Monday, April 6, 2015

Learn To Love Growth And Change And You Will Be A Success.

Do you want to be even more successful?  Learn to love learning and growth. The more effort you put into improving your skills, the bigger the payoff you will get.  Realize that things will be hard at first, but the rewards will be worth it.

Many of us have to be reminded that almost everything worthwhile in our lives is hard at first.  Learning to walk was hard at first, but gradually we learned and now it is effortless.  The same holds true for our more advanced skills such as, sports, music, art, etc. We forget these past struggles to learn and take them for granted now.

When most people begin to try something for the first time, it usually doesn't turn out particularly well.  It doesn't mean we are bad, or stupid, or anything like that, it just means that most things of any complexity take awhile to learn.

Given this, the surprising thing is how most people react when they begin to learn a new skill and it does not go well.  Most people at that point feel such things as surprise, anger, frustration, and so on.  We forget that the expression “beginners luck” means that doing something well at first is a fluke. We forget it isn’t supposed to be easy; it is almost against the laws of nature for something to be good at first.

So what is a more positive way to handle the difficulties we will encounter when we are learning something new?   We should take the attitude that we are supposed to fail at first, that is the way the system works.  We should look for a way to find fascination with the process, and build enjoyment of the ups and downs into the process.  We need to recognize the difficulties we will face and build them into the time and effort we plan on expending on the project. This is one place in your life where a healthy dose of pessimism will pay off.  Just planning for difficulty will take much of the negative emotions we feel in these situations away.

Lets look at another situation where we encounter difficulty at first.  Almost anything involving change is very hard for us to incorporate into our lives at first.  One of my favorite expressions regarding change is “the only kind of change we like, is the change in our pocket.”  Making the decision to change is easy, it is just a decision.  Staying changed is hard.  We want to fall back to our old ways; we are discouraged, uncomfortable and so on.  One again we are learning something new and it helps to build this into our plan for change.  

In addition to learning to enjoy the process as above, we can add another element to help us through learning something new or the change process. We can keep reviewing the goal we are seeking, the payoff, etc. and continually tell ourselves that the pain is temporary, but the payoff is permanent.  We need to take the pain and frustration and deal with it minute by minute, telling ourselves to hang on, hang on, we can make it.  Life is a series of minutes we can make it through.

Many people use visualization techniques to help them learn a new skill or deal with change.  They “daydream” or use guided imagery to see themselves going through the process of learning or change and attaining the goal.  A person on a diet can see himself f becoming thinner and thinner, easing the pain and giving them the sense they can do it.  The same with a new skill such as golf.  They see themselves hitting the ball, in just the right way, and they see the golf ball going right where they want it.  A word of caution regarding using visualization to learn a new skill.  The technique is very, very powerful and you will tend to perform exactly like you visualized it, so if you visualize the wrong technique, chances are you will actually perform the wrong technique. So be very sure of the proper technique before you used visualization to help you master it.

One last point.  I have stressed the need to recognize that new things will be hard to learn at first.   While this “negative” view is helpful, it must be balanced with a positive outlook for the whole project.  Plan and expect problems at first, but also plan and expect that you will eventually master the situation.  Planning for a positive outcome will help give you the willpower to see the situation through and enable things that are needed to move you ahead to appear when they are needed. Remember if we expect good things, we tend to get good things.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Answering the Time-Old Question – What is Self Image?

Self image has been scrutinized by psychologists and philosophers alike for centuries. Even though there are many arguments as to what self image is exactly, people will agree that self image has much to do with how a person feels about him/herself. Some would say that self image means how a person views himself in the world. What a person does everyday - their job, how they treat others, how attractive they are to others - hinges on their self image. Some people have positive perceptions of themselves, while others do not. It is believed that people who have positive perceptions of themselves have been told they are good, or useful. Those who are constantly told they aren’t good or useful, have negative perceptions of themselves.

This leads to another definition of self image which is how others view a person. If others do not enjoy a person’s company, the person may develop a poor self image. If other people do not find a person attract, the person may suffer from poor self image. People often put too much emphasis on what others think about them. It is important to remember that one’s self image will change throughout their lifetime. They begin to rely less on what others think about them as they mature and find hobbies and social groups that accept them. Their perception changes as they become more educated. Learning a skill or learning more about the world can have a positive impact on a person’s self esteem.

Sometimes, though, a person needs counseling in order to develop a positive self image. This is very common among women and teenagers. Fashion magazines show women that are perfect when in reality they are not. Some women feel they cannot live up to these expectations and become depressed. Teenagers feel the same way when they compare themselves to others in their peer group. Unrealistic comparisons like these are dangerous. They can lead to eating disorders, disruptive behavior, and eventually drug or alcohol abuse. Talking with a therapist can sometimes make a person realize that they do not have to compare themselves to others. Their self image improves and they can lead happy lives.

Self image needs to be nurtured. Everyone feels less than perfect sometimes. But most people recover and go on with their lives. But some people cannot let go of these bad feelings as easily. Their self image is so unrealistic, they make themselves sick and need professional help and advice in order to gain the strength needed to get past those bead feelings.