed or desired? All thoughts are choices and based on choices. We make choices using two of our three minds. Subjective Mind choices come from assessments and conclusions that stem from what we already believe or already practice. Our Objective Mind is the one that can choose whether to do what the Subjective Mind would suggest or something else, based on what we observe and know, not just believe by default. The Conscious Mind is the one we use to change thought patterns and thought habits of our Subjective Mind, which then changes our perspective and attitude.

This is where we return to the fact we impress our beliefs onto the Law of Attraction: our Subjective Mind is our Creative Power, and this is why what we really believe, the idea we actually have, has such influence on what we experience. Our Subjective Mind is where we put cause and effect into motion. This is also why we cannot align our beliefs with Effects to affect a desired change; we have to align beliefs and thoughts with what is possible, to Cause a desired effect. And, we have to consciously KNOW this is how it works, and deliberately put it into practice, while trusting that a Bigger Picture is always unfolding for us.

Paraphrasing Holmes, the subjective state of our thoughts is what comprises the totality of our beliefs, which is our “habitual attitude toward life and living.” Our attitude is our medium, medium meaning “an intervening thing through which a force acts or an effect is produced; a means of communication.” We can improve our experiences in direct proportion (Mental Equivalent) to how we improve what’s in our Subjective Mind (our Creative Power). But, “. . . the range of our possibilities at the present time does not extend far beyond the range of our present concepts.” The more we expand our concepts, the more we expand our possibilities, experiences, and results. This is more often than not a gradual process.

I wrote above, as I have in the past, that it’s important to Know the Truth. What does it mean to KNOW? Holmes says it well: “. . . it is a mental attitude against which there is no longer any contradiction in the mind . . . .” This means that, about any idea or concept or belief, no contradictory thoughts remain in our Subjective Mind about it. To Know is not to hope. True Knowing is tangible in our experience of reality. It is self-knowing in unity with the Principle of Law of Attraction AND the Creative Consciousness that put the Principle in place for our use. We feel it in every cell; and, Knowing is usually accompanied by a feeling of serenity or oneness (at least, that’s how it feels to me).

And this leads us back to: The idea of a successful (abundant, prosperous, healthy, etc.) life will create a like result. When we truly align with an idea, we feel oneness with it, absent of any contradictory thoughts; and this works in ways we desire and ways we don’t. We try all manner of techniques, master plans, actions or inactions, when the very first thing we should check is whether or not we embody the idea of what we desire. Opposite thoughts occupying the same space at the same time will not produce optimum desired results. The one you believe more is the one that will present experiences for you.

The next time you think about something you desire to be improved in your life, pause and ask yourself if you actually embody the idea of it as a genuine possibility for you or do you wish it but doubt it. Realizing that you can’t doubt it AND also get it, ask what it would take for you to be able to let go of any form of resistance so that you can allow the idea of your desire to live in your Subjective Mind, and in every cell of your Being.

Ask how you can align wholly with that idea. Keep in mind that your answer(s) need to be about you, not about anything or anyone changing first. Your Subjective Mind is your medium, your Creative Power Source; and no one is in there but you, even though it can sometimes feel otherwise. There are mechanics to manifestation, but You are the primary mechanic of your manifestations. You can create and you can revise.

Practice makes progress.

© Joyce Shafer