The Confidence Game

Warning! Self-contemplation ahead!

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When you hear the words “con man” or “con artist”, you feel a certain negative “connotation”. A con man earns his reputation, and his living, by taking people into his confidence. He tricks them into believing something that is not true. He swindles others when he plays a confidence game.

Pretty nasty business, huh? But, do we ever need to play a confidence game to get by in life? For as negative as the terms sound here, I’m going out on a limb to say that we need a good old fashioned con game on a regular basis. And, that it can sometimes be the most positive thing we can do in the moment.

What is “acting as if”? Or, how about “fake it until you make it”? These are bits of wisdom and advice that will come from many motivational sources. They are not proposing that we be brutally honest with ourselves. Are we conning ourselves, or is this coping mechanism a necessary part of finding our best self?

We all agree that positive self-talk is critical to our happiness. Negativity gets in the way of every beautiful thing. Positivity is being proactive in our inner game. The inner game is what lies below the surface, as opposed to our outer game. The outer game is what we show other people. They are not always the same.

So, self-confidence is so important to your success in business, and in life. Without self-confidence, you lack the will to move forward on the things you must do to reach your goals. People that are lacking in self-confidence can be paralyzed into inaction.

The con game that is necessary for us to play with ourselves can save us from drowning in a sea of hopelessness. Who doesn’t have self-doubt from time to time? What do we call on to banish self-doubt? That’s right… self-confidence. Believing in ourselves, even when we are unsure. Being kind and forgiving to ourselves, even if we may not feel that we deserve it in the moment. Being brave and pushing on, even when we feel terrified. Allowing ourselves to be flawed, even as we strive for excellence.

How do you build confidence in yourself? If you struggle with it, I think you’re in good company.

– Cat

What’s Holding You Back?

 

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We don’t all strive for greatness.  Some people are content to just put one foot in front of the other.  Getting through the day is important, but it that all there is?

I think that most of us can agree that we need to do a better job with keeping all our plates spinning.  There’s a lot of buzz about work/life balance, but let’s face it; most of us struggle with the juggle.  Special shout out to career minded grown ups with little munchkins at home.

It’s still self-doubt that trips us up in the end.  The negative talk we generate in ourselves can really stifle our dreams.  Like any new habit, resolving to stay positive takes a while to get the hang of, and even longer to make it stick.

There are a million and one excuses and victim statements that keep us from leading the kind of life we want.  We don’t have enough education.  We don’t have enough money.  We don’t have a significant other.  We don’t like our job.  We’re too tired, depressed, angry… whatever.

Are you happy thinking about the reasons you can’t live the life you want?  Or are you ready to actually get started working towards some life goals?  Do you have a clear picture of where you’re going?  Maybe you’re on your way.  If you are, reach down and help the next guy up. We all need encouragement.

This week, try to identify and remove one negative self talk tidbit from your life, and replace it with a new positive affirmation.  If you think it sounds corny, keep doing what you’re doing.  If you’re interested in positive change, give it a try.  It’s free!

-Cat

Paradigm Shifts

Some of those “aha” moments are pretty strange.  They say that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  I must be insane.  It seems my thinking gets lodged in a crevice.  It gets encouraged by my emotions and there it sits.

Until… BOOM!  Hello paradigm shift!

This phrase was coined by Thomas Kuhn.  He was an American physicist and philosopher… that’s interesting as a stand alone.  Anyway, it’s a deep and fundamental change in the way you view or understand something.

Maybe it’s God saying “enough already”.  Maybe it’s a self-preservation measure initiated by our subconscious.  When I think of some of the major paradigm shifts I’ve experienced in my life, I can’t really pinpoint the catalyst.  I guess that’s not the point, but it sure would be nice to conjure one up when you feel in need of one.

I’ve had several paradigm shifts that have forced me to take my life, or my thinking about my life, down a new path.  It’s always turned out right, although it usually involves some “going through” stuff.  It also feels like working without a net, which can be scary and exhilarating all at the same time.

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                                                                                                              Mary Engelbreit

I love this illustration by Mary Engelbreit.  Pay no attention to the date, and that I’ve kept this in my memory for about thirty years.  The image is very instructive, and cuts right to the heart of things. 

Sometimes we make a choice to walk through a door.  You may feel uncertain or scared of the door you’ve chosen.  When you try to go back through it, you find that it’s locked. One Choice… Keep it Moving!

– Cat

Being Brave

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It’s hard work, being brave.  I love this quote, because it’s so true.  We do think of Braveheart, or war heroes, and even Merida in the movie BRAVE.  We do think of people without fear, being strong and living their lives, no matter what gets hurled at them.

The truth is, we’re all scared.  Of all kinds of things.  Some people seem scared.  Some people seem brave.  But none of us get out of this life without some hurt, frustration, and self-doubt.

I saw an ad on Facebook… I know, shocker, huh?  It’s advertising jewelry to promote awareness of mental health issues, particularly depression and suicide.  I’m thinking about getting this piece of jewelry.  Because it’s a great cause, and we could use some dialogue.

But really… I want it because on it are the words Be Brave.  I want it to remind me everyday that you’ve got to be brave.  You’ve got to process and deal with whatever crosses your path.  We all need reminding from time to time.

When I think of some of the cancer survivors that I know, I am overwhelmed at how brave they are.  When you lose someone close to you, it takes bravery to get through the following days.  For some people, getting out of bed in the morning is an act of bravery.  I would say that on the bravery challenge sliding scale, I’m someone there in the middle.

Another quote on bravery that really got to me:

“Be Brave.  Even if you’re not, pretend to be.  No one can tell the difference.” – H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

That’s true, though.  By the time you convince others that you are brave, you have almost convinced yourself!

I love the complexity of humans.  Two things strike me in particular:

  • How resilient we are
  • How fragile we are

What makes the difference between bending and breaking?

It’s bravery!

The ability to say “Is that all you’ve got to throw at me, life?”  The  fine art of planning your next bold move while the walls are falling down.  Being a phoenix.

I feel as though I’ve been more cautious than brave as I moved through life.  I’ve paid the price for that too.  Some people do see me as brave.  I hope I’ve got them fooled, since that means I’m on my way to actually being brave!

– Cat

Reaching For Joy

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It’s easy to be overcome by events in our lives.  Sometimes, we go through things that are so profound, and so tragic, they can stop us in our tracks.  We may have trouble moving forward again.  People lose loved ones… parents, friends, and children.  Ending a marriage, or losing custody of children  can be devastating.  Stress, depression, and anxiety can bear down like a cloud that will not break.

When you are grieving, other people sometimes decide when it’s time to “get over it”.  When I hear of instances like this, I pause to wonder.  Are we ever supposed to “get over” these life altering events?  Waking up one day during a period of mourning and saying, “there, I’m better now”, seems stranger than a prolonged period of sadness.  It becomes part of who you are.

I think that that’s the key.  Accepting that it is part of your story.  The trick is not letting it define you.  It’s something that you carry with you for the rest of your life, but it’s not the essence of who you are.

We must be kind to ourselves, and allow ourselves to heal.  This recovery usually has some real twists and turns.  I think it becomes difficult to let people in to help.  Often, we feel as though we have to fight these battles alone. It can be hard to reach out to people who can nurture us.

Accepting that you deserve to be happy is tough to do, sometimes.  You may fall short of the mark as you reach for joy, but keep reaching.  Staying positive is crucial.  Twelve step programs advocate taking a “One day at a time” approach.  I’ve written before about my strategy that I call “Keep putting on foot in front of the other”.  Forward motion, however small, is necessary.

The struggle is worth it!

– Cat

Making A Difference – Going Viral

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I was going to use the starfish story to make my point here, but I think that’s been overdone. Instead, I’ll go with the marketing of Faberge Organics shampoo.  These commercials ran in the eighties, so the story might be new to some of you.

The premise is that you’ll use this shampoo.  Then you’ll tell two friends.  And then they’ll tell two friends.  Who will tell two friends.  And so on, and so on…

This is a perfect example of viral marketing, although it didn’t have a flashy name in the eighties.  Let’s apply it to making a difference and impacting your circle of influence.  Oh, you didn’t know you had a circle of influence?  You do.  It’s made up of the guy that gets your coffee in the morning, the guy pumping gas next to you at the gas station, and the lady at the bank.  It includes your boss, coworkers, and customers.  It even encompasses your family, your friends, and your neighbors.  You get the idea. When you tally all this up exponentially, you’re a pretty big deal!

So, starting every day with a clean slate, you make a choice with each of these interactions.  You decide whether to make a human connection.  You can smile and say “good morning”, or you can avoid eye contact. You can approach with a pleasant attitude, and recognize that everyone needs encouragement.  Perhaps you’d rather go around with a chip on your shoulder.  It could be that you feel stressed and rushed, and you can’t be bothered.  Maybe you are shy, or maybe even snobby.  Or, you might think it’s better to stick to yourself and mind your own business.

It’s definitely safer to stay in your shell and avoid the world.  There’s not much risk in that.  Neither is there any reward.  Make yourself unapproachable, and there’s a pretty good chance you won’t be approached. But, you’re not cashing in… remember, you’re a big deal.

Here’s my strategy:  Let people know who you are, and that it matters to you whether they have a good day.  Say hello, and offer your warmth.  Exert your superpower and unleash your sunshine on everyone that you meet.  Some people will roll their eyes.  Some people will look away.  But, most people will respond in kind.

Back to the shampoo commercial.  These people will use their influence, which has been lifted by you, with the people that they meet in the course of their day.  And so on… You get the picture.  Instead of going viral with videos of silly stuff, let’s be serious about being joyful and spreading that joy.  Take it to the next level!

Who wins in this scenario?  Everyone that responds to you, and everyone that they pass it on to.  Do you know who benefits the most from this?  It’s you!

See what you can do tomorrow!

-Cat

All I Want for Christmas

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Emotions run strong for a lot of people during the holidays.  A lot of anxiety centers around getting people just the right gift.  Along with that goes the pressure to spend a lot of money.  This will supposedly prove how much the recipient means to gift giver.  Sometimes, this expectation is there, whether you can afford it or not.

I’ve scaled back quite a bit from my younger days.  What I’ve found out is that shopping early with a plan and a budget makes the holidays less stressful.  What I’ve also learned is that it’s the same Christmas.  It doesn’t matter if you spend $50 or $500 per person.  The enjoyment of the holiday is the same.  Except that you don’t have the January hangover after the December spending binge.

I cringe when I see young people at work fretting over buying a $2000 bag, for someone who they’ve been dating a couple of months.  It’s sad when we have to buy someone a gaming system, and a ton of games to prove our love.  A big screen TV always screams I LOVE YOU!

I think what bothers me the most are the car commercials.  Just about all the auto manufacturers that run these this time of year.  I know you’ve seen the Lexus with the red bow on it.   This is so disheartening.  It’s a small percentage of the population that can afford to buy a brand new luxury car for a Christmas gift.  Sure, some people can do it, but should they?  Why do car companies have the nerve to put this kind of pressure on people?  It’s sad, in my opinion.

Where does the Christmas spirit figure in here?  What does this holiday even mean anymore?  I’m sticking to my strategy.  I’m thinking about the person I’m buying for.  I’m considering their interests and their passions, and buying each person on my list a heartfelt gift or two.  I’m not breaking the bank, or going into debt to do it.  I shouldn’t have fall into financial trouble for anyone to know that I love them.

I hope you find something fun to do together, see some cool Christmas lights, and have a nice meal with loved ones.  I have a friend that hands out purses filled with personal items to homeless women on Christmas morning.  That’s her tradition.  I’m not that awesome, but it warms my heart to know she does it.

The holidays are hard for folks that have lost someone.  Don’t feel awkward about giving them a hug and some encouragement.  It’s a rough time of year for lots of people.  You don’t have to buy them a luxury car, just shine a little of your light on them, so it’s not so dark in their life.

– Cat

One Foot in Front of the Other

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We all encounter dark days as we take this journey through life.  Sometimes we feel as though we just can’t take any more.  It is during this time that you have to keep pushing, even if you don’t see the point.

The point is that this is the ebb and flow of life.  Nobody escapes the roller coaster effect.  Sometimes you are traveling down a path and something happens to force a fork in the road.  Decision time.  Sometimes you reach a corner, and there seems to be a signpost.  One side says “Your Life Now”, and the other says “No Longer an Option”.

Sometimes you walk through a door, then turn back only to find the door is locked.  Okay… enough gloomy examples.  What I want to you remember is that, no matter what, keep putting one foot in front of the other.  There is a light, and you will find it.  But you must keep moving forward.

If you feel as though this doesn’t apply to you, and that you’ve got everything figured out, more power to you!  Most people who I’ve met will struggle from time to time.  Tell us the secret in the comments section of this post.  I have these dark days too.  I’m not saying I have everything dialed in.  I’m just sharing what I’ve learned in the hopes that it will help you.

I think the critical issue is faith.  I don’t necessary mean faith in God, or in a higher being, although that will work well.  Let’s call it the faith that things will work out exactly like they’re supposed to.   We can all agree that it’s hard to know whether something is a blessing or a curse until you’re on the other side of it.  Sometimes you never find out.

If you are a person that prays, how many times have you caught yourself praying, “Here’s my problem, God, and here’s how you need to fix it!”  We run into trouble when we assume that we know the big picture.  That’s impossible for anyone to know, as our lives are revealed to us bit by bit, not on a big map or relevant timeline.

Yes, make goals for yourself.  Yes, have dreams and work towards fulfilling them.  Give yourself that sense of direction.  But, for every disappointment, or setback you perceive, have faith and keep it going, step by step.  If you see that someone else has stumbled, pick them up and remind them to keep going.  Offer encouragement where you can.  There are plenty of opportunities to go around.

Accept encouragement from others.  You deserve it.

Keep it going!

– Cat

Collared Shirts

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Relationships can be fun, and they can be hard work.  The best relationships are a little of both, I would say.  I’m lucky enough to have had two chances at love, and I’m currently married to my perfect match.  That is to say, the Yin to my Yang.

We are definitely different.  I sometimes explain the relationship by saying “He is retired military, and I am not”.  He keeps me grounded and I teach him to laugh at things.  He is common sense, I am whimsy.  He’s a few years older than me.

One thing about this journey we travel together.  It does not involve v-necks, scoop necks, or crew necks. He insists that women of my age should wear collared shirts.  I never saw this one coming 20 years ago.  All I can say is thank God that polo shirts count as collared.

Sometimes I am a real renegade and wear something without a collar.  I will wear a crew neck shirt, for instance, when I’m going to the grocery store by myself.  He’s horrified by what I wear to get a pedicure, my cut off sweatpants and t-shirt.  But when I’m with him, it’s a pretty safe bet that I am wearing a shirt with a collar.

People look at me funny when I say this.  Some roll their eyes, and say that they would never let a man dictate to them what they wear.  It violates a person’s individual rights.  It’s ridiculous! It’s a form of abuse.

Here’s the thing… This is not a battle that I care anything about.  If it pleases him that I dress conservatively, and wear a collared shirt, it is just not a big deal to me.  There are things that mean a lot more, and I will argue until the end on these topics.  Going forward, for the rest of my life, I will only buy collared shirts.

He does some things that irritate me, but not a lot of things, and not a lot of irritation.  I’m sure he would say the same about me.  Most people have qualities that we love about them.  Then they will have some traits or habits… not so much!  On the big issues, we see eye to eye.  We work together on most things.  We didn’t always, but we do now.

He supports my job, he supports my hobby, and encourages me to do everything I want to do.  He doesn’t send me flowers, except sometimes on Valentine’s Day and our Anniversary.   But, he pulled his back out to surprise me with a big, fat Christmas tree this past weekend.  I came home from work, and it was up with lights on it.  Magical!   He sometimes helps me see things from a different angle.  I think that is a big plus.  Two heads are better than one when it comes to a lot of issues.  I persuade him to my point of view on some things.

I don’t have a PhD in psychology. But, I know that when you’re in a relationship, you have to decide for yourself which points are the ones you won’t budge on.  If everything bothers you, and you’re fighting all the time, reconsider your relationship.  If everything is great all the time, you are living in a TV sitcom from the 1950’s. 

Editing this, it looks like a testimony to my relationship with my husband.  The point I am trying to make is that sometimes you have to stand up and make your feelings known.  At other times, you just put on a collared shirt and get on with things.

– Cat

 

Happiness Now

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How many times have you looked up to someone and thought “If I had their life, I would be happy”?  It’s natural… the whole “grass is greener” thing.

When I was a teenager, I was always envious of my best friend, who was so tiny and petite.  Years later, I confessed to her that I was jealous of her slight frame, and her ability to wear cute summer shirts. You well endowed women know what I’m talking about.  At the moment of my disclosure, she said “You’ve got to be kidding!”  She continued “I always felt like a boy next to you; I was so jealous of your curves!”  Sometimes you need to get a reality check and look at things from someone else’s perspective.

We rely on material things to make us happy.  Sometimes you want a nice car, a big house… maybe a boat, or a $3000 designer bag, or the latest Jordans.  You catch yourself thinking “When I get that extra special thing, I will be happy.”  And then, finally, you get that thing, that magical unicorn you’ve been dreaming of.  As it turns out, the struggle for acquisition was the best part.  Once your quest is over, you come face to face with the truth.  You’re still the same person, you just have a new possession. 

If you’re thinking you need to get another job, or live somewhere else to be happy, chances are you’re wrong about that, too.  You’ll be the same person, but with another job, or in another locale.  Quite often, we think “If only I could make a fresh start”.  You can make a fresh start, alright.  But not through external gratification.

Start from where you are, right here and right now.  Cultivate happiness within you that has nothing to do with your looks, your money, or your job.  All the stuff you have, and don’t have, doesn’t matter a bit.  You can add those things into the mix, but if you’re not happy now, those things won’t change you.

How many famous people kill themselves with a self-destructive lifestyle?  They’ve got money, fame, and everything that those things can bring.  Is that enough to sustain a person?  Nope.  I love the quote from Henry Ford when someone asked him how much money does it take to make a man happy.  His response:  “A little bit more”.  In the end, we all end up the same situation.

It’s good to have dreams.  Reach as high as you can.  Stretch right out of your comfort zone.  Remember that achieving those things will never make you as happy as the struggle to achieve them.  Put another way, it’s the journey and not the destination.  Moments in time, being with loved ones, trying your best, believing in yourself.  Those are the things that will bring happiness.  Lasting happiness.  The kind of happiness you deserve.

Be gentle with yourself.

– Cat