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Author Archives: Graham Stoney
I recently got a question via email from someone who was starting to question her religion, related to my story about How (and Why) I Went From Christian to Atheist, and wanted to know how to overcome her fear of going to hell.
One of the most frightening aspects for me in deciding to abandon my childhood religion was the potential eternal consequences. After a lengthy examination of what I really believed and what I actually thought was true in the Bible, I concluded that the resurrection accounts weren't as compelling as they had been portrayed to me in church. Most likely Jesus didn't rise from the dead. A lot of Christian teaching is predicated on the idea that this miracle is proof that Jesus was the son of God, so that belief promptly went out the window.
Modern science has reasonable explanations for the origin of the universe and the emergence of life without the need for a creator God. Although there are holes in our scientific knowledge I could see that being more comfortable with not knowing all the answers to life, the universe and everything could actually be more liberating than religiously answering “God did it” to every question I couldn't answer.… Continue reading…
I got a question via email last week about how to tell when therapy is working. Here it is, along with my answer:
I have been in psychoanalysis to treat emotional abuse for 4 years now, and am still in a really bad place. I exploded in anger and stopped talking to my mother, father, family and friends only writing to them to wish them dead in horrible ways. Then I burst into tears a few times realizing my friends do care and love me. But I am still feeling bad despite having been crying a lot in the past year and having a much better relationship with friends and family. I feel confused and lost. I wonder whether I should change therapists as after 4 years I still feel "like shit" and cannot work properly. Many thanks.
Thanks for your question; I'll do my best to give you an answer based just on the little bit that you've told me. I get that at the moment you feel "like shit" as you've had 4 years of psychoanalysis and still cannot work properly, so you're wondering if your therapy is going right or whether you should change therapists.
I just got this question about dealing with an abusive father from my article about How To Recover From a Critical Parent:
I have a 50 year old father who has always been over-controlling, mean, critical, manipulative, judgmental and border-line abusive. These traits are becoming more pronounced as he ages (except the abusive part) and he has tried to use psychological tactics to separate me from my girlfriend and to make me feel guilty for not spending time with him. I just want to move out but Sydney housing is the most over-inflated in the world at the moment. I'm not sure how much longer I can take it. I think the reason behind his issues is he never knew his father but it's ridiculously unfair to burden your son with this cr@p. He has a girlfriend of 7 years who you can tell isn't compatible with him. They fight all the time and she's depressed. She's cheated before as a form of escapism but he manipulated her to stay with him (probably because he feels lonely). The whole situation is so pathetic. Because of his emotional and physical abuse as a kid, I live with anxiety and depression. Do you have any advice?… Continue reading…
I've noticed a consistent pattern among myself and my coaching clients: we all have a history of not standing up for ourselves when other people behave in ways that we don't feel good to us. Most of us had parents who weren't willing or able to teach us how to deal with our emotions, to self-soothe our nervous system when we were in distress, or to stand up for ourselves when our emotional or physical boundaries were being violated. Often the person we most needed to stand up to was one or both of our parents themselves, and that rarely goes well when you're a distressed child trying to stand up to an adult who is being unreasonable because their wounded inner child is running the show.
All of this is a recipe for ever-increasing anger, resentment and frustration. We end up overcompensating in a desperate attempt to get our needs met. Internalise that toxic cocktail and it's no wonder we end up anxious, depressed and lacking self-confidence.
Behavior patterns learned as a child tend to stick even if they never really worked well, and coping strategies learned as a child rarely work well in the adult world.… Continue reading…
American writer Henry David Thoreau is famous for once writing:
The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.
Many people live their entire lives as if they were at the mercy of their life circumstances. Now it's true that there are some things in life that we have no direct control over, like natural disasters and other people's behavior. But it's equally true that we often have more say in how our life goes than we think we do. For instance, we can choose to live on a fault line in an earthquake-prone city or we can choose to live away from hotspots of seismic activity; and some forms of communication are much better at getting a response that we would like from other people than others.
We have two choices in life: We can either submit to our life circumstances, give up our power and lead a life of resignation and often-not-so-quiet desperation; or we can choose to be the master of our own destiny.
If the idea of being the captain of your own ship sounds appealing, here's how we can do it:… Continue reading…
If you're anything like me, you feel self-conscious in front of other people. Last time I caught an airplane, I went to the front of the plane to use the toilet right behind the cockpit, and had to wait at the front because it was already occupied. I felt that rush of shame on realizing that the other passengers could see me waiting. Somehow in my head, I imagined them thinking the worst; even though they probably weren't thinking about me at all.
In situations like this I like to pretend that other people are always thinking great things like “Wow, he's awesome!” when they look at me, and while that's helpful, it hasn't entirely made the anxiety go away. One of my favorite hobbies is playing music, and it recently gave me the opportunity to confront this fear head-on.
I've been playing guitar for around 6 years now, and I can strum up a decent tune on my own or playing with friends. But I get nervous playing in public; I feel anxious and my mind wanders through a series of stressful thoughts like “I'm crap!”, “I'll mess it up”, “They (whoever is listening) won't like it”, “They won't like the song I've chosen”, “My singing sounds bad” etc etc.… Continue reading…