Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How To Build Self Confidence

In The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence, Robert Anthony reveals three detrimental behaviors that prevent living an abundant life: Conformity, Comparison, and Competition.

The way to overcome these harmful behaviors, he says, is to "de-hypnotize" ourselves of false beliefs. He writes:

"You may have spent valuable, irreplaceable years trying to fit into the parade only to learn, too late, that you will never fit in. What makes us follow each other like sheep?" "It is because we are trying to conform to the majority."

"It's time to break out of this sheep state of mind and stop punishing ourselves because we are different from our family and friends, or anyone else for that matter. Much of our suffering can be eliminated if we refuse to let our lives be marred by conformity."

"To think that we are controlled in any way by another individual, group, or society imposes a condition of mental slavery that makes us prisoners by our own decrees."

Dr. Anthony continues:

"The problem is that we have been conditioned by false concepts, values and beliefs that have prevented us from realizing how truly capable and unique we are. Faith is limitless. Jesus says that the "kingdom of heaven does not come with observation, but it is within you" and that "all things are possible to him who believes."

"Health, happiness, abundance and peace of mind are natural states of being once you break the bonds of negative thinking. Unless you perceive your own true worth as a person, you cannot come close to achieving self confidence and personal freedom. Only to the degree that you can acknowledge your own unique importance will you be able to free yourself from self imposed limitations."

"Yes, I said self imposed!"

"Our parents, our family, our boss didn't do it to us. We do it to ourselves by allowing others to control our lives. Unless you get rid of your guilty feelings and cease belittling yourself for your imagined inadequacies, you will be one of those people who continue the fruitless struggle to attain self confidence and personal freedom but never achieve it."

SATISFY YOUR OWN NEEDS FIRST

"One of the principle requisites for change and freedom is to satisfy your own needs first. On the surface this may appear selfish, but only when we have done our best to make the most of ourselves can we be of greatest service to our families, friends, co-workers and communities."

"Many people use the philosophy of 'service to others first' as an escape from taking responsibility for changing their own lives. Some say that their husbands or wives must come first; their churches, families, but this is nothing but self deception."

"An example of this kind of behavior is the person who buries himself self-sacrificially in a commendable project with missionary zeal when, in truth, he can't face and eliminate his own problems."

"You cannot change the world, but you can change yourself."

"The only way the human situation will improve is for each individual to take charge of his or her own life."

"The time has come for you to stop everything else and give total priority to your needs first. This is the only way you will ever be free. Physical slavery is a terrible crime, but far worse is mental slavery-- its punishment is 'a life of quiet desperation.'"

                                                     DE-HYPNOTIZE YOURSELF

In addition to putting your own needs first, Anthony suggests:

"The second thing one must do to be free is to 'de-hypnotize' yourself.

"Every person has been hypnotized to some degree: 1) by ideas that s/he has accepted from others; and 2) by ideas that you have convinced yourself are true. These ideas have exactly the same effect upon your behavior as those implanted into a person's mind by a hypnotist:"

"Under hypnosis, you can tell the hypnotized person that he cannot lift a pencil off the table, and surprisingly, he finds himself unable to perform this simple action. It is not a question of trying to lift the pencil. He will struggle and strain, much to the audience's amusement, but he simply cannot lift the pencil. Why? Because his mind controls the muscles of his body, and causes him to 'believe' that he cannot lift the pencil. His mind is telling his muscles that it is impossible."

"Many people think that they can change their lives through sheer willpower, but this is not true."

"Negative ideas and false beliefs in your mind will cause you to fail, just like the man who could not lift the pencil. This will happen regardless of how hard you try, if you have accepted a false belief as if it were a fact. All the ability, good intentions, effort, and will power are of no avail against the false belief you have accepted as true."

"Once a person believes something is true--whether it is or not--s/he then acts as if it were true."

"You will instinctively seek to collect facts to support the belief no matter how false they may be."

"No one will be able to convince you otherwise unless through personal experience you are ready to change."

"This is not a new idea. Since the beginning of time, both men and women have been in a kind of hypnotic sleep of which they were unaware, but which has been recognized by insightful teachers. These teachers have revealed that mankind is limited by "mistaken certainties" and have sought to awaken us out of our spiritual dullness, or sleep."

"It is of utmost importance, then, that you do not assume that you are awake to the truth about yourself, but must allow for the real possibility that you may be mistaken."

"The average person never comes near reaching his/her unlimited potential because he is living under the false assumption that he already knows the truth. Why so? Because all of us are primarily a product of what we have been told and taught and sold and bought. We believe what our parents told us, what our teachers told us, what we have read, and what trusted religious teachers have told us--without actually proving it for ourselves."

[This is the exact opposite of what Jesus and Paul say to do in John 8:31-32 and 1 Thessalonians 5:21, sp].

Anthony continues:

"Millions of people blindly follow the rhetoric of so called 'knowledgeable' people without making sure that the things these 'experts' say stand up to reality."

"People further limit their own freedom by holding on to these beliefs even when shown contradicting evidence. Their present level of awareness is blinded and they do not yet  have the ability to replace the security they find in family, friends, and traditions with the truth."

"The following statement is the key to being able to live freely:

"The degree to which you awaken will be in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can accept about yourself."

"You must have an open mind to receive new facts. You will have a choice to accept this new information, or reject it, but the choice must be yours alone."

As Dr. Anthony says,

"I neither want, nor expect you to accept anything because of 'who' says it."

"The inner conviction and security which comes from having proved to your own satisfaction what is presented by someone as the truth--will be your truth--whether it is or not. This will not come without cost, and, unless we claim to know everything, there are some things you and I believe which are false, but that we have accepted as true."

BELIEF AND FAITH ARE NOT THE SAME

Dr. Anthony continues:

"Just what are "beliefs?"

"They are the conscious and unconscious information that we have accepted as true."

"Unfortunately, we have accepted and been taught things that are not true, because we have not proven them for ourselves." Anthony says,

"Truth can never be revealed to the so called 'firm believers.' They are too busy telling you everything they already know and refuse to believe anything outside their already existing belief system. Anything that contradicts this person's belief system is seen as a threat which must be labeled 'unacceptable,' or 'evil,' and that which suppresses the old traditions which are viewed as 'good.'"

"This person cannot see that the truth--no matter how painful--is by its very nature 'good' and that a lie--no matter how convenient or pleasurable--by its nature is 'bad.' Therefore, to protect his beliefs at all costs, he builds a wall around his world."

"Some 'firm believers' have a tall wall over which they will never look and some have a short wall over which they peek occasionally. Regardless of the height of the wall, however, it only serves to shut out more truth than it can hold in."

"The firm believer does not have the option to change his mind. He can only recognize what is found within the walls he has built around himself which prevent discovery and freedom." 

"Belief and faith are not the same thing and should not be confused." 

"Beliefs are totally limiting, but faith is limitless."

"Faith recognizes that there is more to learn, discover and know, and that life's quest is to seek to unfold more truth which leads to more freedom. 'With faith all things are possible' (Mark 9:23), but with the firm believer s/he is always "right" and thinks s/he knows the answer."

                                        MISTAKEN CERTAINTIES & AWARENESS

Anthony says,

"Mistaken certainties are things that we are sure are true but which, in fact, are not."

"Mistaken certainties are generally based on wishful thinking, which distorts reality and leads to self-deception. We want things to be as we would 'like' for them to be, rather than as they are. We look at the world through the filter of our beliefs which blinds us to what is real."

"We can only change the world to the extent that we change ourselves."

"We can only change ourselves to the degree that we become aware of our mistaken certainties."

"Most of our troubles are from beliefs and expectations that are not realities. Most disappointments result from realizing that our mistaken ideals were false. The reason this happens is because we have in some way been 'resisting reality.'

"The reason we resist reality and are so reluctant to change is we must face our mistaken certainties of how we thought the world was—what it 'should' or 'ought' to have been."

"It is our present level of awareness then that must be addressed, because we accept, relate, or reject everything in our mental and physical environment based on our present level of awareness. Our present level of awareness is determined by our education, environment, family life, childhood experiences, successes, failures, and religious beliefs."

Dr. Anthony writes:

"Intellectually, we may agree that there are things we believe that are not true, but we almost always feel that our situation is different from everyone else. This causes us to avoid, resist, and if necessary, forcibly reject any idea that threatens our beliefs."

"The major stumbling block to changing our awareness is refusing to recognize that our mistaken certainties have distorted our perception. The person who grows is constantly undergoing a normal, wholesome, process of reorganization, but the neurotic personality clings to fixed beliefs no matter what maintaining a false sense of integrity."

"Real integrity is able to admit mistakes and is open to possible change through a humble viewpoint of one's place in the world. Usually, the only way a neurotic will change is when a major crisis forces him to alter old, self-defeating behavior patterns."

"If your mind has been programmed, or conditioned, to accept false and distorted concepts and values, you will develop a lifestyle to justify them. You will assume something is true, even though it is false, then seeking to 'prove that you are right,' you will proceed to collect only the facts that fit your firmly held belief." 

"Our number one priority in life is to increase awareness."

"By expanding our present level of awareness we remove the mistaken certainties that keep us from seeing truth."

"You will become self confident."

"We increase our awareness by ceasing to automatically and arbitrarily defend our personal viewpoints of 'right' and 'wrong.'

"Defending them keeps us from learning new information."

Begin to ask yourself, 'Could I be mistaken?' If another person held your beliefs, you would be able to be very objective. You would, no doubt, present a convincing case to them why they may be mistaken--learn to view your own beliefs in this manner to be wise--not right." 

"You will only find a deep sense of inner security when you fulfill the demands of rigorous self-examination and self knowledge. You will learn more and more truth about yourself and others and develop more and more dignity. The starting point of all change is when we change our dominant beliefs that have been limiting our awareness."

"Outward change only comes after a change from within. By changing our dominant thoughts, or beliefs--not faith--we change our inner awareness and our outward circumstances and their consequences."

SELF-RELIANCE 

"The foundational belief that must be changed is reliance. You must never look 'outside' yourself for that which is 'within' you.  Looking within yourself, or being self-reliant, is not denying God, being aloof, being disinterested in others, or unfriendly. These are total misconceptions about self-reliance."

"By not being dependent, the self reliant person can relate to others with compassion and empathy."

"Being self-reliant maintains self confidence and poise. You are able to stand on your own two feet, and you will not feel any need to manipulate others with guilt trips, fear, or anger. The main deterrent to your self-reliance is the mistaken certainty that others are always smarter, wiser, or more intelligent than you simply because they are older."

"This causes us to look outside ourselves for security, happiness and our spiritual welfare. The person who is dependent in this way must always look outside themselves. S/he wants people, circumstances, conditions even God to do for them what s/he can do for themselves. This causes one to depend, manipulate, conform, compare himself to other people, and compete with them for supremacy."

Anthony says,

"Self reliance is not only the belief that you can handle things and become successful; it is something more than that. Self reliance is having the courage to listen to your good and honest inner promptings."

"It means taking your cue from yourself—not listening to something or someone outside yourself to get ideas of what you 'should' be."

"Dependency is 'slavery by mutual agreement." It is degrading for both the person who is dependent and the person who is depended upon. Both parties are equally lacking in self-reliance—such a relationship flourishes on mutual exploitation. The most unfortunate aspect of dependency is that when you think that you are dependent on other individuals—you are!"

"You neglect to develop the necessary, spiritual self reliance to meet and solve your own problems. The moment you begin to compare yourself with anyone you are subjecting yourself to psychological slavery." 

"The habit of leaning and depending is so ingrained in certain individuals that they abdicate all personal authority to others. They feel that they will be secure if they can find a person, organization that they can cling to with blind devotion. They then allow this person, organization, or ritual to be responsible for their security and happiness, etc. And of course, this includes the luxury of having someone to blame whenever failure occurs."

The problem, says Anthony, is that:

"The dependent individual is at the mercy of those around him/her. Believing others are higher, smarter, better, etc. s/he is always looking for someone else to solve their problems. Subordinate to those upon whom she depends, their advice becomes a 'command' that she feels compelled to obey."

"Overcoming dependency is not easy. We have been conditioned since childhood to look to others for our welfare. While dependency plays a role in our upbringing as children, it was never intended to obliterate individual identity or keep us immature."

"The person who is self-reliant does not need a "master." He is able to meet life's challenges. Hence, we are able to live with confidence and self control looking at each situation in light of reality—seeing things as they really are not as they "should," "must," or "ought to" be."

"Self-reliance eliminates procrastination, escape, worry. You do not need repeated doses of inspiration, revival, or stimulation from others. You never are separated from your source of power."

"As a child, helplessness made us dependent on what others would give us or do for us. Learning to manipulate by crying when there was no real need, our childhood was spent developing skills of manipulation instead of developing skills of self control." 

Surprisingly,

Anthony says that,

"Every time we do something for someone, who is capable of doing it himself, we are literally stealing from them."

[The more we allow those who God expects to be "maturing" into the courageous and competent image of His Son, to look up to and depend upon others, the more likely we are to deprive them of thinking and doing for themselves which maturity necessitates. Only through self reliant independence will the people of God learn the joy and privilege and human dignity of standing on their own two feet like Jesus Christ. 

Individuals who do not "learn Christ" have no choice but to play the role of inferiority, manipulate with guilt, anger and fear to get what they want or to feel accepted, sp].

                                             
 CONCLUSION

"As children, we were trained to obey or suffer the consequences, so as we entered adulthood, most of us choose to perpetuate conformity to man as the easiest and most expedient approach to life. Conformity to other human beings is one the greatest psychological evils of mankind."

"The conformist is filled with the need for approval. By constantly seeking approval, s/he escapes from personal responsibility and remains dependent on others. The opposite of bravery is not cowardice—it's conformity."

Anthony says,

"The person who compares himself to others lives in a constant state of fear. He fears those he imagines 'above' him. Believing them to be superior, he feels that he can never achieve their 'level' of competence. He fears those he imagines are below him, because they seem to be catching up. He is always looking around for those looming threats to his 'position.' The higher he rises, the greater his fear of falling. The only way one who compares himself to others feels he can get through life is to defeat others or compete with them 'to the death' in his mind."

Anthony says,

"All forms of competition are hostile. They may be called "friendly" on the surface, but the inward desire is to be 'better than' the other person. A person may simply live 'for' self and not 'against' anyone and be fine. It certainly appears that the world is a inherently competitive place, but only because men have chosen to bring competition among themselves into it."

"We compete against others only when we are unsure of ourselves and of our abilities. We are provoked, etc. and we feel inferior, therefore, we 'show them. The competitor struggles to surpass those he feels are superior. He is always comparing themselves to people around them and usually putting them down in thoughts or words. The competitor always needs someone "outside" himself to validate how well s/he is doing."

The self-reliant person [Christ in you (Eph. 3:17), sp] does not feel the need to conform, compare or compete with other people. He does not need to 'look [up] to others' to see how 'good' he is or to be 'better' than anyone. Recognizing one's own uniqueness and abilities, s/he strives for excellence in his/her own life. The only comparison is with who s/he used to be."
_________________________________________

--edited from The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-Confidence by Robert Anthony (San Diego, CA: New Thought Publications) 1979. Reprint. Berkley Books, 2008.

I do not endorse all of Dr. Anthony's beliefs, but I highly recommend the first 60 pages of this book.

All bold emphasis mine, sp.

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