The Acquisition of Self-Confidence

“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.”

William Ernest Henry

Self-Confidence

We each play a pivotal role in the development and outcome of our lives. Our thoughts, words, actions, and habits are all cardinal pieces to our puzzle of success; however we choose to define that term. A quote, that has been arguably associated with many of history’s greats for world and societal change- ranging from Loa Tzu to Margaret Thatcher, states “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, and your values become your destiny.” This quote resonated with me profoundly because it reaffirmed my core belief, which is we are a product of our thoughts, and our thoughts alone. Our self-confidence or self-deprecation determine our self-view and, as a result, gradually oozes out of our pores into the spaces of our external society. Thus, providing society with a blueprint of how we wish to be perceived and treated. Therefore, if we have the power to possess such an impactful part in our experience of reality, then we are truly the masters of our lives. Our core beliefs about ourselves, our abilities, and our worth, dictate our destiny.

I believe that one of the greatest boxers to ever grace the ring, Muhammad Ali, is a prime example of how our world can change through the process of our thoughts and words. Ali in his career peak stated, “I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was. I figured that if I said it enough, I would convince the world that I really was the greatest.” Ali exemplified the power of belief, regardless of his outside circumstances he refused to adhere to what his eyes saw, and committed himself to the picture of success and power that was imprinted along the internal walls of his mind.

Belief in self and self-confidence are interchangeable descriptions that have the capacity to transform the life of its possessor. Dr. Ivan Joseph, former Head Coach of the Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team – who is associated with helping the Rams to post their highest team results in their history, defines self-confidence as the “ability to believe in yourself to accomplish any task, no matter the odds, difficulty, or adversity.” Dr. Joesph also provides three beneficial tips towards building one’s confidence in self and abilities, they are summarized below:

  1. Repetition: Remember practice makes perfect. A situation or ability can not be novel, there has to be a level of comfort associated with a task or skill in order for true mastery to take place. (See: Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule).
  2. Execute Positive Self-Talk: Thoughts influence actions. You have to be your biggest advocate, affirm yourself through your words. Tell yourself how great you are. Tell yourself how success you will be. Tell yourself how powerful you are. Write a letter to yourself declaring your greatness, and remind yourself of all or your past accomplishments. Highlight your value, what has worked for you in the past, and your overall awesomeness. Lastly, remove yourself for negative spaces.
  3. Interpret criticism through a filter. Self-confident people interpret criticism the way they choose to. Accept the advice that seems solid, constructive, and applicable, and throw away the useless “materials”.

Check out the entire video of Dr. Ivan Joesph’s TED Talk below.

Self- confidence is the difference between success and failure, happiness and despair, and living a full life or surviving off of the scraps that are thrown your way. In life, You are the only one that can make you happy, YOU are the only one that can pave the way for your dreams and aspirations to take place, and YOU are the only one that can hold yourself back. Life is a journey meant to be enjoyed and cherished, strategically outline your path to your destiny, and watch it unfold.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

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30 is NOT the new 20: An Introspective Take on the Defining Decade

Don’t be defined by what you didn’t know or didn’t do, your deciding your life right now.”

– Meg Jay, PhD

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               Stagnation is not a sign of progression, but a depiction of procrastination. Any information that supports a delay in development and self-growth is not advice of benefit, but of destruction. As a God-created being of the universe it is our right to move forward in life towards the acquisition of new opportunities, experiences, and relationships. The concept of having a decade – a ten year period of life- to partake in aimless and meaningless behavior is absolutely absurd and out of the question. The phrase “30 is the new 20,” stands out to me as a detrimental falsehood, that in the era of the new millennium is sometimes treated as truth. In a recent TED Talk, executed by psychologist Dr. Meg Jay, she talks about the definitive factors of an individual’s 20’s. I support this idea one hundred percent. As a twenty something, I have earned a degree of higher education, worked in various internships in different areas of the United States, and through self-reflection and thought gained a better grasp of who I am as a person both personally and professionally. As an introspective individual, I have experienced the benefits of “putting in work” early (through self-development, reading, meditation, educational outlets….etc.) with the expectation of acquiring my desired outcomes (manifested as the achievement of my goals and aspirations) at a sooner date.

Dr. Jay covers crucial points supporting her theory of 20’s being a foundational decade in one’s life, stating “Claiming your 20’s is the simplest most transformative thing for work, happiness, and love.” In today’s society, twentysomethings make up 15 percent of the US population, that’s approximately 50 million people, in my opinion that would be entirely too many people to just be walking around unfocused, un-bothered, and unguided. According to Dr. Jay’s research, the 20’s are a critical period of adult-development, especially from a scientific standpoint. In her research, Dr. Jay discovered that the human brain caps off its second and last growth spurt, before rewiring itself for adulthood, in this particular decade of life. Therefore, our twenties may be our last chance of fine-tuning ourselves before our personalities, habits, and life-perspectives are pretty much set in stone – to divert a minuscule inch, an article in the NY Mag’s Science of Us, entitled “How Much Can You Really Change After You Turn 30,” also supports this claim while offering an alternative perspective. The article by Melissa Dahl, states that while basic personality traits and behaviors are established by age 30, it is still possible to act against pre-established nature through how one proactively decides to express those traits or behaviors. For example, an individual who is usually shy and reserved in public settings, can (with practice) CHOOSE to act in the opposite manner – however this isolated act can hold negative physiological effects.

Our twenties are a decade of infinite possibilities, if we choose to see them in this way. There are three things that Dr. Jay suggests in order to move forward in claiming the definitive decade, and they are as follow: Get identity capital, add value to your life through investing in your future-self; Reach out to weak ties, don’t just associate with people your age – get out and seek mentors- the next job or opportunity may be in that connection; and start selecting your family (future spouse, long-lasting friendship) now – if you are in a relationship (friendship or romantic) that is not working, GET OUT. Dr. Jay emphasizes the importance of being intentional with love, she states “Consciously choose who and what you want, rather than making it work with whoever happens to be choosing you.”

As a twentysomething now is the time to walk boldly in the direction of goals and aspirations. The time to start reading is now. The time to learn how to self-advocate and negotiate contracts and salary quantity is now. The time to explore is….yep you guessed, now. I wish you all the best in your pursuits, and I will see you at the top!

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

 © A. Nicholson, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.

The Power of Positive Thinking

Positive Thinking

The power of positive thinking has the ability to shift one’s mind from a state of negativity to that of hopeful possibility. The act of speaking life into situations, visualizing, creating manifestation boards, and words of affirmation has helped me tremendously on my journey to success and complete self-value. It is remarkable how the act of making the decision to think forward has the ability to catalyze one’s success and self-development into a direction of prosperity and reward.

For the purpose of clarifying, positive thinking is not the act of pretending that all in life is grandiose and spectacular, no not at all. It is the state of actively acknowledging your mood or situation, but making the deliberate decision to see the good in it. It is the active choice of determining how you can grow from your circumstance.

Positive Thinking can also be used in a proactive manner. For example, if there is a dream job or career that you desire. If there is a dream location that you would like to travel to. If there are particular goals that you would like to accomplish in your life, whether romantically or professional; positive thinking has the potential to get you one step closer (if not to) your desired destination in life (figuratively and literally). Positive thinking is more than a practice or a hobby, it is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that requires perpetually gratitude for things that are acquired and hoped for. Gratitude is one of the secrets to living in abundance in all aspects of life, to be grateful for the things that you already have makes it easier to be grateful for the things that desire to possess, and will one day acquire. If you are in a perpetual state of thankfulness, the energy and vibrations that you emit will be on that exact frequency level. According to universal rule, you attract what you are, consequently the people that you meet will be mirror reflections of that positive energy. Also, in a state of gratitude you will attract more resources into your life because you are not acting out of a state of resistance but of openness.

It is my desire to live a life abundant in love, joy, happiness, positive and growth-inducing friendships, and wonderful life experiences rich in culture and diverse travel. I am open and I am ready. There are a plethora of resources that go into further detail regarding the topic of positive thinking and how it has the potential to change your life, for instance YouTube is a goldmine for this subject. I have provided you with a video clip of motivational speaker, Brendon Burchard, and his insight on transforming the mind to welcome positive outcomes and thoughts, below.

Progress starts with an idea, then and only then can it manifest itself into reality.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

 © A. Nicholson, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Welcome to Self-Love

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

1 John 4:18

selfacceptance

Love is the only universal medium of communication that I can think of that has the power to unite and heal the hearts of the broken and mishandled. Love at its most pure form is used to rebuild and cleanse. It is used to renew and strengthen. But in today’s society, it seems that we are a culture that lacks in this essential ingredient for peace and harmony. In a world where we are consumed with social media as our primary form of communication, we are growing farther and farther away from actual human interaction. As a result, this makes it harder and harder to cultivate meaningful relationships that transcend superficial barriers, to connect with the actual person within. In my opinion, in order to truly love someone it is crucial to put in the work and the effort to reach this connective ground. However, in a world where we constantly hide behind the illusion of Instagram filters – I can understand how it may be a bit of a task to reveal your true-self to another individual. The fear that is associated with being vulnerable, removing yourself out of your comfort zone, and being someone else’s open book, is quite intense – especially for me.

Conversely, a lack of vulnerability is a double-edged sword. On one end you are shielding yourself from the hurt and pain that other people may bring; however, you are also cutting yourself off from potential life-changing relationships that may have the possibility of advancing self-growth and happiness. Isolating a part or parts of yourself from others, in the long run, is only operating as a disservice to yourself. By closing yourself off, and not allowing others to get to know the REAL you (all of you), it only creates an additional façade that will have to be played into. In this space, it can be very isolating and lonely, because no one will truly know who you are….because you won’t let them.

I am deeply inspired by the author Sarah Jakes Roberts, and one of her quotes has helped me along my journey to authenticity and self-love, she states “Fear can not isolate you If you allow love to surround you.” The love that she speaks of can come from any source. God is love, and as a complex construct of our creator we all have a constant stream of love that radiates from us – whether we like it or not. To know that I have the greatest power EVER on my side, makes it possible for me to not be afraid to be vulnerable with others, and to allow them to get to know me. Since I know that God loves me, I have no reason not to love myself – no reason at all. God has accepted me. God has embraced me. God has covered me. This information inspires me to love others and to receive the love they have to give. If my desire is to expand my life-encounters for happiness, love, and joy, I have to put myself out there and not fear the outcome. When God guides, he will provide exactly what you need to succeed.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

 © A. Nicholson, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.

Helped Are Those Who Help Themselves

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“Helped are those who are content to be themselves; they will never lack mystery in their lives and the joys of self-discovery will be constant…Helped are those who forgive; their reward shall be forgetfulness of every evil done to them. It will be in their power, therefore, to envision the new Earth.” Alice Walker, Temple of My Familiar.

Within the last year I have made a conscious effort to expand my intellectual horizons, through reading a broader spectrum of books – including topics of: the progression of racism in America and its engrained political agenda, self-empowerment through the focus of the law of attraction and  the personal power of speaking life into the things that I will one day acquire, and marinating on theprivilege of being a woman and learning of the heavy multitudes of Nubian SHEROS that have interestingly been left out of history books and the timeline of mainstream feminism. It has been a period of great awakening and self-discovery. It’s quite intriguing how once you make the decision to seek a specific outcome or state, various resources and helping aids seem to jump out of the blue in order to help you to reach your goals; a point eloquently stated by Paulo Coelho, in his life-changing book The Alchemist, “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

At this point in time in my life, as a twenty-something with an attraction to personal success, higher education development, and wanderlust; I am centered on getting to know who I am, and what it is that I truly want out of life. A year ago I made the vow to myself to live fearlessly in authenticity, to take chances and risks, to live outside of my comfort zone. As a result, I realized how life can be positively magnified through attitude and choice. It is awesome to live in a state of authenticity, because it allows you to eliminate the multiple layers of figurative “make-up” that has been applied by society, and to filter out the residue of superficiality until you are left with mirror reflections of who you are, through the people that have remained. Furthermore, I also came to the conclusion that life is not about living without fear (per se), but making the deliberate decision to live in spite of it.

Another delectable tidbit that I learned on my journey to intellectual and spiritual awareness was the cleansing power of forgiveness. In order for me to live my BEST life, I realized that I had to release the baggage of my past, in order to open my heart, soul, and mind to the new opportunities of prosperity and abundance. Through the act of forgiveness, it gave me the chance to take back my personal power.

Each and every day I am inspired to life better, through a constant stream of motivation. It is my desire to positively expand in all the areas of my life. I desire to travel more, meet new interesting people, have once-in-a-lifetime incredible life experiences, and to acquire a PhD along the way. One thing that I know for sure is that life opens up when you do. I opt on a daily basis to live my life in boldness, and to walk towards the direction of my dreams and aspirations, because I can – its as simple as that.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

Gratitude Is A Personal Gift

gratitude

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.” Oprah Winfrey. My optimism towards life has been one of my best attributes for opportunity and growth. Through optimism I have learned how to open my personal door to gratitude, the ability to look at a circumstance through a perspective that allows one to deliberately choose to see the positive aspects and be thankful. I believe that gratitude is a gift to yourself that can be used as a ticket out of depression, guilt, anger, and pain. Gratitude has given me the motivation to pursue the goals and dreams of my life, and the courage to continue after being presented with obstacles and loopholes. It is the fuel that continues to drive my inner ambitions and the personal coach that encourages me to take one more step, after I literally feel as if all of my energy has been depleted.

Within the last month, I have decided to take my realm of gratitude a little higher, through participating in an exercise course that focuses on finding things to be thankful for every single day, and writing at least ten instances down. Putting my heart and soul into seeking out the “little” everyday miracles of life, and recording them on paper, has yielded amazing results. I mean, when you think about it, the concept of being able to get up in the morning and walk to your kitchen is absolutely amazing! Not to sound out of it, but it truly is. Think of all of the people who can’t do that, whether it be due to an illness or physical impairment, the act of walking is definitely something to be grateful for! Gratitude can also be found in the “ordinary” accessories of life: running water, ample food supplies, the privilege of freedom of religion, and (in case you are blessed enough to life in the great city of New York) the ability to get up on a refreshing Saturday morning and attend an awesome Yoga to the People class on St. Marks. People the blessings, luck, favor (whatever you prefer) are/is in abundance all around us, all we have to do is wake-up and see them. Even as I write this post, I can feel my level of gratitude increasing, just at the thought of all of the remarkable experiences that I have had the pleasure to encounter, just within this year alone. The act of moving to a new city, struggling to find a niche, and eventually discovering inner strength, wisdom, tenacity, and gratitude that manifested into external mirrors via people and organizations.  It has been a journey of personal truth living in a state of gratitude, and I truly believe (as my one day mentor, Oprah, states) finding a space of thankfulness for what you already have, will always manifest the opportunity for more, always.

With Gratitude,

A. Nicholson

“Your Silence Will Not Protect You.”

Inspired by an excerpt from ” The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde

“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood. That the speaking profits me, beyond any other effect,” Audre Lorde. As I sit here reading this quote over and over and over again, I can’t deny that it strikes a resounding chord within me. Silence. It can be your worst enemy or your best friend, contingent upon the situation that one encounters. Silence can be a sign of the strong, as well as the weak. Silence can be a sign of peace or discomfort. Silence can inevitably lead to one’s demise or freedom. Silence. It is an unbiased element, whose complete meaning and power is in the hands of its user. Silence has never been, and will never be, my advocate.

Vocal self-expression is a birth-right given to all individuals who are born with the ability to do so. However, overtime based upon life-influences, modern media, peers, and overall atmosphere, the voice that we are given either magnifies or diminishes. I believe that either outcome is based upon the amount of support or discouragement that is perceived throughout the early stages of one’s life. Throughout the course of my life, I have learned that it is always best to express how I feel. Whether it is through a roar or a whimper, you MUST ALWAYS say what is on your mind. It is crucial to internalize the fact that your opinion matters, and whatever it is that you have to say is important.

Never ever give your right to your opinion to another person; because once you give it away, you may not be able to get it back. In the words of Audre Lorde, “Your silence will not protect you.” The absence of speech, to me, is the forfeit of choice. It is symbolic of the surrendering white flag. It is the mutual understanding of the withdrawal from the fight. Silence has never been, and will never be, my advocate.  

Sincerely, 

A. Nicholson 

© A. Nicholson, 2013-2014. All Rights Reserved.

 

I Am Standing Upon Infinite Ground

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2013 was a phenomenal year for me! It was a year of self-discoveries, triumphs, spiritual pressing, and divine favor and abundance. I went through every emotion possible last year, and through those experiences I was given liberation and laughter. I became strong(er). When I think about this past year in review, I have a lot to be thankful for and I am proud of the woman that I am. I had the awesome experiences of completing my thesis, turning 23, graduating from college with my psychology degree, moving to New York – three weeks afterwards, starting my first full-time job, and meeting people who were truly god-sent along the way. Thinking about my initial blog post, revert back to “The Art of Living Fearlessly,” I can truly say that I have stayed true to my promise of moving past fear and moving towards my ideal life. There have been times within this short four month time span, where I have had to physically push myself to move forward despite the heart-wrenching pains of the past and deep-rooted obstacles of fear. I have been determined to get over the hurdles that have been mentally-imprinted in my mind. The funny thing is that the initially support that I wanted, and thought that I did not have, was there all along. A support that I am grateful for, and will build upon in the present and future.

I have declared 2014 to be a year of excellence and boldness. I  am moving vehemently toward my goals. I will travel more, be open to new adventures with amazing people, extend my knowledge of literary culture, and operate in gratitude every step of the way. I will leave you with this extraordinary quote from new congregation of First Corinthians Baptist Church “I am a complex construct of an infinite God. I dare you tell me what I cannot do.” The possibilities and opportunities of my life are unlimited, and all that I can imagine can be manifested into my reality. This is going to be a SPECTACULAR journey. I AM READY.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

The Power of Giving: St. Mary’s Style

The power of giving is a universal expression of selflessness that transcends beyond the factors of age, religion, or socioeconomic status. The act of giving is symbolic of one reducing themselves in order to replenish another. This past Saturday I had the opportunity to volunteer at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’s first annual “Poor Man’s Soup” event. This is an event that was used as a fundraiser in order to raise revenue for the church’s rectory renovation campaign. The event included fine art, a night of impressive community talent, and a formal soup dinner community-style. I volunteered to assist with the production of the event, and from there my view into the window of the awesomeness of neighborly love, joy, and giving began. The individuals who attended the event were all members of the church, and I could feel their attachment and care for their sanctuary with each conversation that I had. Many of the attendees had been coming to St. Mary’s for decades and their investment of time had caused them to create a great bond of closeness with one another. As a volunteer I was responsible for an assortment of tasks: ranging from set-up, assisting the cook with the main dinner course of the night, greeting guests, and collecting donations. Through my role in each task I had the wonderful opportunity to meet delightful personalities, one of them being a lady by the name of Lauren. Lauren has experienced tremendous struggles in her life and is now living as a low-income resident of a New York City housing complex. As she shared her life story with me, I couldn’t help but notice how she continued to have a permanent smile on her face along with contagious genuine laughter. I admired how she did not allow her circumstances to define her, and regardless of the state of her life she still managed to have happiness through her adversity. This short encounter exemplifies that overall presence of the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The little church in West Harlem Manhattanville, that still continues to strive to help others shamelessly and without fear. My time as a volunteer for the “Poor Man’s Soup” event is merely a fragment of the insightful and inspiring times that I have experienced at St. Mary’s. My time as an intern, food pantry worker, volunteer, and resident of this family-oriented place have all contributed to my perspective of what I believe a community should be. The individuals who work and live her range from all areas of the spectrum: including socioeconomic status, race, educational background, and sexual orientation. However, the one commonality that they all share is the love that they have for one another. I have seen this community come together in the midst of celebration, heartache, and the act of helping a fellow peer who is in need. St. Mary’s is a safe-haven for all who enters into its territory and I am honored to share my year in New York City with this congregation.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson

Open Horizons

 

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“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough” Oprah Winfrey. When I initially saw this quote it sparked an emotional chord within me,  and I saw it as one ultimate truth. The concept is so simple, be grateful for the things in life that you have been blessed with. When you focus on abundance that is what you shall reap, likewise if you concentrate on your lack then lack is what you shall be surrounded with. Recently I have been reading a great amount of literature based around the concept of positive psychology.  Heck, I’ve also been reviewing sermons, motivational speeches, and various websites based around the platform. I have come to one conclusion from all of my introspective researching; it is truly up to you to create our own reality. If you want more of something, make the clear decision within your mind that you already have that of which you are trying to gain. It is up to you, and only you to create the opportunities that you wish to have in life. The days of waiting for someone else to fulfill those missing gaps are gone.  It is up to you to get up and decide to do something about your situation. I believe the act of making the irreversible decision to be grateful makes the possibility of achieving goals and obtaining accomplishments even that more real to the soul. When you eliminate the space for negativity and indifference in your life, the only factor that remains is positivity.  Furthermore, living a life of optimism does not mean that you close your eyes to the reality that is around you.  It goes beyond that, living a life of optimism means that you acknowledge the stepping stones and building blocks in your life while holding on to your strength, courage, faith, and confidence in God to get you through it. In order to get to the next stage in any journey you have to keep moving forward. In order to accomplish your current goal you have to keep striving. In order to build upon your knowledge of the world around you, you have to continue to accumulate knowledge through outside resources. Once you stop pursuing a dream, the dream is no longer obtainable because you are the only one who possesses the final word in how far your dreams and life will go. Here is a very logical question: What if we possessed a belief in ourselves and our abilities that was so strong that regardless of our amount of resources, background, or connections we could persuade others into believing in us as well? what if we acted in a manner that was so bold, self-assured, and confident that it left others with no other choice but to follow suit? This is absolutely possible! The only difference between the winners and losers in life is will-power and complete belief in self- NO MATTER WHAT. If you don’t believe me check out the autobiographies of  heavy-hitters such as Daymond John, Oprah Winfrey, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Will Smith. As long as we have God on our side and the tenacity and confidence to persevere, the world is basically an open playground for the acquisition of dreams.

Sincerely,

A. Nicholson