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I’ve been inspired by Jordan Peterson’s 12 rules for life to create a post about confidence that’s more practical – something that will give you guidance on how to improve your self-worth on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. So I’m going to give you these 12 roles on confident living.
I’ll point out how each of these rules relate to common core values – integrity principles – that are common amongst my clients and the BROJO community. Here we go…
#1 radical honesty
Values of honesty, courage, and acceptance.
Radical honesty is about being shameless. It doesn’t mean you don’t feel shame, it just means that you express everything even if you’re ashamed of it. It means you’re as truthful about your strengths as you are about your weaknesses. You let everybody see everything, all the time, or least get as close to that as possible.
While you might keep other people’s information confidential and secret, radical honesty means you have no secrets of your own. You’ll know you’re being radically honest when no one could ever blackmail you even if they had full access to everything in your life because nothing is sacred to you.
The key to radical honesty is letting people judge you. Every time you feel like you’re going to be judged for being truthful, be truthful in that moment. Get that obvious truth out there and let people judge you, let them hate you. And in doing so, build your confidence as you let go of other people’s opinions.
#2 face all your fears
Values of courage, curiosity and freedom.
Treat all of your phobias as your personal challenge, not something to be avoided but something to go towards every single day. Basically, anytime you’re afraid of something, you should be going into it until you’re no longer afraid.
This can be done through what’s called desensitization, which is slowly and incrementally exposing yourself to something while working on your anxiety, managing your presence and practicing mindfulness until you get used to that thing, e.g. dealing with a fear of heights by climbing a ladder a single rung higher each day.
Or you can expose yourself through a technique called flooding, which is kind of jumping in the deep end – going all in. So if you have a fear of heights, you go bungee jumping; if you have social anxiety, you go and talk to strangers. This way, you can have a massive thrill and level-up your courage. But if you’re too afraid and force yourself to do it, you will only make the fear worse.
So I recommend desensitization – always looking for that next level of discomfort – and only flooding when you’re feeling particularly bold and motivated.
#3 always be working on a grand mission
Values of responsibility, honesty and curiosity.
What problem in the world do you most want to solve? If you’re doing nothing towards solving that problem then you’ll struggle to create meaning in your life. There’s something out there that bothers you more than anything else, and every day or at least every week you should be doing something about it – contributing your small part towards the solution, e.g. switching to public transport to help with climate change.
How can you help others in the way that you needed once upon a time (or the way you currently need now)? Often, the best way to work through your issues is to help others with the same issue. If you’ve got an eating disorder, learn how to coach others through their eating disorders. If you’ve got depression, join a depression support group. Try to help others with what you need help with, it’ll create a great sense of meaning for you and it will help you get through your own shit.
This is why I coach people-pleasers and Nice Guys – I’m being the guy I wish I had when I struggled the most.
List all of your talents, skills and practical abilities, knowledge and education, and your passions. What topics and theories and concepts do you know the most about? Which activities and areas of life do you find the most interesting and are the most passionate about? Ask yourself,
“How could I combine elements these together into grand activities that use my knowledge, skills and passions simultaneously?”
For me, these include
- coaching (combines my knowledge of psychology with my skills for motivational interviewing and my love of people),
- dancing (combines my love of movement and music with challenging skill development),
- and writing (combines a passion for helping people with my literature skills and knowledge of philosophy).
#4 set boundaries and be confrontational
Values of respect, courage and honesty.
Make sure you’re always taking a clear stand on what you’re for and what you’re against. Never sit in the middle. I have a saying:
“Confidence dies in maybe.”
Don’t be maybe about anything, go all in or all out. Make sure you stand strong, especially if there’s opposition and resistance or if other people are getting upset.
You’ve probably been raised with the whole “pick your battles” cliche. Well, that’s a rule that unconfident people follow! Confident people never back down when their line is crossed. You should never tolerate disrespectful behavior towards yourself.
Now, this doesn’t mean you have to fight back and doesn’t mean you have to control someone – they might not change and that’s OK. But make sure you always stand your ground and speak your mind. Respect yourself even if no-one else will.
And the best way to reduce the number of confrontations you need to have is to nip problems in the bud nice and early. As soon as you notice something just getting a little bit iffy – crossing the line – you jump straight on it and kill it immediately. Don’t allow things to build up by waiting for them to get nice and comfortable. Dive on them so that you don’t have to deal with a big mess later on.
Values of respect, acceptance, and courage.
Fitness and nutrition are vital to confidence. Self-development isn’t just about your mind, it’s about your body too. Your physical health will affect your mental health, and vice versa.
It doesn’t matter what disabilities or illnesses you have, you should still be able to try for your peak performance each day. Make sure to use and strengthen whatever abilities you’ve got in your body as often as you possibly can. You should be sweating profusely at least once per day.
Your mind and your body are not two separate things. It is an entire package. It’s all organs, meat, blood vessels and nerves, and it all needs to work well. Everything affects everything else. So take good care of your body if you want a confident mind.
Take your mental health seriously, too. The brain is an organ like any other. If you’re having depression or chronic anxiety or you’re tired all the time or you can’t seem to develop motivation, that means the organ is faulty in some way. Go to a doctor, go to a psychiatrist, get a coach; do whatever work you need to do to help keep that organ healthy.
And finally, one of the ones I neglect the most: spiritual health. This doesn’t necessarily mean religion. It doesn’t mean believing in things that aren’t real. It means engaging in the connection with the world through things like meditation, deep and meaningful conversations, travel, breathing exercises etc.
#6 bring in mentors and coaches
Values of curiosity, courage and responsibility.
Ensure there’s always one person in your life whose job it is to put your best interests at the top of the hierarchy, whose sole focus is to make sure that you’re doing what’s right for you.
This usually means paying someone, because paid professional won’t have a selfish agenda, unlike family and friends who can’t help but mold you in their image of what’s right. Ask this coach or mentor to push you, challenge you, and hold you to account for the things that you know you need to be doing.
Make sure that they see the full truth. Tell them everything. Admit all of your faults and your weaknesses. Tell them all the things you’re scared to tell them. Make sure that even if no one else knows the full truth about you this person does, so they’ve got the best information to work with in order to guide you to live the way you’re supposed to be living.
#7 accurate self-measurement and journaling
Values of respect, curiosity and acceptance.
Always be measuring what you can control: measure your behaviour, your decision-making, and the way that you’re reacting to life. Always reflect upon it, every day if you possibly can, to ensure that you’re living the way you’re supposed to and that you’re not starting to overlook some damaging truths.
Take time to reflect and experience all confusing and painful experiences. Re-live them rather than run away. Look through them to figure out why it hurts and what you did wrong, or what it is you need to accept about life, so you can move on and not build up trauma by dwelling on unresolved things.
Make sure you’re tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) on the goals that you’re trying to achieve. Make sure you’re measuring yourself properly with numbers, quantities that cannot be denied. Measure with things that you cannot be confused about, i.e. yes or no questions, like “Did I go to the gym today?” or “Was I more honest with my partner today?” or “How many new clients did I reach out to today?”
#8 social gardening
Values of respect, honesty and courage.
Aim to create what you might call a top team; a supportive social circle full of the people who are an incredibly healthy and good fit for you, where being around them improves your quality of life while you improve theirs.
To ensure this can happen, make sure you destroy all unhealthy relationships (or even mediocre relationships), and settle for nothing but the best. If that means being lonely because you can’t find the best… so be it. Wait until you fill those spaces with high-quality people. Do not waste your time, energy and attention on people who are a mediocre or bad fit for you, because your confidence will suffer.
Plant seeds and just let honesty grow them. You don’t have to try and make friends or try to make people like you. Just be yourself with as many people as you possibly can, and allow the good-fit healthy people to react positively to you. Pay more attention and put more effort into the ones who reciprocate – the ones who improve your life and the ones whose lives you can improve.
Everybody else who reacts badly or even half-heartedly – just let them go. It doesn’t matter, you don’t need them.
#9 constant education
Values of curiosity, respect and courage.
While you can be an ‘expert’ in some areas, make sure you’re always a beginner in something at any given time. Make sure you’re constantly being challenged, so that brain of yours is constantly having to form new pathways and keep fresh. Don’t deteriorate and disintegrate into conservative and outdated psychological patterns.
Rather than getting into an echo-chamber and just finding people to agree with, constantly look for the people who disagree with you. Explore the philosophies and perspectives that you find repulsive and try to understand them. If nothing else, this will help you hone your own position, but will also help you sometimes see when you’re wrong.
This will help you to deal with your cognitive biases, which are your biggest barrier to curious learning and development of wisdom.
Constantly fact-check. You’d be amazed how many things you’re certain about and yet you’re also totally wrong! There are some simple resources on the internet, from science sites through to Wikipedia, where you can double-check things. Make it a daily practice to choose one thing you’re “sure of” and double-check it, just to train yourself in humility and to know that you’re sometimes wrong.
Enhance your knowledge until it’s the best; as scientifically accurate as possible.
#10 practice slowness and patience
Values of presence, curiosity and courage.
Never rush, even if you’re late. Rushing is a mental state, not a physical one. It’s just feeling like you’ve got more to do than you’re capable of doing, feeling like you’re behind. You’d be amazed at how much will rushing actually decrease your productivity as you try to think of more than what you’re currently doing. It doesn’t matter how things are going, take your time and do it right.
Establish a strong, strict morning routine, something that wakes up your mind, wakes up your body, and slowly prepares you for the day. If this means getting up half an hour or an hour earlier, then do that. Make sure there is time for your morning routine. Most unconfident people start their day in a rush, then they basically carry that momentum through to the end and wonder why they feel behind all the time.
Confident people let the day come to them. They get up, they meditate, they take a cold shower, they exercise, they eat need a healthy breakfast, they talk with their partner, they plan out their day, and then they get into it. And these are the kinds of people who succeed regularly.
Only ever do one thing at a time. There’s really no such thing as “multitasking.” It’s a myth. While you can do multiple tasks at the same time, your brain is only ever focused on one of them at a time, which means your attention is flickering between various tasks. You’re losing a small amount of space, time and energy with each of those flickers. Do one thing, do it well, and then move on to the next thing.
#11 minimalism – resource management and awareness
Values of responsibility, courage and freedom.
Don’t underestimate the power of budgeting. Face the truth about every dollar you spend. Notice where every piece of your resources – money, time, and energy – are all being spent. Once you know that, then you can adjust accordingly. Spend these things only on valuable activities. Save the rest.
Try to get by on the least amount possible, a.k.a. minimalism. Explore how much you can restrict yourself, rather than trying to gain “abundance” all the time. You don’t need more stuff, you need less! You don’t need more money, you need to learn how to spend less. You don’t need more time, you need to ruthlessly prioritise.
Try to get by on the minimum while still having a good life. It’s a great challenge and it will free you to practice delayed gratification – recommended by nearly every major philosophy from Stoicism to Taoism to Buddhism.
Rather than blowing all your resources trying to feel good right now, save them up for meaningful experiences. Use your time wisely rather than just wasting it doing distracting bullshit. Save up your money – rather than blowing it on two boxes of beers every weekend, save it up for a big trip around Thailand.
Only use your resources for things that are meaningful, and delay gratification rather than just constantly trying to feed the ego’s petty desires here and now.
#12 Always have hobbies and fun things to do
Values of playfulness, presence and curiosity.
You should be doing something creative and playful nearly every day, just for fun and no other reason.
I recommend some form of artistic expression, especially if you’re the more engineering type of person. It can be drawing, it can be music, it can be dance, it can be acting, it can be creating or building something (e.g. model planes). The point is just doing it for the process of expressing yourself artistically, without rules, regulations or obligations.
Skill and achievement are not relevant – you don’t need to be “good” at this. Don’t ruin your hobbies by making them into a competition unless competing is the fun part for you (you’ll know it’s fun if you don’t care about losing). There needs to be something in your life where the only reason to do it is to enjoy doing it. It must have no higher goal.
Overall, the best thing you can do is start with a list of rules like the one I’ve created, but then slowly adjust as you experiment over time, until you’ve got your own set of rules: things you’ve proven to yourself that – when you follow them – your confidence and quality of life remains high.
Test these things out, keep the things that work and discard the things that do not, until you have rules to follow that are consistent and create a great life.
Achieve that consistently, and your confidence will be untouchable.
Thank you so much for reading, I hope that was helpful. Please share it around and subscribe to the YouTube channel if you enjoyed it. And pf course if you want help following these rules or creating a list of your own, get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll see what we can create together.