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1

What's this Chapter?

Ch.9 - Push Beyond Your Limits - Self-Belief

2

What's this Chapter's Judgment?

Your sense of who you are will determine your actions and what you end up getting in life. If you see your reach as limited, that you are mostly helpless in the face of so many difficulties, that it is best to keep your ambitions low, then you will receive the little that you expect. Knowing this dynamic, you must train yourself for the opposite - ask for more, aim high, and believe that you are destined for something great. Your sense of self-worth comes from you alone - never the opinion of others. With a rising confidence in your abilities, you will take risks that will increase your chances of success. People follow those who know where they are going, so cultivate an air of certainty and boldness.

3

The Fearless Approach
What's this Chapter's quote by Fifty?

"Your opinion of yourself becomes your reality. If you have all these doubts, then no one will believe in you and everything will go wrong. If you think the opposite, the opposite will happen. It's that simple." - 50Cent

4

The Fearless Approach
When you were bron, you entered this world with no identity or ego. You were simply a bundle of chaotic impulses and desires. But slowly you acquired a personality that you have more or less built upon over the years. You are outgoing or shy, bold or skittish - a mix of various traits that define you. You tend to accept this personality as something very real and established. But much of this identity is shaped and constructed by outside forces - the opinions and judgments of hundreds of other people who have crossed your path over the years.
This process began with your parents. As a child you paid extra close attention to what they said about you, modeling your behavior to win their approval and love. You closely monitored their body language to see what they liked and didn't like. How did much of this have a tremendous impact on your evolution?

If, for example, they commented about your shyness, it could easily strengthen any tendencies you had in that direction. You suddenly became aware of your own awkwardness and it stuck inside you. If they had said something different, trying to encourage you in your social skills and draw you out, it might have had a much different impact. Either way, shyness is a fluid quality - it fluctuates according to the situation and the people you are around. It should never be felt as a set personality trait. And yet these judgments from parents, friends, and teachers are given inordinate weight and become internalized.

5

The Fearless Approach
If, for example, they commented about your shyness, it could easily strengthen any tendencies you had in that direction. You suddenly became aware of your own awkwardness and it stuck inside you. If they had said something different, trying to encourage you in your social skills and draw you out, it might have had a much different impact. To add insult to injury, how are these criticisms and opinions further cause for damage? 1/2

Many of these criticisms and opinions are not objective at all. People want to see certain qualities in you. They project onto you their own fears and fantasies. They want you to fit a conventional pattern; it is frustrating and often frightening for people to think they cannot figure someone out. Behavior that is considered abnormal or different, which may very well be coming from somewhere deep within you, is actively discouraged.

6

The Fearless Approach
If, for example, they commented about your shyness, it could easily strengthen any tendencies you had in that direction. You suddenly became aware of your own awkwardness and it stuck inside you. If they had said something different, trying to encourage you in your social skills and draw you out, it might have had a much different impact. To add insult to injury, how are these criticisms and opinions further cause for damage? 2/2

Envy plays a role as well - if you are too good at something, you might be made to feel strange or undesirable. Even the praise of others is often designed to hem you in to certain ideals they want to see in you. All of this shapes your personality, limits your range of behavior, and becomes like a mask that hardens on your face.

7

The Fearless Approach
Many of these criticisms and opinions are not objective at all. People want to see certain qualities in you. They project onto you their own fears and fantasies. They want you to fit a conventional pattern. Envy plays a role as well - if you are too good at something, you might be made to feel strange or undesirable. Even the praise of others is often designed to hem you in to certain ideals they want to see in you. All of this shapes your personality, limits your range of behavior, and becomes like a mask that hardens on your face. What must you come to understand?

That you are in fact a mystery to yourself. You began life as someone completely unique - a mix of qualities that will never be repeated in the history of the universe. In your earliest years, you were a mass of conflicting emotions and desires. Then something foreign to you is placed over this reality. Who you are is much more chaotic and fluid than this surface character; you are full of untapped potential and possibility.

8

The Fearless Approach
As a child you had no real power to resist this process, but as an adult you could easily rebel and rediscover your individuality. You could stop deriving your sense of identity and self-worth from others. You could experiment and push past the limits people have set for you. You could take action that is different from what they expect.
But that is to incur a risk. You are being unconventional, perhaps a bit strange in the eyes of those who know you. You could fail in this action and be ridiculed. Conforming to people's expectations is safer and more comfortable, even if doing so makes you feel miserable and confined. In essence, you are afraid of yourself and what you could become. What is another, fearless way of approaching your life? 1/2

It begins by untying yourself from the opinions of others. This is not as easy as it sounds. You are breaking a lifelong habit of continually referring to other people when measuring your value. You must experiment and feel the sensation of not concerning yourself with what others think or expect of you. You do not advance or retreat with their opinions in mind. You drown out their voices that often translate into doubts inside you.

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The Fearless Approach
As a child you had no real power to resist this process, but as an adult you could easily rebel and rediscover your individuality. You could stop deriving your sense of identity and self-worth from others. You could experiment and push past the limits people have set for you. You could take action that is different from what they expect.
But that is to incur a risk. You are being unconventional, perhaps a bit strange in the eyes of those who know you. You could fail in this action and be ridiculed. Conforming to people's expectations is safer and more comfortable, even if doing so makes you feel miserable and confined. In essence, you are afraid of yourself and what you could become. What is another, fearless way of approaching your life? 2/2

Instead of focusing on the limits you have internalized, you think of the potential you have for new and different behavior. Your personality can be altered and shaped by your conscious decision to do so.

10

The Fearless Approach
We barely understand the role that willpower plays in our actions. When you raise your opinion of yourself and what you are capable of, how does it have a decided influence on what you do?

Taking risks will then make your energy levels rise - you have to meet the challenge or go under, and you will find untapped reservoirs of creativity within you. People are drawn to those who act boldly, and their attention and faith in you will have the effect of heightening your confidence. Feeling less confined by doubts, you give freer rein to your individuality, which makes everything you do more effective. This movement towards confidence has a self-fulfilling quality that is impossible to deny.

11

The Fearless Approach
Moving towards such self-belief does not mean you cut yourself off from others and their opinions of your actions. You must take constant measure of how people receive your work, and use to maximum effect their feedback (ch.7). But how must this process begin from a position of inner strength?

If you are dependent on their judgments for your sense of worth, then your ego will always be weak and fragile. You will have no center or sense of balance. You will wilt under criticisms and soar too high with any praise. Their opinions are merely helping you shape your work, not your self-image. If you make mistakes, if the public judges you negatively, you have an unshakable inner core that can accept such judgments, but you remain convinced of your own worth.

12

The Fearless Approach
For those of us who live outside such an environment, "ambition" has almost become a dirty word. It reeks of insecurity and evil deeds to reach the top. People who want power so badly must have psychological problems, or so we think. Much of this social prudery around the idea of power and ambition comes from an unconscious guilt and desire to keep other people down. To those occupying a position of privilege, the ambitiousness of those from below seems like something scary and threatening.
If you come from relative prosperity, you are more than likely tainted with some of this prejudice. Why must you extirpate it as much as possible?

If you believe ambition is ugly and needs to be disguised or repressed, you will have to tiptoe around others, making a show of false humility, in two minds every time you contemplate some necessary power move. If you see it as beautiful, as the driving force behind all great human accomplishments, then you will feel no guilt in raising your level of ambition as high as you want and pushing aside those who block your path.

13

The Fearless Approach
Understand: people will constantly attack you in life. One of their main weapons will be to instill in you doubts about yourself - your worth, your abilities, your potential. They will often disguise this as their objective opinion, but invariably it has a political purpose - they want to keep you down. You are continually prone to believe these opinions, particularly if your self-image is fragile. In every moment of life, how can you defy people this power.

You do so by maintaining a sense of purpose, a high destiny you are fulfilling. From such a position, people's attacks do not harm you; they only make you angry and more determined. The higher you raise this self-image, the fewer judgments and manipulations you will tolerate. This will translate into fewer obstacle in your path. If someone like Douglass could forge this attitude amid the most unfree of circumstances, then we should surely be able to find our own way to such inner strength.

14

Keys to Fearlessness
In today's world our idea of freedom largely revolves around the ability to satisfy certain needs and desires. We feel free if we can gain the kind of employment we desire, buy the things we want, and engage in a wide range of behavior, as long as it does not harm others. According to this concept, freedom is something essentially passive - it is given and guaranteed to us by our government (often by not meddling in our affairs) and various social groups.
There is, however, a completely different concept of liberty; and it is not something that people grant us as a privilege or right. What is it?

It is a state of mind that we must work to attain and hold on to - with must effort. It is something active and not passive. It comes from exercising free will. In our day-to-day affairs much of our actions are not free and independent. We tend to conform to society's norms in behavior and thinking. We generally act out of habit, without much thought as to why we do things. When we act with freedom, we ignore any pressures to conform; we step beyond our usual routines. Asserting our will and our individuality, we move on our own.

15

Keys to Fearlessness
Let us say we have a career that affords us enough money to live comfortably and offers us a reasonable future. But this job is not deeply satisfying; it doesn't lead us anywhere we want to go. Perhaps we also have to deal with a boss who is difficult and imperious. Our fears for the future, our comfortable habits, and our sense of propriety will compel us to stay on. All of these factors are forces that limit and confine us. But at any moment we could let go of the fear and leave the job, not really certain where we are headed but confident we can do better. In that moment, how have we exercised free will?

It initiates from our own deepest desire and need. Once we leave, our mind must rise to the challenge. To continue on this path, we have to take more independent actions, because we cannot depend on habits or friends to see us through. Free action has a momentum of its own.

16

Keys to Fearlessness
What prevents you from taking such liberating action is not mommy, daddy, or society, but your own fears. You are essentially free to move beyond any limits others have set for you, to re-create yourself as thoroughly as you wish. How does moving to this more active form of freedom not mean that you are giving yourself over to wild and ill-considered action?

Your decision to alter a career path, for instance, is based on careful consideration of your strengths and deepest desires and the future you want. It comes from thinking for yourself and not accepting what others think about you. The risks you take are not emotional and for the sake of a thrill; they are calculated. The need to conform and please others will always play a role in our actions, consciously or unconsciously. To be completely free is impossible and undesirable. You are merely exploring a freer range of action in your life and the power it could bring you.

17

Keys to Fearlessness
What block us from moving in this direction are the pressures we feel to conform; our rigid, habitual patterns of thinking; and our self-doubts and fears. What are the 5 strategies to help you push past these limits?

-Defy All Categories
-Constantly Reinvent Yourself
-Subvert Your Patterns
-Create A Sense Of Destiny
-Bet On Yourself

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-Defy All Categories
Understand: the day you were born you became engaged in a struggle that continues to this day and will determine your success or failure in life. You are an individual, with ideas and skills that make you unique. But people are constantly trying to fit you into narrow categories that make you more predictable and easier to manage. They want to see you as shy or outgoing, sensitive or tough. If you succumb to this pressure, then you may gain some social acceptance, but you will lose the unconventional parts of your character that are the source of your uniqueness and power. How must you resist this process at all costs?

You must come to see people's neat and tidy judgments as a form of confinement. Your task is to retain or rediscover those aspects of your character that defy categorization, and to give them even greater play. Remaining unique, you will create something unique and inspire the kind of respect you would never receive from tepid conformity.

19

-Constantly Reinvent Yourself
Understand: people judge you by appearances, the image you project through your actions, words, and style. If you do not take control of this process, then people will see and define you the way they want to, often to your detriment. You might think that being consistent with this image will make others respect and trust you, but in fact it is the opposite - over time you seem predictable and weak. How is consistency an illusion anyway?

Each passing day brings changes within you. You must not be afraid to express these evolutions. The powerful learn early in life that they have the freedom to mold their image, fitting the needs and moods of the moment. In this way, they keep others off balance and maintain an air of mystery. You must follow this path and find great pleasure in reinventing yourself, as if you were the author writing your own drama.

20

-Subvert Your Patterns
Animals depend on instincts and habits to survive. We as humans depend on our conscious, rational thinking, which gives us greater freedom of action, the ability to alter our behavior according to cirucmstance. And yet that animal part of our nature, that compulsion to repeat the same things, tends to dominate our way of thinking. We succumb to mental patterns, which makes our actions repetitive as well.
What often prevent us from using the mental fluidity and freedom that we naturally possess?

The physical routines in our lives. We see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns.

21

-Subvert Your Patterns
What often prevent us from using the mental fluidity and freedom that we naturally possess are the physical routines in our lives. We see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns. What is the solution to this?

To break this up.

22

-Subvert Your Patterns
What often prevent us from using the mental fluidity and freedom that we naturally possess are the physical routines in our lives. We see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns. The solution to this is to break this up. What's a first example?

For instance, we could deliberately indulge in some random, even irrational act, perhaps doing the very opposite of what we would normally do in our day-to-day life. By taking an action we have never done before, we place ourselves in unfamiliar territory - our minds naturally awaken to the novel situation.

23

-Subvert Your Patterns
What often prevent us from using the mental fluidity and freedom that we naturally possess are the physical routines in our lives. We see the same people and do the same things, and our minds follow these patterns. The solution to this is to break this up. What's a second example?

In a similar vein, we can force ourselves to take different routes, visit strange places, encounter different people, wake up at odd hours, or read books that challenge our minds instead of dull them. We should practice this when we feel particularly blocked and uncreative. In such moments, it is best to be ruthless with ourselves and our patterns.

24

-Create A Sense Of Destiny
The story of Jeanne d'Arc demonstrates which simple principle?

That the higher your self-belief, the more your power to transform reality. Having supreme confidence makes you fearless and persistent, allowing you to overcome obstacles that stop most people in their tracks. It makes others believe in you as well. And the most intense form of self-belief is to feel a sense of destiny impelling you forward.

25

-Create A Sense Of Destiny
The most intense form of self-belief is to feel a sense of destiny impelling you forward. This destiny can come from otherworldly sources or it can come from yourself. You have a set of skills and experiences that make you unique. They point towards some life task that you were meant to accomplish. You see signs of this in the predilections of your youth, certain tasks you were naturally drawn to. When you are involved in this task, everything seems to flow more naturally. In which terms should you come to see the truth?

Believing you are destined to accomplish something does not make you passive or unfree, but the opposite. You are liberated of the normal doubts and confusion that plague us. You have a sense of purpose that guides you but does not chain you to one way of doing things. And when your willpower is so deeply engaged, it will push you past any limits or dangers.

26

-Bet On Yourself
It is always easy to rationalize your own doubts and conservative instincts, particularly when times are tough. You will convince yourself that it is foolhardy to take any risks, that is better to wait for when circumstances are more propitious.
But how is this a dangerous mentality?

It signifies an overall lack of confidence in yourself that will carry you over to better times. You will find it hard to rouse yourself out of your defensive posture.

27

-Bet On Yourself
The truth is that the greatest inventions and advances in technology or business generally come in negative periods because there is a greater necessity for creative thinking and radical solutions that break with the past. These are moments that are ripe for opportunity. While others retrench and retreat, you must think of taking risks, trying new things, and looking at the future that will come out of the present crisis. What's the lesson?

You must always be prepared to place a bet on yourself, on your future, by heading in a direction that others seem to fear. This means you believe that if you fail, you have the inner resources to recover. This belief acts as a kind of mental safety net. When you move ahead on some new venture or direction, your mind will snap to attention; your energy will be focused and intense. By making yourself feel the necessity to be creative, your mind will rise to the occasion.

28

Reversal
For most of us, the words "ego" and "egotism" express something negative. Egotistical people have an oversize opinion of themselves. Instead of considering what is important for society, a group, or family, they think first and foremost of themselves and act upon this. Their vision is narrowed to the point of seeing everything in reference to their needs and desires.
But there is another way to look at it: we all have an ego, a sense of who we are. And this ego, or self-relationship, is either strong or weak. Describe those with weak egos.

People with a weak ego do not have a secure sense of their worth or potential. They pay extra attention to the opinions of others. They might perceive anything as a personal attack or affront. They need constant attention and validation from others. To compensate for and disguise this fragility, they will often assume an arrogant, aggressive front. This needy, dependent, self-absorbed variety of ego is what we find irritating and distasteful.

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Reversal
For most of us, the words "ego" and "egotism" express something negative. Egotistical people have an oversize opinion of themselves. Instead of considering what is important for society, a group, or family, they think first and foremost of themselves and act upon this. Their vision is narrowed to the point of seeing everything in reference to their needs and desires.
But there is another way to look at it: we all have an ego, a sense of who we are. And this ego, or self-relationship, is either strong or weak. Describe those with strong egos.

People who have a solid sense of their own value and who feel secure about themselves have the capacity to look at the world with greater objectivity. They can be more considerate and thoughtful because they can get outside of themselves. People with a strong ego set up boundaries - their sense of pride will not allow them to accept manipulative or hurtful behavior. We generally like to be around such types. Their confidence and strength is contagious. To have such a strong ego should be an ideal for all of us.

30

Reversal
So many people who attain the heights of power in this culture - celebrities, for instance - have to make a show of false humility and modesty, as if they got as far as they did by accident and not by ego or ambition. They want to act as if they are no different from anyone else and are almost embarrassed by their power and success. What's the truth?

These are all signs of a weak ego. As an egotist of the strong variety, you trumpet your individuality and take great pride in your accomplishments. If others cannot accept that, or judge you as arrogant, that is their problem, not yours.