Let’s start with a very basic concept: if you’re not sold on yourself, nobody else will be either. So the first chore to attack a sense of vulnerability is to sell yourself—on yourself, to be motivated have confidence, or whatever else you choose to call it. In an earlier blog I spoke of things being simple—but not easy. This is a good example. Simple to understand, not at all easy to do. Now we will dive into it and see if anything might make it a bit easier—or at least not as scary.
Professionally I have been a student of social cognitive theory. What? Simply put—the study of people’s behavior during interactions with other people. Especially looking at people who have succeeded, demonstrated self-confidence, self-motivation, and admit to feeling a sense of fulfillment with their lives. A note of caution here: While these attributes are what we’d love to have, they are not “attainable” per se—that is they are targets that we are moving toward, hitting or missing, but always keeping in sight. One does not get there and stop.
Many of us—both writers and saner folks—tend to approach life from a position of insecurity. I’ve seen this often rooted in a fear of rejection. Sadly this creates a reluctance to act because we have this fear that we will fail, we will be rejected—or (quite often with youngsters) that other people won’t like us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we believe these fears that lurk in the back of our mind, we feel vulnerable—and we freeze up and don’t do what we want to do. Like write that book.
A very long time ago I began to learn another belief. When I make a mistake (rarely to be sure), fail at something, or get a dose of disapproval for what I did—I believe myself to be INVULNERABLE. Poppycock? (Your word for the day). Not poppycock—what I believe is that my value as a person cannot be affected one way or the other by what I do or by what others say or do. With this belief it is much easier to survive the fall, get yourself up and dusted off, and move on toward your next great dream. You see, your sense of being vulnerable, of fearing rejection and embarrassment, are coming from YOU. Ergo, they are under YOUR CONTROL.
Remember your first book signing event, or your first cocktail party with strangers present, or a similar event that you’re thinking about now?
Did you have a flash of: “What will they think of me?” “What should I talk about?” “Will they think I’m stupid?” “Will I bore them?” Be honest with yourself. Unless you’re one of those people who can leap on stage, grab the microphone and wow the screaming audience with your brilliance—without shedding a drop of sweat—then you need to read a little more.
Us regular folks start to feel that our self-worth is up for grabs—that if we say a certain thing, those people will think it’s stupid—and then they’ll think I’m stupid—and then I’ll think I’m stupid. And my diminished self-worth becomes for me a reality.
Reality check. This doesn’t happen! What you had built in your mind as a pending catastrophe didn’t happen. You actually enjoyed the party, the book signing. You actually enjoyed those people, you met new friends, and you got to tell a little of your own story to them. So what at first looked terrible (in your mind) turned out to be good for you and others.
Bottom line, folks: How many opportunities in our lives—how many books—do we not even begin because we feel uncomfortable? And how many of these might actually have turned out to be positive if only we had gone ahead?
We always heard, “Seeing is believing.” WRONG. It is first BELIEVING that allows us to see. Am I invulnerable? Damn right I am. I tell myself who I am—Believe it!