The following is a list of subjects that I have researched over the years relating to psychology. I have complied some of my favourite theories, statistics, quotes, videos and even songs relating to these topics which I have personally used and benefitted from and hope that it may equally help others. Just click the relevant tabs to find out more.
Lesson – Confidence and Purpose
Robert Green – Confidence
There’s a great quote in the above video which was originally from ‘The 50th Law’ a book by Robert Greene. It reads as follows:
Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself — your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose — they want to keep you down. You are continually prone to believe these opinions, particularly if your self-image is fragile. In every moment of life you can defy and deny people this power. You do so by maintaining a sense of purpose, a high destiny you are fulfilling. From such a position, people’s attacks do not harm you; they only make you angry and more determined. The higher you raise this self-image, the fewer judgments and manipulations you will tolerate. This will translate into fewer obstacles in your path
Here is a definition of confidence that I came up with: ‘Faith and belief in yourself that is determined by the ratio of importance you place on your authentic desires compared to other peoples reactions.’ Therefore if you want more confidence do one of the following:
– Place more importance on your authentic desires
– Place less importance on other peoples reactions
– Do both
That is it.
The secret of confidence
The following is a short essay I wrote on confidence, how you generate it and the implications.
Acceptance, confidence, esteem and power are all essentially the same thing, and it all comes down to the following question: who gets to determine your worth at any given time. If the answer is other people, then that is exactly what will happen and you are essentially giving away your ‘power’ and you will be constantly pleasing others for validation. But if the answer is you then you must ‘take the power back’ and your confidence will increase greatly. I recommend you choose the second option, you’ll thank me later.
To illustrate this point with an extreme example, it’s possible to be weird, abnormal, a loner, strange, different and constantly rejected and looked down upon by society and yet retain %100 power. It’s equally possible to be popular, fashionable and ‘well liked’, yet have less confidence than the first person. That’s because all of the things I mentioned are irrelevant to confidence, it’s really about where your source of ‘power’ is coming from. If it is from others, you will forever remain a slave to their validation of yourself. A dog always looking for a bone and a pat on the head (for want of a better analogy). It is always a matter of choice where you decide your power is coming from, and it’s either yourself, either people or a combination of the two. It’s true that life experiences may make it easier or harder for some people, being bullied at school may temporarily affect your self esteem, but the damage can be reversed to as much a degree as you choose it to.
So if confidence something you greatly desire, consciously make it a major goal in your life and begin to shift your ‘sources of power’ and over time you will see a difference in yourself, it’s not only possible or likely – it’s inevitable.
A person who ranks highly on sociopathic, psychopathic, narcissistic or machiavellian traits typically likes to control other people or put them down due to lack of empathy, a desire for power over others, or perhaps both. I consider myself to be the ‘anti-sociopath’, because I want other people to be free, independant and self empowered, so I happily and willingly share what I have learnt about the ‘secret of confidence’. I am not saying you should never listen to other people, or being entirely selfish, but rather where the topic of esteem is concerned, it is the better choice to make it something you generate and determine yourself. The following is a list of benefits of becoming more confident; resillient to bullying, better at handling criticism, higher peer pressure tolerance, long term happiness, cannot be swayed from goals and dreams, become better at attraction, deincentivise dark triad of traits, less toxic conformity, less regrets, more fuel for courage, less mental health problems, better leadership skills e.t.c
“Take the Power Back” by Rage Against the Machine sums up this mentality perfectly.
Lesson – The importance of self-discipline and motivation
Shia LaBeouf – Just do it
If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last few years it’s the importance of self-discipline and how more often that not in life, having a ‘just do it’ attitude towards solving your problems, facing fears or working towards goals is the best approach to take. Shia LaBeouf encapsulates this mentality perfectly in his recent viral video which has been remixed and parodied many times already. The above video is an inspiring and humorous remix by youtube user Envane.
A common theme amongst recovery from many mental health problems is about facing fears, coming out of your comfort zone and trying to progress your life despite the difficulties. In life people may be tempted to avoid situations, suppress uncomfortable feelings, numb negative emotions or all together give up. I know exact what this is like, and every time I was able to muster up the courage and face my problems and work towards my goals I always made progress and felt better for it. This whole concept applies to a whole myriad of life problems people might face, shame, guilt, fear, loss of hope, lack of confidence, low self-esteem e.t.c. The solution nearly always follows the same pattern, move in the direction of most resistance and keep going until you ‘overcome’ it. Progress is rarely easy, and recovery from major problems will be more difficult, but both are entirely possible and cultivating motivation and discipline will enable you improve your life in just about every way.
Here is a great article on the different types of motivation. It outlines 6 different types of motivation, which are categoriesd under Direct Motives and Indirect Motives. The Direct Motives are Play, Purpose and Potential, whereas the Indirect Motives are Emotional Pressure, Economic Pressure and Inertia. Check out the link to read more about it.
Lesson – The power of positive thinking and hope
Dumbledore – “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times…”
Often in life we are faced with a choice, to be positive or to be negative, to be grateful or to complain, to look for a solution or to give up. It is always better to try to see the good in a situation or to turn it into one, no matter how hard or pointless it may seem. The conscious choice to be positive will always pay off more in the long run than simply being negative.
Positive thinking is known to have a whole host of benefits including:
Source – http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950
Using talk therapies such as CBT or DBT you can learn to change your thought patterns and develop a more positive mindset.
Another way of looking at this is summed up in the following quote:
It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness
Finally, here’s a great article on 11 steps to staying positive. Here’s a summary of the points, but check out the link to see a detailed explanation on each point:
1) Find the optimistic viewpoint in a negative situation.
2) Cultivate and live in a positive environment.
3) Go slowly.
4) Don’t make a mountain out of a molehill.
5) Don’t let vague fears hold you back from doing what you want.
6) Add value and positivity to someone else’s life.
7) Exercise regularly and eat and sleep well.
8) Learn to take criticism in a healthy way.
9) If something still gets under your skin then know what to do.
10) Start your day in a positive way.
11) Mindfully move through your day.
Lesson – Failure is giving up, everything else is just a learning process
Michael Jordan – “Failure”
Michael Jordan’s Nike advert about failure is a perfect example of what “failure” actually is – it is giving up. He has missed more than 9000 shots in his career, lost nearly 300 games, missed 26 game winning shots, but continued to persist despite these “mistakes” or “setbacks” and that attitude is what ultimately has made him a successful and iconic professional basketball player.
Here’s another video about famous ‘failures’ and how they ended up becoming success despite setbacks, or pessimistic attitudes from others. It includes stories from Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey, Walt Disney, Lionel Messi, Steve Jobs, Eminem, Thomas Edison,The Beatles, Dr. Zeuss, Abraham Lincoln.
Here’s a few more quotes on this topic:
The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried – Stephen McCraine
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work – Thomas Edison
It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default – JK Rowling
There are two types of mindsets which relate to this idea – a growth mindset and a fixed mindset.
My final point is on the power of self fulfilling prophecies which are defined as “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behaviour”
So if your belief is “I can’t do X” “I’ll never achieve anything” “It’s impossible” e.t.c, don’t be surprised if that’s exactly what happens. A healthy optimistic mentality that embraces challenges will always precede success and breakthroughs. So work on your mind first, and the rest will fall into place.
Here is a great website which shows the careers of many successful people and the ‘failures’ that occurred over the course of their life, and how they kept on trying regardless of any setbacks.
Lesson – Self Esteem / Self Respect
Self respect seems to be one of those incredibly important things everyone needs and yet many people seem to struggle with it (including myself occasionally). The following is a list I came up which should allow a person to attain adequate self esteem and self respect.
1) Accomplishments and achievements
2) Have a variety of skills
3) Continue to learn things and become knowledgeable about different subjects
4) Have and demonstrate positive traits, characteristics and qualities e.g. Intelligence, Empathy, Creativity, Bravery, Courage, Humour, Altruism, Civility, Talent, Perseverance, Honesty, Trustworthy, Curiosity, Confidence.
5) Making the “right decision” despite it’s difficulties
6) Remain true to yourself and believe in yourself
7) Don’t ruminate or keep it at a minimum
8) Instead reminisce over good memories
9) Don’t take things personally even if they seem that way
10) Interact with positive and supportive people
11) Avoid negative or unsupportive people
12) Resolve past trauma’s and try to learn or take something from it
13) Look at past shameful, embarrassing or regrettable memories and laugh about it or realise that life is full of mistakes and that nobody is perfect
13) Set realistic simple goals regularly and work to achieve them
14) Use ‘non violent communication’ to translate moral judgments, insults, uses of shame and guilt into an understanding of unmet needs. https://www.cnvc.org/
15) Pick one attribute, skill, area of knowledge and become an expert or master at it
16) Help others, be polite and decent and be happy for it
17) Learn to be assertive, which is a healthy balance between passive and aggressive
18) Realise most people cannot fundamentally disrespect you, they can only make the suggestion, but ultimately you choose whether to accept or reject the treatment
19) Adversities of life may be challenging and frustrating, but realise you can learn from these situations and even improve because of it
20) Don’t compare yourself to other people and if you do replace jealousy with admiration towards the other person or motivation to improve yourself
21) Typically speaking, those who disrespect you will likely have self respect problems themselves
22) Remember the positive feedback you’ve had previously and continue along that path
Key points to remember:
– Most states of being, behaviours and mentalities are self perpetuating.
– Anyone can improve their level of self esteem, but you must take action towards improving yourself and your life.
– The greatest determiner of your overall level of self esteem and self respect is: you.
Lesson – What to do with the time you have
Gandalf – Words of wisdom
Starting at 1:10, Gandalf’s speech about pity and fate is one of my favourite quotes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and also one of my favourite quotes of all time. From my understanding of his speech, in every moment in life you only really have two choices:
1) Use the time, resources and opportunities available to create the best life possible.
2) Complain, make excuses and blame others for why your life isn’t how you want it to be.
I am not here to give a moral lecture about victim-mentalities and whether people should complain or not, I am just outlining two different mentalities a person can adopt at any moment regardless of their past, circumstances or upbringing. The first one will enable you to live a your life far closer to what you really want it to be but the price you have to pay is taking responsibility for everything. The second option frees you from responsibility and allows you to become negative, bitter and angry but you will forever be unhappy and full of regret years into the future. I, like Gandalf, highly recommend the first one, it is in both your interest and the interest of those around you. Oh and Tolkien was a genius Philosopher.
I saw another motivational video from the film Rocky Balboa (Rocky VI) where Sylvester Stallone’s character essentially says the same thing but with more of a ‘tough love’ approach compared to Gandalf’s delivery. The same theme crops up again, take responsibility for your life or don’t. The underlying theme to both speeches, I would argue, is about power. How much power do you have in life? How much do you want? How much is our life shaped and determined by forces outside of our control? I think ultimately, the answer depends on whatever you want it to be.
The more focus you place on what you CAN do with the time, resources and opportunities available to you and the less focus you place on what you CANNOT do, the better off you will be in the long run. Excuses are tempting, but only ever hold you back. Be adaptable, be flexible, be creative, don’t let your life be determined by forces outside of your control.
In my life I have gone through several phases, a simplified version would look like this 1) Not a victim 2) A victim 3) Not a victim
In my defence, during my ‘victim phase’, I literally had been a victim of negative life events outside of my control that I neither chose nor wished to happen. I experienced subsequent mental health problems as a result of these events and experienced a range of emotions from numbness and depression to anger and general negativity. I wasn’t good or bad, right or wrong, it was just a normal reaction to abnormal events. I later realised that the main problem wasn’t that I had been ‘victimised’, it was the knock on effect and how it was holding me back from progressing my life. It has to be said that some amount of this is due to my mentality or belief systems I had about myself, other people and life itself. I finally came to a conclusion that I needed to ‘start again’ by going back to the drawing board of life, making a plan and putting it into action. It took me a long time and was profoundly difficult, but nevertheless I made great progress and am so much better off because of it. I came up with an abbreviated quote to sum up this entire philosophy which I employ here and there in my life and allows me to deal with things far better and remain as positive as possible despite the apparent ‘negative circumstances’ – “Life isn’t about what happens, it’s about what happens after what happens”
Lesson – If you fall down, get back up again
There are many times in life when you ‘fall down’. You may be confronted with failure, setbacks or even discouragement from others. The trick is to just keep going by utilising persistence and diligence.
Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly – English proverb
We are persecuted, but we are not forsaken; We are cast down, but we are not defeated. – 2 Corinthians – 4:9
– Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman
– Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall – Confucius
“Despair, or folly?’ said Gandalf. ‘It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope. Well, let folly be our cloak, a veil before the eyes of the Enemy! For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety in the scales of his malice. But the only measure that he knows is desire, desire for power; and so he judges all hearts. Into his heart the thought will not enter that any will refuse it, that having the Ring we may seek to destroy it. If we seek this, we shall put him out of reckoning.’ ’At least for a while,’ said Elrond. ‘The road must be trod, but it will be very hard. And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it. This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.” – Gandalf
Frodo and Galadriel
Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior
Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
Mental health semi colon project