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Self Improvement

Why Talking To Yourself Is The Fastest Way To Build Self-confidence

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The idea of talking to yourself in a mirror might seem downright silly. And chances are, if you struggle with self-confidence, you want to be spending as little time in front of the mirror as possible. But if you can get past the initial awkwardness, you can benefit from the fastest results from spending time with yourself and actively engaging in conversation.

The wrong way of building self-confidence

When a person is under-confident, it generally means that they crave validation, appreciation, or some kind of proof that they’re worthy of love and recognition. We can all think of at least one person in our life who can be called ‘attention-seeking.’ But in reality, a vast majority of people are underconfident, even if it isn’t blatantly visible. 

Trying to seek approval from other people can manifest in indirect forms. You might find yourself working extra hours to get approval from your boss or going out of your way to do favors for people who wouldn’t do the same for you! We can really make ourselves suffer all for the quest of a few words of praise. 

The sad part is — the praise never really feels that great! Like an ice cream that got over way too quickly, praise and approval taste sweet for a few moments; before we fall right back into feeling lousy about ourselves. 

There has to be something that makes us feel better, for longer.

Why we listen to ourselves the most

Most of the time, the main reason why people are underconfident in the first place is that they have spent years thinking about self-derogatory and unkind thoughts about themselves. 

When you think that you’re not good enough for so many years, the conscious brain forms a habit out of these thoughts and keeps re-visiting them with every new situation. That’s why it’s so tricky to build self-confidence. There are numerous incidents of overweight people who had low self-esteem but found that losing weight didn’t improve their mental health. They still had low self-esteem, probably even more than they did earlier. 

The only way to get out of the rut of negative self-thoughts is to change your neural pathways. The only way you forget a previous habit is by forming a new one.

Continually talking to yourself in the mirror and saying good, positive things about yourself really works. And you might find it easier to say “I love you” in the mirror than saying “I love myself,” and that’s because we have a habit of being nicer to other people, not ourselves. Try to talk in the first person. “I am so smart.” “I am worthy of all the good things in life.”

“Every thought is either an investment or a cost.” T. Harv Eker

The Process

It will seem silly for the first few days. You will forget to do it sometimes, or even when you remember, you might get irritated with the entire process. It’s very hard to stay motivated. But try to stick with it! Give it 21 days of talking to yourself in the mirror every morning before you brush your teeth.

 (I found it easier to do it when I brush my teeth in the morning and night because that’s something I never forget to do.)

Focus on starting with complimenting yourself, listing out the things you admire in yourself.
“I like that I have a good work ethic.” or “I’m a good person, and I always value the truth”. After that, you can spend a few moments chatting with yourself. Talk about how much you like the weather today or anything else positive that you can think of. 

The key is to look right into your own eyes in the mirror. Try not to get distracted by that pimple that’s popped up on your chin or being critical of something else. You wouldn’t stare at your best friend’s pimple while they’re talking to you, would you? Treat your reflection with respect and talk to it directly without being mean.

The Results

After some time, you will notice results. They will be almost imperceptible initially, but you’ll end up looking forward to the time you spend looking into your own eyes. 

It takes a bit of time to rework the way your brain thinks, but this is the only direct way to get your mind to start giving you the approval you need. 

Once you spend time with yourself in the mirror, it creates distance. You’ll be less mean to yourself because you don’t want to hurt the person in the mirror. You’ll have started a long journey of self-love, one we must all undertake. 

There is so much more to human potential than we give ourselves credit for. The mind is powerful, and if you’re planning to do something for self-improvement — you’re already on the right path. 

Remember to stick with the process, and don’t expect instant results. In a month, your self-confidence will have improved because you’re finally getting the approval you always wanted: approval from yourself!

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Habits

Why Too Many Self Help Books are Bad for You

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Self Help

Since you’re reading this article on this blog, you probably have a keen interest in self-betterment. You’re the kind of person who has a constant hunger to grow, develop personality and achieve great things. You probably have a full shelf of self-help books at home, and reach for a new one in airport book stores. 

Let’s take a moment to congratulate yourself on this. Not many people, definitely not the vast majority of people are genuinely interested in self-growth. However, like any good thing in life, there is a flip-side to immersing yourself in self-help content. It can severely impact the way you see yourself, and the world around you; sometimes for the worse.

The Heroes

It’s fairly common to read a self-help book and start valorising the writer. The requisite to write a self-help book or a how-to guide is often being successful first so that you then have the ‘right’ to preach to other people. That’s why many “successful people” write memoirs or how-to guides to spill their secrets and let others know how they made it. 

A byproduct of this is the audience begins to automatically consume everything that the writer tells them as the gospel truth. We don’t doubt the credibility of someone who’s made it big. We don’t ask for much scientific backing when these successful persons tell us their life story: one anecdote is enough. 

Of course, in any field of scientific research, a single anecdote is never considered to be scientific evidence alone. This is simply because one person can never be an unbiased narrator of their own experiences. We can’t weigh their words against those of others; verify their methods with a control group. 

This is not to suggest that all writers of self-help books are getting away with lying or false information just because no one’s cross-checking (although that could be the occasional case). 

The few people who are successful in their fields and occupy positions in the public sphere undoubtedly have more experience than you and me. However, even they cannot hundred per cent explain the reasons for their success. It is generally a number of factors that act together, right connections, right timing, right pre-dispositions combined with the person’s efforts that bring them success. 

For example, if a successful entrepreneur writes about how he built his own business empire, he could give you 10 methods, or tips and tricks that he followed to stay motivated and increase his productivity. What he cannot guarantee is that this will work for everyone. He also cannot guarantee that those 10 exact methods are what caused his success.

There are many self-help books that are abundant with real-life examples, scientific studies, and academic research. These are also, coincidentally the type of books where the author relies less on his own experience as the source of his advice. These are not just more useful books to read, they also are much more informative and entertaining than their monologue counterparts. 

Survivorship Bias

One of the other side effects of surrounding yourself with lots of self-help content is that you become prey to the survivorship bias. This means that you continually consume stories and experiences of many people that have succeeded. Once we start following ‘successes’, we begin to see them everywhere. 

Social media has a hand to play in this as well. Popular social media platforms have algorithms that create echo-chambers where you only see the kind of content that you like. So if you’re only reading about positive and uplifting self-betterment content, chances are you never come across stories about failures. 

This can make you feel that there is an enormous amount of people that are succeeding and doing what you want to do. The spotlight is on the 1%, while ignoring the other 99% in the shadow. 

You might wonder why this is a problem. Isn’t focusing on the positive success stories making it more likely that you will also be successful yourself?

Surprisingly, it’s not. It can be the real reason why it’s so hard to succeed, because you can follow all the hacks, tips and tricks, and methods that you read in self-help books and still have unique challenges to overcome. This is because you’re ignoring the data from the vast masses of people that tried the very same methods and failed. 

You must be thinking: well, I should be focusing on failure stories? That’s depressing!

No, you don’t! For one, they are difficult to find. Simply knowing the information about how often someone succeeds to the level that you want to can be your tool. 

For example, if you want to become a best-selling author, you should know that simply getting published has a 1% success rate while a best-selling author is probably closer to 0.001%.

This is not to discourage you from chasing your dreams, but only to help you bring a dose of reality into your pursuit of success. 

Final Words

Knowing that the advice you read in a self-help book is from a person part of the 1% rather than the 99% can stop you from being frustrated. Many people follow the methods and techniques suggested in these books and then expect instant success. 

So if you’re waking up at 5 AM for three months in a row now, and wondering why you’re not a millionaire yet: the story was never that simple! 

Congratulations to your brand new good habit, and pursuit of self-betterment, but know that there is a long way to go before we discover a complete formula for success

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Self Improvement

Which of These 9 Types Of Intelligent Are You?

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When we talk about intelligence, most of the time it’s on linear terms. Either someone is intelligent or they aren’t. 

What some people refer to when they talk about intelligence, is academic prowess. “She’s very intelligent, always at the top of her class.” Other times, they refer to quick-mindedness or wit. “He always has a response to everything, quite an intelligent man!” 

There is no general consensus on what intelligence actually refers to. Then comes along the question of origin. Where does intelligence come from? Is it genetic; are you born with it? Or do you become intelligent because of your circumstances, such as going to a good school?

Psychology answers these questions in a few different theories. My favorite one is by the American developmental psychologist Howard Gardner. It’s called the Multiple Intelligence Theory. Gardner talks about how multifaceted intelligence really is, and how it interplays with what we consider to be ‘talents’.

Gardner introduced 9 types of intelligence. Most people have all types of intelligence in them, but at varying degrees. That means you’ll have some amount of intellectual capacity of all 9 types, but may be strongest in only one or two. 

You can do a quiz to find out which type of intelligence you are, and then come back here and read up about your type of intelligence.

Let’s find out about the different types! 

Understanding your type of intelligence can greatly help in self-awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and also with career choice!

Visual-Spatial Intelligence

People strong in visual-spatial intelligence are great with visualizing concepts. They also tend to have a good sense of direction. 

Architects, Artists, and Navigators score high on Visual-Spatial Intelligence

Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence

People with this kind of intelligence have an affinity for words. They’re able to use language effectively for communication and tend to be comfortable with the written and spoken word.

Teachers, Writers, Lawyers are all high on Linguistic-Verbal Intelligence

Logical-Mathematical Intelligence

You have strong Logical-Mathematical Intelligence if you’re great at handling logical operations and have always been good at Math! These individuals have a strong analytical brain and are great at problem-solving.

They’re also interested in research and empirical data. That’s why you’ll find Engineers, Scientists, Mathematicians all high in Logical-Mathematical Intelligence. 

Bodily/Kinesthetic

People scoring high in this kind of intelligence are said to have strong dexterity and motor skills. Their proficiency lies in tactile actions. They tend to be good at sports, dance, and other activities that require the brain to be fine-tuned to the body’s movements.  

They’re also great at learning things through doing rather than reading or hearing about it. That means that they learn through experiences, kinesthetically. 

Actors, Dancers, Sculptors, are all examples of professions that would require high levels of Bodily/Kinesthetic intelligence. 

Musical Intelligence

Yes, Music is an intelligence too! We think of it as just a talent, but it’s definitely an intellectual capacity. People who have music intelligence show proficiency for playing musical instruments from a young age as well as a deep understanding of rhythm and melody. 

They’re also great at remembering tunes and picking up musical patterns. They’re best at learning something if they attach a melody to it. Miley Cyrus and the Bone Dance episode — we’re looking at you!

Music intelligence is found in a wide range of musical careers, from composers to producers and artists. 

Interpersonal Intelligence

You’ve probably used the term interpersonal skills at a job interview, thinking it just means you get along with people. It’s also a form of intelligence, according to Gardner, and is much more than being extraverted. 

Somebody with strong interpersonal intelligence doesn’t just get along with everyone, they also instinctively understand human emotions. They are able to identify and relate to almost anybody, and ‘speak the language’ of human emotions fluently. This means they can recognize someone else’s emotions and take it a step further by manipulating it (for better or worse!) 

They intuitively know the motives, intentions, and desires of the people they interact with. 

Great career options for people high in interpersonal intelligence are Psychologists, Counselors, Salespeople, or Politicians!

Intrapersonal Intelligence

While Interpersonal Intelligence was all about understanding other people, Intrapersonal Intelligence is all about truly understanding yourself and being in tune with your own emotions, desires, and intentions. 

They have a high level of self-awareness and are able to accomplish success in life by truly knowing themselves. They are able to spend time day-dreaming and introspecting, and can feel enriched with quality alone time.

Philosophers, Writers, Scientists all have great intrapersonal intelligence since they are able to identify their own strengths and weaknesses and hone their skills for greater achievements. 

Naturalistic Intelligence

Simply put, if someone has a green thumb, they would score well in Naturalistic Intelligence. However, there is also much more than that. People with high intelligence in this category are able to be in tune with nature and have an affinity for nurturing and devoting time to other species. 

It explains why some people have a burning passion for environmentalism and deeply care about animals and nature while others have no capacity for it at all. 

They’re excellent at identifying patterns in nature and understanding the different ways that other species ‘communicate’. 

Unsurprisingly, people with high naturalistic intelligence are Farmers, Gardeners, and Botanists. 

Existential Intelligence

People with existential intelligence have the capacity to devote their life to deal with the abstract and the intangible. They’re in tune with the spiritual realm and can spend time pondering concepts about the universe and religion. 

Religious leaders, philosophers, astrologists all have very high existential intelligence. They have the ability to ‘look at the bigger picture’ for most of their life without getting bogged down by the nitty-gritties of the everyday. 

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Habits

The Science Behind Forming Habits that Last

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If you’ve ever tried to form a habit, someone’s probably given you the advice that it takes only 21 days to do so. 

The 21-day rule claims that one must only perform an activity every day, for 21 days, until it automatically becomes a habit and the person no longer has to put in the effort to do the activity.

And, if you’ve ever tried to test out this rule: you likely found that it doesn’t really work. 

Unfortunately, there are many more factors that come into play when considering why some habit formation happens in less time than others. 

I was told by a school teacher that it takes 21 days to form a habit and 90 days for it to become a lifestyle. During the lockdown, I tried to make it a practice to meditate every day for 10 minutes to meditate. I eagerly awaited the 21-day mark, expecting some kind of magical transformation to take place as soon as I awoke. 

There was nothing different about the 21st day (or the 3 months after that), and I didn’t experience any time-bound results. 

Where the 21-Day Rule Comes from

Interestingly, the 21-Day Rule isn’t so much a rule as it’s a misinterpreted observation. A plastic surgeon Maxwell Maltz wrote a well-acclaimed book about human behavior. 

In his career, he noticed that it always took a minimum of 21 days for one of his patients to mentally adjust to the physical change in their body. He proposed that any sort of mental image adjustment requires a minimum of 21 days from this data. 

Now while this could be useful data for mental image adjustments, habit formation encompasses many more factors than that. 

Here are scientifically-backed factors that influence how strong your newly formed habit is and how long it will last.

How Big or Small it is

If your habit is something challenging to do, it will take a lot of willpower for you to drastically change your everyday routine to accommodate it. 

For example, if you work a 10hour shift and still want to workout at the gym for an hour a day, knowing it sacrifices your recreation time: chances are that this habit will be really difficult to form and sustain.

A small habit like making your bed, washing the dishes before you go to bed at night, or even self-affirmations in the morning: are all habits that can fit into a schedule without you having to sacrifice much. 

Starting with small habits makes it easier since you don’t need a lot of motivation to perform them. 

How Important the Habit is to your Self Image

Some habits we’re trying to form are more important to us than others. If you strongly believe that this habit will help you become the person you’re destined to be, you’re going to attach more value to carrying it out every day!

How Many Days you Skip

We’re often under the impression that all your progress will come crashing down if you skip a day. Thankfully, it’s been proven that even if you miss a day, there are no long-term effects on the habit formation itself. But it’s recommended that you never skip more than one day at a time.

How You Remind Yourself

When reminding yourself to perform the activity you’re trying to convert to a habit, it’s critical to piggyback off other existing habits. That means if you already have a habit of doing yoga and want to get into a habit of meditating, make sure that you meditate right after your yoga practice. One habit helps the other.

How Sustainable Your Pace is

If you’re working on forming a habit that needs to be built up over time, you need to make sure this pace is feasible for your current lifestyle. You know your life best, and if you know you’re going to have a significant life event and get busier soon, don’t have unrealistic expectations from your new habit!

Good luck!

40% of our day-to-day life is made out of habits. Forming a new habit can very realistically transform your entire life. I’m glad you’re on this journey to maximize your potential, and I’m sure you can do it!

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