In this final section, I’ll look at overcoming “the hole”.
How do you know if you’ve overcome it? People will start using words like “strong”, “composed”, “poised”, “confident”, “conviction”, “presence” to describe you.
It is an aura. A special energy. It shines out of every pore on your body when you have it.
It is about how much you think you’re worth. Not what society or other people think.
But what specific techniques can you use to achieve it?
1. For most people, school, sometimes university too, defines them. If they weren’t popular there, or had experienced some sort of person trauma (been fat, spotty, nerdy etc), they carry around that baggage forever. Don’t let failing at a popularity contest once define your decisions for the rest of your life. Make friends with your past and focus on the future. Memory management is key: focus on the memories that empower you. What is the story you tell yourself, about yourself? Make sure it’s a positive one.
2. Affirmations can help if you don’t find them too wanky.
3. Get comfortable receiving. Also, promise yourself to be honest with people about how you’re feeling.
4. Your attitude to failure is crucial: Move away from outcome dependency. Embrace uncertainty and risk, understand it is normal and exciting. Have an abundance mentality: if this doesn’t come off, then there are plenty of opportunities round the corner anyway.
5. Make sure you have a sense of narrative in your life, a plan, a feeling of momentum towards a better future, some goals. This does wonders for self-esteem.
6. Glover’s method is as follows, and is basically a form of CBT:
Have awareness of these ridiculous thoughts you have, and then get good at interrupting and challenging them. Slowly you can change these thought patterns, these neural pathways.
Identify how your thoughts are distorted, then develop the skill of rational responses. This is not positive mental attitude bull shit. You come up with an alternative interior dialogue that is closer to reality, that sucks the power out of negative thought, out of the distorted thought.
7. One of the biggest realisations you can make is that people in general don’t want you to be perfect. Perfect is robotic, and people can’t relate to robots. They want warts and all. They want flawed people. People they can see themselves in. That’s who they connect to, sympathise with: commonality makes them care. People with “the hole” spend their lives trying to change themselves for the better, making themselves into superheroes (or at least hiding their flaws). The tragedy is that this won’t make them more liked. If you are embarrassed by your flaws, and find your own human limits undignified and shameful then you won’t show them. And ironically you doom yourself to becoming unlovable.
8. Leverage the pain of your present: how much you hate how you are, make it vivid. Don’t sell yourself short, denying yourself peak experiences/moments, by cowering. And leverage the pleasure of being centred and self-sufficient mentally: imagine that feeling.
9. Remember fear is illusory. Fear is a superficial consequence of a lack of self-worth. Personal value is an antidote to fear, and a perfect preventative measure. Fear is thinking “I’m going to look stupid”, but if you’re not worried about looking stupid, if you have a core sense of self-worth to buffer you against embarrassment, there is no fear.
Finally: it’s doesn’t matter where you are, what’s gone before. We are defined by our decisions in the present. Martine Wright lost her legs in 7/7. The day after, she told herself she was going to compete in the 2012 Paralympic games. And she did, in the sitting volleyball. In that one decision she took back control of her life, and ripped meaning and purpose from disaster. She decided to be positive and not let one event define her. What’s your situation like compared to hers? Probably a tad easer id imagine. There is no excuse.
Andrew Carnegie, the great industrialist, wrote “A man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”
A journalist asked Ian Poulter how, under the most immense pressure, he made 5 straight birdies on the last 5 holes of his Ryder Cup match on Saturday evening to win what proved to be a vital point for Europe. His answer: “It comes from within”. He believed. He had prepared his mind. Just like you can.