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The Power of Self Knowledge

Is it important for me to know myself?


It is very important to know one's self for at least three reasons:

First, you have to live with yourself 24/7. No one in your life will be with you as much as you are with yourself. Would you live with a stranger for so long without knowing anything about them? Essentially, it is about self-awareness which leads to greater understanding. Who you are, what you like and want, where you are going, what makes you happy and what makes you irritated: those are very important things to know if you are to improve the quality of your life and take advantage of the things which make you glow.

Second, self-awareness builds confidence. The more you know about you, the greater you will feel emotionally and the more adept you will become at dealing with situations. You then become more intuitive about what works for you and what doesn't. Self-awareness is a powerful tool for improving competence because you will be pushed along directions which make you feel good rather than living in a vague way from day to day, not knowing how you feel or what you should do.

Finally, self-awareness boosts identity. If you don't know much about your background, history, culture, gender and what you value, how will you get on with others in mutual respect? They cannot respect what they don't understand. People who lack self-awareness tend to be ambiguous and make others feel uncomfortable because they are never sure what to do or what they want. So ignorance about the self is not a good thing. Self-awareness builds self-esteem through personal appreciation and understanding.

Knowledge is power, but the greatest power is self-knowledge.

If you do not really know much about you, how can you appreciate yourself or others? Most important, how can they value and appreciate you too?

The Essence of Having the Best Quality of Life - Self Love!


The best quality if life comes from one simple but powerful ingredient: self love. This one thing has a knock-on effect on so many other things like happiness, contentment, positivity, achievement, to begin with. My personal aim is to grow older disgracefully, preferably with someone who shares that view. Yet one cannot grow older disgracefully if one has no confidence to do so, and confidence comes from self love and high self esteem. Nothing else.

How many of us cannot bear to see ourselves in a mirror, cannot stand to hear our voices coming back at us, or to see ourselves in a photo or on a video? Too few people like what they see or hear of themselves. In fact, one famous actress said she never watches her films at all as she cannot bear to see how she acts. Luckily for her, the paying public takes a different view, otherwise, like her, no one would bother to watch her performances.

We are all beautiful and unique beings, made in the image of our god, universe, nature or whatever we believe in. But some higher power is at the back of us somewhere because our body is nothing short of amazing. Everyone has some beauty which is uniquely theirs. We tend to seek the approval of others for our existence, especially when we are younger and need help in making our way into the world. That personal need follows us into old age where we continue to wait for people to approve of us before we like ourselves. But self love and self respect are the key items which keep us as young as possible They not only bring out the best in us, they also give us a deep feeling of oneness and happiness in ourselves which gradually affect our well-being and our interaction with others.

When we love ourselves, we give permission for others to love us too, to appreciate our strengths and weaknesses, and to enhance that sense of worth and significance we all seek. Many people undervalue themselves and use either their parents or their lovers to set the standard of acceptability for them. They deliberately ignore their strengths, preferring to focus on their perceived weaknesses, to the extent that if their relationship is ‘failing’, they are likely to blame themselves for it too.

If they were not loved and affirmed as children, they are also likely to see themselves as unworthy and inferior to siblings or friends, always lagging behind while clinging to the judgements of significant others in a constant comparison with them. As they become older, that negative reaction would have cemented itself inside their heads and then their self-esteem takes a battering. By the time they are in their 50s or 60s, the weight of the world is likely to be upon their shoulders, helped by their loneliness, anxieties, endless problems and low opinion of themselves. In fact, the biggest tell-tale sign of this unhappiness in others is likely to be extra weight gain. As the weight piles on, they feel even more unattractive to themselves and to others. Gradually, their feelings begin to affect their health when the negative reaction of others unwittingly makes their fears come true in an unrelenting cycle of self-loathing.

Consequences of Lacking Self-Love

Self-love is crucial because it leads to a love of our bodies and talents. It also frees us to stop focusing upon what we lack, while we accept ourselves as the beautiful and wondrous beings we are. When we love ourselves we are likely to nurture our bodies, to be proud of who we are and to nurture others too for who they are. If we have little self love we are hardly likely to have much love to give either. In fact, people without self love tend to be more self-centred and uncomfortable with their surroundings, finding constant fault with their environment, nit-picking at others and whingeing eternally about the ‘good old days’ and what should be happening now. The present is never quite adequate, despite the phenomenal inventions and benefits.

Again, people without self love are usually reluctant to learn new things because their identity is attached to a past life which would unravel if they strayed too far from their anchor, or were challenged to change their outlook. They tend to live in fear of new innovations while feeling confused and bewildered by rapid change. The extreme ones are likely to make people around them feel inadequate because they are still striving for what they wanted in their earlier life and haven’t yet achieved. Believing they have lost their opportunities forever, they tend to be full of regret and will continually expect their children to chase those lost dreams. More likely, they will expect anyone they value to live up to the impossible standards they have set themselves in order to feel better and to fuel their sense of significance.

This kind of behaviour is not so surprising when loving the self is not an easy thing to do. It is very difficult to change years of negative treatment and a lack of reinforcement into something positive and wholesome. Someone once said that we are prisoners of our own experiences. If we were brought up on persistent abuse, we will assume that behaviour to be not only morally right, but also regard it as the accepted practice everywhere else too. That perception would hold until our life experience widens sufficiently to show us otherwise.

When we have been through a lifetime of neglect, put-downs, non-reinforcement, striving to please, or even having abuse of any kind, it is really difficult to change those habits and begin to value ourselves enough. There is no quick-fix remedy, but making a start at loving and appreciating who we are at least promises some action.

How do I love myself when I feel like crap?


Many people see my constant, happy smile and make instant assumptions about me and my past. However, my childhood was a pretty traumatic one. In the bad old days, as I call them, I would pass a mirror, momentarily liked what I saw but then suddenly, and inexplicably, would start telling myself that I was 'crap', that I 'hated' myself and I was 'pathetic'.

I had buried my trauma deep inside me, refusing to face them and, slowly, they took their toll in continuous self-loathing and low self-esteem. Gradually, and painfully, I learned that I had to sort out my past, face it and move on, and then begin the slow process of self-love. The wonderful result is clear to see now.

At the root of our main problems is likely to be a chronic lack of self-love. It is much easier for us not to love ourselves because the natural instinct to blame always seeks scapegoats, especially internally. When we do not wish to blame someone else for the hurt, pain or unappreciation we feel, we go inwards with the anger and beat ourselves up instead.

For example, victims of racism are likely to loathe themselves or their children, likely to tell their children how 'ugly' or 'horrible' they are, externalising the self-hate they feel. The same with victims of domestic abuse. They usually blame themselves for the violence, being willing to believe that they must have done something to deserve it and they are not worthy of anything else. This lack of self love perpetuates the negative situations, reinforcing the very behaviour which is hurting them.

Respect starts with the self
Self-love is the key to personal value, feelings of worth, inclusion significance and ultimately respect. We cannot earn the respect of others if we have no respect for ourselves. We cannot expect others to love what we reject if we have no love for ourselves and we cannot expect value from others if we give ourselves no value. What happens in our life happens in circular motion: whatever we feel we then give out to our world which comes back to us ten-fold through the natural Law of Attraction. So if we feel awful and negative, we give that out, the energy we send out attracts similar negative energy which then returns to haunt us even more in a dismal cycle. That is why certain people constantly have negative experiences. Nothing will change until they change their thought processes. So you need to be careful what you focus on because that is all you will get in life!

However, how do you begin to love yourself when others might not have affirmed or loved you? A very good question, and not so glib to answer because it is difficult to do. It means you have to try to overturn years of negativity and being undervalued by parents, lovers or friends. However, it starts with establishing 5 things:

* The value you place on yourself.

* Gratitude for your life and blessings.

* What you wish to do with that life.

* Self-appreciation and living in the present.

* Self-forgiveness.

Who is your Personal Manager?
First, begin by looking at yourself from the outside. Ask yourself, if you were your own manager would you employ you? Would you employ someone who puts you down, tells you how terrible you are, beats you up for every mistake, loathes you and does nothing to motivate you? One who forces you to put up with violence or putdowns, or to be treated like a doormat? Of course not. Yet you constantly do that to yourself! Time to sack that personal manager, that little voice of negativity within you, and get a new motivational one!

Second, begin to give thanks for your LIFE and its blessings. Your time on earth is very precious because many people have no life. Theirs have been taken while you are still enjoying yours. Appreciate that simple fact and be grateful. It is a fact of life that the more we give thanks is the more we have to be thankful for (that Law of Attraction again). Our gratitude energy goes out and attract other similar energy and brings us back much more in return. You don't ever have to do something wonderful to be a winner. Just by opening your eyes each morning and finding yourself above ground makes you the biggest winner! Give thanks for that. Never take it for granted because one day you simply will not be there.

To begin the process of self-love, you have to ask ourself these questions:

When did I last give deliberate thanks for...
- waking up and seeing another day?

- the people in my life?

- the things I have been blessed with?
- the talents I have?

- the faculties that still work?
- my beauty, life and experiences?

When did I affirm and reinforce someone?

Do I just take everything and people around me for granted?

Go through that list again and award yourself up to 5 points for each, if you did it yesterday or today. Anything under 20 is bad! My score was 35. Up to 12 years ago it would have been no more than 10 points.

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Establish your life purpose

Third, what do you wish to do with that life? We are not talking about your job here. We are talking about your PURPOSE. What makes you want to jump out of bed in the mornings, makes you want to fly, thrills you with a warm glow when you think of it? That's your purpose. If you are feeling generally unhappy, you have not identified your life purpose yet, otherwise you would be almost delirious with excitement, as I am every day of my life.

My work is just magic. I can actually see the difference it makes to others and that is so empowering - both to me and the receivers. You are probably just doing your job for the sake of the money, trapped by a mortgage or being a slave to material things. That will not make you feel good in the long term. It will not give you much value. When we are living to purpose the world is our oyster and everything we want gradually comes into being. We don't even have to try too hard, we just do our best and the Universe delivers.

Fourth, I have learnt that when we keep ourself in the past it is because we don't like our present too much. We probably feel isolated, excluded, unloved and unappreciated, so we secretly blame ourself, we use our depression to maintain attention, but of a sort which, sadly, alienates us from others and have counter-productive effects. In short, our current unhappiness helps us to hark back to the past to remind ourself of how terrible we are while making our situation worse. We keep the negatives stuck in our head, perhaps for sympathy, instead of facing them, acknowledging them, forgiving OURSELVES and others and moving on. I could not forgive until I found love .. my own self-love. To find true love from someone else, you have to love yourself first. No one can love you for you.

People who live in the past tend to take their present for granted, while many others have not been so privileged to have one. We have no present or future if we live in the past. We are so busy looking back there, we have no time to make a future or to appreciate what we have. Hence we come across as selfish and ungrateful.

Someone once said, "If you want to know what your future will be like, look at your habits now". Whatever habits you have today will dictate your tomorrow. If you have negative habits that keep you stuck in the past, you will only keep getting what you've always got. Your future will be no different from today. Your habits, the way you do things now, will guarantee that.

So, in a nutshell, you have to STOP:

a. beating yourself up over past actions

b. aiming for perfection

c. comparing yourself to others, otherwise you will always feel inadequate.

d. seeking the approval of others when the only standard should be your own.

On top of all that you have to:

e. Look outwards to others in love and appreciation than just focusing on yourself.

f. Appreciate your limitations.

g. Praise yourself DAILY for being a wonderful and unique human being.

(Just think...you're the only one, ever, throughout history!)

If you put these items together with the other 7 questions above and use them as a weekly regime, the difference would be dramatic.

I have found all these items to be most helpful in developing self-love. But, most of all, accepting myself as I am and giving thanks for every new day of my life, instead of taking it for granted, has been the biggest factor in nurturing my self-love and moving me from feeling like 'crap' to feeling fabulous and fantastic.

How can I be happy?


Q. I like to workout, volunteer, work, party and play video games. But no matter how I play it off someone always seems to say something to bash my self esteem. For example, if I play video games, I’m a ‘nerd’ and if I party, I am a ‘wasted’. No matter how much I try I can’t find a happy medium. Any advice on how to be truly happy?

A. The only way you can be truly happy is not through other people, or what they say, but through loving yourself enough so that you are not constantly seeking the approval of others in what you do. Happiness is not a destination we arrive at. It is a state of being and it comes through self love, which then breeds confidence and high self esteem, self belief and trust. When we don’t like ourselves very much, we become thin-skinned to every comment and care a lot about what others say instead of what we actually want and desire. Their comments matter to you and hurt you more because, being low in esteem, you do not believe you are worthy and secretly agree with them about yourself.

We can never please everyone in life, especially inadequate people who will only criticise to make themselves feel superior. If you love yourself, you will learn to recognise when people respect and value you, rather than just criticising you. But you have to value yourself first before that can happen.

You need to build up your confidence and self esteem (www.confidence-guide.com); to become an independent person in your own right who can take responsibility for your own decisions and actions, and not care too much what others think. When you are truly proud of who you are, you will be equally proud of what you do, whether partying or playing games, and will be thus far happier in your life. However, that won’t happen until you begin the slow process of learning to love who you are, warts and all, and to appreciate that no one on earth is better than you. Hence you should be free to determine your own path in life, whether ‘nerd’ or not!

The True Power of Being Yourself


Many of us find it really hard just to b ourselves; to stop acting to expectations. But therein lies our true authority and power. Don't always try to please others or to be like someone else. It is very considerate when you care about the feelings of others but your needs are just as important. If you neglect yourself when you feel ill and then get worse, how much good are you to your spouse or children then?

If you also try to do everything for others all the time, to virtually dictate what they do, or live their lives for them, you will make them dependent upon you, which will be deeply resented the day you cannot continue in like manner. Worse still, over time you will rob them of their self-respect and keep them as underachievers, incapable of progressing their lives in their own way. It is a desire to control others, and to feel superior in ourselves, that makes us overwhelm them with kindness and pretend they are incapable. But ever thought what they would do if you fall ill or dropped dead tomorrow?

Additionally, trying to imitate someone else we admire also leads to a lack of self-worth and confidence. You are unique and cannot be anyone else. Strive for greater development, but on your terms, no one else's. No one likes to be a carbon copy of someone else. Otherwise you will always feel inadequate. Like a diamond, it is much better to be the genuine article, and be flawed, than to be perfect and be a pale imitation.

Believe in Something

Whether it is religion, atheism, politics or philosophy, beliefs help to mould our principles and determine who we are, where we stand in the world and where we are going. Feel entitled to believe in whatever you like, whether God or little green men. As long as you do not impose your beliefs on others, or use them to assess or judge other people negatively, that's your right. If you believe in nothing you will fall for anything, and people who stay in the middle of the road eventually get run over! Waverers also command little respect because others tend to feel insecure around them. Such people change with the wind and are perceived as untrustworthy. It is the desire to please everyone, as well as to be liked, which robs you of any principles and leaves you pleasing no one in the process. Being yourself means you will always have the courage of your convictions to stand out from the crowd.

Accept Personal Balance

There will be certain things at which you are more adept and competent. Equally, there will be areas in which others excel, so it is impossible to expect perfection in every aspect of your life. It is a lack of acknowledgement and respect for the competence of others that makes us feel we have to compete on their terms to feel worthy. That's why many bosses with low confidence often take the credit for the work/achievements of their colleagues.

Remind yourself that there is always something you know which every person you meet will not know, while there is always something you won't know on which you will have to be informed. It will stop you feeling that everyone else is 'better' than you in every respect, or that you are smugly superior in any way.

Do I have a mental illness checking my mirror all the time?


Q. Without sounding 'crazy' I quite often wonder if I have a mental illness. I have a stable/good job, a relationship and friends etc but behind closed doors always check myself in a mirror (I have NEVER ever admitted that) not even to a shrink I sent myself to. I can't bring myself to combat my insecurity, whatever it is. I really have not accepted myself as I am I think...I get treated differently when I am how I go to work, but if I went to work looking like a bed monster, like to an interview, I wouldn't have got the job looking like that! There is something not right in my brain and I want to fix it incase I go loony.

A. There is nothing 'crazy' about you at all. You merely lack confidence in yourself and have a desire to seek the approval of others. Hence why you are always doubting yourself and checking the mirror to see that everything is in place. 

You say: "If I went to work looking like a bed monster like to an interview, I wouldn’t have got the job looking like that!"

That's perfectly normal. We all play different roles in our life according to where we are and whom we are with. For example, we would behave differently around a lover than around a friend, and we all look different when we just wake up and are getting out of bed than when we have had a chance to shower and freshen up. Those are all NORMAL activities that everyone does. We all look different at different times of the day depending on the context and how we feel.

Learn to build your confidence up by appreciating yourself AS YOU ARE, instead of some perfect being which does not exist. We all have faults and flaws, but we also have strengths and assets too. The problem comes when we only focus on those flaws (as you appear to be doing) and ignore the wonderful things about us. You've obviously lost your confidence and self esteem so you believe you have you live up to the expectations of others to be someone. But that's a recipe for self ruin because we cannot ever please everyone. Most important, we can only ever feel really comfortable when we are being ourselves, not striving for impossible perfection.

"but I really have not accepted myself as I am I think"

You've hit the nail on the head with this statement and until you can accept yourself fully, how can you feel better?

We are wonderful, unique beings. There's no one else like you in history. Start giving gratitude for your blessings  instead of making yourself unhappy wishing for something else. Most crucially, how can anyone accept what you continually reject? They won't feel too comfortable around you either. Time to value yourself and build your own esteem. Then the mirror will reflect your glory instead of of a constantly sad story!

How do we learn to see beauty in ourselves?


We see our beauty when we learn to appreciate and love ourselves. But that's not very easy to do because we are at the mercy of how we were brought up, how much we were appreciated by parents and relatives, and how much value and encouragement we were - and are- being shown. Many people lose out on this, big time, because of their negative childhood experiences which might still be reflected in their work lives. They internalise those feelings and carry them all through their lives thinking themselves terrible and unattractive people.

For example, my childhood traumas gave me a very negative self perception of my looks and body which I harboured inside my head for over 30 years and which reflected itself in recurring depression during those years, and even suicidal thoughts. It is only for the last 20 years, when I began my own self development and appreciation, that I have completely turned that round to what I am now - and the two women, then and now, are vastly different. It wasn't easy but it is well worth it.

Self-Appreciation: Don't wage a war against yourself!


We all try to be perfect, with mainly negative results, every day of our lives. The only way to avoid sterile perfectionism which gets us nowhere is to improve our confidence. But this is no easy task when we are all governed by our thought patterns and old habits cling fast. There are a number of things we can do to boost our confidence and remove the desire for perfection, but it depends on the level of esteem we already enjoy. If confidence is flagging, one can take remedial steps, but if it is non-existent or has come under repeated attacks, it will need a greater resolve, and perhaps even counselling, to change it positively. When your confidence needs boosting, two main things are very important:

First: Think Positively.
Low self-esteem feeds on negative messages and thoughts so avoid indulging in constant self-criticism. That's like waging incessant war on yourself. Acknowledge your weaknesses, yes, but do not dwell on them. It's your weaknesses too that makes you unique. Do something about them instead. For example, treat yourself to something you definitely enjoy, just as you would do for a friend you value. If you feel lonely and have no regular date, why not hire a professional escort for an evening to take you out? One who would make you feel a million dollars, yet without compromising you. They are likely to look and behave great too! That should gradually build your confidence to find your own partner.

Often we don't feel we deserve to be happy in life or to actually admit that we are proud to be alive and so we deny ourselves the pleasures we crave, always waiting for tomorrow or worrying about the consequences. But tomorrow might never come, as we might be gone tonight. Furthermore, we can always deal with what life throws at us, especially if we are feeling good! We also tend to attribute our accomplishments only to 'luck'. But there is no such thing. When people complimented one woman on how lucky her son was to be a celebrated singer, her reply was always a gracious, "Thank you for saying that. But the most fascinating thing is that the harder he works, the luckier he seems to get!"

So, give yourself credit for your own personal achievement. Your successes have been due to preparation, hard work, experience of what is appropriate and, finally, the time and circumstances being appropriate for your efforts to come to fruition. Luck has little to do with it.

Second: Be Proud of YOU.
You are unique, so appreciate your identity, your gender, your colour, your name, your customs, your dress, your values and traditions. If you dilute or hide these elements to please others, you will always be undermining what makes you a unique person while putting others and their values above yourself. This will only keep you feeling insecure, inadequate and second-best. People cannot respect what you are ashamed of, and some Asian people who hide their names, for example, or readily change them to suit Westernised ones, come easily to mind. People who are also willing to shorten their names to suit others who are too lazy to accept the proper versions are merely compromising and devaluing themselves to please others. Yes, you should compromise where you can, but on mutual terms, not just on the terms of others, otherwise you give a very powerful message of your own low level of self-esteem, desire to please and little pride in being you.

Self-appreciation is the start of everything that's good in our life, the lynchpin to getting what we desire. It does not matter what other people do, but if we treat ourselves with love and respect, with daily appreciation for who we are, others are likely to treat us in exactly that way too.

Do you have issues of confidence?
This could be the answer for you!


Most people do not realise this but the actual driving force behind their actions, and ultimately their quality of life, is their level of confidence. Many times we make crucial decisions while we are affected by low confidence and low self-esteem not realising that those decisions are likely to have been different, if we had the confidence and self-belief to choose something else.

Decisions tend to match our moods and moods are the result of how confident we feel. Ipso facto, we are likely to behave differently if we are one of those low-confident, timid people. It means that one little word has a powerful effect on our routine actions and existence which is often not appreciated by most people. Yet poor confidence affect our life chances and can even affect our health.

Knowing the consequences of low self-esteem and weak confidence (I have been through it myself too!), a month ago I decided to do something about the subject. I have created a website totally dedicated to the issue of confidence where many questions can be answered. If your confidence is not as it should be, there could be an answer there for you.

Questions like:

What is Confidence?

Where does it originate from?

How can you lose it or boost it?

What's the connection between confidence and success?

are fully answered, with self assessment quizzes to see the state you currently are. Your confidence and how you could improve it should no longer be a mystery.

Do enjoy it and give me some feedback too...:o)

The Sihera Confidence Guide©

I have some bad thoughts about me. How can I change them?


Q. I feel like a loser even before making a plan of a career in life. I'm 17 and I want to become a professional musician. The thing is, my grandfather told me, many times before, that I won't have a chance in this. That it is impossible for me to enrol in a music school, after graduating high school, and that I'd better do something else. He told me I should have started at 6, not at 15 and that I should leave the guitar, which is my instrument, and start doing piano or violin, but just for a hobby. He always tells me that the life is hard, and you can't make a living out of music even if you do your best. I feel like every note I'm playing is wrong. I feel like I'll be a loser in life.

A. I am not surprised you are feeling this way when you are not being affirmed in what you value. But there is nothing at all wrong with your abilities. And you are not a loser. What you have done is internalise what your grandfather told you, keep remembering it, and judging yourself and your future by it, instead of deciding what life YOU want for yourself. When we are children, we are under the influence of our families and sometimes people who haven't achieved themselves lack the confidence to see what others are capable of. So they judge others by their own 'failed' yardsticks by discouraging them, especially the young, from pursuing their own dreams.

The only thing you need in life to be a winner is to BELIEVE that you can do it. Your grandfather, or anyone else, can say what he likes, but it is up to YOU to accept or ignore it and decide how you wish to progress. If you never try you will never know. But if you think you can, or you think you can't, you are right on both counts. It really has nothing to do with what anyone else says. That is perhaps a crutch to justify your fears. Start with the self belief that you can do ANYTHING you want with the right attitude, natural talent and training and you will see the difference. You might not succeed at EVERYTHING but your efforts will gradually reveal what is right for you. You and your grandfather are two completely different individuals, born in completely different ages. How can you keep using his words and experience to guide you? I bet he wished he had your opportunities and world.

Always remember: In 1940s they said that man couldn't go to the moon and look what happened to that! Most people who could not even visualise such a prospect felt nothing but doom and gloom about it, whereas other people, who believed in the possibility of conquering space, and could see the vision, made it into a reality. NOTHING in life is impossible. If we can think it, we can create it. You are not playing well at the moment because you really don't believe you can do it, so your actions are reflecting your thoughts. It is not possible to think negative and act positive because thoughts dictate actions.

We are what we think and so long as you continue to think negative thoughts, that's all you will have in your life. But you are approaching adulthood and that puts you in charge of your own life. Time to leave your grandfather's words behind and start believing in you; to ditch the crutch of fear holding you back, before his words become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Instead of telling yourself your grandfather's words daily, why not tell yourself some of your own instead? Like "I am a great musician. I just need to practise”, or "I will be great if I wish to be, it's all up to me", or, "I will enrol at music school, if I believe in myself and can work hard enough. Whoever says differently is speaking for himself, not for me, and I am not them"....and so on.

Affirming yourself is the only way forward. Letting someone else dictate what you do really won't achieve your desires.

The Power of Personal Perception


In any ordinary day two people might meet who come from different sides of the tracks, one a vegetarian, perhaps, and the other a meat eater. Does it really matter in the relationship? Aren't those mere choices which people can change at any time to accommodate those they care for?

Not quite.

Being a vegetarian carries certain beliefs about not eating animals and it is those beliefs that we choose to focus on which form our perception and dictate how we react when we see meat, or come in contact with a meat eater. Perception is thus important in a relationship because it dictates our expectation of others. It is the way we see our partner, the way we judge him, the way we expect her to behave and the way we value her in the relationship, which influences its progress. It is always tied up with our background, culture, class, colour and value system, our ethos and morality – the specific way we were brought up to view our environment. Hence the deliberate personal choice in political affiliations, religious adherence or social and ethnic groupings.

Apart from ethnic sets, membership of all other social groups is based purely upon our perception of their usefulness: the individual benefit available to us and the degree of comfort we feel with them. Our experience of them will either confirm or deny that perception, which will further influence what we pass on to others as reference – which bits we emphasise, downplay or actually omit. That is why some mixed race people in a White society perceive themselves to be 'White' and others choose to be 'Black'. It depends on their degree of comfort with themselves and what they believe they represent.

Those who value being White more than their Black heritage will emphasise that part of themselves and vice versa. This is because perception dictates identity while identity controls behaviour. When personal perception is not validated or reinforced by others, it precipitates an identity crisis, feelings of low esteem and general worthlessness. The impotent and excluded way many minority groups feel in Britain is a case in point.

Choosing our personality
In short, life presents us with a choice of elements which shapes our personality (traditional, conservative, extrovert, introvert, etc.) and we choose which of them we wish to make the essence of our lives, the ones which enhance our personality and goals, rejecting those which reduce our feelings of comfort and impact. That narrow view becomes our perception and it is used to control our actions and to influence our view of everyone else. Being based on a highly personal and selective choice from all the available options, each individual perception will never be like anyone else's, though it might share key elements with others (i.e. cultural/ gender views).

The strongest perception operates when we meet someone new. for example, if we are tactile, loving, romantic or emotional, we perceive the object of our attention to reflect those characteristics too. In the heightened phase of attraction, when people want to touch and be touched, personal perception might appear to be reciprocated. But it is only later on, when other invisible forces take over, especially with regard to love, sex and living together, that the true personality comes to the fore.

Later on, if the person isn't so tactile, isn't so romantic or isn't so loving, the difference will start to irritate and the couple will gradually move apart. That's why so many relationships are vulnerable after the first year or two, and why many people are left to wonder how they could have got it so wrong. Their selective perception would have been the culprit.

Which are the Best Years of your life?


Some people like to say that when they get to retirement, when they get some more money, when the kids are older, when they win the lottery, or when they find a partner, etc., etc., they will be happy. But the best years of my life has been every single year I have been given, no matter what happened in that year. No matter how rich, how poor, how ill I have been, I have been happy.

People tend to be unhappy in their lives because they do not give thanks for one important and crucial thing: the fact that they are breathing and many others are very dead! They see being alive as an automatic right and so take everything else that comes with it as automatic too, with little gratitude for their blessings. But once we have had death in the family, a life threatening illness, or have been to a situation where we might have lost our lives in a second, it is amazing how nothing else matters in life after that, except life itself.

People who have not been happy before, or who just keep looking forward to a Utopia in their lives, are unlikely to ever be happy because that is simply expecting perfection, living in the future instead of the present, especially when today could be the last day we actually have. If we are going to be happy, it has to start from now, this minute. Not some golden time we hope will be better because we might not be alive to see it.

Furthermore, happiness is not a destination that we travel to and seek continuously. Happiness is a state of mind, it is how we feel every single moment of every single day. So, we won't find happiness in the future, if we haven't found it already, because we are the ones who make happiness inside our heads simply through our thoughts. We can be the poorest person and the happiest depending on how we THINK. When we think negatively, when we can't cope with crises, when we expect everything to go perfectly in life and it doesn't, happiness eludes us.

I have a life threatening illness which also killed my mother. I don't know which day I will no longer be here so every morning, as soon as I open my eyes and see my ceiling, I give huge thanks to my Maker for still being here. I need nothing else to make me happy. I am delirious with joy at life itself.


(Photo images used on EmotionalHealthGuide.com courtesy of dreamstime free photos).