Confidence – How to find it?

Do you lack confidence when it comes to certain situations? It could be anything: dancing, confidenceplaying sport, chatting with strangers, doing your job, making love.

Those who lack a natural talent for some activity tend to avoid doing it. So they are less likely to acquire needed skills for a good performance and the boost that comes with deserved appreciation. But you can improve your exam confidence by fine-tuning your study skills. You can improve your social and occupational confidence by dressing to look your best. Nothing breeds confidence as much as success.

Even self-confident people come unstuck somewhere

A person may be confidently dealing with the rapid rate of change after leaving their parents, making their way in the world, getting on well in a chosen job, finding a loving partner, and forming a new home; family, social and work relationships progressing satisfyingly. Yet, even confident people can get unstuck somewhere along the line.

The trouble is the future is uncertain and things sometimes have a habit of going pear-shaped just as you have started to get a bit complacent about life. There you were, outwardly doing well, when a time comes when something appears to hinder your path. The close friend with whom you spend a lot of time announces his or her decision to emigrate, the boss turns round one day saying the company you work for has gone bust, or the doctor suddenly announces those minor ailments you were having are signs of a deteriorating illness. There may be a crisis of doubt. Whatever the reason, life shakes your self-confidence and you no longer trust in your own abilities to save the day.

Calamities oblige us to reconsider the bigger picture. You may find yourself contemplating your lot and reflecting on the life you were leading and the society you were keeping. Then you are perhaps more likely to start to notice some contradictions around you such as the beauty of nature and the ugliness of mankind’s world of industry; the innocence of infancy and animals compared with the scheming deceit sometimes found in human commerce and politics. Another example for some is the trust shown in them by their children compared with the distrust they sometimes feel for their colleagues and neighbours. Thinking about such matters, you may realise you  have tended to take for granted some of the givens of your world without deeper questioning.

In what can you place your confidence?

So when it comes down to it, in what can we place our confidence? In our own abilities? In the ideas of others? Or in something beyond all of us? One example of the last of these three possibilities is to do with what the psychologist Abraham Maslow called `the whole of Being’.

He had studied exceptional people. The ideal values of what he termed `Being’ that he found in these individuals included justice, beauty and truth.

You may remember the final movement of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – said by many to be one of the most triumphant and joyful movements in all music. Yet, the composer wrote it at a time when he suffered disappointment in love. At one level, his life was a negative experience with everything around him seeming to overpower him. The music, however, shows his intense inner life that could be both joyful and at peace, despite the adversity of his outer world. Within was an ideal view of life that he carried within himself, but which the world could not meet.

B cognition

Maslow labelled thoughts concerning such ideals as `B cognition’ (B for Being) that he distinguished from `D cognition’  (D for deficiency). This ties in with his distinction between growth and deficiency motivation. An example of a growth motive is an interest in finding meaning in adversity and an example of a deficiency motive is a need for comfort when hungry, cold and wet.

It is suggested that the more you can understand what has been called `the whole of Being’, then the more you would be able to tolerate what appears at first glance to be inconsistencies and contradictions in the way you think. Apparent opposites can disappear. For example the apparently opposite concepts of sickness and health may fuse and blur when, using `B cognition’, the symptom is seen as a pressure towards health. Another example is Swedenborg’s concept of conjugial love that illuminates the seeming dichotomy of sexual desire and romantic attachment, for these are no longer opposite when both are present in the same loving relationship.

I am sure that what really provides confidence is not so much what you do in meeting your natural desire for comfort and status, but rather your activity to do with deeply held ideals and values associated with B thinking. A car mechanic will feel confidence in his work if he values providing a quality service thinking about how to do his best in a sincere, reliable and considerate manner. A shop keeper will feel confidence in his role if he values honest trading; not ripping off customers by selling out of date food or damaged goods but rather thinking about giving them sufficient time to see what things are actually spot on for their requirements. The confidence is in the value of the ethical principles that sustain your efforts.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Suspicion – How to overcome it?

Do you give the man in your life a warm embrace in order to sniff for any strange perfume? Or scroll through your partner’s phonebook, when she’s not around, checking for any new male contacts?

suspicionSigns of sexual jealousy in others may sound funny but if you are the one experiencing suspicion it can be very distressing. It may need some spiritual healing.

Like when one feels both afraid, yet compelled, to search through one’s lover’s trouser pockets or purse for any incriminating evidence. Of course the distrust may be well-founded or on the other hand completely unwarranted.

Having a general attitude of suspicion

Not all distrust is to do with possibly being cheated on. You may be the sort of person who often feels uneasy and wary of people in general. The suspicion is that they will seize on your mistakes and try to blame you for absolutely anything that goes wrong. So you get in the first blow finding fault in their behaviour. It is as if aggression were the best form of defence.

Having a distrust of the world can be unpleasant because we continually need to check out if people are doing us down. In addition, having suspicion about others, we do not easily form personal relationships; for to get close to someone would involve putting ourselves in a vulnerable position where we might get hurt. We do not want to risk them betraying us if we start to depend on them. Yet keeping ourselves to ourselves we feel lonely.

Reduce suspicion by looking for the good in others

I would say that the key to a trusting attitude is to look for the good and concern in those we encounter and deal with the faults of others as gently as with our own. We are in a state of peace inside only when we are seeking or finding peace around us. Looking for the good in others may mean for example making an effort to understand the other person’s point of view. By becoming more aware of where he or she is coming from, we then give ourselves a better chance to more accurately distinguish between innocent remarks, fair criticism, as opposed to things said only in anger of the moment, and hostile put downs.

Using your will to overcome suspicion

Looking for the good in others when we usually look for the bad in them requires an effort of will. We do not often find the idea of `will’ in modern psychology. One exception is in psychosynthesis psychotherapy created by Roberto Assagioli.  According to Assagioli everyone can have, or has had, the experience of freely willing but possibly not with full awareness or understanding. He said that people vary in the extent they explore, develop and use their will to develop their life.

Finding a new heart is a crucial part of our spiritual healing.  A charitable heart is looking for the good in others and valuing them for the potential good they can do. It means treating others as oneself. This is universal advice. As Jesus said: “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.” Likewise the Buddha said “Hurt not others with that which pains yourself”  and we find similar advice in the Hindu tradition that says “Treat others as you would be treated yourself”. If you are suspicious by nature yet believe in love and light as the divine force behind the universe so you can convince yourself that finding a new trusting heart is quite possible.

Copyright 2011 Stephen Russell-LacyAuthor of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

Posted on18th March 2011CategoriesHealing emotions, Spiritual healingTags, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,, , ,