Mike's Self Confidence Upgrade
How he became confident with women, stood up to bullies, and took control of his life
Meet Mike at the dawn of a new day. The harsh wail of the alarm cuts through the ragged remnants of Mike's sleep. With little enthusiasm, he forces himself out of bed and into the shower. It's 6.30 am and Mike doesn't need to think of the day ahead because each day is, he feels, a carbon copy of the last and the next.
In the background, though, is a sense of dread about the commute across London and the upcoming effort of putting on his 'I'm great, thanks' face for work. Why does life feel so hard right now?
"Why can't I talk to women I like?"
Almost two hours later, he arrives at work and is greeted by a smiling Sarah at the reception desk - one bright spark in an otherwise dull existence. He takes his place in his office cubicle and, whilst gulping down his third coffee of the morning, fantasizes about taking Sarah out. "But what's the use," he thinks. He can barely muster the courage/self confidence to talk to her.
Now other random thoughts flit through his head. His muscles are still sore from a recent workout; there must be some way of bulking up, maybe he should order that protein powder his friend Matt is always talking about. For some reason, depressing thoughts of his ex-girlfriend seep into his mind.
For the millionth time, he wonders why they had to split. It's been almost two years. The pain of their last intimate time together comes to mind, how he just couldn't perform. Fear that he might have a 'sexual problem' makes him feel afraid. Maybe he should just avoid all relationships from now on.
He looks around the office and words come to mind: 'same old same old'.
"Why can't I be assertive with my boss?"
Greg, his line manager, pops his smug head round the corner and speaks to Mike like he's the lowliest office junior. It's not what he says, it's the way he says it, even what he doesn't say.
Mike feels that Greg sees him as an easy target, someone who won't answer back. Greg doesn't seem to speak to other coworkers like this. Does this count as workplace bullying? "I shouldn't be so lap-dog like," thinks Mike.
He suddenly feels utterly miserable, defeated. He's only 26; should things feel this hard? Another image comes uninvited, that of a tired rat pacing the same treadmill, day in and day out. What happened to his business plans? His ideas? The dreams he had?
"Why do I feel like such a failure?"
During the desolate afternoon, he gets a text from his pal Matt suggesting that an evening beer might be called for. Mike is reluctant; he likes Matt, but he's so...perfect. He has his own business, earns megabucks, and seems to have multiple strings of women falling at his well-heeled feet.
And he's always telling Mike what he 'should' be doing. Mike doesn't really like the way Matt talks about women, but no one can deny he's fit and looks great. And that seems to be all that matters, right? For some reason, Mike decides he will have that beer with Matt, after all. It might make him feel better and Matt has a hearing defect when it comes to the word 'no'. But it's a weeknight, so he will just make it one or two at the most.
The bar's busy as Mike enters. He feels he's too short, not exciting or witty enough, maybe he looks scrawny in his 9-to-5 suit? When he sees Matt's well-chiseled face, a sudden urge to simply backtrack seizes him for a second. When exactly did his self confidence go absent without leave, missing presumed dead, he wonders.
He feels a bit better after one beer. Matt is on good form, telling Mike all about his latest woman and asking Mike why he isn't dating. Suddenly, Mike sees Sarah from the office, looking lovelier than ever. Their eyes connect across the bar and Mike feels himself reddening.
"Who's that?" Matt looks amused.
"Er... Oh, just a woman from work."
"She's nice. Well, what are you waiting for?"
"I think I'll have another beer."
Mike slides beer after beer down his neck. Sarah is laughing with friends, but her eyes wander back to his with encouraging regularity. Matt keeps on and on, he won't stop.
"Speak to her, man! Come on. What's the matter with you?"
After Mike's sixth beer, he determines to make a move. But in his drunkenness, he'd missed that she'd already left, carried away in the current of the night, now someplace else with her laughing, glamorous friends. Mike is bereft.
And Matt makes him feel lonelier.
"You blew it, man!" says Matt helpfully.
The next morning, the harsh wail of the alarm cuts through Mike's sleep. His hangover headache is biting and, for a moment, he believes it's the weekend. After recalling it's only Thursday, he somehow makes it to work. He can't meet Sarah's eyes and his hangover is bolstered by a shot of self-disgust.
How a little Uncommon Knowledge changed everything...Self Confidence Upgrade
Meet Mike on the dawn of the same day, but in a different way. Mike feels good. Although he's always a bit sleepy in the mornings, the promise of the day seeps into his awakening mind like spring sunlight onto skin.
"Life is for living," he thinks to himself as he showers. He has felt attracted to Sarah at the office ever since he first saw her. He knows he can be shy, so he's worked on overcoming that. He has recently learned self-hypnosis to rehearse asking her for a date. If she says yes, then great! But he knows that if she declines, then, hey, at least he asked her.
"I wish I'd known about self-hypnosis years ago!"
During his hypnotic sessions, he has 'practiced' not just what he is going to say, but also how he is going to feel when he talks to her today. He has even hypnotically prepared feeling okay if she says no.
"I can't believe how calm I feel about being assertive now"
He also feels that Greg, his boss at work, has been taking liberties with him. Greg's been giving him more than his fair share of tasks to do, tasks that really should be done by other members of staff. Before, Mike wouldn't have dreamed of assertively talking to Greg, but now he feels different.
Mike has also been using self-hypnosis to ensure he'll feel strong, assertive, calm, and self confident when he talks to Greg, whether that's today or at some other opportune moment.
He's noticed that the thought of confronting Greg doesn't bother him half as much as it would have a few short weeks before. Why had he never before rehearsed his feelings before difficult situations? He was 26 and had only recently discovered how much influence he could have over his own mind.
"Weirdly, I'm starting to feel more self confident about myself in other areas too"
Life is starting to feel really good. Sure, Mike had the prospect of an hour's commute by tube train across London, but that gives him valuable time to scope out his new business venture. After all, there was no way he had planned to work in his current job forever. That was never his plan. He will work bit by bit on his new Internet business venture; he has already started and gotten some possible investment from an interested entrepreneur. Or Mike just uses the time to 'zone out' and listen to the new album he's bought, relaxing as much as humanly possibly in over-crowded, stuffy public transport.
He arrives at work humming a new tune and is greeted by Sarah. She smiles and holds his eyes with her own. As if hearing the words of a more self confident, relaxed, and naturally sociable man than himself, he says:
"Hi Sarah, how's it going?"
"Great, thanks. What have you been listening to?" She'd spotted the headphones still round Mike's neck and is keen to talk.
"Oh, a new band I heard on Spotify." He smiles. "Do you fancy having a drink with me tonight and I'll let you hear the band? Perhaps we can have something to eat if you're hungry? There's a great new Italian restaurant just round the corner that I think you'll love."
Weirdly, Mike suddenly notices that he feels pretty calm and not too worried about what she'll say. This is a new experience for him, but strangely, it feels natural to feel so self confident.
But she looks happy. "Sure, that sounds great. I'd like to go home and get changed first, so shall we meet at 7 in the bar across the street?"
"I didn't even know I had these needs"
Mike feels extra good as he floats through the morning. Recently, he has felt more in control over his own feelings, thoughts, and life. He's been really thinking about his needs in life and how the way he's been living the past couple of years just hasn't been meeting those needs properly. No wonder he had been feeling so bad, at such a low ebb.
He had thought hard and realized he didn't feel enough purpose in his life, his social life was dismal, and he needed to feel the warmth of intimacy and true friendship again. He was relaxed with the idea that his budding connection with Sarah might lead nowhere...or somewhere. Either way, it would be a pleasure to spend some time finding out and at least he'd get a beautifully cooked Italian meal tonight!
Since he'd learned about the primal emotional needs that he shares with the rest of humanity, Mike knew what he needs to do to help himself and had taken active steps to meet his needs. Mike still works out, but he's doing it for his health and fitness more than his appearance. Mike still meets with Matt, but moderates his drinking and has more to share with his beer-buddy.
Mike feels attractive, even though he knows he's not male model material. He knows he can make a good impression with women through what he is like and how he engages with people in a friendly, easygoing manner, and not rely solely on physique.
"I'm not going to be bullied anymore"
Greg, his line manager, pops his smug head round the door.
He snaps sharply, "Mike, I want you to input the details of these new customers. It needs to be done today!"
Mike feels strong, firm, and calm. Although Greg is 6 ft 3 in and built like a hay barn, Mike somehow feels bigger than him right in this moment.
"Greg, sorry, I can't do that. Right now, I'm working on your month-end reports, which are due today. Isn't it Sandra's team's job now? It's easy to forget who does what around here!"
Greg looks crestfallen, abashed, like someone who has been found out. Mike feels relaxed, but understands that Greg has been trying to meet his personal need to feel important in a warped way by constantly dominating him. And Mike let him know he's still 'da boss' by saying he's working on an important report for him. Greg complies almost meekly and Mike gets back to his own workload.
A text beeps on Mike's phone. It's his friend, Matt, suggesting a beer. Mike texts back, telling him he'd love to, but...he's got a date with Sarah. Matt texts back a smiley face.
In truth, Mike used to be in thrall to Matt, with his Men's Health physique and heartthrob face, but no longer. It's like Mike feels 100% on a level with Matt now; seeing his friend's flaws and weaknesses makes Matt seem more human and more likable. Mike used to have the habit of putting himself down - if not in words, then in thoughts. But he has a better friendship with Matt now because it feels more balanced, more equal.
As Mike savours the prospect of his evening, he reflects on how he wishes he'd known years ago what he now knows about how his own and other people's minds work. Words float into his mind: "Life is for living."
Published by mark.tyrrell June 6th, in
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End of Self Confidence Upgrade