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Is The Search for Perfection Killing Your Confidence and Stifling Your Health?

 

One of the biggest confidence killers is our desire to be perfect beings. But the real question is: When we have reached perfection, what happens next?

Where else do we go?
Do we say: that's enough?
Do we cease to grow and develop, fossilising where we are?
Do we stop dead?
And do we ever reach that 'perfect' state?

There is nothing beyond perfection but a vast chasm of inactivity and stagnation. Perfection allows us to put off decisions we should make immediately so that we don't have to do anything at all. Behind the interminable wait for the 'right' time is an unconscious desire to do nothing, because some good fortune (or someone) will come along to put it right and everything will be exactly as we hoped without us having to lift a finger!

Yet, if we knew that today would be the very last day for us, we would pull out all the stops to do the things we have longed for and hadn't done, or to remedy a personal wrong. And we wouldn't care how it was done because we wouldn't have the time to worry.

We should be saying to ourselves every morning: Today is a new day and I am fortunate to see it. Yesterday is gone. I can do nothing about it and tomorrow might never come. I will live today to the fullest because it could be my last. It might surprise you how much could be achieved in your life with such a positive perspective because you will take nothing for granted, you will accept your life as it comes and you will feel better for it too. However, many people are still reluctant to make the most of their day because they want a perfect time to do it.

Ruled by Fear

Every time we put off a decision till the time is 'right', or until conditions are 'perfect', or until the action is perfectly done, we demonstrate being ruled by fear. We may pretend we are doing all we can to bring about a result, but the very act of procrastination, of needless delay, of working on one task ad infinitum, is an admission of our reluctance to see it through; a powerful pointer to our inner fears of both failure and its consequences, of our discomfort with failure and success and our unpreparedness for them. On these occasions, 'good' reasons are mere excuses and they are never in short supply.

Anything to be done must be done TODAY, not tomorrow or next year, but today, even if it is only the first step in the process. By taking the necessary steps toward our desires, other things will fall into place. Even if it is to talk it over with someone, that is one step taken. At least we can have another opinion from someone encouraging. It is foolhardy to put off something until next week when, realistically, we may not be around then (we could have gone to meet our Maker!), or to work at one thing continuously in our bid to make it perfect, to the detriment of others. Our circumstances could change dramatically in so many ways in a short time: a lot being possible in an hour, let alone a week. Unless we are planning a particular campaign, where other elements have to be included over a specific time, there is no reason to delay.

When we knowingly put off actions we believe we have to take, we are really admitting that we haven't got the necessary confidence or courage to carry them out. By convincing ourself there is a perfect time for action, we fail to achieve what we want tomorrow because we never make a start today! As our achievements diminish through inaction, we become more and more demoralised, devalued and detached from reality.

Perfectionism prevents us from coping with setbacks too. We find it difficult to deal with negative results because we expect to get it right first time. We do not allow for mistakes either. Yet it is through mistakes that we advance to present positions. Without mistakes we would not be sure we were doing the right thing, but many get hung up on personal mistakes and extend this intolerance to colleagues and subordinates, becoming harshly critical when they make mistakes too.


The Need for Excellence
We do avoid more mistakes as we become experienced, but our fallibility ensures that we are forever growing, developing and always aiming for new heights of attainment, I:e excellence, which is achieved mainly through much experiment and repetition. We all can excel at what we do because there is no perfect position. No matter what we have achieved, it is guaranteed that, over time, someone else will improve on it or replace it totally with something more exciting and wondrous. The desire to be perfect keeps us in a rigid straitjacket giving us a tunnel vision which excludes everything to the left and right of us while we concentrate intently on what is directly ahead. Because this vision is so limited, we cannot see all round. We miss other available opportunities, while others - not being so cursed - take the very chances we fail to see.

The capacity for human endeavour and achievement is limitless. The minute we wait for a perfect time to play our hand, spend too long on something we value, or tell ourselves we cannot do a simple action, we have limited our ability and handed over our opportunity to someone else. Being ruled by our thoughts, we would have already set in motion a cycle of underachievement and failure, restricting our aspirations and mobility in one fell swoop.

If we are not perfect, we will accept that there will be detours (setbacks) in our lives and, every one of them are for very good reasons not immediately apparent to us. We should regard those detours as temporary disappointments which are used for our development and knowledge and use them to our advantage. Sooner or later they will certainly become instrumental in strengthening our resolve, clarifying the issues and deciding our next move.




The Origins of Perfectionism

 

Perfectionism is an attempt to master and control the environment, so people who aim for perfection do not allow mistakes: not in themselves, not in their colleagues, their partners or their children. The slightest error is frustrating and can even generate overwhelming anxiety because each mistake is perceived to cause imminent catastrophe. Perfectionists even lose sleep worrying about projects in which they think they may have made a mistake. But where does this intense desire for perfectionism comes from?

It starts in childhood when we were reinforced and approved by parents for being good, obeying orders, doing as we were told, and being controlled. School reinforces that control through its grading system. Children are trained to achieve in a world where being perfect in actions pays off. No one is allowed one poor grade among a batch of excellent ones. Soon we become sensitive to adverse criticism and keep our world and activities minimal to be spared any criticism from others.

Perfectionism thus becomes ingrained in the very fabric of our personality. Being continuously reinforced in our workplace, and in society in general, it is very difficult to relinquish. The rewards are considerable and so we learn very early in life that mistakes are not acceptable and can be very costly. Yet, it is through our mistakes that we have advanced to our present positions. Without mistakes, setbacks or detours, we would not be the people we are, we would not reach such level of technological advancement, neither would we be sure of what we are doing. Furthermore, those earlier mistakes are part of our apprenticeship. They sharpen up our experience, increase our maturity and understanding and develop our expertise. But many people still get hung up on personal mistakes, or on efforts which spoil the ideal, when results are not as expected. They extend this intolerance to others, becoming harshly critical when they make mistakes too.

Killing Motivation
The real question is: When you have reached perfection, where else do you go?
Do you say: 'That's enough'?
Do you cease to grow and develop?

Nothing kills motivation and self-esteem more than taking ages to complete something, to continually correct it, pointing out every mistake, making much of every accident or treating every dilemma as a major tragedy. It might provide constant scapegoats to feed our egos while we pretend to be perfect beings, but a desire for perfection only makes us insecure, risk-averse and afraid to use our initiative in case we make a mess of it.

If we are not perfect we will accept that, sometimes, there will be detours in our lives and often they are for specific reasons, positive ones, which are not immediately apparent. We should see these detours as temporary disappointments, which improve our abilities, and use them to our advantage. They are likely to be instrumental in strengthening our resolve, clarifying the issues and exposing us to new possibilities which will help us to decide our next move.





Unexpected Consequences of Trying to be Perfect

 

flowers

We're heavily influenced by our society which values flawless performance and places great emphasis on winning, especially for men. While it is only natural to care about doing the best we can, it is also important to learn to feel good about ourselves just for who we are, warts and all. Nothing is ever exactly as we want it, but our confidence will do much to shape our circumstances to our own satisfaction and this confidence comes from personal power.

Many people have power but cannot see it, while others haven't got it, but think they have. Individual power and confidence in a relationship are usually based on how well the partners have done in previous situations. It's probably good to get back to the feeling we had as children, when we had self-confidence without even questioning it. We were valued for being people, for just being born into this world.

However, as adults we often believe we must continually justify our place in society, especially weaker minorities in a majority community, women in the world of men or people with disabilities among the able-bodied. We believe we have to somehow prove to other people that we are worthy of their esteem; spending excessive amounts of time worrying about that, while we lose sight of the basic fact that we are usually fine just as we are and deserve the right to our existence, our identity and whomever we wish to be.

Genuine confidence comes through recognition and encouragement of our actions by our parents, partners and peers, which is an important tonic to our self-esteem. Activities which begin in a flurry of enthusiasm and lead nowhere act as crutches for personal frustrations while denying the opportunity to remedy our situation. If our self-perception is never confirmed by others who matter to us, we will be continually insecure and never sure of ourselves.

These are the times that we are most likely to blame others, especially our partners, for our situation. Our circumstance are gradually seen as the direct result of other people's actions and not of our own making. It then becomes easier to abdicate personal responsibility altogether and wait for others to act. In other cases we strive in a futile manner to please others by trying to be perfect or make everything 'just right' for them'. But that carries a heavy price of personal frustration and underachievement.

The Problem With Being 'Safe'
Perfect people tend to be unattractive, one-dimensional beings who get into a particular dead-end groove and find it difficult to extricate themselves from it. They believe there is only one route to a desired end and it is usually theirs. No one else's idea could be as useful or appropriate. Their act is limited, predictable and prescriptive and their vision foggy. They truly believe they are perfect in many respects but, as they tend to close their eyes to other options, they miss out on the significant input of others. Input that could provide crucial balance.

People who lead controlled, risk-free lives genuinely believe there are only certain ways of doing things: specific ways of loving, feeling, acting and thinking. Those ways may give a false feeling of security, something to hold on to when things are difficult, but, being temporary, they prevent such perfectionists seeing the real options and acting upon them.

One specific approach might be 'safe', yes, but because life has a rich tapestry of experience, our existence then becomes severely limiting and stultifying. It is like getting up to oatmeal porridge every morning, a texture and taste one knows in detail, which has easy familiarity and can be happily predicted. You feel 'safe' with it but, because you never consider anything else, you will never know about bacon and eggs, muesli or even corn flakes. Yet they might prove even tastier. They are likely to give greater nourishment than the oatmeal and would only harm if you choked on them! Worst of all, as you have the same fare every morning, you will very gradually learn the health consequences of not having a balanced diet. So much for a 'safe' choice!

What perfectionists find difficult to accept is that there are many routes to the same end – some are shorter, some are longer, some are more tiring and some are downright disastrous – but they all lead to the destination we originally had in mind. What would have changed us for the better is the experience we gained while getting there. To aim for any achievement is thus to be flexible; accepting the possibility of multifarious forms of excellence but only one kind of perfection - a stagnating one which leads nowhere else.

To aim for perfection is to rob ourselves of the essential experience required to increase our competence, widen our possibilities, strengthen our determination and boost our inner resources. Being pre-occupied with perfection means we fear making mistakes, yet it is mistakes that improve our development and unearth our true potential.





How Perception Affects Our Self-Esteem

 

I remember asking my favourite question (how much someone would rate their looks out of 10) to a high achiever with nagging self-doubts. Back came the reply that it would be "Only six" because he was "not as good looking as Tom Cruise or Richard Gere". But I did not compare him to those actors. He did. I asked him a simple question about his perception of himself. It was his own low perception of his value and his impossible standard of comparing himself to others with whom he has little connection, using a narrow standard of acceptability, which was keeping him from fully appreciating how wonderful he was too.

Many people of low esteem have a negative perception. This encourages them to live their lives comparing themselves to others in a futile and unrealistic way, instead of valuing themselves with all their imperfections and acknowledging their own uniqueness and strengths. Not surprisingly, they will never feel good about themselves against such impossible yardsticks, neither will others feel good around them either.

The true essence of personal perception and its individual bias becomes obvious in the notion of leadership. There is the tendency to believe that leaders lead and followers follow and that we personally are effective and efficient leaders (using current benchmark as a guide), but our intended followers may have a very different perception of what leadership should be. We might think we are leading but very few people might be following! It does not matter whose perception is 'right'. What does matter is that we perceive and we believe. Perception is the truth in our reality. That's all we have. The fact that people can perceive the same thing differently must therefore become an integral part of the decision-making process for all workplaces, and also be fully acknowledged in the domestic routine.

In short, if a person perceives a certain situation relating to him/her, that will be the only perception which will be initially accepted, not the perception of another, and this has huge implications for social interactions, workplaces and relationships. We cannot impose our own perception on others as their reality. That only leads to confusion, anger, resentment and a feeling of not being heard or valued. The truth of any situation has to be negotiated according to individual perceptions. To ignore the importance of this perceptual process in our lives is to ignore a major determinant of all behaviour which is at the root of much misunderstanding (in relationships), much prejudice (in interactions) and discrimination (in work and society).

Our value of anything in life, especially our bodies, depends purely on how we perceive it. How it appears to us, not to anyone else. That is why it is so difficult to convince anyone of anything when they genuinely cannot 'see' it for themselves.

By the way, if he had asked me that question, my reply would have been '11'! :o)




The Three Most Common Types of Low Self-Esteem

 

flowers

Self-esteem, whether high or low, shows itself in many forms. It is never difficult to spot the current state of it in any individual because it does not change quickly. Whatever form it takes, whether negative or positive it usually stays that way until it is addressed. .

Low self-esteem, in particular, characteristically has three main sides. The first is exhibited by the individual who always seems to be the underdog, the under-achiever; the negative one who says "I couldn't", "I shouldn't", "I can't", "I have no choice" and "I have to". Yet, every adult is responsible for what they do in his/her own life. Anyone can change their behaviour when they choose. It's a lack of confidence and low self-esteem which prevent some people from changing their actions.

The opposite side to that, and the second type, is the person who seems very confident superficially, a take-charge type of person, appearing to be much in control, very opinionated, keen to do everything, to over-commit themselves, and are often found in leadership positions. But this is usually a mask for low self-esteem because he/she is likely to be tense, serious, anxious and finicky; eager to please superiors and to impress. However, when things go wrong that's when the low esteem comes to the fore. Often perfectionists, this type find crises difficult to handle and tend to blame others for everything.

They can be demanding, self-centred, very distrustful of others and slow to take criticism, instruction or direction. Locked in their own narrow world of what they believe is 'right', they dread new experiences, always going by the book and resenting innovation. In effect, occupying leadership positions without being true leaders. The person with this type of low self-esteem will often deny that anything is wrong, because their belief in being more competent than their bosses or subordinates is their main protection. Yet being fully in charge of one's life actually eliminates the need for anger, insecurity and the desire to judge, control, blame or denigrate others.


Fun Seekers
The third type of personality lacking confidence and who is low in esteem is the one who is always seeking fun and happiness from others, especially partners and love interests. Laughter becomes a mask for the low opinion these people have of themselves, so everything is done with an emphasis on 'fun' to make them feel worthy - either finding it or giving it.

Sensitive and thin-skinned, fun people have very low self-esteem, hiding their anxieties behind a bland mask of cheerful superficiality that tends to grate on others after a time because they don't know when to stop being happy and playing the fool. Like the office clown who tries terribly hard to show how 'happy' she is, yet is anything but that; the practical joker who likes to laugh at the expense of others, particularly through racist, sexist or offensive quips;€“ anything to feel superior; the lad who is always hanging out with friends because he cannot stand his own face or company for any length of time; the type who loves a dare, particularly in doing outrageous things, to show his bravado, talent and machismo, and the ones who boast to potential dates about being able to make them laugh and keep them happy.

In relationships, fun people find it hard to commit to others because of their acute social fears. The main desirable attribute they offer to potential partners is 'fun', always seeking laughter, sex and 'good times' to hide their insecurity and pain. However, as 'fun' people tend to try too hard, they are in fact the most boring, mirthless people around; the type who have little humour themselves. It then becomes heavy work for their partners. This is because laughter has to be found within us. No one can 'make' us happy, only enhance the happiness we already have.

Centre of Attention
Fun people's method of feeling significant is to be the centre of attention in a more positive way. But, as their activity is often not genuine, more to hide their low confidence than to enhance it, their effort isn't really effective. They never openly address their personal pain or hurt. They are reluctant to trust others and are even more reluctant to commit themselves to anyone, which makes them feel insignificant if they are not being perennially happy lads or laddettes. To behave otherwise would deny them the attention they crave.

Some people with low self-esteem gravitate towards the uniformed and public services where they can use the power invested in them, while being validated by the uniform and authority, to boost their self- confidence and ego. The strict hierarchy affords the security of a given status, reinforces the 'traditions' to be maintained, and the consistent feedback they require.

However, that is also what makes change so difficult to introduce in these occupational fields. The fear of innovation and the lack of self-belief to carry it out foil them every time. Very confident people tend to become scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, writers or creative, artistic types, preferring to control their own environment and destiny. The commercial, media and technology spheres also appear to provide the freedom of expression, the independence and the font of opportunity they actively seek.




5 Main Factors That Drive Perfectionists

 

flowers

One of the biggest confidence killers is our desire to be perfect beings. But the real question is: When we have reached perfection, what happens next? Where else do we go? Do we stop dead and say: That's enough? Do we cease to grow and develop, fossilising where we are?

There is nothing beyond perfection but a vast chasm of inactivity and stagnation because you cannot ever improve on perfection. Reaching a state of perfection presents no opportunity to continue developing personal skills, no opportunity to LEARN, knowing everything already, and no new innovation in the offing. Result: corrosive stagnation, physically, emotionally and mentally. Perfection also allows us to put off decisions we should make immediately so that we don't have to do anything at all in the end. Behind the interminable wait for the 'right' time is an unconscious desire to do nothing. The hope is some good fortune (or someone) will come along to put it right and everything will be exactly as we imagined without us having to lift a finger!

However, every time we put off a decision till the time is 'right', or until conditions are 'perfect', we mentally store it away and do nothing because we are being ruled by fear. We may pretend we are doing all we can to bring about a result, but the very act of procrastination, of needless delay, is an admission of our reluctance to see it through; a powerful pointer to our inner fears of both failure and its consequences, of our discomfort with the thought and our unpreparedness for it. On these occasions, 'good' reasons are mere excuses and they are never in short supply.

There are five main factors that drive perfectionists, which all have fear at their core:

1. Fear of disapproval from peers or colleagues. Perfectionists have a lurking feeling that they are inadequate, potential failures. They believe they have to do everything as perfect as can be to avoid perceived criticism and to impress others enough to get that approval. However, in a vicious circle, their desire to be perfect stops them from ever accepting they are already good enough to get that approval and their efforts become counter-productive, likely to switch others off than to draw them in.

2. Lack of self belief and fear of not being on par with others. Perfect people don't believe in themselves and so everything they do has to be polished and re-polished to be acceptable. However, as nothing is ever quite right, despite their hardest efforts, and they also take so long to get things right, they miss out on the sense of achievement that comes from completing a task, seeing the end result and moving on briskly to another.


3. Fear of making mistakes and doing things 'wrong'. But mistakes are part and parcel of personal development. Mistakes help to assess direction, to enhance training and to increase confidence in what is possible. Take mistakes away and there is just a void of nothingness with no opportunity to learn and develop. Without mistakes we would not be sure we were doing the right thing, but many people get hung up on personal mistakes and extend this intolerance to colleagues and subordinates, becoming harshly critical when they make mistakes too.

4. Fear of the consequences. But any consequence is just a RESULT, and results can always be changed by changing the approach to the activity and/or the mindset around it. Perfectionism prevents people from coping with setbacks from any unexpected results. They find it difficult to deal with negative results because they expect to get it right first time, and every time.

5. The quality of their thoughts, which is usually negative. Perfectionists tend to fear the worst and feel they have to be prepared for any eventuality. This makes them very controlling, narrow in focus and intolerant of the input of others. In their eyes, no one else ever gets it quite right and so they are not easy team members to work with.

If we are not perfect, we will accept that there will be detours (setbacks) in our lives, that everything we do can bettered by someone else and we do not need the approval of others to be worthy. We just need the confidence and belief in ourselves as fallible human beings. To stop being a perfectionist just means allowing those mistakes, accepting the consequences and, most important, fully accepting yourself and your abilities as a unique and treasured human being. We will then accept fully that the perceived 'weaknesses' we have go with our strengths to form our well rounded personalities. Take them away and we would be entirely different people!





Setting Impossible Standards:
The Hallmark of Low Confidence & Perfectionism

 

One can spot someone without self confidence easier than one thinks. Those lacking in confidence and low in esteem tend to put themselves down and to discount or ignore honest compliments paid to them. They are also difficult to please because they are always searching for that utopia governed by perfection, in a distrustful, secretive and negative way; always comparing themselves unfavorably with others, or waiting for other people to make the first move before they can act.

They also love to criticise, even though they are unlikely to have any solutions themselves. This is often the result of focusing too much on the unrealistic expectations or standards of others around them whom they seek to impress, especially parents and society, in a futile attempt to either compete with, or please, everyone, while pleasing no one in the process. The tragedy is that, the more they try to impress, to judge themselves by the yardstick of others, or to expect others to live up to their impossible expectation, the less successful they become. Others who could help them to achieve their aims find it difficult to live up to their standards of perfection, tending to give them a wide berth or to sabotage their efforts. By contrast, self-confident people are willing to risk the disapproval of others because they generally trust their own abilities, accept themselves fully and don't mind making mistakes which they know form a natural part of their growth.

Resisting Pressure to Conform
My daughter once told us that when she was 13 years old she tried smoking with her friends for a while to feel included in her group because she was the only one who didn't smoke (we didn't smoke either). She gave it up after a few weeks because she felt it was not for her, regardless of being the odd one out. Having tried it and rejected it, her confidence was now strong enough to resist any pressure to conform. However, the most interesting thing was what she actually said about the experience. She wondered how we didn't smell the fumes on her during that time but, she stressed, if we had noticed and told her off about it, she would have continued just for the hell of it! She had tried it and rejected it herself, which is far more effective than doing it merely to suit her parents' expectations and values – a lesson in trusting our kids more, perhaps.

It is not that confident people do not need others for affirmation. Far from it, we all do. However, there's a big difference in expectation between the two types. People of low self-esteem constantly seek approval for their efforts and themselves; mainly to assess whether they are valued or not. Confident people know they are valued because they appreciate themselves, and merely seek affirmation of their skills or competence. They also know they are good enough. They simply wish to confirm the extent for further personal development.

Above all, they do not believe they have to think (or act) like others or totally conform in order to be accepted or respected. Unlike low-confidence people who tend to focus on their weaknesses and mistakes, confident individuals focus on their strengths and positive actions, usually competing with their own talents to discover the boundaries of their personal power. As the famous dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov once said, when he dances it is not to compete against others but only against himself. The real difference between those who are confident and the non-confident ones is that confident people prefer to maximise their strengths and minimise their shortcomings. For them, anything is possible, with or without others, while those with low confidence do not really believe they can achieve anything by themselves, which eventually becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.







Do you know someone who loves to start something but finds it difficult to finish it? This could be the reason!

 

We have all met them: people who seem pretty enthusiastic in what they are doing. They usually start something new (like DIY builders) but somehow never finish, before quickly moving on to something else, or they take ages to do it in order to have everything 'perfect' first. They are at the mercy of PERFECTION, constantly seeking perfection in themselves and their activities. As any kind of perfection is very limiting and static, they never really achieve their full potential.

Perfect people tend to be unattractive, one-dimensional beings who get into a particular dead-end groove and find it difficult to extricate themselves from it. They believe there is only one route to a desired end and it is usually theirs. No one else's idea could be as useful or appropriate. Their act is limited, predictable and prescriptive and their vision foggy. As they tend to close their eyes to other options, they miss out on the significant input of others. Input that could provide crucial balance. People who lead controlled, risk-free lives genuinely believe there are only certain ways of doing things: of loving, feeling, acting and thinking. Those ways may give a false feeling of security, something to hold on to when things are difficult, but, being temporary, they prevent such perfectionists seeing the real options and acting upon them.

Genuine confidence comes through recognition and encouragement of our actions by the three Ps: our parents, partners and peers, which is an important tonic to our self-esteem. If our self-perception is never confirmed by others who matter to us, we will be continually insecure and never sure of ourselves. That will prompt us to spend our lives seeking an eternal solution for getting that affirmation, as well as their approval, by making things 'perfect' for them. Activities that begin in a flurry of enthusiasm and lead nowhere act as crutches for personal frustrations while denying other opportunities to remedy our situation. These are the times that we are most likely to blame others, especially our partners, for our situation. Our circumstance are then seen as the direct result of other people's actions and not of our own making. It becomes easier to abdicate personal responsibility altogether and wait for others to act.

The Problem With Being 'Safe'

People seeking perfection dislike taking risks, which keeps them in the same comfort zones. One familiar, specific approach might be safe', yes, but because life has a rich tapestry of experience, our existence then becomes severely limiting and stultifying. It is like getting up to oatmeal porridge every morning, a texture and taste one knows in detail and can be happily predicted. You feel 'safe' with it but, because you never consider anything else, you will never know about bacon and eggs, muesli or even corn flakes. Yet they might prove even tastier. They are likely to give greater nourishment than the oatmeal and would only harm if you choked on them! Worst of all, as you have the same fare every morning, you will very gradually learn the health consequences of not having a balanced diet. So much for a 'safe' choice!

What perfectionists find difficult to accept is that there are many routes to the same end some are shorter, some are longer, some are more tiring and some are downright disastrous but they all lead to the destination we originally had in mind. What would have changed us for the better is the actual experience we gained getting there. To aim for perfection is to rob ourselves of essential experience required to increase our competence, widen our possibilities, strengthen our determination and boost our inner resources. It means a gradual acceptance of flexibility while accepting the possibility of multifarious forms of excellence but only one kind of perfection.


Emphasis on Winning
We're heavily influenced by our society which values flawless performance and places great emphasis on winning, especially for men. While it is only natural to care about doing the best we can, it is also important to learn to feel good about ourselves just for who we are, warts and all. Nothing is ever exactly as we want it, but our confidence will do much to shape our circumstances to our own satisfaction and this confidence comes from personal power: the power of self belief and faith in who we are and our potential.

Many people have power but cannot see it, while others haven't got it, but think they have. It's probably good to get back to the feeling we had as children, when we had self-confidence without even questioning it. We were valued for being people, for just being born into this world. We didn't have to 'prove' anything to be valued. Just being alive and thriving was enough.

As adults we often believe we must continually justify our place in society, especially weaker minorities in a majority community, women in the world of men or people with disabilities among the able-bodied. We believe we have to somehow prove to other people that we are worthy of their esteem; spending excessive amounts of time worrying about that, while we lose sight of the basic fact that we are usually perfect just as we are and deserve the right to our existence, our identity and whomever we wish to be at any point in time.




Insecurity: Why do I feel the way I do?

 

Q. I lack confidence in every aspect of my life. It's not that I don't know who I am, or what I want, but at times, fear overtakes me and I let it control my destiny. I have never been the most beautiful woman in the room, I have never been the most successful person at the office and I have certainly never believed in myself enough to stand up for myself and walk away from a bad relationship. How can I change those negative feelings?

A. The basic reason why people lose confidence in themselves and feel insecure is because they are seeking approval with a vain desire for perfection. It stems from a lack of reinforcement, either in childhood or in their relationships, especially from the significant others who matter to them. This causes them to doubt themselves and feel perennially inadequate. For example, how do you know you are not the most beautiful or successful person in the room? But your invisible critic immediately assumes you're not.

You feel that way constantly, which increases your insecurity and reduces your self esteem, because you are judging beauty and success by someone else's yardstick, comparing yourself to a highly flawed version of both. No one has a monopoly on those two attributes, so if you feel beautiful, you are, and if you feel successful, you are. It is up to others to accept or reject your definitions. But you can never compare yourself with another because no two persons on earth are alike in every way. You can only aim for excellence in yourself, according to the standards you have set for yourself. Otherwise you will ALWAYS be found wanting when you use the yardsticks of others.

The first law of confidence is to LOVE yourself. Be happy with who you are, what you have and the things you have been blessed with which many people haven't got. Don't take them for granted. Reach outward to others to encourage and empower them, not just focus on yourself. That will reduce your self consciousness and reinforce your sense of worth because your impact will encourage someone else to appreciate the awesome person you are and give you a feeling of fulfilment in your life.

Finally, stop comparing yourself to anyone else, while you seek perfection, and you will slowly realise your own power and talents. They are waiting there to be discovered if you will only stop noticing others and nurture yourself.