Sitting through restlessness is a little breakthrough in your meditation career. It will teach you a lot. You will find that agitation is actually rather a superficial mental state. It is inherently ephemeral. It comes and it goes. It has no real grip on you at all. By looking closely at what forgiveness isn't, we've also begun forming a better idea of what it is--a get-out-of-jail-free card for you. That is, forgiveness is the way to liberate yourself from toxic attachments to old wounds and emotions that are directly responsible for your depression and other ill effects. Step one is accepting that this is true and that your freedom is worth the effort it will take to retrain yourself to let go. If you can get there and choose to honestly try forgiveness for a change, then the details of how--some of which you'll find in "Your Personal Action Plan" at the end of the chapter--will fall into place. But first, we need to pick up one last bit of insight for the journey: a look at all those in need of your forgiveness. So far, we've talked only of people who have harmed or offended you in some way, and we've seen how an inability to forgive them keeps you enslaved to your pain. But those may not be the only ones against whom you harbor feelings of resentment and judgment. Forgiving yourself. In many respects, this task is harder than grappling with the offenses of flesh-and-blood others. That's because things we hold against ourselves tend to be internal and unseen, which means "larger than life." As we lie awake in the wee hours of the morning, our own perceived offenses grow in our minds to monstrous proportions. They cease being about what we may have done and become damning evidence of who we are--horrible human beings. That, you may notice, is often the mind-set of people who suffer from depression, a deeply entrenched belief in their own worthlessness. It's not true, of course. Take away the word horrible, and you've got the truth of it: we're all just human beings, flawed and prone to all kinds of blunders.

Have you made choices you are not proud of? Certainly. Have you disappointed others who had a right to depend on you? Yes. Have you betrayed someone's trust? Taken something that didn't belong to you? Lied to protect yourself from exposure? Exaggerated the truth just because you could? Cheated on an exam or another kind of test? Broken promises to God, yourself, or others? Put someone else in harm's way to gratify yourself? Absolutely, and much more. How do I know? Because you are human, and every human on earth is a combination of strengths and weaknesses, assets and liabilities, successes and failures. The irony is that we typically hold ourselves to a standard that's much higher than what we expect of others. It's an inverted kind of arrogance that causes us to set up a wall of shame in our minds, where all our flaws, large and small, are on display under bright light. When I was in the depths of my own depression, one of the most formidable obstacles I faced--one that almost scuttled my recovery before it could begin--was an inability to forgive myself for ever letting things get so bad. I saw failure and wreckage everywhere I looked and pointed a finger of blame directly at myself for all of it. Here's the key to forgiveness when you're the one on trial: visualize yourself in court, but not as you appear today. See yourself as a child of six or seven.

How would that child feel? Frightened? Alone? In need of comfort? Imagine taking a seat beside your small self and saying, "It's okay. You're learning. You'll be a better person because of this experience. Well done!" This is how to defeat the second of the three deadly emotions, guilt: by forgiving yourself. Do that, and you'll be delighted to discover that the clouds of your depression begin to feel less dark and heavy. Forgiving God. Whom do we blame for painful events that seem to come out of nowhere, beyond anyone's control? An improbable car crash that claims the life of someone we love? A tornado that destroys a hospital and kills innocent people? An illness that leaves us depleted and in pain? Business failure? Famine? War? We blame God, of course--or "life"--for being cruel and unfair. Theologians and philosophers have wrestled for centuries with the question of why such things happen, and none has produced a universally satisfactory answer. We're simply left with a hard truth: bad things happen, and most of the time there's little or nothing to be done about it.

Sometimes those events are unspeakably painful, and the temptation to give up on the very idea of a loving and omnipotent God is immense. Yet clinging to universal resentment at "the way things are" is only a recipe for making your experience of them worse. Again, it is not necessary to say "It's okay" about something that clearly isn't. But it's also not okay to enslave yourself to misery by refusing to let go of your anger and pain. The key is in letting go of the need for explanations. Let God be God, and move on with your life. Chances are you'll never know why certain things happen . That's hard. Actually, it's extremely hard and it's also why so many people skip this step completely. They read books about how to dress, stand, and talk and yet they forget how important it is to overhaul how they think about pretty much everything. This is exactly where we're going to start and it should be an important part of your likability plan from the ground up. I don't care what your goal is; if you look messy and therefore feel unattractive you're going to have a hard time boosting your confidence. I don't mean "unattractive" in the manner that other people don't innately find you appealing. I mean dirty, unkempt, or generally messy - the things that you can change with relative ease and just haven't. The last thing I want to do is put a dent in your self-esteem when trying to improve it, but we need to start somewhere, so I need you to be 100% honest with yourself. Do you look and feel as good as you want to? Or are there things you'd like to polish up? This is a tricky subject area, because I wholeheartedly feel that no one person needs to change who they are to meet others. However, I do feel that the human body is an advertisement for how we feel about ourselves. When you see someone wearing ratty tennis shoes with dirt under their nails, faded clothes, and uncut hair, what do you think?

It's probably that the person in front of you doesn't think very highly of themselves and treats their body accordingly. Not only does it affect how other people see you, it affects how you see yourself. When you get dressed up in your finest clothes, fix your hair, take a shower, and step out, you probably feel a lot better about yourself, at least on a subconscious level. It's a natural reaction. So, a big part of your confidence boosting is developing good habits and activities that will help you honestly feel better about yourself. I like to keep it simple and I recommend you do the same. Why spend thousands of dollars when you could spruce things up a bit and back the package up with an interesting person on the inside. That's our goal, remember. I'm not trying to whitewash the real you. I just want to polish it up for presentation. Now you may say, maybe the researcher was giving the auditors hints about the level of fraud with the initial question, so their estimates should be affected. But that's not the case. Anchoring and adjustment is such a powerful phenomenon that it affects our judgments even when we know that the anchor is totally meaningless. For example, psychologists Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman asked people to estimate the percentage of African nations in the United Nations.37 Before answering, a wheel with numbers one through one hundred was spun and the participants were asked whether their answer was higher or lower than the number on the wheel. Subjects were influenced by that number even though they knew it was determined totally by chance. For example, the median estimates were twenty-five and forty-five for those groups who spun the numbers ten and sixty-five, respectively. Anchoring simplifies our decisions. It allows us to focus on a small amount of information at one time, as opposed to simultaneously considering all the information relevant to a decision. We first pay attention to some initial data, and then adjust our initial impression for any new information we receive. While this approach may be appropriate for many decisions, it can lead to errors when we anchor on initial data that is totally irrelevant to the decision at hand.