The things every high-achiever should know
In: Happiness14 Oct 2010
We all feel down on ourselves from time to time. Sometimes our day just doesn’t seem to be going our way. Sometimes our worries and fears get the best of us. Sometimes we are disappointed because we set our expectations too high. Sometimes there is no reason at all. This is something we all experience, but I feel that some people are more prone to experiencing these negative thought patterns than others. In this post, I will propose a strategy that will help resolve negative thoughts (the symptoms) and simultaneously boost confidence (the underlying cause).
Why Logic Doesn’t Always Work
Has anyone ever said this to you? “Cheer up… your day could have been a lot worse.” If so, did it actually cheer you up? Probably not.
Why is that?
When we’re down on ourselves, it’s centered around emotions rather than logic. Even though it’s true that my life could be infinitely worse, I don’t FEEL that way, so I’m still down on myself. Humans adjust to their circumstances and environment, which explains why many wealthy people often feel that they don’t earn enough. Since they usually associate with other wealthy people, they don’t FEEL wealthy. They feel average. I’ve written more on this in my e-book, Unlimited Drive, which I suggest reading if you’d like to learn more on why people become adjusted to their circumstances.
The point I’m trying to get across is that we are often upset, depressed, and down on ourselves for illogical reasons. If the problem is centered around emotions, we need a strategy that is also centered around emotions. That’s where confidence comes in.
When you say that you feel confident about something, it’s another way of saying that you have a rock solid belief that you can create a positive outcome from that event. In essence, this is the opposite of negative thoughts, which steer you towards the belief that negative outcomes are resulting from events you are involved in. Confidence is a powerful negativity fighter, which is why I believe it has a place in this post.
However, confidence is a double-edged sword. Excessive, irrational confidence can lead to poor decision making and a large ego. That’s not what I’m trying to promote. What I’m trying to promote is confidence that is based on your character and experiences. This kind of confidence is healthy, natural, and – as I mentioned earlier – a great negativity fighter.
So enough about theory. Let’s get to the confidence-boosting techniques. Of the two techniques I am going to propose, one is very commonly used and the other is rarely used. I will focus most of my effort on the rarely used technique.
The Two Techniques
The first technique is based on your PAST experiences and your CURRENT characteristics. By recalling positive past experiences and your current character traits that run contrary to your negative thoughts, you can begin resolving those negative thoughts.
For example, Mike is feeling depressed because he didn’t get a job offer from a company he was excited about. Using this strategy, Mike would remind himself that he has lots of good job experience on his resume, he is a strong interviewer, and he has a list of plenty of other jobs he can apply for. Remembering his past actions and current characteristics provides a strong enough emotion to start breaking through his negativity.
So our first strategy is generating positive emotions through dwelling on positive past actions and current characteristics.This is commonly used and fairly effective.
The second technique I wish to discuss is what I like to call “Feeling the Present Value”. To “feel the present value”, you need to project your current path into the future and recognize that your future actions actually have value right now.
In the world of finance, money that is earned in a year from now can be run through a formula to determine what it’s worth today. The same thing applies to your future actions. Although they’re taking place in the future, the fact that you’re on the path to taking those actions at the present moment has value in of itself. When you dwell on future actions, two things are accomplished:
1) You remind yourself of all of the great things you are on the path to achieving, which can elicit a positive emotional response (and therefore fight negativity)
2) By vividly imagining yourself attaining your future goals, you actually become more likely to attain that goal. Our brains cannot tell the difference between a real experience and a vividly imagined experience. So if your brain keeps vividly seeing you attain a certain goal, the subconscious belief forms that attaining that goal is completely within your grasp. This is the opposite of a mental block, and it’s very powerful.
Going back to the previous example, let’s assume that Mike still isn’t 100% cheered up yet. Yes, his resume is strong, but he is still disappointed that he didn’t get the job. If he can begin to imagine what it would be like to work at the companies he will start applying for in the near future – including the company culture, the benefits, the people he will be working with, etc. – he gives himself a powerful image of his future success.
Although Mike isn’t successful in the current moment, he is rapidly approaching it. In other words, there is a present value to his future actions. His life is exceptional NOW because of the path he is heading towards.
Present Value: One Final Example
Present value isn’t an easy concept to grasp. The most common misconception is “If it’s in the future, why would it have any significance now?” Imagine you won the lottery, but were told that you wouldn’t receive the money for 5 months. Would the fact that you are receiving millions of dollars in 5 months have any significance to you at the present. Of course it would. It would completely change your perspectives, your attitude, and your mindset. And that’s what this post is all about: finding positive events that will occur in the future, which you can dwell upon to create positive emotions.
There is one caveat to this strategy. Unlike the previous example of winning the jackpot, it is never guaranteed that you will actually do something in the future. It can be easy to delude yourself into believing that you will do something stupendous in the near future, but then never getting around to it. When utilizing the “feeling the present value” technique, you must be brutally honest with yourself. When delusion enters the equation, a large ego can result. It all comes down to whether you trust yourself enough to hold to your own future expectations. Do you trust yourself to do that?
Negative emotions are part of life. However, that doesn’t mean that we can’t remedy them with positive emotions. By remembering your past success, taking tally of your current positive characteristics, and by reflecting on the present value of your future endeavors, you will give yourself a nice dose of confidence and positivity. Especially if you’re someone who is just starting on their path to personal development and success, keeping yourself future-oriented and understanding the value of your future endeavors will do wonders for your motivation and confidence. Being able to vividly picture one’s future is so powerful, that Gallup considers it to be its own strength in their reputable “StrengthsFinder” test. Interestingly enough, “future-oriented” came out to be my #1 strength when I took that test 2 weeks ago.
I'm Jon Guerrera, a life hacker at heart, and the man behind the scenes here at Living For Improvement. This blog documents all of my successes, failures, experiments and lessons learned as I hack my way to happiness, fulfillment and success.
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Unlimited Drive is the result of four years of diligent research on what drives people to achieve great things. I always wondered how the most successful people in the world could reach such high levels of success and accomplishment. Well, I found the answer and wrote an ebook so I could pass it on to you (for free).
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