Friday, June 27, 2008

Face Personal Challenges

1. Every day, try to free yourself from the desire for perfection and allow your confidence to grow. It was the Buddhist Lama Yeshe who said, Self-confidence is not a feeling of superiority, but of independence. That is an important point to remember: that you do not feel good because you are better than someone else. You feel good purely because of your own efforts and achievements. Confidence is not puffed up, arrogant, selfish or boastful. It is a quiet and unmistakable authority which motivates and inspires others. Self-confidence comes from being challenged to ones limits, meeting the challenges, having a sense of fulfilment and then setting new limits. We can only learn by admitting we dont know everything, and never will.

As another Buddhist advises, Be light, humorous, eager to learn, courageous to change and not afraid of making mistakes. Emotionally beating yourself u167Cp is not helping you or the world; it does not change the past nor does it change the future. It only makes the present miserable. Absolutely.

2. Perseverance
This quality will make a big difference to your life, so please bear it in mind. Do not not expect everything to happen at once or overnight, but it should not take too long either. Life is a journey, not a series of unconnected events. If you treat it as such, you will always be ready for the unexpected pit stop. You will accept that life will go on for you, with every day being a different one, until you dont exist anymore. The extent to which you enjoy and benefit from your life depends on the state in which you make that journey, whether you are positive or negative, an optimist or a pessimist.

Having off-days in emotions, when you have to recharge to face the next day or hurdle, is absolutely fine too. Dont fall into despair just because your mood changes and you feel overwhelmed, sad or anxious at any particular time. We are not machines. The off-days are as important for recharging those emotional batteries as the good days. Its when every day is an off-day that life is truly problematic. If your self-esteem is consistently low, or youve tried confidence remedies and there is no improvement at all, it might be worth seeking professional help. It could be that you never really developed a high opinion of yourself during your childhood and you now lack a firm, positive base to build on in appreciating yourself as a valid, but flawed, extraordinary human being.

3. Take Risks
If you have a problem or worry, it means it is time for change and something needs to be done differently. If you do not change, you will keep getting the same old problem. Always approach new experiences as opportunities to learn and develop rather than occasions to merely win or lose. Doing so presents new possibilities for your abilities which can increase your sense of self-worth, while providing opportunities to release that inner talent and reserve. Its always the challenge of the new, and the act of accepting these challenges at varying levels, which increase our self-confidence. Not doing so turns every possibility into a projected failure and inhibits personal growth.

For example, as I encourage contributions and opinions from our small office of four staff, it is often like a mad inventors studio where we have many ideas for the business every week, while accepting that only few will ever work. The main outcome is that everyone has a sense of ownership and responsibility for every aspect of their work, making even the most junior worker feel significant. The beauty is to give room for those thoughts, to take the risks which seem realistic, and to wait. The right ones will always work, though perhaps not in the way we expect, or the time expected. Doing nothing simply brings us nothing.

4. Dont Be Defeated
If at first you dont succeed, try something else. Everyone fails before they succeed. Think back to when you were a baby and learning to walk. You crawled first, then you stood up in an unsteady way, constantly landing on your bum. But repeatedly doing this improved your balance and built your confidence to take those first magical steps. Then you walked and, before long, you were running. However, there would have been many false starts and landings before you were able to run. As an adult, all you need is the same belief in, and patience with, yourself; the time to grow confidently and the determination to stick at it. By the law of averages, you will succeed in the end.

I am a living example of that with the business I created. Twelve years on, it is only just beginning to respond in the way I first envisaged because I too had to develop and grow with it. It doesnt mean I never had self-doubts, never felt foolhardy or demoralised, or not wanted to pack it in especially in the face of a lack of support and too many crises. But the success is all the more enjoyable and well earned because of the long wait, personal enjoyment and persistent self-belief involved.

How HAPPY are YOU? Try our simple HAPPINESS QUIZ to test how you feel about yourself just now. Being unhappy robs you of opportunities and success. How do you REALLY feel now?

ELAINE SIHERA ( is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and lifestyle columnist. Confidential advice on personal/relationship issues is available on the quiz site. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a Personal Empowerment, Relationships and Diversity Consultant. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, "Fit, Fabulous and Ready to Fly!"

Louise Hay

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