My mother knew a lot of Child Psychology. She had no formal degree, but she knew.
When I was about 12 years old she asked me to make a cake. By myself, but she would be in the kitchen with me.
“I’ve tried this recipe a couple times,” she said, “but I can’t get it to come out right.”
All of the ingredients were set out on the counter. The recipe was propped up so I could easily reference it. I began measuring, adding into the bowl, mixing – one line at a time.
The oven was pre-heated.
The raw batter in the cake pan was placed on the middle rack.
The timer was set.
We waited. I don’t remember what I did while waiting. But I checked through the oven glass many times.
The cake was rising just like a good cake should.
Mom also checked, and every time announced, “Looks good. I think you’ve done it!”
Tomato Soup Cake became my specialty.
Every time we had it Mom would repeat, “I don’t know what he does, but I can never get Tomato Soup Cake to turn out right.”
I read recently that it is proclaimed by experts that “Mothers make the difference in establishing confidence in children.”
It’s maybe too late for the readers of this blog to depend on their mothers for this miracle.
Does that mean there’s no hope?
Can you at your age do something to develop more confidence?
Yes! You definitely can increase your self-confidence!
Self esteem is a related term.
If you are a parent, or a grandparent, of young children, you have a strong influence on the self esteem that is developed in them.
No matter your present level of self-confidence or self esteem, you can take action to increase to a higher level – without becoming conceited or obnoxious.
Confidence is what you want, and change is required in a few areas of your life to achieve it.
1. Change Your Appearance
2. Take Inventory of Yourself
3. Talk To Yourself
4. Set Goals
5. Polish Your Interpersonal Skills
The Details – How-To
What people see as ‘you’ includes your Clothing, Grooming, and Movements.
Start with the inexpensive areas if you have a limited budget for a new wardrobe. Grooming: Hair style, hair cut, hair color, beard – your general grooming – is a good place to start. Get some input from trusted friends and advisors. Movements: The way you stand says a lot about your confidence. Stand tall, shoulders back, head up. Say, “Yes, this is me!” with your posture. Walking: Confident people walk faster than others. Pick your feet up, don’t slide; take confident steps, which tend to be a little longer than hesitant steps.
Sitting: Don’t slouch. Sit up tall. Always have reading and writing materials with you – and use it while you’re waiting. Working: Stay busy. Keep the materials out that you need to get your job done. Organized for easy access. Clothing: Observe what your bosses are wearing. Dress like them. At Home: If you complete some or all of your work at home, you need an organized work space – an office if you have the space. Avoid clutter. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”
2. Self Inventory
Make two lists
A. Your Strengths
B. Your Accomplishments
Get a friend to help you with this step.
Keep the list where you will read it daily.
3. Self Care; Self Talk
Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Tell yourself the good words that will encourage you to keep going.
Exercise, diet, recreation, friendships, worship – some of the ways that we can take care of our selves.
Take up some new activities: painting, music, writing – artistic expressions.
4. Set Goals
Change takes time. Be realistic. You might need some advice from a trusted friend or advisor.
Be patient as you put your plans into action.
Ultimately, confidence is built on what you can see that you’ve accomplished.
Every day you need to see that you have reached, or at least, moved closer to a personal goal. Set your goals accordingly.
5. Interpersonal Behaviors
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Be an Encourager, a Friend. Sound like you have confidence in others as they do their work. Find ways to compliment others. Speak as if you have achieved your goals.
Eliminate complaining and whining.
When possible, avoid places, people, and activities that make you feel bad about yourself – at least until you are stronger, more confident.
In the words of Lao Tzu: Confidence is the greatest friend.
Make that friend.
(I draw on personal
experiences in this post to establish that I understand what I’m
writing about. I do NOT have any angst toward my father. He did the
best he could do. The three illustrations presented here are simply
I was twelve. My
father had rigged up a system in our garage so that he could balance
the tires without paying for it. “Come help me!” he called.
I obeyed. He gave a
quick explanation of what he wanted me to do.
My first attempt to comply failed. “I told you to do this!” he exploded, and quickly demonstrated again.
My second attempt
was no more successful.
useless!” he exclaimed. “You’ll never amount to anything!”
I have a voice in my
head that repeats those words when the work I have to do is complex
In December when I
was twenty-five my then-wife said to me, “I have filed for
divorce.” Understood in that brief statement was, “You’re no
good at being a husband.”
A different voice in
my head reminds me at odd times of that fact.
The principal called
me into his office one afternoon. “I’m recommending to the board
that you will not be re-hired for next school year.”
reminds me that it can be capriciously decided by anyone that I am
less than what is needed for the job.
We all have voices
in our heads that speak up for many reasons.
They tend to remind
us of some failures or fears or inabilities that have happened to us.
Some may call them
by other names: Thoughts, Dreams, Plans, maybe even demons.
It is my observation
that it is impossible to get rid of the voices.
I have tried to
drown out the voices that remind me of my poor past. Since I am able
to remember enough to write this post, you can tell that drowning is
not very successful.
But, we can
influence them, we can train the voices to help us rather than defeat
Step 1: Take Control
When one of the voices speaks about the past, I speak right back to
it just like it was a real person speaking negativity to me about me.
“That happened, true. But the threat that I would never amount to
anything is untrue! I successfully worked as a teacher for almost 50
“Many of my students attribute their success to my efforts in their
education and training.”
“I have succeeded at several occupations in my life, with
I even quote my now-wife as she has spoken with superlatives about my
The point here is that my present voice IRL is more powerful than the
history voice that erupts from time-to-time.
Step 2: Teach It
What To Say
It may sound crazy, but as Sheldon says, “I’m not crazy! My mom
had me tested.”
Don’t let negative be the last word. Beat it down with current
I tell the head voice to repeat my positive statements (facts) back
to me. In my father’s voice, or ex-wife’s or ex-principal’s.
It’s kind of satisfying to hear.
Step 3: Create
This is an extension of Step 2.
Teach the brain what to say in order to give you power to do.
Consistent Rejection of everything negative
Persistent Repetition of positive messages (that you create)
I have taught the voices to focus on the positives in my life – the
accomplishments, the acccolades, the victories, the successes of my
enabled me to take on challenges that I might never have attempted in
my younger years.
>In retirement I decided to expand my photography skills
repertoire and began working as a Wedding Photographer. In that arena
you can’t make a mistake or miss a shot. High Pressure equals High
Praise when the product is excellent.
>I wrote and published a young adult novel which is available on
Amazon. I began writing when I was twelve, and dreamed for years
(decades) of being a published author.
>I decided to illustrate a children’s story that I had written,
so I began meeting with a master water color artist to learn that
medium. My wife says I’m getting pretty good. And that satisfies
Most of the time in
my life now I no longer hear the accusatory statements referenced
above. The negative statements have been replaced with
acknowledgements of a live well-lived.
Our inner voices are
directly fed by what goes into our brains through our eyes, ears, and
senses. Movies, TV shows, videos, games, where you go, your friends,
the books and magazines you read feed our brain voices.
What you encourage
your brain to spend time on, what you repeatedly send into your
brain, feeds the voices for either positive or negative.
You get to decide.
No one else can make the decision for you.
Change the input to
change the output.
You are free to
choose; you are not empowered to avoid the results of your choices.
I had planned to become a teacher.
I felt called to teach at the high school level: History, English, Spanish.
I would leave college with seccondary certification.
During my last semester of my senior year I was hired to teach in Florida.
Dream job. Or so I thought.
May came and I was informed of the teaching position I would fill.
A one-room school in Boynton Beach. Probably 8 students.
In grades 1-8.
I think I was a rather typical 21-year-old. Rather self-absorbed.
Something happened to me early in the first semester of that first year of teaching.
I discovered that my students mattered to me.
My mother had cared for other people’s children all of my growing up years. She treated them like they were her own. Give to meet their needs with little regard for her own needs.
Something she had instilled in me through her example took root in my spirit and began to grow.
I don’t recall a growing-of-the-tree named Teacher. It was like it exploded into my self, full-grown.
Forty-eight years later I left the classroom as my daily life.
What does it take to make a difference?
To meet the needs of others as a priority in my personal needs?
What if you didn’t have a mother like my mother?
What if, like me now, you are not 20-something?
What if you are not just starting out into the world?
I am now in my 70s. With another birthday this month.
I think there are some principles of making-a-difference that can be applied no matter your age.
1. Answer this question, in writing: What do you believe in? Create a list.
2. Look for a need outside yourself.
There are so many needs around us, right in our own neighborhoods.
Right in our own churches and schools.
Finding a need may result in overload.
The problem soon becomes, which one do I choose?
3. Get involved with an already-in-place opportunity.
State Farm Insurance has a program called Neighborhood Of Good.
One of their opportunities will likely fit you.
4. Be the person you wish to see in your world.
Begin where you are: You.
Set an example.
5. One Person Cared-for.
I was walking from the Garden Shop in Home Depot to the plumbing department. I had a question for an expert.
An elderly man in a motorized cart blocked my way. He was going full speed, which was a slow walk for me. I fell in behind him. He turned, saw me, and attempted to move to the side. There was no room for that.
I laughed and said, “Don’t worry! I’m in no hurry!”
We traveled that way until we came to an open area. He stopped. I came up beside him.
(Those of you who know me understand that I am not out-going.)
He remarked that items in his basket were marked one price, but the register in the garden shop had rung them up at a higher price. He was looking for a supervisor.
“My wife always hangs two fern baskets on either side of the fountain in our front yard,” he commented. He then kind of choked up and ducked his head. “Always hung,” he corrected himself. “She died in December. I just need to continue her legacy,” he said quietly.
I stayed there and talked with him (mostly listened) for a long time. “Tommy,” he introduced himself. He was lonely. After 50+ years of marriage he was unaccustomed to the condition of lonely.
I have his name and I will call him.
6. Each One Reach One.
Someone once said to me that if each person helped just one person we could reach every person in the world in a few months.
That detail is suspect.
Start with one. Look for an opportunity to make a difference in one person’t day.
Pay It Forward at the drive-thru, or the toll booth, or the coffee shop.
7. One Person Inspired
Your action may well inspire the one that you took care of to Be a Difference, too.
At work, at church, at the grocery or department store, at the restaurant, at home.
Especially At Home. Make a difference in the day of a family member. Maybe this could become a Family Adventure.
Caution: Don’t do any of this as a way to be recognized and thanked.
An Adventure like this will result in a Settled Peace within yourself. No fireworks. No applause. No awards or recognition plaques. Peace.
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Small things often yield big results.
story is told of a woman whose husband had died and she had no
the ignominy of being a widow, and barren, an apparent statement by
God that she was undeserving of His bounty;
the pains of hunger and being shunned by her community;
loved God and desired to give Him a gift, the best gift she could.
Only the best gift would satisfy her longing to show God how much she
great difficulty she went without essentials of life and over time
managed to save 2 mites.
of the smallest coin denominations in the country. $0.02 in today’s
would take her offering to the church, she resolved. That, she had
been taught, was the most direct way to give to God.
what could a large church possibly do with two cents?
in the services or maintenance of the church could be paid for with
her act of sneaking those two coins into the offering plate was
noted that “no one has given more” and made sure her legacy of
devotion to God and of unselfish benevolence was preserved for all
this story we can learn a lot about legacy. It shows us that we
what you have to quietly give joyfully, in small opportunities,
you desire to make a difference.
dictionary would define Legacy
a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from
another. It is something that
one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited, or
received from a predecessor. It
could be a memory or a family history.
examples of legacy are:
left us a legacy of a million dollars.
left his children a legacy of love and respect.
war left a legacy of pain and suffering.
legacy of his example shows us what is most important in life.
artistic legacy lives on through her children.
start purposefully working on your legacy, use the following
questions. Think about and answer them honestly to discover a legacy
that matters and endures.
1) What is the most
important need that my family has right now?
2) What is the most
important need that my business has right now?
3) What am I doing
when I am the happiest or most content?
4) If I could snap
my fingers and acquire a strength or talent, it would be ___________
because ___________ .
5) Twenty-five years after my death, what will I be remembered for? By my family? By others?
6) If I were required to give everything I own to a cause (not a person), what cause would that be?
questions may sound simple, but
each question should
much thought. You
have to think about them
for days before really knowing the answers.
a Positive Legacy
Steps to Building a Positive Legacy
1) Be Joyful in What You Can Do
2) Focus Your Efforts in Your Known Talents, Strengths
3) Drill Down to What Matters Now
4) Look for Small Opportunities to Do
5) Make a Difference Through Service
Comments on the 5 Steps
1) Joyful is contagious. Those you are serving will be positively affected just by your Joy. Since Joy is somewhat rare, you will be memorable.
2) Applying the talents and strengths that you already have means you can start now to build your legacy – or modify the one that you accidentally began. You are more likely to follow through in your efforts when doing what comes easily.
3) Be sure that your efforts are centered in What Matters Now. Your family deserves your best you. Zero in on Now, not ten years from now.
4) Small opportunities are often overlooked or considered unimportant. But small opportunities well done open the way for more and bigger.
5) Helping others builds them up, and there is no better difference you can make than that. In the eyes of those you serve you will be a hero, and your legacy will be secure.
Blocks to a Positive Legacy
Unsure of what you want to accomplish scatters your efforts.
Trying to please others focusing on what matters to them.