Written by Ronak Gandhi
I lost my confidence a few months ago. According to Ronak Gandhi, I needed to smell the roses. Literally!!! Thanks for shaking me out of my rut.—E.R.
I, like a majority of the human male population, have a difficult time with the fairer sex. “You’re like a brother!”, “I’m kind of into someone else, sorry.”, “You’re so sweet! But I’m just not in a good place in life for anything.”, or my personal favorite “I think we should stay friends, but you are super cute, you’ll find someone!” This can take a major toll on one’s confidence, and if taken too far, can result in depression. Rejection can be demoralizing, crippling, and threatening to your overall well being. So it begs the question, how do we deal with rejection and all the dominos that fall after it? What I am about to tell you isn't new. Its cliché. Its run of the mill advice. Implementing this advice does not require a bullshit life coach. It does not require a support group, and it most certainly does not require a tub of Ben and Jerry’s + Seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones + 10 golden retriever puppies + videos of golden retriever puppies doing golden retriever activities. Damn, I want to do all that now. No, it requires a little change of perspective and a healthy dose of positive thinking, keyword “healthy”. More on that in a bit.
Okay so how do we foster positive thinking?
Dr. Barbara Frederickson, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina, postulated a theory of creating “micro-moments of positivity”. Her theory suggests that we should have little interactions in our daily lives which bring us small amounts of happiness. Overtime these little interactions will result in greater overall being. I came across her theory AFTER I had already implemented it into my own life. Gosh, I’m so wise beyond my years. Everyday I take what I like to call a “Zen Walk”. It’s a short 10 to 15-minute walk around my neighborhood device free. I force myself to be as present as possible and really appreciate my surroundings. I stop and smell the roses (cliché), I notice the clear blue sky, perfectly trimmed lawns, and a myriad of different things that give me a sense of appreciation and happiness. When I don’t have time for my walks I stop and just look at my apartment and appreciate the fact that I support myself with my own two hands, put food in my belly with my own hard earned money and stand in awe at how fortunate I am. You may find that silly but it works for me! Basically, appreciate the little things in life and draw happiness from them. You definitely haven’t heard that one before have you…?
How do you create, maintain, and grow relationships? First, you don’t make excuses for yourself. “I’m not a people person”, “I only like guy friends”, “I live too far away from everyone.” But actually, if you live in the valley we can’t be friends. Start with the most important relationship in your life. Everyone is born with this relationship. Have you figured it out yet? If you guessed your relationship with you, YOU ARE RIGHT! Yayyyy!!!! It starts by being brutally honest with yourself. Accepting you for all that you are and owning it. I had a lot of trouble with my self image as a short guy. Being 5’6” and walking into a bar of guys 6’ tall and girls wearing 6” heels towering over you is emasculating. I quickly realized that there is simply nothing I can do about my height but accept it and be happy with it. It’s simple, cliché (there’s that word again) but it works. Once you accept who you are, you can let others into your life whether it be your mom, friend, co-worker, whoever. This takes a lot of practice and a lot of conscious effort. Once you accept who you are, your relationship with yourself will grow and feed you an unending amount of confidence. DISCLAIMER – this doesn’t mean if you are overweight or scrawny, you have the permission to stay that way. You should continually strive to make yourself the best possible version you can be. Okay so you implemented it successfully, now what? MAKE FRIENDS! Yes, I know its not that easy. Start with relationships that already exist in your life. Mom, Dad, brother, cousin etc. Whoever you feel even remotely comfortable with, it doesn’t have to be family, just anybody that is present in your life. Take interest in their life, their ambitions and achievements, keeping the attention on them. In time that one relationship will grow strong. I personally built that strong relationship with my mother. That one relationship gives me stability, self worth and provides a blueprint to foster other successful relationships. Quality over quantity. I can honestly say I have 2-3 quality friends and they are all I need. I gain confidence from knowing I have those friends and knowing I have the ability to create more of those relationships wherever I go. Gosh you aren’t bored yet?
Learn something new!
The start of every year, people make this thing called a “resolution”. Yes, I’m about to talk about New Year’s resolutions. Seriously, I am not about to say anything that is ground breaking, revolutionary, or out of this world. You’ve probably heard this before. If you want to stop reading, go for it. ANYWHO. I was having trouble getting over a girl and needed something to take my mind off of her. Coincidentally, it happened to be new year’s day. I wrote a list of goals I wanted to accomplish and put them up on my wall. Cool bro, you put a sheet of paper on the wall! This sheet of paper was different. It contained a formula of completing my goals. Many people want to lose weight, gain muscle, quit smoking yadda yadda yadda, but they never know how. They get stressed out from lack of results and quit…womp womp wompppp. I personally wanted to learn how to play the piano and breakdance. It is now September and I can successfully say I learned how to play the piano AND breakdance. WHAAAATTT!?!? Tell us your secrets mannn. It’s called a S.M.A.R.T goal. Your goal has to be Specific, Measurable, Action based, Realistic, and Time sensitive. Saying you want to lose weight will never happen. Saying you want to lose 2 pounds per week, totaling in 8 pounds per month, totaling in a grand total of 32 pounds in 4 months is way easier. Losing 2 pounds is specific ✓. Weighing yourself gives you a way to measure your progress ✓. Running 5 miles a day gives you an action to complete your goal ✓. Losing 2 pounds a week until you drop 32 pounds in 4 months is both realistic AND time sensitive ✓ and ✓. You can hold yourself accountable and you have given yourself a viable way to attain your goal. Accomplishing a goal is gratifying. It gives you power and confidence to tackle any obstacle in your life. You can live life knowing you are fully capable of facing a challenge and have the ability to overcome it. Okay well what about when you have rough days or you DON’T accomplish your goals? What then? Well I’m glad you asked!
PRACTICE RESILIENCE AND MORE ACCEPTANCE!!!
Ugh, that’s the secret!?!? Some silly resilience and MORE acceptance. Can’t I just wave a magic wand and make it all go away? …Nah. I remember learning a really difficult song on the piano, I had to move my fingers in such a weird way and land them perfectly on the keys. It seemed impossible, I was convinced my fingers were incapable of moving in such a way. For 3 days straight I practiced only that part of the song, and only those specific finger movements on my keyboard. Didn’t get it the first day. Didn’t get it the second day. Almost got it the 3rd day. Did I get it the fourth day? YES BECAUSE IM A BOSS. I did not quit or cry or complain or eat Ben and Jerry’s + watch seasons 1-7 of Game of Thrones + buy 10 golden retriever puppies + watch videos of golden retriever puppies doing golden retriever activities. But dang nabit do I want to do that! No, I understood and accepted (there’s that OTHER word) that failure is part of the process. Your resiliency and conviction (great buzzword) will overcome your failures. Okay resiliency blah blah blah, what if the goal STILL isn’t accomplished. What if the grim reaper is waiting for you because you ran yourself half to death? …wait for it…wait for it…ACCEPTANCE. Oh no not acceptance again that’s so cliché (thought I forgot about this one?) Yes, accept your failure and move on. All you can do is your level best. The result isn’t in our hands. As an actor I continually fail and continually sit and ponder my life choice, but it only creates stress and anxiety. Going into an audition all I can do is my level best, nothing more, and certainly nothing less. If I don’t book the part it simply isn’t my fault. They were looking for the Ryan Gosling type and that’s just not me (but man if I was). If you don’t lose those 32 pounds by the end of month 4, don’t sweat it (no pun intended), be proud of the fact that you stuck to your plan and you ran your heart out for each of those 5 miles EVERYDAY. Whether you lost 10 pounds or 50 pounds its not up to you, its up to your body. Every failure has a lesson. Learn from it. Change your perspective on failure itself. A failure is not a failure, it is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and what you are doing. Its liberating to free ourselves from the shackles of outcome. (Made that one up myself).
If you are an uber positive person already? You love life, things are great but you still can’t seem to accomplish many things? Is it possible to be TOO positive? To the point of it being detrimental? I’m afraid it is. My mother has a famous catch phrase, its “Balance is key”. Revolutionary I know… Yes, being too positive can hamper your forward progression as well. It can create a distorted perception of reality, unrealistic expectations and can lead to NEVER actually accomplishing anything. There needs to be a sense of balance in your life.
Too much of anything is no good.
Make Confidence The Plan
I was listening to an awesome podcast by NPR called Hidden Brain. It’s the August 14th 2017 episode called “You 2.0: WOOP, There It Is”, if you want to listen to it. The podcast talks about being too positive in your thinking and how that can have a harmful effect on actually accomplishing your goals. The ideology is that sitting in a constant day dream of you accomplishing your goals actually releases certain hormones in your brain that mimic the feeling of having actually achieved whatever you were dreaming about. This leads the person to feel good about themselves and never actually take action towards their dreams. Your mind and body are already under the impression that you have accomplished the goal and now you just don’t have the energy to actually do it. This sounds really farfetched and it took me by surprise when I heard it as well. I thought I was suppose to visualize being 32 pounds lighter? Yes I was, but I also had to still take the action to do it. Positive thinking is only the first step, it is the beginning of action. Dr. Gabriele Oettingen, author of Rethinking Positive Thinking: Inside the New Science of Motivation, and psychologist (another one of these bozos) created her own little “SMART” plan to accomplish one’s goals. It’s called WOOP, Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan. Her ideology is that creating a realistic wish, having an idea of its outcome, knowing the obstacles blocking you from attaining that outcome, and having a plan to enact will create a streamline system in accomplishing one’s goals.
So you want to stand up to your co-worker who belittles you on a daily basis but you are afraid to confront them. How do you fix it? Let’s try it. You Wish to stand up for yourself and have the outcome of reclaiming your dignity after months of ridicule. Obviously mustering up the courage to stand up for yourself is difficult. We recognize the Obstacle as being yourself. You just can’t get over those freighting feelings. Our plan here can be, telling yourself that if this co-worker does not comply I will go to a higher authority, if this co-worker does comply, mission accomplished. All of a sudden you have given yourself two possible outcomes with a plan to execute if either occurs. Now was this method cheesy, sure, but how many of you post cheesy Instagram pictures with cheesy Instagram quotes that convey a sense of inspiration and never actually take it to heart? The answer is ALL OF YOU!!
I know this was a lot. So here it is again briefly. Confidence and happiness come from:
- Appreciating the little things in life
o I appreciate my immediate surroundings and am thankful for the things I have. I gain happiness simply by the things around me.
- Accepting you the way you are, faults and all
o I am 5’6”, 135lbs, I grow slightly patchy facial hair, but I have a charismatic personality, a million-dollar smile, and a heart of gold. I love every bit of me. I feel confident in who I am.
- Developing strong relationships in life
o I am confident in the person that I am first. I have a strong bond with my 1 ½ year old niece. She makes me feel needed and loved. Those feelings foster a sense of belonging, happiness, and confidence.
- Creating goals that are realistic
o I created a goal of memorizing 4 monologues in one month, breaking it up into 1 monologue per week. I memorize X amount of lines per day to finish the monologue in 7 days. So far I have memorized 2/4 monologues, with 2 more to go and 2 more weeks left in the month. I am on pace to accomplish my goal. I feel proud of my accomplishment thus far but understand there is more work to be done still. Knowing I can do this gives me the power and confidence to tackle the next objective in my life.
- Learning new things
o I taught myself how to play the piano. I can read sheet music, understand beats, melodies, and harmonies, and I have FUN doing it. I recognize different keys and know how to play them. I know that whatever it is, I have the ability to learn and conquer whatever I need to learn.
- Being resilient and accepting
o I am still single, but I continue to put myself out there and accept every rejection but I learn from those rejections as well.
- Creating a balance of all things in life
o I do not obsess over my dating life, my relationships, goals, or personal aspirations. I have prioritized them and allotted them their due attention.
Now I understand we are all human. We all have ebbs and flows. Ups and downs, all that jazz. The goal is mitigate our lows and cap our highs. To treat our failures and successes as one. I promise you, implementing even one of those bullet points will make your life easier, happier, and more successful. The minute you implement one the others will just follow.