The Habit of Employing Self-Deception

People have a habit of inventing fictions they will believe wholeheartedly in order to ignore the truth they cannot accept.

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So much of my own suffering has come from shying away from reality, from protecting myself from the hardcore truth of the choices I’ve made for my life. It seems the more I run from my heartache, my soul ache, the more I continue to distance myself from the painfully honest truth. It’s a strategy for self-preservation actually, but a very bad one at that.
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I have found that I have spent most of my “waking” life quietly buried in a fantasy world of make believe and pretend.  Buried in being busy, buried in too much work, buried in striving for my “goals”, buried in trying to fix hurt people. Bobbing around in a bubble. Sometimes for a time it actually worked (like a band aid) but more often it didn’t.
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Hoping, wishing, praying and becoming more and more determined to try to change those around me that didn’t want to change so I could manifest what I wanted without first seeing and holding the absolute truth about them. How selfish is that? Fighting instead of facing, without knowing the tools, talent or skills I would need to create a better reality, one, I probably didn’t even know I wanted (or needed).
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This way of living is reckless and irresponsible and will one day come to bite you in the ass.  Yes it can protect and shield you for a time and from the pain, but the cold hard fact is reality is your best fucking friend.
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I have also come to understand this behavior in myself is just another form of manipulation. When I don’t see what is truly in front of me, what is absolutely factual about any circumstance and I slip on those rose colored glasses, pretending that everything is fine, this is when I find myself in the most agonizing of circumstances.
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Whether it be the promise and potential I see, the possibilities in others, the “magic” of a truly desperate moment or the belief that I can do something I haven’t really trained or practiced for, it really doesn’t matter. The fact is I am not prepared to deal with the deep dark core truth. It’s so, so, so frustrating.
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When I convince myself that things are different than they really are, I struggle in that denial, trying to fit pieces of the puzzle in places they don’t belong. It’s maddening really.
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The more we bullshit ourselves into believing that we can do anything without absolutely accepting
  • where we are
  • what we have to work with
  • who is within our company (including our crappy-ass selves)
until we are truly accepting of the actions we have taken & the choices we have made and the distance we have to really go, we will stumble, fumble and fall.
One must start with the unquestionable truth of what is really happening in their lives before anything can get clearer.
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Stay awake, aware, alert and alive. Always.

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To Know The Truth

Don’t deny your world. Your world does not need saving, it needs more of your loving care.  It’s begging you to pay more attention to the details.

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Pay attention.

Accept this moment for what it is.

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Suffering is just the refusal to accept what is.

Healing is really just letting yourself feel your most suppressed feelings and recognizing that these feelings are fleeting.

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Each day we must go to war and fight the good fight. Vivere est Militare. To live is to fight. Fighting for our dreams with fortitude. Fighting against impulses with discipline. Fighting to be the person I want to be with courage.

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Life is a battlefield.

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Your Smile is Your Super Power

This morning I imagined what the 80 year old version of myself would tell me, if I asked her, “What do I do now?” “What should I focus on?

What wisdom would she have, nearing the end of her life? What would she have focused on today?

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She’d tell me to bike more, write more, film everything. Tell everyone I love how much I love them. Hug more, kiss more. Squeeze them tight. Use my creativity to connect with those I love and those I will love in the future. Arms and heart wide open, she would tell me to vulnerably step into the world and be me.

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She’d tell me to fuck fear. Let go of the negative thoughts. Skin the skeptic.  Look for the beauty in all. There are so many good people to love, sweet creatures to care for and wonderous places to inspire. Find them. Get out today and connect on purpose. Smile, it’s a great heart opener. It’s your super power.  Laugh. Enjoy life to the fullest each moment. Find your tribe. Seek out those who inspire you and meet them with open arms. Exercise. Move your body. Play outdoors.

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Seek what you want to find. Chase what makes your heart beat. What makes your heart pound out loud. Friends, food, books, music, work.  Go out there and get it all.

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Be thoughtful and intentional about everything you do. Your writing, your film, your drawing. Do it on purpose and with a purpose. 

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Think first, but don’t regret anything. Try not to hurt anyone, including yourself. No time for that. Problems will come and go. It always works out in the end. Stop getting so angry and frustrated. Sail through the storms. There is no time to waste.

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Life is a banquet. There is so much to choose from. Taste it all.

Visit friends, follow the inspiring, touch and taste everything that draws you in – that pulls you closer. Feed your curiosity.

Passionate

Let go of control. Just love.

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The Best Gift You Can Give

The best gift you can give anyone is your full and true presence.

Distractions are everywhere, and who has the time for anyone, really?

I resolve from this moment forward to make more time for truer communication with those I love. This is what makes life more memorable.

Generous Listening

Inspired by Becoming Wise

I’m thinking about how important it is to listen generously. How to compassionately communicate and hear another’s soul, even through the most difficult conversations.

To listen with an awakened heart & mind. To listen openly, without trying immediately to fix the problem at hand or impulsively come up with an answer right now.

To drop the agenda.

I’m thinking about how improved my relationships would be if I just follow the emotion of the moment, if I let the conversation flow.

What if I tolerated more of them and watched my timing of words?  What if I made room for the difficult to pour out, for the pain to set itself free?  Dissipate.

How would the conversation go if I were more flexible with my speech? If I softened my tone? If I held out my arms?

What if I let the conversation move where it will, if I gave up control?

Imagine if I released myself of judging everything to not a single word. How would it look if I decided to just observe it all as if I had never heard it before. What would I see?  If I listened less guardedly.

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Healing Words

The next opportunity I have for a true conversation I will include words of kindness. I will believe that I am exactly what is needed to help heal the situation.  Everything needs a measure of healing, don’t you think?

I vow to not let  differences define what is possible between us. I can argue with your opinion, but not your experience.

I will try, yes I will try very hard, to understand why you are behaving the way you are behaving. Perhaps you are in pain. What can I say or do to help you soothe it away?

I won’t look with anger, but I will try to find the good in you, even during your worst of rage.

A More Courageous Conversation

Even more importantly, I will open up my vulnerable parts to keep the conversation real. It may feel raw, uneasy and probably very uncomfortable, but that is where we grow. I will admit my weaknesses and recognize that what I have done so far has gotten me here, not where I want to be.

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Feature Photo – Artist: Egon Schiele

Going from Anxious Type A to a More Self-Healing Nature

I’m not sure when I adapted such a stressed out, hard-charging approach to life, but I did and it sucked and I am over it. I don’t regret much, but I do feel as if my fretful, grinding approach to work and life has exhausted me with very little more to show for it.

All that grind, all that toil, leading to very little added reward.

What a waste of energy.

Sure I feel successful, but I have over exerted my energy and worried my way to fatigue. The added busy motion, flying headlong into my days, pressing to get things done quickly, hasn’t adding anything of value to my life.

I could have had so much more fun enjoying the process.

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So now I am on a mission to change the habits that have led me to feeling exhausted and sometimes even sick.

Make it Simple, But Significant

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Everything is related to everything else. How stressed or angry you are, and how you interact with the world, is contingent in large part on your personality style,” says Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter. “And that is going to have an enormous impact on your health.”

Good Riddance to the Strain, Struggle & Strife

Eliminating the Need to Over Exert my Energy

My plan is to transform my Type A personality to a self-healing nature that is more curious, secure, constructive, responsive, and conscientious. These traits translate to enthusiasm for life, emotional balance, and strong social relationships. Read more about how your personality traits effect your life here.

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Barring any states of emergency that require immediate action, I ban all short and unreasonable deadlines. No more guarantees, pressure to promise results or setting up impossible goals.

I will only take on projects that I am exited to tackle and that I will enjoy completing.

That doesn’t mean that I won’t creatively challenge myself.

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If there is anything I regret, it is having spent so many of my years moving through my days, huffing, puffing, red-faced to get the maximum out of every day.

I could have done it without the pain.

Rushing ruins the whole thing.

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I want to move with more grace and elegance. I believe that with a calmer approach, much of my day can be effortless, enjoyable and effective.

How?

  • I will stop when I begin to feel stressed.
  • Take more time to think.
  • Look for ideas, not immediate answers.
  • Make obstacles work in my favor.
  • I won’t take the pleasure out of doing a great job because I am rushing through it.

More ways to eliminate the stress from your life.

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JR x Blu

In 2007, JR collaborates with Italian artist Blu on a mural installation in Berlin.

 

Additional Credits

 

Artist Nick Cave

 

Adding More Life to Our Years

 In my playbook, every day is Thanksgiving and I bet a lot of you reading this feel the same way. As we remain grateful this holiday, let’s take a moment to consider how fleeting life really is. . .memento mori.

memento-moriA Life That Matters 

(A Non Religious Funeral Reading)

Ready or not, some day it will all come to an end.
There will be no more sunrises, no minutes, hours, days.
All the things you collected, whether treasured or forgotten, will pass to someone else.
Your wealth, fame and temporal power will shrivel to irrelevance.
It will not matter what you owned or what you were owed.
Your grudges, resentments, frustrations, and jealousies will finally disappear.
So, too, your hopes, ambitions, plans, and to-do lists will expire.
The wins and losses that once seemed so important will fade away.
It won’t matter where you came from, or on what side of the tracks you lived.
At the end, whether you were beautiful or brilliant, male or female, even your skin colour won’t matter.

So what will matter? How will the value of your days be measured?
What will matter is not what you bought, but what you built; not what you got, but what you gave.
What will matter is not your success, but your significance.
What will matter is not what you learned, but what you taught.
What will matter is every act of integrity, compassion, courage or sacrifice that enriched,empowered or encouraged others.
What will matter is not your competence, but your character.
What will matter is not how many people you knew, but how many will feel a lasting loss when you’re gone.
What will matter is not your memories, but the memories that live in those who loved you.

Living a life that matters doesn’t happen by accident.
It’s not a matter of circumstance but of choice.
Choose to live a life that matters.

– Unknown

Adding More Life to Our Years

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How do you add more life to your years? How do we know if we are living to the max, giving the most we can give?  Do we just go by feeling? Do we continue to list and review our accomplishments? Add more to our resume? Create a bucket list of things we want to do sometime in the future?

What can we do right now to add more life to the moment in front of us?

We might listen to our heart more. Perhaps address the “psychic” pain of every day life and make adjustments to our day. Change what we don’t like about our living.

Perhaps we stop saying yes out of habit or obligation and start to consider what we really want to contribute during our lifetime. Volunteer maybe? Start a blog perhaps? Train for the marathon? Save up for the excursion?

Or better yet, maybe we wake the hell up. We stop sleep walking through life. No more numbing the brain with another glass of wine after dinner or taking the same route to work each morning. Perhaps we establish a healthy morning ritual to renew our sense of aliveness.

Could it be we create a new purpose. Develop a mantra to make people smile. Yeah, maybe that’s a purpose in life. smile

 How about we begin to take on more of life. . . .
  • Tackle the world’s bigger problems. Become an agent for change.
  • Learn something new, every day.  There are so many free ways to learn.
  • Do something selfless, make things easier for someone else.
  • Or maybe only respond to things that make us say Hell Yes! and say no to the rest.
Inspired by Derek Sivers and this post here

 

Keeping Calm, A Critical Keystone Habit

What are Keystone Habits?

Habits are what we do every day. Habits can help us grow or hold us back. Some habits are more important than others — they have the power to transform our lives.

Keystone habits lead to the development of multiple good habits. They start a chain effect in your life that produce a number of positive outcomes.

Getting enough restful sleep every night is a keystone habit. It will help you face the next day with energy, help you be more productive and think more clearly.

Exercising everyday is a keystone habit. Walking and working out will give you strength, keep off unhealthy pounds and boost serotonin to the brain, a chemical that will keep you serene.

Saving some money for the future is a keystone habit. Socking away a few bucks will keep each week will have you feeling more secure about that unpredictable rainy day ahead.

Read more about keystone habits in The Power of Habit.

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Keeping Calm, A Crucial Keystone Habit

Chances are if you are reading this, you are to some degree stressed out. Focusing on managing our emotions while nurturing a peaceful mind is imperative to navigating the chaos of every day living.

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The Multitude of Benefits that Come from Keeping Calm

  • Keeping a cool head, remaining calm, no matter what situation arises is key to retaining common sense and gaining others’ respect.
  • Managing our emotions in times of stress helps us maintain control over our lives.
  • Standing composed while all around you is flipping out in a chaotic crisis helps keep your thoughts collected.
  • A calm mind will bring about peaceful contentment.
  • No matter what is happening, remaining calm will give you a sense of confidence.
  • A peaceful and clear head will keep your vision for the future clear. Calm begets clarity.
  • Staying calm during the biggest of battles will help you appear less crazy than your colleagues.
  • Your concentration increases with each calm breath you take.
  • Your worries become lighter and your state-of-mind more carefree.
  • The thoughts that you have and words that you speak are less crass and more compassionate.
  • Life is easier when we move with through challenges creatively in a calm way.
  • We become more proactive and less reactive.
  • We become kinder and less cruel when we are calm and take more thoughtful calculated risks instead of impulsively moving in every direction.
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A calm demeanor is contagious. Try it. The next time you are in a situation where everyone is flying off the handle, stay calm. Don’t speak, don’t yell, don’t move. Just be the calming force, the rock, the reminder of how powerful a calm state-of-mind can be.

Okay, My Ideas on How to Stay Calm 

Know that things are bound to go wrong today. They just are. Ain’t no getting around it. Someone will piss you off, drive you crazy, make you angry, but on the other hand, something good will happen today too. Guaranteed. Life is peppered with a bit of both.

Redefine what stress means to you. A dropped cell call? A cracked laptop screen? The wrong dressing on your salad? What does life-threatening stress look like to you?  Define what a real threat looks like. Categorize what constitutes a real problem before you get hit with one. Everything else is easy.

Slow your speech and your gait. Seriously. Walk like a old wise spirit. No rushing, just simple, confident steps with your posture strong and your head held up high. Or sit still. Unless the house is burning down or someone is bleeding out, don’t react. Process the pain in the moment and then decide how you will react.

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Put your hand on your heart. Close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Remember what really matters. Remember how short life really is. Ask yourself, what is most important to you right now? 

Smell your way to serenity. Use calming oils throughout the day. Inhale lavender, rosemary or geranium before you send that scathing email or make that frustrating phone call. Keep an oil by your desk or burn a soy-based scented candle in your home or office.

Take calming action. Take care of what is in your control. Don’t hesitate. Get what you can get done.  Don’t know what to do first? Make a priority list and check it off. Realize that life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.

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Clear all the clutter from your life. Your home, your desk, your relationships. If it isn’t serving you well, get rid of it. If you are going through a crisis, keep everything in your life really, really simple.

Carve out moments of joyful time. Hack your happy chemicals. Slip away for a while, get lost in a book, go for a walk, ride your bike, safeguard your sanity.If you are in the midst of a long-standing stressful situation, like caregiving for the terminally ill, making your way through a divorce, trying to find your next job, take a moment to do what you enjoy. Lower your level of cortisol by doing something that makes you happy.

Ask yourself what is good about this? Even though this horrible thing is happening right now, what is good about it? Perhaps it is a problem that finally came to a head? Maybe it will finally move you in a new direction that you knew you were suppose to go? Perhaps this problem offers you an opportunity to try something new?

Slow down on the consumption of everything. This includes drugs, alcohol, food and caffeine. Purposefully chew more slowly. Talk more slowly. Walk more slowly. Slow down to a very soft and gentle pace. Rushing to nowhere will bring no good effect.

Watch a sad, sad movie and cry really fucking hard. Cry until your eyes sting with pain. A list of heartbreaking movies to get you going here.

Realize how short life really is. Check out the internet’s friendly reminder of how long you are going to live, aka the Death Clock.

Give up your mind. Listen to a guided meditation. Author of Radical Acceptance and mindful meditator, Tara Brach offers a free podcast.

Play with puppies or watch puppies. Check out these live puppy cams.

and. . .

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For more powerful tips on how to remain calm throughout the day, check out this article on LifeHacker and  this one on Forbes.

Credit for today’s Illustrations and Ocean inside me

 

 

 

 

Is This The Person You Want to Be?

Our motives are goal directed activities that energize and direct our behavior. Our motives support what we do, how we behave and what we put forth in the world.

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Sometimes our motives are simply the presentation of how we hope the world perceives us.

Powerful . .

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Intelligent . .

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Foxy. . .

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Strong. . .

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Compassionate . . .

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Sometimes though, we have to make choices. Choices between doing what we want to do and what we must do.

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Doing the right thing may not necessarily match our goals. The right thing may be miles away from our true desires. It isn’t necessarily the thing that will make us happy, get us noticed, respected or appreciated.

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When we remove our selfish motives and realign our priorities to match what is right before us that must be taken care of now, we are free to do the work that matters. The sometimes thankless work.  The work that serves others.

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Feeling Unappreciated

It’s difficult when people are indifferent to our work and to our achievements. We do and do and do  and get no damn respect. No appreciation, zero gratitude. We feel affronted.

Maybe it’s time to review why we do what we do and why we get upset when nobody notices.

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The reward for doing the right thing is not recognition. The reward for doing the right thing is self-respect, a calm heart and a mind at rest.

When you let go and do what is right and give up all thoughts of acknowledgment, it’s actually quite liberating.

 

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There is peace of mind that comes with doing the important work without applause.

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Turning Your Passion into Progress

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To be passionate about your dreams is one thing. To realize your dreams and create with purpose is completely another. Oh the danger of being drunk with passion and intoxicated with ideas.

When all we have is passion, we fall prey to being impatient while assuming we will succeed while overcoming our limitations. Limitations are real and something we need to see clearly or we will never make progress. Self-denial about our limitations let us miss where we need to grow and go. We risk the chance of becoming blinded by naive enthusiasm. We promise ourselves more than we can muster. It’s a delusional place to be.

But oh how much fun it can be.

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We all know the loop. Take an idea, what seems like a very good idea and become really excited about that idea. Pumped. Stoked. On fire. We are filled with unbridled enthusiasm, perhaps what many people call passion.

That passion you feel, that deep desire to fulfill that dream, it’s the fire that fuels. Passion may very well be what kicks your ass out of bed in the morning and charges you to move forward, to go forth, to get on with it.

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The Alchemy of Passion

Read: The Surprising Alchemy of Passion & Science from the MIT Leadership Center.

But, passion without execution and the ability to fail and endure is a trap.

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Turning Passion into Progress

Turning your passion into reality requires something more. It requires progress. Sometimes painful progress. Progression – making  headway towards your goals – can and should be measured and tracked with a daily dose of reality. What your passion requires is honesty and clarity.

It might also need a plan.   A deliberate disciplined action strategy and of course the discipline to honor that purposeful plan every day. A blueprint of sorts. A guide. A map.

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But how do you know if you’re really making progress? Harness the data. Measure the feedback. Track how far you’ve come and how far you need to go before your dream(s) are reality.

Planning the process and producing a bit each day, making progress. This is what transforms passion into progress. What makes those dreams come true.

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Passionate activity without purpose is just noise. It might even mean just being busy.

Busy without being productive will keep you spinning your wheels while never making any real progress.

 

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We can ward off that danger of being drunk with passion by being realistic about what we are doing. Staying in the moment, measuring our progress and making corrections to our course each day.

A Critical Look at Our Faults & Failures

The ability to evaluate one’s own ability and progress is an important skill to turning passion into progress. It requires a critical look at what needs to be improved. Including your skills.  How good are you right now, really? How much more do you need to improve? to practice? to plan? to execute. 

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How are you sure that what you are doing is moving you forward?

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Inspired by

Ryan Holiday’s Ego is the Enemy should be required reading for everyone, especially those with a dream, a vision and or a passion. I am finding his book to be one of the most grounding pieces of writing I have read in a very long time. Thank you Ryan.

Illustrator Ruben Ireland

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Why We Fail to Become Our Best

Doubts don’t kill dreams, delusional thoughts do. Our half-beliefs and uncertain thoughts are trying to tell us something very important and it is our responsibility to listen up and act.

Negative mind chatter

These annoying worries that wake us up early and keep us from moving forward, hold the power to help us grow and become stronger.

While most of us tend to drown out the worry, anxiety and concern, I am interested in finding out what happens when instead of tuning out self-doubt, I give it an ear. What is my self doubt trying to tell me?

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Listening and questioning about my worry and ruminating thoughts of . . .

Guilt.

Do I have my priorities straight? Am I doing what is most important to me? What is best for all? What have I been ignoring? What should I take care of now?

Dissapointment.

How have I let others down? Am I treating others and myself in a caring and endearing way? What have I neglected to do?

Irrelevancy.
Am I continuing to keep up with my skills? Will my work actually effect the lives of others?  Will it make an impact? If not, what might I do instead?
Inadequacy. 
Am I practicing what I preach? Am I as loving, patient and compassionate as I could be?
Undeservingness.
What am I not doing enough of? How can I bring more value? How can I contribute more? Where am I needed?

Self-doubt reminds us that we have work to do. It nags at us -we need to improve.

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It tells us that we are not finished, that we can and we should try to become more . . .thoughtful. . . honest, intelligent. . .loving, patient, wise. . .compassionate, empathetic. .

The uncertainty and apprehension of self-doubt, the emotions that ride along, that keep us fearful and manifest into worry and anxiety can really improve us. If we listen and take action.

These feelings don’t have to drown us and we don’t have to drown them.

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Yet and while we are at it, we must hold on to some confidence. Anxiety and worry should push us to power on, to move forward and to hone our skills, better our behavior and become an improved version of our former selves. Not break us down.

BUT. . .

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First things first, we must cease and desist the ongoing self-delusion.

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isahia

 

“you think I’m crazy,” she said.

“no,” he said, “you’re not crazy enough”

 

Few people nowadays know what man is. Many sense this ignorance and die the more easily because of it . . . I do not consider myself less ignorant than most people . . . I have been and still am a seeker, but I have ceased to question stars and books; I have begun to listen to the teachings my blood whispers to me. My story is not a pleasant one; it is neither sweet nor harmonious as invented stories are; it has the taste of nonsense and chaos, of madness and dreams like the lives of all men who stop deceiving themselves. (Hesse 105)

Hesse, Herman. Siddartha, Demian, and other Writings. Ed. Egon Schwarz. New York: Continuum, 1992.

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I am deceiving myself every time I . . .

  • underestimate the amount of time it takes to do something.
  • continue on with conflicting behavior that does not align itself with my ideals.
  • set goals that I don’t yet have the tools, skills or talent to reach.
  • think I got my point across, when I believe I made myself understood but the other person did not listen- did I use the right words, the best tone, how can I command more respect, get others to really listen?
  • tell myself that was my very best – I gave it my all. Push on.
  • blow things out of proportion – thinking that problems are bigger than they really are.
  • make excuses for bad behavior -lashing out, behaving poorly or treating others in a way I would never wish to be treated.
  • tell myself something is going to be easier than it actually is.
  • have an idea, that I think it’s a great idea, even though I haven’t tested it.

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Those who are slow to confess their errors are busy constructing lies to conceal them. – Unknown.

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Sometimes we must detach as we question.
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detach
& remain cautiously optimistic, which is fostered as . . .
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. . .a feeling of general confidence regarding a situation and/or its outcome coupled with a readiness for possible difficulties or failure.

Directions for listening and acting on self-doubt and delusion.

Take inventory. List what must be done and then take deliberate action. Self doubt will dissipate and melt away with each attempt you make, measure you take, routine you practice, habit you build. . .  the stronger you will feel, the more confident you become. Taking action to improve your behavior will soothe away the worry and concern.
Remember it is thoughtful and deliberate action . . .
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continue on with dedicated practice . . .
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Featured image 

Apparition of Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938 by Salvador Dali