Monday, August 27, 2007

THE ART OF THE BUSINESS LUNCH

Title of Book: “The Art of the Business Lunch ~ Building Relationships Between 12 and 2”
Genre: Non-Fiction, Business, Business Relationships/Sales
Author: Robin Jay
Website: http://www.robinjay.com/
Publisher: Career Press
Date of Release: Feb. 2006
ISBN: 1564148513

You can purchase The Art of the Business Lunch here!

The Art of the Business Lunch Excerpt:

Deciding where to take a client for your business lunch is more important than you might think, especially when you consider how much is communicated by your choice. If you’ve ever dined at a restaurant with patio seating near a fountain or a parking lot, then you can i ma gine what it must be like to try to discuss business at a rock concert! The noise from a fountain will have you shouting your business and any hope of bonding or inti ma cy will be lost.

The restaurant you choose reflects not only your character and personality, but also shows your client how much regard you have for them. If it is the first time you are taking a particular client to lunch, play it safe. Choose a restaurant that offers consistent quality, is moderately priced, and fairly quiet. My first choice would be a restaurant like The Palm or The Capital Grille. If you’ve never been to one of these, (there are several in ma jor cities across the United States ), let me describe it for you…you ma y know of something similar in your city. These restaurants are a business mecca, where waiters wear clean, white jackets. There is a lot of wood – on the walls, the floor, the booths and the chairs. There are crisp, white tablecloths at lunchtime, which identifies it as a high-end restaurant. The service is top-notch. Waiters are aware of guests conducting business and don’t intrude to ask how everything is if it is apparent that things at the table are fine. They accept reservations, so you know you will have a table waiting for you and your client. They also accept credit cards. These are first-class restaurants. The Palm even offers an affordable prix-fixe, or fixed-price luncheon menu. There are no surprises, which is exactly what you want for a first-time business lunch.

I recently took a client to a southwestern-style restaurant and the difference in service between this restaurant and one that I would choose for business was staggering. I had suggested taking her to The Palm, since we had a lot of business to discuss, but she insisted on going to this other restaurant because she needed to stay closer to her office at The Riviera. It helped that I had known Cammie for a couple of years, but she had just changed jobs and become my client, so this was our first business lunch together. I had a media kit at the table and was getting her up to date on her account. Our waiter was very nice and friendly, but was oblivious to the fact that we were trying to conduct a business lunch. H e interrupted us to inform us of their “exciting happy hour with half-priced appetizers.” H e stopped by frequently to ask how everything was going. Later in the meal, he interrupted again and handed us some 3” x 5” cards to fill out so that we could join the restaurant’s birthday club! We kept looking at each other through each of his “presentations,” and laughed when he finally left us alone. Thank goodness I am friends with Cammie! If this had been a new client that I didn’t know, it could have been incredibly awkward.
You should always give careful consideration to how expensive the restaurant is that you choose. If your client is on a budget at home and the lunch check for two of you is $80.00, you might put them ill at ease. On the other hand, if your client is well-off, and they spend a great part of their budget with you and you take them to an $8.99 buffet, the chances are good that they will be offended or, worse yet, perceive you as cheap. You want to find not just the right price, but also the best combination of great service, food quality and ambiance, especially for a first-time meeting.

*****

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

WAITING FOR THE BIG ONE

Title of Book: Waiting for the Big One
Author: PG Forte
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Date of Release: May 21, 2007

Chapter One

It was one of those perfect mornings, the kind that only ever seems to happen on a Sunday. You know the ones I mean, don’t you? Just before noon, all lazy and warm.

The city of Los Angeles was steeped in sunshine, snuggled about as deep into the weekend as it could get. It seemed like everyone was laid back and happy, except for me and the dozens of other drivers who were trying to move west along Hollywood Blvd, headed toward Fairfax, going nowhere fast.

They’ll tell you Pisces is a patient sign, but you can’t really label the fish. We’re complex people. We combine the best and worst of all the other signs. And the truth is, I hate to wait.
So, there I was, stuck at yet another red light, when it hit me. It wasn’t just me who was waiting and it wasn’t just now. All of Los Angeles was in the same boat, all of us, all the time, waiting for the big one.

For most of us, that means our big break, our shot at seeing our name in a star on the Walk of Fame. It’s the role that’ll lift us out of obscurity. It’s the hit that’ll soar to the top of the charts. We’re all hopeful romantics--like Kathleen Turner, in Romancing the Stone. We’re always certain it’ll happen with the next deal we make, the next audition we go out on, the next person we meet.

Take me, for instance. Any day now, with just a little bit of luck, I could go from being plain old Gabby Browne, aspiring actress and dog walker, to Academy Award Winner, Gabriella Giacomo.
And if fame doesn’t get us, no doubt the earthquake will. That’s the other thing everybody’s waiting for, the big eight point, nine point, ten point shaker that scientists say is bound to occur. The one that’ll rock this town to its knees. Even hopeful romantics have to admit it seems inevitable. How could any place with this much surface glamour not be doomed?

But this morning, I was waiting for something a little more personal. I was waiting for The Big O: the elusive, G-spot, ultra orgasm, the kind I’d heard about, read about, yearned for, but had not yet experienced.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as if I’d never had an orgasm or anything. But, to date, they’d all been the standard issue, plain vanilla kind. Nice, but nothing I couldn’t give myself any day of the week if I wanted. What I was hoping for was something more life-altering, soul-searing, rock-my-world passion. I knew it was out there, waiting for me. All I needed was the right guy to help me find it.

I knew he was out there, too. He was my Twin Flame, my Split Apart, my Tantric Soul mate; the man who would love me madly, passionately, loudly. All night long. They say good things come to those who wait, and I was certainly counting on that being true, but he was taking a long time to get here, and I was growing impatient.

Finally, the light turned green and I made it to where I was trying to get--The Body Electric--for my first workout of the week, and definitely my favorite.

Power Yoga with Derek Novello was never an easy class, but with Derek calling the shots, getting whipped into shape was almost a pleasure. I hurried up the walkway toward the two-story Hollywood Deco building, smiling in anticipation, enjoying the trickle of the fountain in the courtyard, the tinkle of the wind chimes in the topiary, the sweet scent of sandalwood.

“You’re late,” a voice growled the minute I set foot inside the deserted anteroom.

I froze for an instant, heart pounding in my chest, as I recognized Derek’s dark-chocolate voice. Then I turned, making one of those slow, graceful pivots I’d been practicing.

Derek has the kind of chiseled features the camera loves. Even now, with his thick, black brows drawn into a frown that had them almost meeting over the bridge of his classically perfect nose, his face was sensual, expressive, intense.

He was looking yummier than ever today, with his two-hundred-push-ups-every-morning-before-breakfast arms folded across a tight black tank, putting all those lovely muscles on an in-your-face display. The black workout pants he wore, on the other hand, were disappointingly loose, at least in front. But experience had taught me that when he turned around...ooh, baby.

They’d likely mold to his glutes in a way that would make my own pants grow damp.

Was I in a rush for him to turn around? Uh-uh. ‘Cause he’s also got the fiercest brown eyes, the most delicious looking lips and, oh, I thought with a tinge of sadness, if only we weren’t friends.

“Traffic,” I explained, trying to rein in my runaway lust, trying to resist the urge to run my fingers through the dark waves of his short hair. I’d always made it a policy never to mix sex and friendship. It was something Derek knew full well, though he continued to tempt me. “You wouldn’t believe all the cars on the road today.”

“So? There’s always traffic, that’s no excuse. Besides, you only live twelve blocks away. You jog, you hike, you exercise--give me a break, Gabe. Are you really going to tell me you couldn’t walk that far? You could get here on time if you wanted to.”

I sighed, feeling even more regretful. The truth is he looks even sexier when he gets worked up, and since he’s a Scorpio, that happens a lot. “Don’t be silly, Derek. This is LA--no one walks here.”

Derek rolled his eyes. “Go get dressed.”

Sexy or not, I hate it when anyone’s annoyed with me. It’s a Pisces thing. We want everyone to be happy. Luckily, I knew just how to make Derek’s day.

“I’m sorry, Sensei,” I murmured in my breathiest, most contrite sounding voice. I dropped my chin, laced my fingers together, and peeked up at him adoringly, like the blondest damned geisha you’ve ever seen. “Won’t you please forgive me? I promise it’ll never happen again.”

A muscle twitched at the corner of Derek’s mouth, showing me how hard he was trying not to smile. “It better not. You know the rules. Don’t expect me to make exceptions for you just because we’re friends.”

Well, that was ridiculous. Scorpios always make exceptions for their friends. That’s still the best way to tell when they’ve written you off. But as I bit my lip and took a step closer, I knew that wasn’t the case with us--yet. There was a hot, hungry look in Derek’s eyes, though he was still pretending to be indifferent to my act. ‘Course that all went to hell in an eye-popping, jaw-dropping hurry when I flashed him the twins.

“Damn,” he muttered, blinking appreciatively as I tugged my top back into place. I gave him a wink, then turned on my heel, and marched off toward the lockers.

“You still have a few minutes before class starts, Der,” I called over my shoulder. “You might want to use the time to rearrange that package of yours. It’s bulging.”


Buy your copy of WAITING FOR THE BIG ONE by PG Forte by clicking here!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

JUDGMENT FIRE

Title: Judgment Fire
Author: Marilyn Meredith
Publisher: Mundania Press
Date of Release: August 2007

Buy your copy of JUDGMENT FIRE by Marilyn Meredith by clicking here!

Chapter 1

The massive rock barrier of the southern Sierra and its jagged snow-covered pinnacles never failed to inspire Tempe. Normally, the pine, aspen and cedar forest bordering the winding highway calmed and reassured her--until this afternoon.

A face popped into her mind. Someone she hadn't seen or thought of for quite awhile, which added to the apprehension she couldn't shake. Deputy Tempe Crabtree attributed her uneasiness to the fact that her assigned beat, the tiny community of Bear Creek and the surrounding area, would soon be swollen with Memorial Day weekend tourists. Fishermen, swimmers, and water skiers would swarm the banks of Lake Dennison, and visitors in all sorts of vehicles would soon clog the two-lane road to the high country and its many camping sites. Her work load would increase a hundred-fold.

She made a quick pass through Bear Creek and continued upward into the mountains. Her vehicle, a white Blazer with SHERIFF printed in large black letters above the gold county seal on both doors, made her highly visible.

The route followed the river's course and she caught glimpses of it from time to time. Most of the homes and ranches were hidden from view by the thick tangle of wild berry bushes, manzanita, and shadowed woodlands.

Maneuvering the Blazer around a sharp curve, she drew in a quick breath and braked. Fire engulfed the front end of a green mini-van, outlining a person in the front seat. The vehicle was stopped at the side of the road, flames licking at the bordering brush.

Tempe radioed her position and requested assistance before leaping from her vehicle and dashing to the driver's side of the van. She yanked on the handle, but the door wouldn't budge. The cab was filled with smoke. "Get out!"

The driver, a Native American woman in her fifties, faced straight ahead, long fingers gripping the steering wheel. It was Doretha Nightwalker, her silver hair brushed tightly back into a bun. Though Doretha's eyes were open, she didn't seem aware of what was happening.

The windshield and dashboard were melting. Doretha would die if Tempe didn't get her out immediately.

Darting around the van, Tempe leaped the burning brush and reached for the passenger door. After a short struggle, the door opened. "Doretha! You've got to get out now."

The woman didn't react. Tempe scrambled into the front seat. Smoke burned her eyes and the intense heat made breathing difficult.

Tempe yanked the woman’s arm, but Doretha continued to clutch the steering wheel. Flames sneaked through the cracks of the firewall. One by one, Tempe pried Doretha's fingers loose. Grabbing her around the waist, she yanked the slender woman across the seat and pulled her out of the burning vehicle.

One of the van's tires exploded as Tempe dragged Doretha to her Blazer. Opening the passenger door, she hoisted the woman onto the floor of the Blazer. Doretha stared vacantly.

"Doretha, are you hurt?" Tempe spoke loudly, trying to get through to the woman. Another van tire burst. A siren whined in the distance.

Grasping her wrist, Tempe felt Doretha's pulse. Rapid and strong. No cuts or bruises were on her face. Examining her quickly, Tempe found no obvious broken bones. Of course internal injuries were possible.

The siren grew louder. "We'll have help soon, Doretha."

Doretha still didn't respond.

Tempe grabbed her microphone and contacted the dispatcher. "We've got a single vehicle, fully involved. One victim. We need an ambulance."

Long, slender fingers grabbed Tempe's arm. "No, no

ambulance. I'm not hurt." Doretha's voice was deep and raspy.

"You should be checked out by a doctor," Tempe said.

"There's no need."

Tempe shrugged, and picked up the mike. "Cancel the ambulance."

Facing Doretha, Tempe asked, "What happened? Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine. My mind was off somewhere. To tell you the truth, I was thinking about you. All of sudden the car was on fire...I pulled off the road. I don't remember anything after that."

Amazing. "That's strange because you're face popped into my mind just before I turned the corner and discovered your van on fire."

Doretha nodded. "Yes, I thought it was something like that."

Before Tempe could ask what she meant, the fire engine rounded the bend and came to a halt. Captain Roundtree and two volunteers in black-and-yellow turnout gear and helmets leaped out, carrying fire extinguishers and hoses. "I don't think they'll be able to save much," Tempe said.

"No, I realize that. A small sacrifice."

"You do have insurance, don’t you?"

"Oh, yes. My van will be replaced. But I'm relieved to know that this didn't happen because I was out of harmony. That's when most misfortunes occur."

Doretha, a shaman, viewed the world in a unique manner. Tempe first met her while investigating the disappearance and murder of a small child. Doretha was one of several Native Americans who had recently helped Tempe learn more about her own Yanduchi heritage.

Her curiosity piqued, Tempe asked, "Why do you suppose I had you on my mind just before I came upon you? Something psychic?"

Doretha chuckled. "That's one way of putting it I suppose. However, I think there's a simpler explanation. Our paths were intended to cross."

Why? Did Doretha have a specific reason why they were supposed to see each other? Did the shaman have a problem she needed Tempe's help with? Or was it Tempe who needed Doretha?

Before she could ask any questions, Pete Roundtree walked toward her, pulling off his helmet. His round face, black hair and chestnut skin revealed the Yanduchi ancestry he shared with Doretha and Tempe. Tempe had encouraged Pete to go to school to become a fireman. He, in turn, had assisted Tempe's son Blair to become a volunteer fireman. Blair had been accepted by the state university in San Luis Obispo where he planned to major in fire science. As the son of a highway patrolman killed in the line of duty, Blair received some assistance from the state. Ever since her first husband's death, sixteen year's earlier, Tempe had been saving for Blair's education. If more was needed, Hutch, whom she'd married a short time ago, promised to help.

"This van belongs to you, Miss Nightwalker?" Pete asked. Apparently not as upset or sad as Tempe suspected she would be under the circumstances, Doretha smiled. "Yes, Captain Roundtree, and I've only had it two weeks. That's what I get for trading in my perfectly good old car."

"Fire's out, but I'm afraid your van isn’t worth much now. Any idea what started the fire?" Pete scratched behind one of his large ears.

"I'm afraid not."

He turned his attention toward Tempe. "Have you called a tow truck?"

"No, but I'll do that now unless you have other plans, Doretha."

"That sounds sensible to me though I'm not sure how I'll get home."

"Don't worry, I'll take you," Tempe said.

* * *

After instructing the truck driver as to where the burned-out hulk should be taken, Tempe headed back toward Bear Creek with Doretha in the passenger seat. She hoped the Yanduchi woman would talk more about what she'd hinted at earlier.

Before she could bring up the subject, Tempe’s radio crackled with a domestic disturbance call. Jotting the address on her clipboard, she said, "I’m sorry, Doretha, I won't be able to take you home after all. I'll drop you in town so you can call someone from there."

"I wouldn't mind going with you," Doretha said. "Perhaps I could be of some help."

"I'm sure you could, but I can't do that. Domestic calls can be dangerous."

Doretha didn't argue.

Tempe spotted Hutch's old blue-and-white truck waiting at the intersection of the road leading to Bear Creek Chapel where he served as the pastor. "Look," Tempe pointed out, "There's my husband. I'll signal him. He can take you home."

Frowning, Doretha said, "Oh, I don't know. We didn't hit it very well when we were together last. He might not be eager to do me a favor."

Tempe blinked her lights to get Hutch's attention. "Don't worry, he'll be glad to do it." She parked the Blazer. Hutch was already out of the truck and on his way to meet her, the late afternoon breeze ruffling his thick auburn hair. He wore one of his favorite plaid flannel shirts, faded blue jeans, and cowboy boots.

Doretha climbed out of the passenger side, while Tempe hurried toward her husband.

Greeting her with a quick kiss, he asked, "Hey, Tempe, what's going on? His gray eyes twinkled with curiosity.

"Remember Doretha Nightwalker?"

Hutch glanced past Tempe at the woman who had almost reached them. "Of course, but what is she doing..."

"She'll have to explain. She can do that while you're taking her home. Got to dash, I'm on a call." Tempe whirled around and jogged back to the Blazer.

She heard Hutch saying, "How are you, Miss Nightwalker?"

Doretha's answer was lost to Tempe, as she sped away.

The address the dispatcher gave Tempe was on the other side of Bear Creek. Tempe recognized it. She'd been there twice before on a family disturbance call.

Passing through the town, she had to slow down because of the Friday night traffic. The only market was busy. Residents and visitors filled the front lot. Bear Creek Inn had a full house too. All the parking spaces in front of The Saloon and The Café across the street were filled. Though she'd turned on her light bar, she didn't run the siren. A young mother holding a toddler by the hand and a sack of groceries in the other, flashed her a smile while scurrying across the road.

Once she reached the outskirts of town, Tempe sped up. Little traffic was in front of her, all of it was heading the other way--toward Bear Creek: commuters returning home, visitors to the Inn and other tourist attractions higher in the mountains. Folks were already anticipating the coming holiday.

Making a right-hand turn on Aspen Road, Tempe began thinking about the couple she would soon encounter. The husband, Tom Cannata, was a respected leader of the Bear Creek community and a building contractor with plenty of work. Jackie, his wife, belonged to all the women's clubs. Her son from a previous marriage was the same age as Blair.

The first time Tempe dealt with the Cannatas’ problems was about four year's ago, not long after their marriage. They were partying with several other couples on a houseboat in the middle of the lake. Lucky for Jackie, Tempe had been cruising the lake's parking lot after being attracted by angry shouts and screams coming from the boat. The colored lights decorating the roof reflected gaily in the black water.

She’d driven down to the shore line. No sooner had she parked, when a woman toppled from the houseboat into the lake. The people on the boat hollered and yelled, but no one went in after her--and she didn't come up.

Tempe yanked off her shoes, unfastened her belt and tossed it along with her holster and gun into the front seat of the Blazer and dashed into the water. Swimming hard until she reached the boat, she dived where she'd seen the woman disappear.

The first time down, Tempe found nothing. She came up gasping for air. She had a vague remembrance of a blur of white faces and people shouting at her. Diving again, Tempe pulled hard with her arms, going deeper. It was so dark and murky, she couldn't see anything. She swung around, and her fingers touched what felt like a foot. She yanked, felt a leg and a torso. Circling the body with one arm, she swam upward with her other hand, pulling and kicking herself through the water. When she broke the surface, a cheer went up above her.

Gasping for air, she stared at the victim. Even with her tanned face turned ashen, her bleached hair darkened and plastered to her head, Tempe recognized Jackie Cannata.

Arms reached over the side of the boat. Tempe lifted Jackie upward and someone hauled her aboard. Big hands grabbed Tempe under the arms, lifting her into the boat. Voices were raised all around her.

"Wow. That was brave of you, Deputy."

"My, God, Jackie isn't breathing."

"Someone, do something!'

"Get us into shore."

Jackie lay at Tempe's feet, water pooling around the shapely body clad in a brightly colored bikini. Ignoring everyone, Tempe knelt beside the woman. Her fingers pressed against Jackie's neck, she felt a weak, thready pulse. Pushing her head back and pinching her nose, Tempe blew into Jackie's mouth. She did it again.

Jackie gasped, her body arching. Water spewed out of her mouth and Tempe leaned out of the way. Coughing, and gagging, Jackie vomited. From the smell, much of it was alcohol.

Once it was obvious Jackie would be all right despite her surprise midnight swim, the bruise on her cheek and a cut and swollen lip, Tempe stood. "Now, will someone please tell me what this is all about?"

All eyes turned toward Tom Cannata. He flashed a huge smile at Tempe, "I'm afraid I got carried away, Deputy. You know how it is. We were horsing around and it got out of hand."

Tempe glanced at Jackie. "How about you, Mrs. Cannata. Do you want to tell me what happened to you? How’d you get that split lip?"

Jackie's fingers flew to her lip. She looked surprised. "I guess I must have hit something when I fell out of the boat."

"Fell or were you were pushed?" Tempe suggested.

Without looking at her husband, Jackie said, "Oh, my. It was nothing like that. Just as my husband told you, we were just playing around."

"Anyone else want to tell me what happened?"

Tempe was acquainted with most of the party. If there were such a thing as a social set in Bear Creek, all were present. No one made eye contact with Tempe. Some turned away.

"Too bad. Let's get this boat to shore. Mrs. Cannata should be examined by a doctor."

After that, Tempe had been called to the Cannata home three more times when neighbors reported the sounds of fighting. Jackie explained away her bruises as something she'd done to herself due to clumsiness. Tom, always charming and in control, was the perfect host. Jackie's son, Ronnie Keplinger, had been present during Tempe's questioning on one occasion. Though he said nothing, he'd stood in the hallway, with an unreadable expression, his arms crossed.

The Cannata home was at the end of the Aspen Road, a new, two-story, fashioned after an old-time farm house and set off by a rustic, split-rail fence. The sun had disappeared behind the boulder-studded hills though the sky was still bright. Tempe pulled into the driveway behind Tom's silver BMW. As she climbed from the Blazer, she heard a male voice shouting and a woman screaming. Maybe this time there would be enough evidence of violence to arrest Tom whether Jackie wanted to press charges or not.

As she ran up the circular path, the front door banged open and Ronnie burst out onto the porch. Tall and gangly, his head was shaved. An Army issue camouflage shirt gaped open over an olive green T-shirt. Baggy camouflage pants were tucked into combat boots. Ronnie must have been in new phase. Last time Tempe had seen him, his hair was dyed purple, pink and green and combed into spikes.

"They're at it again," he snarled, stomping past her.

Tempe pushed through the door he'd left open and stepped into the foyer. The yelling and screaming came from upstairs though it was obvious the fight had been going on downstairs as well. A ceramic lamp lay shattered on the cream colored carpet of the living room. An antique chair had been overturned.

Grabbing the oak bannister, Tempe took the stairs two at a time. When she reached the landing, she heard the sound of a hand hitting flesh and Jackie cry out in pain.

Tempe swung open the door that she knew led to master bedroom. "Hey! What's going on here?"
*****

Monday, August 6, 2007

YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH: EVERY WOMAN'S GUIDE TO PURPOSE, PASSION, AND POWER

Title: You Are More Than Enough: Every Woman's Guide to Purpose, Passion, and Power
Author: Judi Moreo
Publisher: Stephens Press
Date of Release: 2007

Buy your copy of YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH: EVERY WOMAN'S GUIDE TO PURPOSE, PASSION, AND POWER by Judi Moreo by clicking here!

Chapter 1

“No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he has arrived at his present place.”
Maya Angelou
Poet, Educator, Historian

Why is it that having confidence in ourselves and our abilities is so hard? Why do many of us have the tendency to over estimate other people’s abilities and power and under estimate our own? Why are we so concerned with what other people will think about us?

If we are to understand these things, we need to understand first why we think, feel and act the way we do. We need to understand why and how we have become who we are as well as why we react or respond in certain ways. When we understand ourselves, we can either accept the way we are or make changes so we will be able to accept ourselves.

What we believe and accept about ourselves determines our behavior and performance. These, in turn, create our results and our results affect our confidence levels.

We behave in accordance with our beliefs about ourselves. If we have self-limiting beliefs, we will have self-limiting behaviors. If we have self-empowering beliefs, we will have self-empowering behaviors. In other words, if you think you can, you can and if you think you can’t, you can’t. If you think you can, you will find a way. We perform as well as we believe we are capable of performing.

Most of our beliefs about ourselves have come from outside sources: people, education and experiences. Many of us have allowed the opinions of others to become our opinions of ourselves. We’ve listened to people tell us we are incompetent, inadequate, unworthy, bad or stupid. We’ve internalized, processed and often believed what others have told us.

There is a direct correlation between the quality of your relationships and your levels of self-esteem and self-confidence. If you’re like most people, how you feel about yourself, good or bad, is largely dependant upon the degree of acceptance you have felt from the influential people in your life.

In the beginning, we learned our beliefs and values from our parents. If our parents’ self-esteem levels were low or they had poor concepts, values and beliefs, then that’s what we learned. If they felt inferior, inadequate or unworthy, we probably adopted those qualities. When we are children, we go through an “imprint period” where we formulate our behavior patterns based on what is impressed upon our thought patterns by the adults who are instrumental in our growth.
If we were told “you are a bad girl”, it really meant our behavior was unacceptable, but most of us didn’t hear it that way. We internalized it to mean that WE were unacceptable. Most parents don’t realize how important it is to separate the act from the individual. Instead of saying, “You’re usually so graceful…I’m surprised you tripped and fell. Are you okay?” they will say, “You’re so clumsy!” They don’t understand the deep, negative impact this has on a child.

If we were compared negatively to other children, especially children outside of our immediate family, we might have come to believe those children had more abilities and were more popular than we were. That is when feelings of inferiority start to set in. If we didn’t receive appreciation or recognition for our achievements, we may believe others are smarter, stronger or better than we are.

If my grandmother told me once, she told me a hundred times that my cousin, Bobbie, was smarter, cuter and more popular than I was. After the first 10 times, she really didn’t have to tell me any more. I already believed it! So if Bobbie took dance classes, I didn’t want to take dance classes because I knew before I started I would never be as good as she was. If Bobbie tried out for a part in the school play, I wouldn’t try out because I could never be as good as Bobbie. If Bobbie ran for student council, I certainly wouldn’t be able to achieve what she achieved, so why bother? I knew for sure I’d never be Homecoming Queen, because Bobbie had already worn that crown.

If we had parents who tried to realize their unfulfilled dreams through us and our accomplishments, they may have pushed us beyond our abilities or our desires in particular areas making us feel “less than” we could have been or should have been. Or maybe they even instilled such a drive in us to be what they wanted us to be, that we didn’t learn how to be assertive and stand up for what WE want.

My friend, Sue, didn’t want to play softball, but her father was the girl’s softball coach and a jock to boot, so he insisted Sue become a pitcher and a home run hitter. He pushed and pushed until she was in tears after every game and she quit before the end of the season! When she was in Girl Scouts and they went on a hike, Sue somehow wandered away from the others and became lost. Once found, her father said to her, “Don’t tell anyone you couldn’t find your way out of the woods.” When they would go fishing, he would say to her before they ever got to the dock, “I know you are going to be sick, so just deal with it!” Today Sue works at a job she doesn’t really enjoy because she still hopes to win her father’s approval and when she faces challenges in life, she sometimes cries, has a tendency to get sick, often quits things before learning to do them well and most of all tries to “just deal with it.” In other instances, she takes on risky assignments in an attempt to get her father to see how brave and strong she has become! Occasionally, I hear her reference how well she has done for a girl who can’t find her way out of the woods. Is it as obvious to you as it is to me where these coping mechanisms were learned? And isn’t it sad that her father’s early harsh criticism has stayed with her all of her life?

If our parents or peers are obsessed with physical appearance, they may also push us into a life that devalues us. Jeanette was a beautiful teenager. Her parents pushed her into every beauty contest they could find. They were determined because she was so beautiful; she should have only the best of everything. They moved to the most exclusive neighborhood in the city, so she could go to the right school with a “higher class” of students. They joined the country club at great expense so she could mingle with the “right” people. Then they worked around the clock to pay for it. When she had the opportunity to meet young men, her mother would say, “Stand up and meet the boy.” So Jeanette would stand up, stick out her breasts, suck in her stomach and put on her most seductive smile, so the boy could look her over and see what a good catch she would be. She married the man they chose for her who didn’t appreciate her “standing up” to meet all his friends and business associates. She lived a miserable life until she got divorced. Then she found herself back in the limelight standing up for the “right” men to meet her again. Unfortunately, as she grew older, her looks faded and she was no longer the beauty she had been. Because she relied completely on her beauty, she never developed any of the other interests, virtues or qualities one might seek in a mate. She died bitter and alone -- surrounded by her beauty pageant trophies.

Children of parents who are obsessed with physical appearance usually develop a major case of low self-esteem. In addition, the media puts so much emphasis on beauty and being thin that many girls, and even supposedly intelligent grown women, develop eating disorders and poor health in an effort to keep up their appearances.

If our parents placed a very high value on possessions and having money in the bank, whether they had it or not, the emphasis on materialism we learned could lead us to a life of overachievement and striving for wealth and material goods. We may even marry someone because of the possessions, wealth or stature of that person.

Mary’s occupation is marrying wealthy men. I say “men” because she has married four men of considerable means and found out after each wedding ceremony that she didn’t even like the person. Eventually each “wonderful” marriage ended up in a bitter, nasty divorce. How many of these do you think she’ll go through before she realizes what she is doing? My father used to say, “If you marry someone, be sure you like the person and you can love him even if he loses everything he has, because that’s the person you’ll be stuck with.” Times have changed since my father’s day, and in today’s world where two out of three marriages end in divorce, you no longer need to stay stuck in a bad relationship. You can get a divorce without the stigma it carried in my father’s time, but why would you want to put yourself through all that turmoil and emotional drama? It’s certainly hard on one’s self-esteem. We shouldn’t use up even one moment of our lives dealing with negative emotional feelings that we can avoid by making better choices in the first place.

If parents have an inability to cope with tragedy, it can make their child feel as if whatever happened was her fault. A young woman of a family I was counseling revealed to me she had been raped several years before and had not had any previous therapy. Upon inquiry, her father said, “Well, it was her own fault. She runs around with the wrong people and was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Rape is not the victims fault! It is a crime of violence and it is a horrible experience. The victim must get counseling. She must be helped to understand she is a person with great personal worth and given every support possible to help regain her self-esteem and self-confidence.

Parents very often cripple their children emotionally and cause the children to feel inadequate, not because they mean to but because they are over permissive or overly possessive. In many cases, these children never learn self-discipline, self-reliance or responsibility. These are the very characteristics that help us achieve. Achievement builds self-esteem.

When I was modeling, there was another model I worked with who had a daughter who was an absolute terror. Whenever this model would bring her daughter into the agency or backstage at a fashion show, the child would create havoc. The kid was into everything. She ran through the building screaming and would often hang on the racks which were full of clothing for the shows. Occasionally, this child would even pull designer gowns off the rack and onto the floor. Her mother would tell her to stop, sit down and behave, but of course, she never did and it was never reinforced. As a teenager, her mother let her run wild. She went where she wanted with whomever she wanted. She had no curfews and was seldom disciplined. She became pregnant, quit school and moved in with her boyfriend. A year later she was arrested, along with the boyfriend, for drug dealing and sentenced to two years in prison. Her mother accepted no responsibility. She told everyone she could never do anything with the girl because her daughter had inherited her father’s genes.

Accepting hand-me-down feelings

Am I saying we can inherit our self-esteem or lack of it? No. Not through the genes anyway. What I’m saying is if we are not aware and don’t consciously do something about it, we can pass our level of self-esteem from one generation to the next. That’s okay if we have high self-esteem, but if we have low self-esteem, it’s often disastrous.

Low self-esteem brings with it some behavioral problems which appear in our every day lives. It is important we recognize whether or not we demonstrate any of these behaviors.

Negativity seeking

People with low self-esteem often find fault with others. If we don’t like ourselves, we tend not to like other people either. We may think if we can find something wrong with the other person, it will make us better. In cases like this, we are making ourselves feel better at their expense. Coincidentally, the traits we don’t like in other people are usually the very same traits we don’t like in ourselves. If you are a fault-finder, here’s a homework assignment for you. Try to get through the next 24 hours without expressing one negative comment about anyone or anything. You need to break the habit of seeking negativity. When you see something you don’t like about someone, immediately make yourself look for something good about that same person. The more you look for good, the more you will find.

Hungry for attention

Most people enjoy other people showing an interest in them. People with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence sometimes make every effort to be the center of attention. They talk incessantly about themselves, their accomplishments, what they own, who they know and where they have been. There is no exchange of information. It is all about me, myself and I. If they do ask a question, they usually want to know what you think about them. This is really just a cry for acceptance. They are impressed with you and want your approval. They want you to believe they are someone worth knowing. Unfortunately their behavior usually has the opposite effect.

If you find you are one of these people, instead of trying to get all the attention, make an effort to make other people feel special. In this day and age, people are so caught up in themselves they don’t put any effort into making others feel important.

Stop and think. When was the last time someone really made you feel special? What can you do to show other people you are glad they are in your world?

The biggest psychological need most people have is to be understood. Why not start by listening to others? Ask them questions about themselves and about their lives. And then listen attentively. Show interest in what they have to say. Lean forward. Comment on what they have said before you start telling your own story. Compliment them on things they do well.

The more you make other people feel special, the more attention you will receive and that will build your confidence.

In Jesse Ferrell’s book, “How You Leave Them Feeling”, he shares a story of a call he received from a college buddy he had not seen in over 6 years. After talking about their lives and how glad they were to talk again, the college buddy said he needed to ask a favor of Jesse. It seems the buddy’s mother was dying of cancer and when he asked his mother if she had any last wishes, she said, “If I could see Jesse Ferrell just one more time before I die, that would be great. Jesse’s positive attitude helped me so much, whenever I was around him during your college days and during my transition to this big city. That would truly make me happy…if I could see Jesse, just one more time!”

Jesse must feel wonderful knowing he made such a positive impact on someone’s life that even after more than six years; her last request was to see him one more time. Would that give you confidence? Would that let you know your life had purpose? It certainly would me.

Choosing to be a loner

Loners usually don’t like to be around other people because they lack the confidence to handle themselves in social situations. They are more comfortable being alone. It is easier than expending the energy to have a pleasing personality or showing interest in other people. In many cases, they don’t know how to be a friend. They really don’t care about anyone else. When they do get around people, they are often aggressive, critical, or have an obsessive need to be right.

People who have a need to be “right” are in some way trying to convince themselves they are as good as or better than the next person. This is simply a lack of self-esteem.

My neighbor’s husband died nine years ago. Before his death, they had eyes only for each other and didn’t socialize much. After his death, she became a recluse. I invited her for lunch or dinner and she always came. As the years went by, she continued to come to dinner when invited, always dominated the conversation, interrupted and corrected other guests and often talked over other people’s conversation in a very loud tone of voice. Any contribution she made to the conversation was about herself and her illnesses, aches, and pains. She didn’t read a newspaper, watch television or listen to the radio so she didn’t know what was going on in the world and if anyone attempted to talk about current events, she would change the conversation back to her past. Then the next day, she would call me to tell me how I could have better set the table, prepared the food, or arranged the flowers. As she got to know me better, she also included how much she disliked most of the other people I invited to these events. The neighbor who lived on the other side of her often invited this woman to dinner or to go shopping and to lunch. This woman would go, never offer to pay and then call me to complain about the woman who took her out. I would attempt to change the conversation to something more positive or point out good things about the other neighbor, but this woman would interrupt and pick up her complaining and gossiping right where she left off.

She often mentioned how much she liked to be alone and how she deliberately didn’t answer the phone or return calls because she didn’t want to talk to people. She never invited anyone to do anything with her or to visit her home. She didn’t volunteer or participate in any groups. By her actions, she pushed people away so she could be alone with her memories. When we tried to find out what she might be interested in, so we could get her involved, she would tell us she had no desire to do anything but “sit on the sofa and think.”

Most of the neighbors began avoiding running into her when at all possible and stopped including her in social events.

Feeling depressed

Let’s face it, life is not always easy and for some people depression very often takes over. We get depressed when we are discouraged or disappointed in ourselves or our lives. We start to feel as though we can’t live up to the expectations of others… or even our own expectations. We feel inadequate to handle what needs to be handled, to do what needs to be done or to be what we think we should be. The attempt to live up to these expectations can be both a cause of low self-esteem and an effect of low self-esteem. It can even lead to overindulgence in food, alcohol, tobacco, drugs or sex in an attempt to satisfy some need we have to make ourselves feel better in some way or to dull the pain we are feeling. Ironically, this overindulgence simply adds to our feelings of worthlessness. We criticize ourselves for being weak and indulging in unhealthy practices. This self-criticism feeds the depression even more. It’s a vicious circle.

People who are depressed sometimes try to escape….from themselves and from the world. I knew a young woman some years ago who used sleeping pills to “escape” from the difficulties she was having. Her situation became worse because she couldn’t or wouldn’t face her realities. Eventually, she had to be hospitalized. At one point, she wouldn’t even comb her hair. Because she got professional help, today she is a fully functioning executive with a happy personal relationship and two well-adjusted adult children.

If you are caught up in depression, get some therapy right away. Severe depression can develop into self-hate, self-rejection and the desire to end your own life, possibly even the reality of acting on that desire. This is not what you are here for. Your life experience should be a wonderful journey full of joy and excitement. Get professional help now so you can get back to yourself, the self you know you can be…a person with a purpose and passion for living.

Need to control

When one person has a compulsive need to control, dominate, possess or run another person’s life, it is usually because of an incredible need to be loved. This person’s extremely low self-esteem causes her to feel inadequate and insecure. In an attempt not to let anyone know how she really feels, she becomes greedy and self-centered. She is not really interested in the welfare of others. She is attempting to fill her own need for self worth. Unfortunately, it is usually done at the expense of others.

Jane knows something about everything. No matter what you want to do or where you want to go, she tells you of something or some place better. She tells you how to run your family, your career, your organization and your business. She tells you where you should eat dinner and which restaurants have gotten too many demerits by the health department, so you shouldn’t eat in any of those. She insists on driving and whenever you are going anywhere together picks you up in her car because she must be able to leave when she is ready. Conversation is always about her – her life, her successes or how much better she could have done what you just did. She chooses the outing, provides the tickets, and then calls to tell you she’s already done it for you without checking to see if you would like to go or not. If you say you can’t go, then she begs and pleads, becomes angry, accuses you of being ungrateful and makes it your fault she misunderstood the arrangements. Because she has no personal self confidence, she has to show herself and everyone else she is in control. She’s not a happy person. She’s not happy with her life. She’s not happy with her relationships, which never last very long anyway. Most of all, she’s not happy with herself.

Trying to be perfect

Another type of control freak is the perfectionist. She is trying to control her own life to make sure she and everything she does is always perfect. She must have the perfect house, the perfect car, the perfect kids, the perfect husband, the perfect friends, the perfect personal grooming and the perfect outfit. Absolutely everything must be perfect. This puts a lot of pressure on everyone around her as well as herself. The quest for perfectionism is a nightmare. It can lead to extreme stress and to procrastination. Often, if she can’t do it perfectly, then she’ll just put it off believing she will have the time to do it perfectly later on, although that time never comes. In the meantime, a lot of tasks remain undone. She starts to feel badly about them not getting done, becomes more stressed and her self-esteem suffers. She doesn’t have the confidence to go forward because she’s not perfect. If this describes you in any way, you need to realize perfection is an implausible goal. Given the speed at which our lives are being lived, it is quite impossible to do everything perfectly. Give yourself a break and get over this need for perfectionism. Excellence is good enough.

Wallowing in self pity

Low self-esteem sometimes manifests itself as “pity parties”. This type of person thinks “I can’t seem to get control over my life so therefore I am at the mercy of people, circumstances and conditions that keep me from doing, being and having what I really want.” These people look for something or someone to blame so they don’t have to take charge or do something about their situation! My mom used to tell me that “People can’t let you down unless you are leaning on them.” It is up to you to be a confident person. No one else can hurt your feelings, upset you or make you angry. It is your choice whether or not you become affected by what other people say or do. What you think about what they say or do creates your emotional reaction. If you want to be a confident person, then change your thoughts. You and only you are responsible for your thoughts, your feelings and your life.

When I was recently visiting one of my friends, her sister was also visiting. It seemed the reason for the sister’s trip was to seek comfort because her husband had left her for her best friend. She dwelled on this day and night and talked of nothing else. I felt very sorry for her and tried to console her. She spoke about how she was determined to get him back. It wasn’t until the end of my trip, two weeks later, I learned it had been seven years since her husband left her. He had married the other woman six years ago. Her chances of getting him back were slim and none. My friend’s sister was stuck in her pity party and wouldn’t move on with her life. It got in the way of her joy, her success and her ability to establish new relationships. Why is she stuck? Why does she choose to live in the past? It’s because she is more comfortable in the discomfort she has now than she would be in the new, unfamiliar world of dating and meeting someone new. She knows how to wallow in her grief and self-pity, so she does. Unfortunately, her repetitive sad story became tiresome and boring to others.

Expressing criticism

Whenever I hear someone say, “Would you like a little constructive criticism?” I cringe. I don’t believe there is any such thing as constructive criticism! All criticism is destructive.

When we criticize another person, it undermines that person. No one wants to hear someone say, “Let me tell you what’s wrong with you.” That’s what criticism does. Telling someone what’s wrong with her can add to any feelings of inadequacy or incompetence that person may already feel. She may get her feelings hurt, get angry or have a need to retaliate. None of this is helpful to your relationship.

When a child gets criticized, it causes self doubt, creates poor self-image and can even break her spirit causing her to give up on her dreams, ambitions and desires. In addition, it teaches her to criticize herself causing feelings of inferiority -- feeling she is not “good enough” and she learns to run herself down. When someone offers her a genuine compliment or accolade, she has trouble believing it to be true. Criticism undermines self-esteem and decreases effectiveness.
The mother of one of my friends has a tendency to be overly direct and not at all tactful. Whenever the mother is confronted by her criticism of others, she says, “Well, it’s better to tell them the truth and let them deal with it.” As a consequence of her mother’s outspoken criticism, my friend often has the feeling she is “less than.” When I asked her what “less than” means, she said, “Not good enough. Less than my mother expects. Less than my sister. Less than I probably could be.” I know her mother is proud of her. I don’t believe the mother has ever intended to make her daughter feel insecure, but that’s what criticism does… especially if it is constant.

If your desire is truly to help someone become better, to have more or to improve their performance, then say, “Would you like an idea of how you might do that easier? Or quicker? Or better?” Or “May I make a suggestion on how you could improve your performance?” Most of us will welcome suggestions and ideas. These are conducive to building self-esteem and confidence.

If someone offers you some constructive criticism, why not smile and say to him or her in a warm tone of voice, “I would welcome any suggestions you have for how I could improve. I would appreciate you keeping any criticism to a minimum.”

Making conscious choices

We can improve our confidence by modifying our destructive behaviors. We can accomplish this by making conscious choices to think about ourselves in a more positive manner. We must reprogram the subconscious portion of our minds. This part of our minds has no judging function, it only processes information. It follows our instructions. It is up to us to instruct it properly in order to create the self-image and self-confidence we wish to have.

One of the most effective ways to help your subconscious see things differently is the use of affirmations. An affirmation is a statement you make to yourself to affirm something is true even in the face of all evidence to the contrary. Human thought can only affirm, for even when it denies, it is affirming that denial to be true.

Repeating an affirmation leads the mind to a state of consciousness where it accepts that which you wish it to believe. If you wish to be confident, then use the affirmation, “I am a confident person.” Don’t say, I am nervous or scared,” because you would be affirming the opposite of what your truly desire, which is to be confident. Write out your affirmation and put it where you will see it over and over throughout the day. Look at it, read it, think about it and what it can mean to your life. Do this every day to ensure positive changes taking place in your consciousness, attitude and environment.

Don’t expect this to be easy. Your subconscious has had years of programming to get it to perform the way it does at this time. You aren’t going to undo all of that overnight. If you want to be confident and successful and you are willing to do the work, it will happen!

Stop criticizing and putting yourself down

Stop talking about your negative traits. The more you concentrate on them, the more they hang on. What we put our attention to is what multiplies in our lives. Instead of criticizing, look for things you like about yourself.

If you have actual limitations you can’t do anything about, then you need to accept them. The things most of us complain about are the things we CAN do something about.

If you feel you are too short or too tall, there is nothing you can do about that. You might as well learn to look at the advantages of being short or tall. I saw Michael J. Fox interviewed on television early in his career. The interviewer asked Michael about how he felt about being so short, just 5’4”. Michael became animated and shared how he has always seen his size as an advantage! Most of us know someone with a “Napoleonic Complex” or feelings of inadequacy directly related to being short. Those people usually try to compensate by driving big cars, having big desks or acting just plain nasty. Instead, Michael J. Fox was proud of his height and shared how much he enjoys being smaller. He said when he was younger and his family got locked out of the house, he was the one who could squeeze through the basement window to let everyone in. He has embraced a characteristic over which he has no control.

If you feel you are too heavy or too thin, you can do something about that. If you don’t like the color of your skin or the texture of your hair, that’s too bad. You’d be smart to realize the advantages you have being the way you are. If you don’t like the shape of your eyebrows, the color of your hair or even the size of your breasts, in this day and age, there’s no reason not to change those into what you want. If your body isn’t shaped the way you want it, change your diet or go to the gym. If you don’t make enough money to have a gym membership, walk around the block, go to the YWCA, or better still, find a better paying job so you can afford to go to the gym and have the other things you desire as well. You could move into an apartment or condominium complex that has a gym, get a job with a company that has a gym or go online to find out all of the ways you can exercise that don’t cost a dime. If you feel you need a better education in order to find a better job, then go back to school. Concentrate on what you CAN do, not what you can’t.

If there is something you can change to make you feel better about yourself, then for goodness sake, change it. Don’t whine about it.

People don’t want to be around someone who whines and complains all the time. Most of the things we complain about are things other people wouldn’t have noticed or thought anything about until we brought them to their attention. How can you be self- confident when you keep focusing on what’s wrong with you? The image you have of yourself influences all of your experiences.

False images of ourselves

Somewhere along the line you may have come to believe you are not good enough to be the person you want to be or have the things you want. Somehow your attitudes, feelings, possessions and what you do have gotten all mixed up with who you are. You may FEEL if you don’t DO something exceptionally well, you can’t BE someone exceptionally good. When you feel you are competent or above average at what you do, this reinforces the feeling you are someone of value. The more you accomplish, the better you feel about yourself.

At the same time, the quality of our relationships can affect our self-confidence. Many of us base our self-esteem on whether or not we are accepted and loved by other people. Do they find me physically attractive? Do they think I am smart? Do they like my personality? Do they think I’m funny? Do they want to be with me?

Before you can expect anyone else to accept you, you must first accept yourself. The more you like yourself, the more confident you will be. That will give you a more positive outlook and a more positive attitude. In turn, you’ll be healthier and happier. When you are healthy and happy, you are more attractive to other people. They find you to be smart, clever, humorous and want to be with you.

You can’t give to anyone else that which you don’t have to give. Everything you do to raise your own level of self-love will improve the quality of all of your relationships. It’s time to start accepting yourself.

Your behavior is consistent with your thoughts

You are who you are right now because of your past thoughts about yourself. You can deliberately become who you want to be by changing your thoughts. We change our thoughts by changing our mental pictures. Put a picture in your mind of you at your best. Clearly visualize how you would stand, walk, talk, dress and behave if you could be who and what you really want to be. Visualize yourself as someone people notice, want to get to know, want to please and with whom they want to enjoy either a personal or professional relationship. Hold that picture in your mind and start to act “as if” you already are that person. Stand the way that person would stand. Walk and talk the way that person would walk and talk. Dress and behave in the same manner as the ideal picture in your mind. See yourself as having the attributes and qualities of your ideal self. Live them as if you have them! Quit being and seeing whatever you think you are now and start being and seeing only what you want to be. And guess what? By assuming the role you wish to become, one day you’ll realize you really are that person.

Confidence comes when we determine that we are responsible for ourselves; when we are able to stand on our own two feet, make our own decisions and deal with the consequences of our own behaviors and choices. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to make you believe someone else is superior, more intelligent or able to make better decisions than you. If you make your own decisions, you will deal with the consequences of your decisions. If you let others make your decisions, you still have to deal with the consequences of the decisions, but they will be based on someone else’s choices…not yours.

Free advice is usually worth what you paid for it

There are a lot of people willing to give you “some free advice.” They want to tell you what you could do, should do or what they would do if they were you. But they aren’t you! They don’t feel your feelings. They can’t solve your problems or live your life. Only you can do that. Whenever you have a decision to make, research the situation and your options. Get all the information you can from reliable sources before you make a decision. Then make sure the ultimate decision is yours.

Listen to your inner voice

Your inner voice usually knows what’s best. If you will take the time to realistically look at each problem, challenge or situation and ask yourself, “What one thing can I do now to make this better or to move in the direction of a solution?” you will soon meet your life’s challenges with self assurance and confidence.

There is a direct correlation between our achievement in life and the confidence we have in ourselves. We perform as well as we believe we will. Whenever we feel good about ourselves and are doing well…whether in our relationships or our careers…we are demonstrating our self-confidence. Whenever we allow the opinions of others to influence our opinion of ourselves, we give others power over us and we base our self-image on false ideas and concepts. Many of us are still allowing the opinions others had of us years ago to affect our reality today. Give them up. The clearer you are about who you are and the person you want to become, the more you will be able to do the things you want to do and have the things you want to have.
You know in your heart you can either accept things as they are or take the responsibility to change them. You will be happier if you feel you have control over your own circumstances. Don’t be a victim who sits around being stuck in fear and bad habits …just waiting for your luck to change, believing you are always in the wrong place at the wrong time or even thinking you must wait for the planets to align.

Be yourself

Work to be an independent person who is doing important things. When we are constantly trying to be what others want us to be and do what they want us to do, we lose ourselves. Instead, choose to step out of your comfort zone. Set a goal and make a plan to do something different or bigger. Take a risk and take action toward that goal.
We must develop our inner strength in order to express our individuality. Set high personal standards for yourself and for your work. Put more time and effort into what you do. Be the best at what you do.

My business partner and I had a consulting job for a riverboat casino. One night as we were walking through the casino observing the customer service, we noticed one of the blackjack tables had approximately ten customers lined up waiting behind every chair. These customers were waiting for a turn to play at this particular table while other tables had chairs that were empty. We pushed our way up to where we could see the dealer. The dealer, Buster, was phenomenal. He was very professional in dealing the cards and at the same time, he was extremely entertaining and funny. He was different than the others. He was unique. He seemed to love his job. Certainly, if I were going to play blackjack, I’d want to do it with Buster rather than another dealer that had no personality and an expression that looked as if he was weaned on a pickle. Night after night, we walked through the casino to check the service and every night was the same. People would wait to play at Buster’s table rather than play at a table with a dealer who was not fun and entertaining. You’d think the other dealers would figure it out, wouldn’t you?

Find ways to express your uniqueness

When you are able to express your uniqueness, you will feel more complete. Learn to accept yourself for who you are and focus on what you want to become. There’s no one else exactly like you. You are one very special individual who was created to be who you are -- doing the best you can each day to get the best results life has to offer. Learn to love yourself with all your strengths and all your weaknesses. Remember, weaknesses provide you with an opportunity for growth. Respect yourself. Your primary responsibility is your own physical and emotional well-being. When you are true to yourself and learn to take care of you, your self-respect will increase.

We have so much more to offer the world than just a shadow of ourselves. Give up old hurts and old scars. Give up negative thinking. Keep forgiving yourself for any mistakes you have made. Congratulate yourself for taking risks. Give up your negative self-image. It will keep you from achieving the success you want and deserve.

Many of us undermine our confidence by trying to earn the approval of others. For some reason, we seem to think if we can get the approval of those around us, things will be better or others will take care of us. The truth is no one but you is going to take care of you. You need to become very clear about that. No matter how much someone else loves you or you love that person, you still need to take care of yourself.

Until you learn how to rely on yourself, you will have to depend on your ability to influence others to fulfill your needs. That will leave you at the mercy of those upon whom you depend. You will never be able to have or do more than you can convince them to allow you to have or do.

You owe it to yourself to learn to depend on yourself to meet your own wants, needs and expectations. This doesn’t mean you have to be alone. It means you need to know that if and when you are alone, you are still more than enough. You know who you are and what your values are. You let your values guide your life and your decisions. You aren’t going through this life just to be a people pleaser. Overcoming dependency isn’t easy. That’s why so many people are stuck in co-dependent relationships. When you are confident, you can be yourself whether alone, with someone else or in a group of people.

There are things you can do to make the transition to independence less difficult.

Stop demanding perfection from yourself

When you do your best, that’s good enough. Realize in order to do something well, we usually have to do it poorly at first. Liberace had to learn to play the piano. He certainly didn’t play it on his first day as well as he did when he was a performer on the Las Vegas strip. Venus and Serena Williams weren’t pro tennis players the day they started. They first had to learn how to hit the ball. You can’t expect to do something with perfection the first time you try. The key is to keep trying until you become proficient. And even then, you will still want to practice and improve. Although Michelle Wie is a professional golfer, she is still perfecting her skills every day. When my friend, Charlotte, was learning to dance, she fell down many times causing her to become very frustrated and discouraged. Her dance instructor told her, “Don’t worry about it. You must fall one hundred times before you are a dancer.” So she picked herself up, kept trying and practicing. It wasn’t long before she was a dancer who worked professionally in Las Vegas production shows. How many falls would it have taken before you gave up? When we don’t do something well at first, many of us quit instead of keeping on until we are proficient at doing it. When we don’t get recognition from others or rewards for making the attempt, but get criticism instead, we may be embarrassed and think we look stupid or even worse, that we are stupid, which is our excuse for giving up.

Rewards don’t have to come from others

Reward yourself when you’ve made an effort toward learning something new or doing something you’ve never done before. Reward yourself even if you didn’t do it very well. Reward yourself for having the guts to get out there and try. Taking the action was the important part.
My dad was a salesman. One day, when I was a teenager, he dropped his appointment notebook on the floor. When it fell open, I noticed there were gold stars on many of the pages. I asked him why a grown man would have gold stars pasted in his book. He told me he gave himself a gold star every day just for getting through the day. On the days when he made a sale, he put lots of gold stars on the page. He said it kept him focused on what went right in his life. On the days things weren’t going so well, he’d flip back through the pages and look at his gold stars. They would remind him of what was going right in his life and career. In spite of what was happening that day, he could see he was successful. What my Dad was doing back then, though he didn’t have a name for it, was “anchoring” his self-esteem.

When you anchor something, you are holding it in place. Just as an anchor for a ship keeps it from drifting with the ever present currents and tides, personal anchoring keeps you from drifting off your course.

Every time my dad stuck a gold star on a page, he was telling himself, “I’m okay.”
I was sixteen when I got my first job and started the practice of giving myself stars, just like my dad. I’ve been doing it ever since. Today there are lots of motivational stickers that you can buy. They say things like “Way to Go,” “You’re # 1”, “Nice Job,” “Awesome,” “Excellent,” “Hooray” and “You’re a Superstar.” So buy some stickers for yourself and when you achieve one of your goals, when you take positive action and even when you just get through a rough day, put a sticker in your daily diary or your goal achievement journal. You’ll be anchoring your own self-esteem.

One of my former employees gave me a pair of gold star earrings as a thank you gift when she left my employ along with a card that said, “You were the best boss I ever had”. I wear those earrings almost every day. When I look in the mirror, it anchors my self-esteem. It tells me I was a great employer and the “best boss” she ever had.

The Christmas before my life partner passed away, he gave me a necklace with a gold star. On the back of it was engraved, “Until the 12th of Never.” The card read, “You are the best partner a man could ever have.” I wear the necklace often to remind myself I was a good partner and he was happier while I was in his life than he had ever been before. The engraved message was his way of telling me he would love me forever.

Reminding ourselves of our achievements, our worth and our value to others is imperative. Physical reminders help you to concentrate on the positive things in your life and recognize any feelings of inadequacy you may have are carry-overs from your past. Most feelings of insecurity we have were acquired through someone else’s negative perceptions and influence.

Be sure not to let the opinions of others become more important to you than your own opinion of you. Get yourself some gold stars or some motivational stickers and reward yourself regularly.
You CAN achieve self-confidence. It’s a choice. You can free yourself from dependency, conformity, comparison, manipulation and competition. You CAN do the things that make your heart sing. You CAN learn to depend on yourself for your own success and your own happiness. You are one of a kind -- uniquely yourself -- unlike anyone else. There are no two things in this universe exactly alike. No two trees, no two clouds, no two snowflakes, no two blades of grass and no two grains of sand on all the vast beaches of the world are exactly alike and there’s no two of you. Realize who you are because you are more than enough.

--Judi Moreo, author of YOU ARE MORE THAN ENOUGH: EVERY WOMAN'S GUIDE TO PURPOSE, PASSION, AND POWER
http://www.judimoreo.com/

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