The Sexy Paradox of Being Overly Optimistic

September 7, 2010 Leave a comment

It seems that if we constantly barrage ourselves with how we ate too many Doritos, how we watched too much Jersey Shore on television, or how we are stupid for skipping out on our exercise that day, we will eventually push ourselves in the right direction.  That by constantly criticising ourselves of our faults, we will change them.  Now this may actually work for some people, but in my particular case and what I have observed out there in the world, this has the reverse effect.

I am still currently doing my 30 day positive thought challenge, and one of the amazing things I have noticed is that since I have been looking at the positive side of even my failures, that I am actually less prone to make them.

It seems weird (and to a point this wouldn’t work, if you use it as an excuse to deceive and lie to yourself) that if we eat too many chips and say something along the lines of,  “Oh well, I learned that I feel like crap afterwards and now I get to experience working off that fat!” we can actually start to change the behavior.  Technically, it shouldn’t work.  Telling ourselves that was dumb and that we should have eaten spinach soaked in Vitamin D should work, because that is telling it how it is, and what should have been done.

But the thing is, most of those comments are actually just beating yourself up. You already know you made the wrong decision. You don’t need to beat the living hell out of yourself to learn your lesson.  It is the equivalent of having your race horse fall down right in the middle of a big competition, then breaking its leg with a bat for losing the race, and yelling that it should do better the next time.  Now it has a broken leg and will be so scared the next time that it won’t be secure enough in itself to try its best.

A very important part of self-esteem is positive self-talk.  The negative comments reduce self-esteem. The amount of self-esteem you have will directly affect the decisions you make.  If you focus on raising your self-esteem, eventually you will simply look at those chips and say screw that! I want to feel good and make healthy choices for myself!

Think about this situation.  You walk outside into the beautiful day, smell the fresh air, and right when you are about to get into your car, someone you absolutely despise tells you that you should wash your car.  Do you go wash it?  If someone gives you advice, whom you do not respect, do you follow their advice?  The bottom line is, no matter how much you tell yourself you should eat a salad rather than that juicy double-decker burger, if you don’t respect yourself, then you won’t respect your advice to yourself either.

In my journey to changing my thoughts and my self-talk, I started to exercise more often simply because I like myself more and want to feel good.  Whereas before, I was still exercising but not daily, I have begun to respect myself to the point that I value my mental health (I have discovered that my mental health is heavily affected by my exercise habits) and thus I am exercising more.  I deserve to feel good.

Are there major changes you are trying to make?  Do you want to eat better foods, exercise more, get out more or meet more people?  Although techniques, such as not having any chips or candy in the house, can also work for certain habits and bettering your life, ultimately when it comes down to it, you are as good as your self-esteem allows you to be.  Try developing positive self-talk and respect for yourself and see what happens.  Remember, it isn’t what you do that makes you worth your love.  It only makes sense that if you truly respect yourself and believe that eating healthy is beneficial, that your choice of food will be a no-brainer.  Sure you will have some slip-ups every now and then just like everyone else, but you will be able to tell yourself “I’ll do better next time” and believe it.

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Achievements Don’t Always Lead to Confidence Unless You Love Yourself

August 29, 2010 Leave a comment

Achievements Don’t Always Lead To Confidence

“Nothing builds self-esteem and self-confidence like accomplishment.”
~Thomas Carlyle

“Accomplishment: Something that had been achieved successfully.”

I used to have the belief that if I accomplished something, I would gain self-confidence.  That by doing actions that are hard, I would finally be able to accept who I am.

I weight-lifted.  I received straight “A”s in school.  I’m not in debt and save money reasonably well.  I generally eat healthy.  I have good hygiene.

I started to skydive.  I took the school and was on my way to becoming certified, then after my fourth jump decided that it didn’t fill that void I still felt.

I then decided to train and run for a marathon.  I signed up for a group that ran long distance runs on Saturdays to help keep me motivated. Five months later I ran 26.2 miles.

I still wasn’t confident and didn’t have high self-esteem.  I do admit, after the marathon I felt like a stud for a few days, but then it wore off.  But what also happened was I gave myself a mental beat down because I didn’t run it in 3:50:00 like I wanted.  I ran it in 4:10:00

So what’s the deal?

I was expecting that by accomplishing something, I would finally be able to accept myself based on the action itself.

Self-esteem can arguably be said to be how much you respect and love yourself.  Running a marathon is a great accomplishment, but I should be able to love myself even if I didn’t run that marathon.

I am now realizing that I should have ran that marathon from the standpoint of, for example, “I love who I am and I want to run a marathon to celebrate that I am alive” in place of “once I run a marathon I will finally feel like I am worth something.”

How can you begin to gain some self-respect?  It sounds as if it is an intangible concept and can’t be measured.  You can’t just wake up and say to your cat “Hey buddy guess what?!  I now have 600 self-respect tokens.”  Since goals tend to be more effective when the results are measurable, it is important to ask yourself how you will take into account if your self-esteem is actually improving.

One way of doing this would to stop for 2 minutes before going to bed, and write down how you felt that day.  Did you feel like you improved?  Were you conscious that you were working towards improving your self-respect, or did you live the day numbed out?  How was your self-talk?  Did you congratulate yourself for a good effort, or repeatedly looked at where you were flawed?

One way that I have chosen to do this is to start thinking positively and finding the hidden joys in everything that happens.  I’m keeping a daily log to keep myself focused and to see the direction I am heading in.  Just being conscious of the fact that I have negative thought loops running on autopilot every day is a great improvement.

Achievements are important and can be a major confidence boost, proving to yourself (and others) that things are possible and you can do it.  But, if one has a poor self-image, all the achievements in the world might not change it.  Improving your self-respect and esteem might just be the best achievement you will obtain!

Here is an example of a plan to improve your self respect.  Your own plan may be exactly the same or exactly the opposite.  It is only important that you start to move towards action and start developing the right habits.

  • Try out a 30 day challenge for positive thinking.
  • Every day wake up and list ten things about yourself that you love (If you can’t think of anything, write ten things you would like to love about yourself, but write them as if they were already true).
  • Start respecting yourself by eating healthy and exercising.  It has been shown that exercise is more effective than anti-depressants, and is the one of the most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.  Try including just an apple a day and a 10 minute walk.  Once that is established, walk for 15 minutes, then 20, etc.
  • Live for yourself and yourself only.  Stop judging yourself through another’s eyes, and begin to follow your own inner compass and what makes you uniquely happy.  You really do like listening to that music your friends make fun of? Listen to it anyways and don’t give a damn about what others think if it makes you feel authentically happy.
  • Tell others about your plan. They will likely periodically ask you how your goal is going, and that will help remind you to stay on track.

If you want to start heading in the right direction, write out a plan for yourself right now (or mark on your calender when you will create a plan) and commit to it for at least a few weeks.  It is okay to think about things for a while and let them soak in, but make sure that you will start taking action if you ever want it to become a reality.  Make sure you stay conscious of it and constantly check up on yourself.  You might have to change your approach, or you might just surprise yourself with the real changes you can make once you develop positive habits.

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The First Step to Becoming Vulnerable

August 24, 2010 2 comments

In our society, especially for men, it is looked down upon to show feelings.  We can become conditioned to judge ourselves as if our thoughts had taken on the form of someone else.  For example, judging yourself for not being married at your certain age in life, and when looking deeper into it, realizing that thought could have come from parental influences.  Beating yourself up for driving an old car, but realizing that maybe having a nice car really isn’t that important to you as an individual.  Or after looking through a face modeling magazine (do those exist?) feeling as though your nose is 0.34 cm too far on the left side of your face.

We act like someone else, we put on personas, and what I have noticed in myself that I do a lot, is faking that I am happy.

I try to tell myself what reality is, rather than looking at reality and accepting that, then going from there.

The first step to becoming vulnerable and creating real healthy relationships, is to first become vulnerable with ourselves.  You don’t need to look at yourself through the eyes of society, television, your parents, your cousins, your friends, your enemies, or the bus driver who has biceps half an inch bigger than yours.

While doing my 30 day challenge for positive thoughts experiment, I started to realize that although changing my thoughts to always look at the bright side of life, I still didn’t feel 100%.  I felt as if I was depressed and couldn’t show it to the world.  I finally just accepted that fact, called the University where I am a current student and asked if they had support groups for depression.

I had no shame in doing this, nor did I act as if something was wrong with me.  I simply called and asked.  I plan on going in on Thursday and saying, “I sometimes get depressed and would like support from others who are going through the same thing.”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. By saying that in a way that communicates, “Yeah this is what is going on and I’m going to handle it, no big deal.  It may be hard but I can do it,” almost lifts me out of the depressive cycle instantly.  This can go for anything, not just depression, I just happened to have a direct experience with this issue.

This is a very different approach then what I used to do.  I’ve been to a therapist a couple times and another group before.  I never opened up to them.  I held it in and to be completely honest, I couldn’t become vulnerable and truly express myself to them because I hadn’t even admitted it to myself yet.

After I had accepted myself and my situation, and realized this is completely normal for a human being to experience, I didn’t feel the self-created loneliness that has kept me imprisoned for so long.  I didn’t dwell on this so called “imperfection” and hide it as if I had to be some badass superhuman.  Once I finally accepted it, I actually laughed.

It is weird to say I feel depressed and happy at the same time, but it is true after I have done this.  Now that I have finally accepted reality that I have this minor issue, I can smile at it.  I can change that to going and getting support, taking action when I sense something is wrong, and meeting other people who share the same struggle.  I can take that challenge and turn it into a gift by helping others since I can understand the issue personally.

Have you become vulnerable to yourself?  Is it scary to look deep into your feelings, and really ask yourself what is going on in there?  Are YOU the one that is happy with yourself, and not just your step-mother’s third-cousin’s coworker who thinks you are doing the right thing?  If you look at the past couple of months of your life, have you felt alive?  I used to feel as though somehow I was 1 out of 7,000,000,000 that had problems, and this made me feel as though I was some seriously screwed up human being.  This isn’t the case, and even if it was, who cares?  You are who you are.  It may be painful to accept at first, but once you do, you can finally live in reality, make the change, and meet others with whom you can build a real fulfilling relationship.  Also, there ARE people out there who want to help, but they can’t until you let them in.

Once we become vulnerable with ourselves, we can then talk to people from an authentic sense of being.  I would like to encourage anyone reading this to stop and really tune into how they have felt, write it down, and if you notice there is something in your life you truly don’t enjoy, seeing what you can do to change it.  Sometimes just being able to express it and laugh with someone else about it is all it takes to feel better.  Sometimes just knowing you are on the path to improve can help.  If needed, see if there is a close friend or support group nearby to let it out and meet others so you can realize you aren’t the only one with a screw missing in the world but there are actually 7 billion others just as “messed up” as you are.

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30 Day Positive Thought Challenge

August 20, 2010 3 comments

I was positive and happy, actually surprisingly positive, for about a week.  Nice.  Then all a sudden, I became depressed, started beating myself up, and even starting to feel bad for myself, drenched in my self-pity.  What happened?!  Am I doomed to constantly cycle from high optimism to crazy pessimism?  This same cycle seems to keep showing up in my life, of striving and becoming happy, to going straight down into dark depression. I even went through the McDeath drive-through late last night, ordered an Orea McFlurry, then beat myself up mentally after I had finished it…  I recognized that something I was doing must be off, and realized I had let my thoughts run around on their own with negative ideas and beliefs.  I fell back into living unconsciously.

Also, my head has been so full of self-help, things I want to accomplish, and goals that I want to pursue, that it would be impossible for me to do it all at once.  I tend to be the kind of person that needs to focus on a few things at once (sometimes only one thing at a time).

I decided last night (after the McFlurry), choosing one thing and just doing it, is far better than sitting there, evaluating which option would be the best, , thinking, pondering, evaluating, thinking some more…. And never doing anything at all.

I have heard that it takes roughly 21 days to form a new habit.  I am going to choose 30 days just to test it out for myself.

My goal is whenever I have negative thoughts, to immediately accept them for what they are (rather than resisting them and giving them energy), then tell myself something positive that results from the negative thing/action/event.  My belief is that by the end of 30 days, this will become automatic, and run on its own, similar to the negative thoughts that seem to be on autopilot right now.  Maybe I’ll even sit down every time and again to have a positive fest and write down everything that rocks about life.   That means, if this becomes a habit, my brain will automatically be making me feel more optimistic.

In short, this goal will:

  1. Keep me Conscious throughout the day and not “zoning out” into negativity.
  2. Turn my brain into an automatic positive seeking machine and cause me to feel more optimistic and better about life naturally.

For example, last night I went and ate a McFlurry.  I thought to myself, “Damnit TJ, this is full of sugar, you are going to feel horrible when you wake up tomorrow, and now you are going to have a tendency to want to eat McDonald’s more you bastard.”
But that McFlurry also gave me a reminder that I really don’t enjoy eating fast food, that it makes me feel tired and lethargic.  It also even helped lead to the creation of this post! So in reality, seeing myself drive out late at night by myself, seeking a McFlurry, led me to bounce back and make a real goal for happiness.

I’m going to keep an update on this post regularly to make sure I’m still participating in my own challenge, and write my goal on a piece of paper and keep it on me as a constant reminder.  Negative thoughts in reality do not accomplish anything, and usually have a hidden motive behind them such as not wanting to take responsibility.  Anyone can relish in their own self-pity and doubt, but it takes courage and conscious thought to find the good side in life.

Also, if anyone else wants to join in and needs some accountability, send me an email or post up a comment.

TIPS FROM MY OWN JOURNEY:
-Try to feel the positive thought you produce.  Instead of saying, “I love life” with a nonchalant attitude, say it to yourself as if you actually believe it, even if you don’t.  Eventually you will start to believe it, you just have to put in the time and effort during the beginning.

UPDATES:
Day 1: Very positive in morning and at night.  Mid day I had a bought of negativity, but was able to turn it around. Nice.
Day 2: Not too great.  Beat myself up, feel a little sad right now.  No biggy, because I discovered that I need to work on self-acceptance and self-love.  A great eye opener and so therefore, the outcome of this day is great.
Day 3: Became trapped in a loop of self-defeating thoughts concerning, ironically, improving myself.  I repeated some positive thoughts in my head, but didn’t really feel them, rather just said them in almost a sarcastic tone.  Great day because I realized the importance of saying it to yourself with conviction.
Day 4: Realized I had depression, decided to call my University’s counseling center and ask if they have a support group.   Good because I discovered I could use a support group.
Day 5: Was having a relatively rough time but staying positive.  Sleep and diet are a major factor.  Still learning a lot.
Day 7: Went to a counselor to ask about support groups.  I actually started telling myself that I was going to
beat depression.  That’s a new thought for me.
Day 8: Had good enough rest, started day slow, then kicked some ass and was extremely positive the whole night! Had a great time at a party
Day 10: Driving home at night, felt very postive.  I then tried to feel depressed or down on myself and couldn’t.  I literally could not feel down or sad.
Day 11: Was chillin about at 11:00pm and thought something negative and m
y brain automatically thought something positive about it.  A few seconds later, I stopped and realized what had just happened.  Was a good moment.
Day 12: Had a stumbling block.  Day was full of a lot of negative thinking.  Good because I learned how easy it can be for me to fall off and that I need to stay focused.
Day 13: Same as Day 12, with more negative thinking
Day 14: Realized what was going on, bounced back and started thinking extremely positively.
Day 15/16: Starting the bounceback, but still have some negativity floating around.
Day 17: Swinging back up into positivity. Looking at Day 10 and Day 11 gives me motivation.
Day 18: Went up to a cabin as part of my new challenge that is now overlapping this one.  Great time.  Positve thoughts were on overdrive.  Getting back deep into the habit.
Day 19:  Amazing day.  Full of positivity.  Had some negative thoughts creeping in but kept looking at the positive side of it.
Day 20: Was very sleep deprived, but still managed to stay positive!  Usually being sleep deprived alone will send me into a depression, and the fact that I stayed positive the entire day while sleep deprived says a lot.
Day 21: Good day, felt some negative feelings and wrote them out into poems to help alleviate them.  I saw the states with lower energy, as opportunities to explore and write about them, rather than undesirable exercises.
Day 22:  I am really starting to realize the true meaning of being positive.  In my life, it doesn’t mean I have to be in some upbeat happy go lucky mood all the time.  It simply means to see reality, and look at it in a good way.  Wrote another poem.
Day 23:  Feeling great.  Mood is lifted, positive thoughts, still have negative thoughts that are mainly about self-esteem, but I am still improving every day.
Day 24: Neutral day.  Lived unconsciously, need to work on that.

The One Week Confidence Booster

August 17, 2010 Leave a comment

Have you ever watched or really listened to your thoughts? REALLY payed attention?

For a lot of people there can be any crazy array of thoughs such as:
“I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work, trying again would just be a waste of time.”
“I just wasn’t born with the talent.”
“I would look like a dumbass.”
“She/he will just snub me.”
“That would never work.”
“I AM a dumbass.”
“Maybe one day…”

These appear obvious, but the scary thing is a lot of times these run on autopilot without us even aware that they are looping on and off in our heads.

I recently tried something for myself just for the hell of it.  Everytime a wussy thought came into my head, some weird BS that would appear out of nowhere, I would simply dismiss it with a…

F*** That, I’m a PIMP!

Now, that looks a little funny to even me  when it’s written out.  I don’t want this blog to be too vulgar, but hey, this is reality.  Feel free to replace it with whatever you want.  The main thing, however, that this started doing to me was

1. F*** That = Me letting go of the thought in such a way that it literally says, screw THAT I deserve better.
2. I’m a Pimp = Telling myself that I have high standards and only accept the best.

Saying something like this communicates a lot of things to ourselves in a subtle way.  When I first started saying this, it was with a very cocky overtone and had a fun feel to it.  It was fun to say and just joke around with it.

And then all of a sudden I started to believe it.

When you say it to yourself (or whatever phrase you chose that has enough strength to kick your inner wussy’s ass) try saying the F*** that/Screw that/Whatever part in a way that makes it so that the original thought just comes off as absurd, as if some salesman just offered you a 1997 beat up Jetta that had a chick fresh out of high school drive it into the ground for the price of $560,800, then say I’m a PIMP/I’m a STUD/I’m a sexy lil bish! right after you tell him to get lost.

I actually started feeling almost like a jerk with an ego, and then when I realized that I simply reminded myself I wasn’t the center of the universe, but I was, indeed, a god damn pimp.  True pimps help out other respectable people, they just don’t take any shit from nobawdy.  I mean in reality,  why SHOULD I believe in wussy thoughts?  What the hell is the point of that?  Has living someone else’s standards ever worked?  What’s wrong with making my own standards for a change? That is the message you want to convey to yourself.  See, I really am starting to believe it.

It sounds a little juvenile so just have fun with it at first, then start saying it with conviction and force, hell yell it out the next time you are on the public bus, and who knows you just might become a cocky bastard/bish.


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Becoming Vulnerable

August 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Hello.  My name is TJ.  I’m full of shit (and I’m laughing while I write that) and realized that it is time to come to terms with life and take some responsibility.  How?  By finally facing my fears and becoming vulnerable out in the world.

I am about to become a junior in College, and let’s just say the first two years of my schooling I haven’t well, done much.  Shyness and other fears have kept me from going out there and living life, and I’ve finally had enough of that (I think).

I realized I have this crazy deep fear of becoming vulnerable, wearing my heart out on my sleeve, and having people reject it (“it” being the real me and not the insecure persona me).

This blog is going to share some things that I have learned and hopefully I will meet some others in the same boat.  I am just starting down this path and I think I made the conscious decision to do so about 2 weeks ago.  If you feel as though you finally want to actually take CONTROL of your life, whenever some thought based on USELESS emotions, such as paranoia/low-self esteem/fear/my penis is small, to be able to say “**** that I am a PIMP” and finally start living your life how YOU want to live it and not your parents/ex-girlfriend/cousin/pet turtle wants you to live, please comment and share with me your thoughts, ideas, etc.

I have no ego to this blog and I actually want to encourage people to criticize posts, tell me when my spll1ng is wrong, or point out new tools to help further personal growth.

This blog is called Becoming Vulnerable because I believe to truly live life as a human being one has to thrust one’s self out there and start living like the real you, following YOUR passions.  I am sharing this to help keep myself accountable, meet other people going through the same thing, and well, to become more vulnerable 🙂

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