Friday, August 14, 2009

Confidence Building: Yet Another Crucial Part of Great Relationships and Marriage

One of the greatest things you can do for your relationship is to build self-confidence. Here’s why, and more important, HOW…

I just got off the phone with a man for whom I feel incredibly sorry. I’m not one generally given to pity, and usually hold people accountable for their choices, but this guy had been hammered into the ground from birth, programmed for failure and zero self-esteem to the extent that he didn’t want to accept that feeling any other way was even possible, let alone normal.

I’ll spare you the details; he basically grew up in a home with a single mom who was abandoned when she found out she was pregnant and hated men, and had the bad fortune to be pregnant with a son who looked identical to his father. She’s spent his entire life abusing him and blaming him for her bad choices, and has him convinced that he is totally worthless, and the cause of all her problems.

Needless to say, he’s never had a good relationship with a woman. He rarely even gets into a relationship because he rarely gets a date, let alone a series of dates from which a relationship can grow. After about two hours of discussion he finally started coming around to the idea that he really has a choice and asked how he might go about building self-esteem and confidence. What follows is the advice I gave him, at least parts of which should be useful to all of you.

Self-esteem is defined as regarding one’s self with respect, recognizing one’s own value. It has to be there to recognize it, and when it’s there it MUST be recognized and accepted. You must know that you deserve whatever life you have by virtue of whatever choices you have made, and that if you have made bad choices, you simply must make better ones to make your life better. Self-esteem comes from nothing more and nothing less than the use of one’s virtues to achieve and attain one’s values (the Law of Existence), and recognizing that you have done it (the Law of Identity).

To some of you that will sound terribly simplistic and self-evident, but you’d be shocked at how many people I’ve counseled or encountered at seminars who think that their value is determined by what OTHER people think of them and not what they think about themselves. To make matters worse, people who look to others for their self-esteem are often so afraid of what others think that they will either withdraw completely or go to the other extreme and become an acute approval-seeker, which is self-defeating since nobody will respect anyone who seeks their approval.

As an aside, many women suffer from a particularly nasty variation of this condition. Because of their social nature in combination with having had their self-esteem hammered into the ground almost since birth (by the beauty and fashion industries, other destructively competitive women, predatory men who know to abuse women to get them in approval-seeking mode, etc.), they anticipate all possible criticism and negative comments about everything going on in their life, and then respond as if that criticism and those comments had in fact been made.

This leaves them constantly feeling under attack by those around them when in fact they are their own attacker, and it leaves those around them wondering what they did to deserve such a tongue-lashing or thinking the woman is paranoid. Should you see this, try to talk with her about it and take whatever measures are necessary to build her self-esteem, or else she may end up going down and taking you down with her.

Now, getting back to you, once you have taken responsibility for your choices and have thereby empowered yourself to make more and better choices, assess yourself, and see what value you have. Take stock of your good and bad traits, and see that the good ones outnumber and outweigh the bad ones; if they don’t, that just means you have more choices to make and corrective actions to take than the average guy, so don’t panic. Building a man is a lot easier than building a house if the man desires the improvement.

It is crucial that you appreciate all the good things you find in yourself. If you are a talented artist, a skilled craftsman, a competent manager or decision-maker, don’t just blow that off as something that you were born with. Even if you were born with it, you still had to DO SOMETHING WITH IT to recognize your talent. If you haven’t done enough to feel good about it, take that as your cue to start doing more to leverage your existing skills and talent. Why?

Self-esteem and ultimately confidence comes from achievement, and nowhere else. And yes, even the smallest accomplishments count! The more you accomplish, the more you feel qualified and prepared to accomplish more. That feeling of readiness to face new challenges is the very essence of confidence, and recognizing that state of readiness is the essence of self-esteem. It makes you more able to face the potential for success and adversity with the idea that you can influence and survive the outcome.

And when you achieve something, take a minute to appreciate and celebrate it. Acknowledge that you have done something well. It doesn’t matter if anyone else acknowledges it; it’s your work and your achievement, and there is nobody else as qualified as you to know the quality of your achievement or how good it should make you feel. Reward every achievement by acknowledging it, and achievement will be come more pleasurable, more desirable, and easier to conceive and complete, in turn making you a much more interesting, confident and fun person to be around.

Why am I talking about confidence in a newsletter about relationships and marriage? Because women absolutely love it! And when they see it genuinely exist in their man, they will whip a running saw mill to protect him and their relationship. Why?

Because they literally dream of finding a man who feels good about himself. Such a man is low-maintenance and potentially high-excitement, and what’s a woman’s greatest enemy? All together now, 1…2…3…BOREDOM!

Yes, that’s right. Everybody who said “boredom” gets a gold star.

Did you ever hear a woman say that she wants a man who makes her feel safe? Did you make the mistake of thinking that she was talking about having a man who was just a bodyguard? Probably, so here’s the low-down:

When a woman says she wants a man who makes her feel safe, she’s talking about a man who will not play games with her feelings, or be so caught up in his own drama that he allows her to drown in hers. She’s talking about a man who won’t consign her to being bored to tears and feeling like life has no purpose because he’s too busy whining about his own problems.

She wants to feel like part of something worthwhile, and like the man she trusts as her partner is qualified to lead her without being an ass and trying to control her. In short, she’s talking about having a man with healthy self-esteem who values himself and her, and knows how to interact with her in a way that is complimentary instead of competitive, or even worse, parasitic or predatory. That’s why women flock to a confident man like ants to sugar, and why when a woman has such a man, she’s just as likely as not to kill to keep him.

So there you have it, and I’ll bet it’s nowhere near as hard as many of you thought. I hear so often that confidence is something that “other people are born with and I’ll never have” that it’s sickening, because it’s simply not true. You can have it, indeed, you can EARN it, and it’s simply a matter of making some choices to identify and accept the truth about yourself and then improve on it if necessary.

I don’t walk into a room feeling confident because there’s a 99.9997% chance that I’m the smartest guy in the room, even though it’s true according to IQ points, or because there are a lot of things I could do better than anybody else in the room, even though that’s true as well. I walk into a room feeling confident because I know that no matter what happens in that room, I’m going to meet interesting people I can speak with, laugh with, and if appropriate, learn things from and accomplish things with. No matter what happens, I can have an interaction that enriches my life and the lives of others and very likely take something with me when I leave the room that also improves my life. What does that tell you?

It tells you that confidence is not a matter of how you stack up to the other people in the room; it’s a matter of how you see yourself in being able to survive and flourish the events of the foreseeable future. And that, brothers, is precisely the measure of a man, and when you measure up, the people around you recognize it, involuntarily, and respond to it, especially your partner.

It’s literally the single best thing you can do for your life, and it’s either the best or second-best thing you can do for your relationship, depending on your communications skills; for some, improving your inter-gender communications skills will provide more improvement in your relationship because you can’t get along if you can’t communicate, and we’ll get into that in other lessons – indeed, MANY OTHER LESSONS.

Or, instead of waiting for more lessons, you can just grab the bull by the horns and get everything you need to know by
downloading your copy of "THE Man’s Guide to Great Relationships and Marriage," and accomplish in hours or days what might take months or years otherwise, if you could accomplish it at all without the knowledge required to navigate the rapids of relationships. Talk to some of the confident people you know about their rules for success, and one of the things you’ll hear is “Never put off until tomorrow the things you can accomplish today.” Truer words nor better advice were never spoken…

In the meantime, live well, be well, and have a wonderful day!
David Cunningham

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