In a recent post I recommended that if you want your confidence to grow more quickly, it's worth developing the habit of sharing your successes with other people. In response I got an email asking:
What do you do if you haven't any success?
OK, great question. It may seem hard to celebrate something that you don't already have. So here's my suggestion on how to handle it:
Allow Yourself To Feel The Pain
We live in a society that systematically denies and suppresses emotional pain. Most of us have been taught to hide how we feel both from ourselves and from other people. Having a lack of success in life is painful for a man. For me, it brings up feelings of sadness, rejection, hopelessness, despair and anger.
These feelings are painful, but allowing ourselves to feel them activates the grieving process which takes us back to a clean slate where we can start creating what we want in life. Skipping this step leaves us building on a foundation of pain, which lays dormant ready to undermine our future progress whenever one of these painful emotions is triggered again.
Since most of us guys have been trained to suppress our pain, this may not come naturally. Grab a journal and start writing about how you feel around not having the success in life that you want. Be specific about what it is that you're missing: relationships with women, money, sex, power, health. Whatever upsets you, write about it. Allow yourself to dwell on the emotions rather than the thoughts that you have about it. Dwelling on negative thoughts creates more negativity, whereas dwelling on unpleasant emotions allows them to dissipate. If you want to feeling really gutsy, share what you discover with someone else you trust, or do it anonymously on the forum.
Start Wherever You Are At
You may not have the success that you want in life yet, but my guess is that you have more success than you're giving yourself credit for. Start with that. Even if all you have going for you is a pulse, there are plenty of people in the cemetery who would gladly swap with you.
Find three things each day that you're successful at, no matter how small they are. Maybe they're as trivial as:
- I'm alive
- Made myself breakfast
- Went for a walk
Begin celebrating anything and everything that you enjoy.
Success breeds more success, and expressing gratitude for what you already have in your life leaves you more open to receiving more good things. This isn't just some mystical new age notion; it's how our brains are wired. If you're constantly looking at the problems in your life, you'll miss unexpected opportunities. Start developing a better balance between problem-solving and appreciating things exactly as they are.
Start Creating Some Successes
Starting wherever you're at, begin creating some successes in working towards your dream life. Break everything down and start small. Success comes with persistence and focus in taking small steps; not through giant leaps. So learn to develop these key life skills by sticking at whatever you love doing long enough to master it.
For instance, I love playing music; but I was overwhelmed when I started at the difficulty of the task of learning. So I take it step by step, each day practicing to improve my skills and notch up one more tiny success every day.
At the moment I'm learning to play drums, and every time I master a new exercise in the book I'm working through, I take a break to celebrate the success. I'm not a rock star yet, but I do have my first gig coming up and I now regularly jam with three groups of musicians. They're all better than me and often I feel inadequate and ill prepared; but boy am I learning fast by taking on the challenge!
Put Yourself Out There
In hindsight I can see that my greatest joys in life came about because I put myself out there and then was open to unexpected possibilities. Often the joy came in ways that I could not have possibly imagined initially. We develop resilience by learning to handle the inevitable rejections that happen in life, and that requires us to step up and keep putting ourselves out there. Again, start wherever you're at. Maybe it's going to a dance class, learning to play music, or any of the other activities recommended in Part 4 of The Confident Man Program. The most important thing is to take the next step, and then the next, and then the next; celebrating the fact that you've taken each step as you go. After a while this process becomes habit forming and the successes begin to snowball.