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This Is How You Can Overcome The Past And Move Forward

This Is How You Can Overcome The Past And Move Forward

I think that one of the most difficult things for a human being to do is overcome the past. Our past defines us, shapes us, and for the most part we carry these experiences for the rest of our lives. For better or worse. Just yesterday I attended an acting class where the instructor said that she sensed my tension and apprehension at following her directions. As part of an exercise, she wanted me to lay down on the floor, close my eyes, breathe, and relax. However, she could see that this was challenging for me. My shoulders were tense, I continued to fidget with my hands, and closing my eyes was a very difficult thing for me to do in that unknown environment. These are all side effects of my own past life experiences.

I grew up in the streets of the South Bronx, under the constant threat of random and often targeted violence. As such I developed a very high level of awareness, and relaxing translates into letting go of that awareness. Something which I am not too keen on doing, particularly when I am outside of my comfort zones. She insisted that I comply and I did my very best to relax. This is part of my own process at overcoming the past. As you can see, in my case it is still very much an ongoing process. Perhaps you feel the same way, and that is why you are here. With this article I will attempt to share some points that may help you on your own journey.

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Acknowledge the past

In order to address or move on from any problems in life, we must first acknowledge that they exist. You have to look at your life and acknowledge that you are still struggling with something that happened in the past. For many of us this is not easy, particularly tough guys who grew up in the mean streets of the South Bronx. If you are really determined about moving on, first recognize that the past happened. Understand that it is the past, and contrary to what I said earlier it doesn’t have to define you. You get to choose who you are today, and you can leave the past in the past.

Lyrical therapy

Writing has always been a major outlet for me. I still recall writing in a diary at a very young age. This continued on to my teenage years and evolved into poetry and music. During a particularly rough time during my teen years, I was attending counseling sessions. The way that my counselor and I communicated best was through my poetry. He found that I best expressed myself through writing and this became our primary means of communication. Here I am some 20 years later, and I still heavily rely on my writing and poetry as a means of coping with life and it’s challenges. Many poets that I know strongly credit their writing as the reason that they are still functional human beings, myself included.

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Being present

One item that I still struggle with is being present in the moment. This is a topic that I have been covering since the infancy of the web. I still remember making youtube videos when it was a brand new fad, and one of my earliest video blogs was about “being present in the moment.” I’m not the only one either, many others have been sharing this kind of information for a long time as well! Our lives are so busy and so connected that we are often “not present.” Our bodies may be somewhere, but our minds are in 20 different places. This is not a good way to live and it robs you of the simple pleasure of just “being.” Practice mindfulness and focus on being present. One technique that I was taught was to put my feet flat on the ground, to focus on my feet being on the ground. Feel the ground beneath your feet and acknowledge that you are there at that moment. Simply placing your feet on the ground should provide you with some form of calm and relaxation.

Feel

One thing that I consider myself is a master of blocking things out. I am so good at shutting down that some people have perceived me as cold and cruel. The opposite is actually the truth. In fact, this is a common defense that sensitive people practice as a form of survival and self preservation. We feel so much, that things hurt that much more. However, you cannot truly let things go if all you do is bury and deny them. You have to allow yourself to go through the range of emotions, whatever they may be. Let them pass through you, feel them. Don’t deny yourself this or you will never truly move on. Trust me on this one, in some instances I am still working on this.

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Communicate

I mentioned earlier how writing was a form of therapy for me. Well, talking to someone can be just as valuable. There is one person whom I wish that I could speak with and gain some closure from. This opportunity has been denied to me for decades now. The person has gone on to become the topic of many a song that I have written, and only with the passage of time has the pain subsided. However, the true closure has not come since we have not been able to speak. One technique that I have implemented is talking to them on my own. Sure, this sounds like I am a crazy person, but a little crazy isn’t all that bad now is it? My father died, he’s gone, so there is no way that I will ever get the opportunity to talk to him. Even so, I still speak to my dad. I tell him through my soul that I miss him and that I wish we could actually talk again. I cry silently and I tell him that I know he did his best. If physically talking to the person is not an option, and a friend is not available, then be a little crazy with me and use this method. Just be aware of your thoughts and don’t listen to any odd statements!

Overcoming the past is not easy, and 1,001 people will give 1,001 ideas on how you can do it. Ultimately it is up to you to find your own way, but we hope that these ideas may help you on your journey.

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Featured photo credit: Alan Cleaver via flickr.com

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

The Art of Humble Confidence

The Art of Humble Confidence

To be confident or not to be confident, that is the question. I’m not sure about you, but I’ve been a bit confused about all this discussion about the subject of confidence. Do you really need to be more confident or should you try to be more humble? I think the answer is both – you just have to know where to use it.

East VS West – Confidence, It’s a Cultural Thing

In typical Western countries, the answer to the confidence debate is obvious – more is better. Our heros are rebellious, independent and shoot first, ask questions later. I think this snippet of dialog from The Matrix sums it up best:

Agent Smith – “We’re willing to wipe the slate clean, give you a fresh start. All that we’re asking in return is your cooperation in bringing a known terrorist to justice.”
Neo – “Yeah. Well, that sounds like a pretty good deal. But I think I may have a better one. How about, I give you the finger”
[He does]
Neo -“ …and you give me my phone call.”

In Eastern countries, the tone is often considerably different. Elders are supposed to be revered not dismissed. The words ‘guru,’ meaning a teacher, and the philosophy of dharma, loosely translated to mean ‘duty,’ come from here. In Eastern cultures humility and respect are more important than confidence.

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These perspectives are generalizations, but it shows how the confidence debate goes back deep into our culture. I think that both extremes of pure confidence or pure humility are misguided. Instead of rectifying this situation by simply blending the two: becoming somewhat humble, somewhat confident all the time, I believe the answer is to know when to be confident and when to be humble.

Humble Confidence – Know When to Use It

I’m going to make another broad generalization. I believe that virtually every relationship you are going to have is going to fit into one of two major archetypes, either master or student. In peer relationships this master/student role may switch frequently, but it is extremely rare that the relationship never leans to one side.

In the master role, you are displaying confidence to get what you want. This is public speaker, leader or seducer. Being the master has advantages. You have more control and ability to influence from this role.

The student role is the opposite. You are intentionally displaying humility. This is the student, disciple or follower. Being the student has advantages too. You can learn a lot more in this role and are more likely to win the trust of the other person.

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Know When to Shut Up and Learn

If you are a typical Westerner, you are probably already thinking about which role you prefer. Being the leader is great. You get respect and a higher status. Most of all you get a greater degree of control.

But the problem is that you can’t and shouldn’t always try to be the leader. Trying to assume that role without the skills, resources or status to back it up will lead to conflict. More importantly, there are many times when you purposely want to display humility. Some of the benefits to the student role include:

  • You learn more.
  • Smooths relationships.
  • Makes others more willing to lend a helping hand.

Knowing when taking the humble route is to your advantage. It is far easier to get mentors and advisors if you use humility rather than arrogance. A small sacrifice to your ego can open up the potential to learn a lot.

Confidence to Persuade, Humility to Learn

In reality almost no relationship is as clearly defined as master/student. Within our connections, people have overlapping areas of expertise. I might be an expert in blogging to a non-blogger, but they might be an expert in finance. In each area there are different roles to take.

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Before any interaction ask yourself what the purpose is. Are you trying to learn or persuade?

Persuasion requires confidence. If you are trying to sell, instruct or lead you need to display the confidence to match your message. But learning requires humility. You won’t learn anything if you are constantly arguing with your professors, mentors or employers. Taking a dose of humility and temporarily making yourself a student gives you the opportunity to absorb.

Persuade Less, Learn More

Persuasion is great for immediate effect, but learning matters over the long-haul. Instead of washing over all your communication with pure confidence, look for opportunities to learn. Persuading someone to follow you may give you an immediate boost of satisfaction, but it doesn’t last. Learning, however, is an investment for the future.

Whenever I make a connection with someone and realize they have a skill or understanding I want, I am careful to express humility in that area. That means listening with what they say even if I don’t immediately agree and being patient with their response. This method often drastically cuts down the time I need to spend on trial and error to learn by myself.

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Confidence/Humility Doesn’t Replace Communication Skills

This approach of selectively using confidence and humility for different purposes doesn’t replace communication skills. Humility isn’t going to work if the other person thinks you’re an irritating whiner. Confidence won’t work if the entire room thinks you are an arrogant jerk. Knowing how to display these two qualities takes practice.

The next time you are about to enter into an interaction ask yourself why you are doing it. Are you trying to persuade or learn? Depending on which you can take a completely different tact for far better results.

Featured photo credit: BBH Singapore via unsplash.com

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