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Book for building self-confidence?
Old 06-27-2008, 02:28 PM   #1
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Book for building self-confidence?

Can anyone recommend a good book for someone that is smart as a whip, but lacks self confidence? The lack of self-confidence seems to stem from crappy parents always criticizing them growing up and giving them a feeling of low self worth. This lack of confidence is keeping them from growing in their education, career and personal relationships.

Just something to read that might trigger something positive in them. Not asking for miracles.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:22 PM   #2
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Can anyone recommend a good book for someone that is smart as a whip, but lacks self confidence? The lack of self-confidence seems to stem from crappy parents always criticizing them growing up and giving them a feeling of low self worth. This lack of confidence is keeping them from growing in their education, career and personal relationships.

Just something to read that might trigger something positive in them. Not asking for miracles.
Trek, I don't know how realistic a request that is. Bookstores are filled with motivational pop-psy books but it really sounds like you are describing someone with characterologic issues that run pretty deep.

Maybe this individual should start by speaking with a counsellor of some sort -- priest, minister, rabbi or similar if they have a meaningful religious affiliation. Issues of depression often intermingle with so-called self-image problems, too. I found that it may sometimes be best to start with a clinical psychologist rather than with a psychiatrist. It will probably cost quite a bit initially, but that will provide some direction.

Best wishes to him or her.
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Old 06-27-2008, 03:47 PM   #3
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"The Magic of Thinking Big", David Schwartz.

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Old 06-27-2008, 03:57 PM   #4
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Good post by Rich_in_Tampa, and I second his recommendations.

A trained professional is much more likely to be effective than a book (while I love books, it's asking a lot for any book to 'fix' severe self-esteem issues). And a clinical psychologist would definitely be preferable to a psychiatrist or a religious leader.
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Old 06-27-2008, 05:42 PM   #5
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I second what Rich said. There are thousands of books with some grinning idiot on the cover. The people to whom this stuff is attractive are already using it.

For the rest of us, a good psychologist is probably more realistic.

Right now I am reading The Happiness Myth, by Jennifer Michael Hecht. She approaches the problem of happiness from the vantage point of history, and the history of ethical studies in philosophy and religion. She is an historian and a poet and probably no ones's idea of a guru. Yet I think that what she has to say in this book does in a round about way address self esteem, which after all is for many of us a side effect of right action.

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Old 06-27-2008, 06:07 PM   #6
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i mostly agree with rich only i'd stay so far away from anything religious or spiritual that it couldn't even be seen on the horizon. scientology, for instance? great confidence builder. how about new age? you can think you are god. how's that for confidence? standard, established run of the mill, world religions, all claiming truth and way? someone, not me of course, might think that belongs in the political, soap box category.

this is a case for therapy, followed up with real world experience. first the person has to learn to overcome the fear of exploring themself. that's gonna take some work. then they have to build their self-esteem, without which anything they learn from a book or a shaman or a rabbi or priest will likely not only just go to waste but until they learn to understand themselves at a core level, tools they use to learn can cause more harm than good.

an example: take a person with low-self esteem. she pleases people so that they will like her. then she buys some books and watches pbs specials which "empower" her. she stops being so nice to people who she now sees as less enlightened than she, having that good old time religion as backup. who needs self esteem when you have god?

avoiding and distracting yourself from dealing with, head on, internal issues, only covers up problems. it doesn't solve them and it can create new ones. saying your affirmations everday is not systemic change. it cloaks but does not dissolve. so now after many books and much religion, she has the very same problems, only now she is no longer a pleaser, she's a destroyer.

she has not beaten her low self esteem, she has armed it.
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Old 06-27-2008, 06:23 PM   #7
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Old 06-27-2008, 08:13 PM   #8
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I agree that counseling is essential to work through these kinds of issues. They can be very deep-seated, but progress can be made with hard work and self-exploration.

However, I do feel some self-help books can be extremely complimentary to the counseling process. Two I could recommend:

Healing the Child Within
Co-Dependent No More

In addition, joining a support group can be very helpful. ACOA (Adult Children of Alcoholics) is one option. You do not have to be a child of an alcoholic - just a child from a dysfunctional family (The Problem - Adult Children of Alcoholics - World Service Organization, Inc.)

I hope this helps, and I wish whomever you are trying to help strength as he/she tries to grow and become a stronger, healthier person.
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Old 06-28-2008, 01:41 AM   #9
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Thanks for all the thoughtful replies and suggestions. Much appreciated.
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Old 06-28-2008, 08:02 AM   #10
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trek, I found new self-confidence through yoga practice. I wasn't really expecting that.

I imagine other people find self-confidence in mastering other sports or types of traditional exercise, but the yoga was very gentle and not classically "results-based" so there are no "expectations" to be met. I think it helps you be "at home" with yourself.

I've recommended the book by Iyengar, "Light on Life", elsewhere here.
Amazon.com: Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom: B.K.S. Iyengar, John J. Evans, Douglas Abrams: Books

It won't set a fire under this person to go out and conquer the world, but I think it might help to view the past/present/future with more calmness, centeredness, and "philosophy", and to let go of emotional baggage.

I've never really sought out confidence-building materials as I've always thought I could do pretty much whatever I set my mind to. But, coming to live in Europe, my confidence has really been tested lately, as my usual ways of getting things done don't work here!
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Old 06-28-2008, 10:21 AM   #11
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I ran into problems in y early 20's. I came across "Power of Positive
Thinking" by Norman Vincent Peale that got me out of my mental jam. It's a very easy read. I still read it periodically.
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Old 06-28-2008, 05:57 PM   #12
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I know that many people are very resistant to therapy. Things are changing, but for some there's still a stigma associated to it. If this party is willing, a good therapist can do in months what books will take years to accomplish (if they ever do).

That said, if this individual isn't willing to see a therapist, I can recommend the book The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem by Nathaniel Branden. It's not necessarily a quick & easy read like some other self-help books, but it's worth looking into.

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But, coming to live in Europe, my confidence has really been tested lately, as my usual ways of getting things done don't work here!
Not to thread-jack too badly, but I found this comment interesting. Can you explain what kind of situations you've been running into?
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Old 06-28-2008, 09:56 PM   #13
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Before, if I wanted something done, I would do one or more of the following things:

pick up the Yellow Pages
make a phone call
send a fax
research transparent prices/solutions
pay

FORGET all of this. Business here is transacted much more according to feudal conceits: personal contacts and hookups, familial ties, political party ties, secrecy, etc.

Things that I could obtain on a moment's notice in the US are unheard of here. "Oh! Why would ANYone want calcium sulfate/a GFCI switch/a shower curtain/bone meal/a ceiling fan"

Even to vacuum the F'ing house I have to wrestle with wierd-ass plug adaptors because: 99% of sockets are made one way and 99% of plugs are made another way. This is "normal". I hire and pay licensed electricians who don't know the difference between AA and AAA batteries, and to whom the idea of a ground (earth) is foreign. More than one has refused to hazard a guess as to whether it exists in our house. I have to ARGUE with them that I don't want a light switch INSIDE a shower enclosure. I have gone through 3 plumbers, the BEST of whom, called to replace an old leaking HW radiator valve, put the replacement in upside down, and caused a new leak. He also forgot to close the water input to the gas boiler, causing other leaks all over the house as we froze.

We have a national Post Office bank account, opened at the location where we first rented, more than 40 min. away. To switch it to our local branch would require closing the first account and opening a new one. Recently we got a registered letter saying we had to go to the remote branch (no indication why). DH goes there, and it turns out they need both our signatures and physical presence to sign papers that have to do with a connected brokerage account that we never signed up for and don't want. These kind of things they refuse to resolve via mail or fax or phone call; you have to physically show up. He wanted me to go back with him, and I said "why!?". Seeing as we don't even want the damn thing, it's their problem!!

To register our cars took seven 3-hour round trips to Siena (a couple x 2 cars), because they WON'T post the forms you have to fill out on the Internet so you have to go in person to get the physical form. They WON'T mail or fax the blank forms either (forget putting them on the Internet) nor will they accept the filled-out forms by mail or by fax; you have to submit them in person. To pay for each submission and stage of the procedure, you cannot go once, you have to go twice: once, to submit the form physically between the hours of 4-6 on Thursday pm or whatever.. but you have to go to the Post Office to PAY for the submission and the PO is only open 9-1. Then you have to submit (again physically) the PO payment receipt. There's no cashier at the DMV-equivalent. So.. minimum two days and two RT for each transaction or step. Then they worry about emissions so I have to laugh!

If you were to go by the Yellow Pages, you would assume that there is not a single copy shop or print shop in all of Siena province. Of course that's not so, but the twisted way the YP works here is that there are no free listings, even a single line, for those who pay the still-inflated business phone rates. So no one pays extra, which renders the YP useless.

No one reads books, and few people read the papers. The neighbors tend to spy (fortunately we have a pretty large yard, but I was wierded out by a passing farmer guy who remarked on the fact that my DH was away from home! He saw the car was gone.) This could be good or bad depending on the neighbor! A different neighbor came to the conclusion that we must be from Lecce, because he saw our friend's car with Lecce plates. WTF

When you come to a foreign country, most times you are stripped of:
-your credentials, which mean nothing to them
-your insurance record; you start over from the worst "step" and thus pay inordinately
-your connections and base of operation, which is much harder to rebuild abroad than it is to construct in the US
- your power of language; as fluent as I am in Italian, I can't make myself understood firmly. I use words that I KNOW are Italian words, but only the most erudite seem to vaguely understand me. I have had to argue with Italians over the existence of Italian words, but "winning" here is a Pyrrhic victory. Imagine saying something in English like "unencumbered" or "perpendicular", to someone in the US and receiving only a blank stare. This really undermines your confidence.
- your social position; as a female, worth less here, see above. I can repeat myself but it's only when DH steps in that comprehension occasionally magically improves.

The last two are particularly difficult: I go into a store and see some rolls I would like. I 1.) point to the rolls and 2.) say "may I have two of those rolls" (panini). The counter lady looks me in the eye, smiles, and -- reaching under the counter for different rolls-- says "would you like these?" (panini di latte) and I say "no, I would like two of those rolls behind you" and she reaches under the counter in a different place and says "two of these?" (some other kind of who knows the hell what) and I say, pointing, no! those right there.. OOHH you don't want "rolls" you want "little squashed breads".

Er yeah right... Now I could do well to memorize what she called these rolls, but (I am not kidding here).. if I go into any other shop it will have a different name. Even if I ask a different person it could have a different name. It all works out in the end, but there is a lot of room for confusion.

All foods seem to have different names once outside the range of about 5-10 miles. We are in such a wierd zone that cayenne pepper (peperoncino) is called "ginger"!!! (zenzero). If you can't communicate in security that ginger is ginger and pepper is pepper, that undermines confidence.




The way trades and professions are valued here is a bit bizarre. Anything to do with "the concrete" is paid a fairly decent wage. My and DH's professions were relatively highly paid in the US, yet paid dirt here (we moved for other than professional reasons, and to ER or semi-ER, but still it erodes one's confidence to know that a programmer is paid less than an immigrant bricklayer, and a graphic designer less than an immigrant cleaning lady). These "new" professions don't have the historical weight of union and thus party backing. Computers have been around, economically speaking, for 30+ years, but salaried programmers have been lumped in with the "metalmeccanici", the metalworkers' union. Why? Because computers are made of metal. I am not kidding. A seasoned programmer colleague that DH left behind in Rome made about 3/4 as much per hour as his low-level bookkeeper wife, just because bookkeeping is an older profession retained necessary and TPTB haven't gotten round to assigning any value at all to computer programming.

Programming, like music or graphic design, is seen as something "fun".. something that the boss' nephew can do for free, so why pay more than 3/hr. for it? Whether you need to work here to survive or not, this attitude certainly erodes self-confidence.

Also, here age discrimination is perfectly legal. No one wants to hire anyone for anything if they are over 35. The under-35 class not only benefits from state salary subsidies (to promote "youth" employment) but the under-35s are likely to live with mom and dad. For someone who doesn't need to pay for food or rent, of course the salaries then offered are irrisory. Oftentimes the competition is for "jobs" that actually pay nothing. Just 'trial' unpaid internships. And there is competition for even these!

It's feudal. And if you are not born into the right "guild", or don't have the connections for a lateral move, forget it. The pharmacists are sons and daughters of pharmacists; the lawyers and doctors sons and daughters of lawyers and doctors. There's not a lot of mobility and even less meritocracy. Hence low self-confidence if you are not already among the ruling class.

I wrote a couple of long, boring example episodes, but I won't trouble you with them here. Suffice it to say that there are daily challenges to one's sanity.
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Old 06-28-2008, 11:49 PM   #14
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That was really fascinating, thanks for all the detail. I've gone to Europe and struggled mightily to be understood in my fractured German (and almost non-existent French and Italian), but it sounds like that's just the tip of the iceberg.

What you said about programmers not being valued nor paid explains why none of the government forms are on the internet!

DW and I have chatted idly about retiring to Europe (her Uncle owns a ruin in Italy that we could probably acquire). Your story will definitely make me think that idea through a WHOLE lot more thoroughly.
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Old 06-29-2008, 01:33 AM   #15
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Yikes, remind me never to live in Italy, but rest assured, not all of Europe is like that.

I loved the years I lived in Germany and found the people hospitable (Southern Germany anyway) and everything and most everyone worked with great efficiency.

Here in Estonia, the high tech mecca of Europe, everything is done electronically (they think you're crazy doing things in person) and processes are quick and efficient. They take pride in using technology to simplify life here.

Despite us all being in the EU, each European country is very different and in my personal experience, I've found daily life where I've lived in Europe to be very pleasant.

Only downside is I can't get Miracle Whip locally.
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Old 06-29-2008, 07:53 AM   #16
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Before, if I wanted something done, I would do one or more of the following things
Your post makes for interesting reading, but also left me feeling sad and frustrated for you. People think retiring abroad is so romantic and adventurous (which it certainly can be) but they fail to appreciate the cultural gaps, language challenges, and discrimination that awaits them

I wonder if that is why expats tend to flock together in large enclaves (e.g. Mexico), trying to live the American way of life and culture at lower cost.

Surely you can't continue indefinitely if you feel like this. What's next?
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Old 06-29-2008, 08:14 AM   #17
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Wow, Italy sounds like a place to visit, not live. Plus I better take somebody with me that can speak the language, if I ever visit.
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Old 06-29-2008, 09:54 AM   #18
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Whew! I'm just in a down mood.. sorry to have hijacked Trek's thread. There are a lot of great things about living here, too; I was just asked about aspects that can undermine one's confidence. I really have a 50/50 attitude as to which is better, US or Italy, from a personal perspective. The inefficiencies, while frustrating, also make it the "laid back" place that charms visitors. Anyone hungry for more stories of Italian ex-pat life can visit this forum:
Expats in Italy Forum - Powered by eve community

Trek, I know Estonia is quite the modern place! I'm glad you have an efficient society and enjoy it there!! And I hope your friend gains some help from one or more of the "confidence-building" books. I also did read and recommend the "How to Win Friends & Influence People". Best wishes to you and your family.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:26 AM   #19
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Trek, as far as confidence building books that really work, I just can't come up with any. When my brothers and I were teenagers and (like many) lacking in self confidence, my father had us reading Dale Carnegie a lot. That didn't work at all for building my self-confidence (though his techniques seemed to work as far as winning friends and influencing people, and such).

What really seemed to help me personally is getting out into life, winning a few, losing a few, and learning the hard way to set goals that are achievable - - and then achieving them. My self confidence comes from within. Once someone has proven to himself that it is rational for him to be pretty confident that he can achieve certain goals, then he will become more self-confident about venturing into the unknown as well... little by little.

Nothing builds self-confidence like success.

P.S. - - Ladelfina, thanks for letting us peek into the world of an expat in Italy!! Very eye-opening post and gives us something to think about.
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Old 06-29-2008, 10:33 AM   #20
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Ladelfina , I loved the glimpse of living in Italy . Certaintly not like the "Under The Tuscun Sun " version . Very eye opening ! Thanks so much !
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