“Attitude is a choice. Happiness is a choice. Optimism is a choice. Kindness is a choice. Giving is a choice. Respect is a choice. Whatever choice you make makes you. Choose wisely.”
- Roy T. Bennett
In this column, you will learn simple but powerful tips on how to believe in yourself when you don't from a wide range of experts.
Clicking on the expert names below will take you to their individual blurb on how to believe in yourself when you don't.
Overthinking Causes Sinking. You can rise above this problem with buoyant thought replacement techniques.
The futility of repetitious “what ifs” and “if only” thoughts can drown out optimism, rationality and reality. Do you repeat thought cycles such as, “I could-have, should-have, would-have” and then think things would be different? Do you argue in circles with yourself and others? Do you voice everything that crosses your mind to find relief and so others can understand what you are thinking? Do people tell you that you overthink?
Stop and think about what you are thinking about!
When you overthink or have negative, racing thoughts, your brain is imagining things that will probably never happen. It can cause depression, anxiety and self-fulfilling prophesies that could happen, because you are subconsciously being led to live out your negative thinking. Overthinking may indicate many mental disorders. You may need to seek help of you can’t change.
Overthinking tries to figure out the future. It ruminates over the past and keeps you anchored to it. You get stuck.
These three steps build on each other and move you upward and out of the mire of overthinking.
Thought Stopping with Mindfulness:
Thought stopping was used as a form of therapy. You were told to “just stop” thinking negative thoughts and doing unwanted behaviors. It was punitive and wasn’t thorough. Just stopping, without replacing the negative, caused worsened, rebound overthinking. There is a better way than just stopping.
Recognize the negative thought by being mindful. Neutralize the thought by stopping it and simultaneously challenging it. Energize your mind by focusing on the new, positive thoughts.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy:
This builds on mindfulness. You can stop overthinking by rationality and emotional self-regulation. Pay close attention to your thoughts. Let go of all the excessive “commas” in your thinking.
Use “periods” to end the obsessive thoughts. This will halt paralyzing second-guessing and circular arguing. Notice if you are using the word, “but” a lot. If you are, you’re negating what you said before it with a comma and inserting a negative, opposing thought.
Become aware of anxious thoughts.
Mindfulness keeps you present. Take in every detail of simple things such as breathing, walking, and noting what you see, hear, touch and taste. Then stop and consciously think positive thoughts to override your subconscious negative inner dialogue. This is a core principal of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. When you change your thoughts, you change your life.
Embrace the negative thought for a brief moment. Erase it by being rational and realistic. Replace it with something positive.
Guided Imagery and Meditation:
This is where you can use your overthinking skills in a way that connects your subconscious to your consciousness. It is through repetition of the negative that makes you overthink.
Worry is like meditation in reverse.
You worry in detail. It is by repetition of the positive, through guided imagery and meditation, that you can rewrite the script of your life on the movie screen of your mind with creative visualization. It takes time and practice, and perhaps a professional to help, but it will expedite your way out of sinking thoughts into buoyant ones.
Visualize. Realize. Rise!
Mary Joye, LMHC – www.winterhavencounseling.com
The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same. ~ Carlos Castenado
We’ve all heard walk the walk, or talk the talk to get better, to feel better. It probably sounds easier than it actually is. Emile Coue, the French psychiatrist introduced repetitions of “I’m getting better and better, everyday in every way to encourage positive self esteem. And with practice, it does work. But what about those times in life when self talk just doesn’t work?
The pathway to make a change is not outside of us.
It is within. Your mind believes your positive or negative beliefs. There’s a Zen story about a man who visits a monk in search of enlightenment. The monk gives the gentleman a cup of tea and keeps pouring and pouring it. The tea spills over the cup. The man asks, “What are you doing?” The monk replies, “I can not give you anything because your mind is already full.”
The message is that you have to detach from what’s there to take in new and fresh ideas. The need for surrender, the idea of detachment, coming as open and humbly ready to learn different ways to receive new ways of believing.
Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, describes how our perceptions control the cells in our bodies.
For some time, we have thought that our genes determine out outlook and directions in life. However, this is not the case. Research validates that our beliefs and perceptions create our biological makeup.
So, what are some ways we can begin to change our perceptions that enhance our growth to achieve that personal satisfaction that can be so exhilarating?
Practice the exercise below:
Find a comfortable spot where you won’t be distracted. Take 10 minutes (more is better). List things you would like to say about yourself. See yourself. Look at all parts. Appreciate those parts, for there are those without. If there’s something you can change, see yourself changing it. Are you alone, in a class, with someone? Watch your growth. Your imagination is powerful.
Your mind believes what it sees.
See yourself changing for the better. See yourself with every detail and every moment doing and feeling what and how you would like to be. Repeat an affirming phrase. Repeat it, feel it, see it and most importantly, believe it. Do this over and over. If no phrase comes to mind, you can use Emile Coue’s proven one “Every day in every way, I’m getting better and better.” Sit with it. Feel it. Be it.
Doing this exercise daily or as often as possible can provide results.
Are you ready to feel that change happening? Then believe it. In your mind, see yourself differently, and prove to the world that you can do what you thought was the impossible. Be patient. Change takes time.
A victim mode can affect progress.
Feelings of “poor me” prevent change and a sense of empowerment. Sometimes, you may have to set a time when you turn off your victim mode. Then you have to tie your shoelaces, get up and go to work. For some, getting out of the victim mode is difficult due to psychological complications. If this is the case for you, professional mental health evaluation and possible treatment may be necessary.
Reach out to experience relief from suffering. Make contact as soon as possible to make yourself strong. “We cannot choose our external circumstances, but we can always choose how we respond to them” ~ Epictetus.
Carole Stokes-Brewer, Ph.D. – www.changingwayz.com
In a world where we could easily become overwhelmed, it is important to not lose our sense of self along the way.
Whenever we experience adversity and self-doubt, it means we need to listen to our guide role.
Our guide role is the part of us that is supportive during challenging times.
For example, the character Dorothy had several guides on her journey in Oz.
The ruby slippers, yellow brick road, Glinda the good witch, and her friends Tin Man, Lion, and Scarecrow all guided her toward the Wizard Oz and back home.
When challenges set in, we must consider ourselves as the heroes and heroines of our own story.
On our journey, trials will be expected. We will experience a rock bottom.
This is when we must be able to access our vast array of guide roles which reside within ourselves.
Some examples of our guide roles can be the wise person, person of faith, the warrior, the artist, the child, or the survivor.
We may have many guide roles which support us through our rock bottoms.
Our guide roles help us to act in certain ways, do certain things, move in a certain way, and behave in certain ways.
Essentially, our guides not only help us to do and overcome, they also help us to simply be present in the world.
Identify your various guides within and then consider how they would live in the world.
The wise person or child do not spend their time doubting themselves.
They fill their time with giving and receiving wisdom and being child-like and playful.
Allow your guide roles to help support you on your yellow brick road.
Brooke Campbell, MA, LCAT - www.creativekinections.com
Many, if not most of us have been hurt, frightened, confused, treated badly and/or verbally abused. Because you know that you do not want to spend one more moment in self-doubt and negative self-talk—I have designed the most direct way to help our mighty brains change our anxious minds. And, because our lives are very rich and full (we will not use the B-word “busy”)--I offer Sound Bites of Women's W.I.T. (Wisdom & Intuition Teachings) to help you create a daily mantra.
You may want to place these on your bathroom mirror, fridge door, cell phone wallpaper, or pen them on the palm of your hand. I hope you will think of me as your Fairy Goddess Mentor with a spoonful of wisdom. Take a big bite of these goodies. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe once more. Memorize these mighty, simple words as you repeat them throughout your day.
Here are 9 ways to believe in yourself when you can't believe in yourself.
99.9% of the time people think better of me than I do of myself.
99.9% of the time people are not thinking negative things about me.
99.9% of the time people are lost in their own negative thoughts and confidence fears--so they're not thinking about me at all.
99.9% of the time it is best to never take ANYTHING personally
99.9% of the time I will simply get out of my own way and, for heaven's sake—breathe, relax!
99.9% of the time when we first meet others, neither they nor I will be able to remember what either of us actually said.
99.9% of the time the only thing they WILL remember is how empathetic I am.
99.9% if I am unsure of what to say: Simply move slowly, speak slowly--and ASK QUESTIONS!
99.9% I do not have to BELIEVE these, in order for them to be TRUE. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat! ---and they will become true!
Be well. Be Wise. Be more Wild than good!
Marcie Telander, M.A., REAT, CGP, DAPA - www.marcietelander.com
Think of a time when you have felt your very best. Maybe it was the time you finished a run and beat your personal best, or when you practiced and practiced then nailed a difficult presentation at work. Perhaps it was when a longtime friend told you how your words encouraged them and impacted the trajectory of their life. You know the times I’m talking about. In those moment, you feel proud and maybe walk a little taller for a couple of days. For a while, you don’t need reminders of how amazing you are.
How about those other times?
The other end of the feel-good spectrum; you know these times, too. You struggle, are filled with self-doubt and feel like everything you touch is falling apart. It may be hard to believe, but during this low time you are the same amazing person that you were when you felt fabulous. “Who” you are and your character remains intact even during the hardest of times. However, accessing your amazing-self is difficult when all you want to do is engage in nasty and malicious self-talk, wallow in self-pity, and find a dark place to hide.
I want to help you with these “other times” by sharing with you something that has proven helpful to me and many of my clients.
I call it creating a self-belief savings account and this is how it works:
- Start this exercise when you are happy and super full of yourself! Why then? Because you have self-belief to spare and should capture all the feel-good you can.
- Create a display or folder in a public space that you can see easily. Make sure the display or folder is big enough to continue adding to.
- Gather nice things people say about you or that you believe about yourself during happy times. Include compliments, feedback, and praise in the form of cards, emails and notes.
- Place the positive content on the display. Be as creative and artistic as you like or simply use handwritten or printed content. Add to the display as often as you like.
It may take some time after you create the display or folder before you need it. But when you do, it will be ready for you to use it.
Keep these tips in mind when you need to withdraw from your self-belief savings:
- Read displayed contents out loud. It is almost impossible to think horrible thoughts about yourself as you read out loud and listen to yourself.
- Focus on the value you provide or have provided to others. This is important because no matter how bad you feel in the moment, what you have contributed can’t be diluted. Your service, care and generosity is still intact, so don’t even try to pick it apart.
- Notice the content that stands out the most. What are common themes, about you and your character, that remain no matter the circumstance? Read that content out loud several times.
- Pick one or two things on your display and write about them in your journal. Focus on the value of your service, helping, and positive outcomes. When you focus on the good of the service you’ve provided, it is more difficult to incorporate self-defeating thoughts and talk because service is never about self.
Creating a self-belief savings account may sound like a whimsical thing to do, but I assure you, it can serve you in a very powerful way. By creating an environment of support for your future self, you are creating a safe space through self-care.
Share this idea, as it is a great project for families or colleagues to do together. When displaying content with family or colleagues, focus on posting about others and not yourself. With groups, writing content about each other encourages positive feedback and provides an opportunity for motivation and inspiration. What amazing thing did you see another person do? Write it and post it. Notice how great you make another person feel and how happy it makes you.
If you run out content for yourself or for others, start creating and adding positive affirmations to the display. Positive affirmations have the same rate of return as positive content in the self-belief savings account.
Renae Cerquitella, Relationship Coach - www.StartHereCoachingServices.com
We hear and read a good deal about trusting ourselves, but how can that happen when we’re filled with mistrust based on our history? When our lives are full of challenges and we’re brimming with self-doubt and low self-esteem, how do we learn to believe in our ability to care for ourselves in the most effective way possible?
Here are some essential tools.
#1. Learn discernment
Discernment is synonymous with judgment, clear-sightedness, discrimination, and insight. Now there are some beneficial qualities. Your poor track record with decision making isn’t necessarily due to lack of self-trust, but to a deficit in discernment and from not making rational decisions. For example, you get back together with your old boyfriend who treats you poorly, you buy a new car because it catches your eye though you can’t afford it, or you hang out with people who have low self-esteem and a victim mindset, then wonder why you haven’t made any healthy friends.
The more you stay connected with reality, which means acknowledging problems and always considering consequences of your actions, the better you will do with developing discernment. And using discernment repeatedly will help you trust in your ability to take care of yourself and make wise decisions. It will give you self-confidence because you’ll know that you’ll always do what’s best for you. That’s what believing in yourself is all about.
#2. Listen to your doubts and follow your wise self-talk
I have clients who, when making a decision, say, “I know I shouldn’t, but…” then do what they feel isn’t healthy for them. Why would anyone who makes decisions that way trust themselves? They wouldn’t. If you have doubts, especially recurring ones about something not being good for you—a job, a mate, a friend—then pay attention to what’s behind your thinking. Listen closely to your doubts because they may be telling you something important.
Please who believe in themselves don’t just listen to what they want to hear or “follow their hearts.” They pay attention to emotions that make them uncomfortable. They see the whole picture, not just a happy ending, the easy parts of life, or what they wish would happen. Develop rational thinking, then listen to what it is telling you.
#3. Learn and practice critical thinking skills
Critical thinking is not finding fault with yourself. Rather, it’s an approach to decision making and problem solving that uses higher order cognition, not emotions. Among other things, it involves being well informed, flexible, willing to be wrong, seeking out different points of view, basing actions on evidence, and focusing on consequences. When we employ critical thinking, we begin with skepticism. Just because someone cries “fake news” doesn’t mean it is. Just because someone tells us that something is a good buy, doesn’t mean it’s true. Watch what people do, not just what they say.
A friend of mine regularly asks people, “How do you know that?” This is a question you would benefit from asking yourself frequently. You might also reflect on your biases, your tendency toward denial, and how often you wear blinders and miss red flags. Many people make choices because they choose what their “heart” says over what their “head” says. There’s a time for intuition, but most substantial decisions need to be made with our well-honed cognitive abilities.
#4. Learn from role models
Are you able to tell the difference between folks who have genuine confidence and those for whom it’s phony and a cover up for insecurity? Once you’re able to discern the difference, take a close look at people who exude a natural confidence and appear to believe in themselves. Pay attention to how they make decisions. If you know them well, ask them how they do it, specifically how they make choices that will serve them in the long run rather than the short run.
Hang around with people who truly believe in themselves and start letting go of relationships with people who have poor self-esteem and judgment, little self-confidence, and pay scant heed to consequences. These people are not going to help you believe in yourself because they’re going to provide you with unhealthy, irrational advice. When you surround yourself with more rational, rational people who take excellent care of themselves, what they’re doing will rub off on you.
Karen R. Koenig, LCSW, M.Ed. – www.karenrkoenig.com
What does it mean to believe in yourself?
- It means not letting others dictate your value
- It means knowing you are enough
- It means believing you are enough
- It means conquering self-doubt
- It means you know you are special
These are some of the fundamental ways to believe in yourself and for some of us those thoughts and beliefs come easier than to others.
If you suffer from insecurity you may struggle with these on a regular basis.
You may always feel like you need to do more or be more. You may question your value or wonder what’s wrong with you if someone doesn’t like you or want to be with you.
For some of us believing in ourselves is a daily challenge. But, like anything with practice and time you can get better and stronger.
Maybe you don’t believe in yourself one hundred percent or all the time and I’m here to tell you that’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up for not being somewhere you think you should be. For today, you are where you are and if you keep moving forward you are believing in yourself.
Think of your belief in yourself like a muscle.
Flex it. Use it. Build it. Strengthen it. Work on it. Every time you start to think something negative about yourself just stop that thought in its tracks. Picture a giant STOP sign in your head if that works.
Once you stop the negative beliefs you can start to replace them with positive beliefs. It won’t be natural at first, but over time they will become more normal and the more positive beliefs you have about yourself the more you WILL believe in yourself.
Believe in yourself just for a minute. Turn that minute into two. Two into four and so on and so on. Keep going.
Always remember that you are a work in progress and life is not a race to the end. Remember that you are perfect just the way you are today and that you’re doing the best you can with what you have.
Carrie Burns, Blogger - www.acinglife.com
Life can be scary when you don’t believe in yourself.
When you doubt your perceptions, don’t trust your intuition, and too often wonder if what you’re feeling is the right feeling, you have little or no power or ability to express your thoughts, beliefs and needs. You are at the whim of others who are more confident to direct and determine what happens in their lives and in yours too.
Believing in yourself means giving yourself the right to have your own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and goals.
It doesn’t mean that you always think you’re right, or have total confidence that you can accomplish anything, or that you know everything. Believing in yourself is more of an internal belief that you have a right to be yourself. And, that who you are is good enough.
We’re born totally believing in ourselves.
We cry when we’re hungry, sleep when we’re tired, and demand that our needs be met whether that is convenient for our parents or not. If you now doubt yourself, belittle your abilities, or distrust your observations and feelings, you have learned to do those self-diminishing behaviors somewhere along the way.
Yes, you need to think of the needs and wants of others. That’s important to be a part of any relationship or group. BUT, when you ONLY think of what other’s want--to the exclusion of yourself--the essence of YOU gets diminished so much that you become barely visible.
There are many ways you can discount who you are…
- Expressing what you think and then adding, “I’m probably wrong”.
- Sharing a feeling or request, but when others don’t like it, you think you’re wrong.
- Apologizing for being emotional.
- Letting others take credit for your work, ideas, or accomplishments.
- Assuming when someone is mad that it’s your fault.
So, how do you believe in yourself more?
It takes being aware of when you are discounting yourself, and practicing self-encouragement. And it takes you believing you have a right to exist—just the way you are.
Your right to be you doesn’t depend on what you have accomplished, or how much money or education you have, or whether others approve or agree with you.
You are the only YOU that exists. No one else is exactly like you. No one else will ever think or feel or respond exactly like you. That means, that you are unique and important, and you bring your special perspective to every situation and relationship that you are in. If you doubt yourself and disregard your feelings, you are eliminating your special perspective from every situation and every relationship that you’re a part of.
Believing in yourself simply means having the courage to be the ONLY you there is.
You won’t always be perfect or pleasing or agreeable or understanding. But being truly yourself will add a great deal to every interaction you have. Being truly yourself is a gift to others. It makes you a true friend, an honest lover, a deeply trustworthy person. When you are truly yourself, people really get to know you and love you for who you are. They know they can count on you to be honest, straightforward, and sincere.
- Be aware of what you truly think, feel and want.
- Express your perspective—nicely and with compassion
- Encourage yourself to be true to your values.
- Treat yourself with love and kindness
Because you are the only YOU there is in the entire world.
Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com
“Hold onto yourself.” This phrase is one to keep in your back pocket, particularly during life’s challenges.
Holding onto yourself means connecting with your inner self; the one beyond self-doubt. It means really being with yourself and not looking to others for your self-worth.
In the face of adversity, self-esteem can take a hit.
We may believe that we aren’t good enough or can’t make it; and the adversity we are experiencing just seems to prove the negative beliefs we have about ourselves even more.
When experiencing life challenges, instead of allowing the difficulty to influence your self-esteem negatively, allow yourself to see the lesson inherent in the challenge and let the adversity build yourself up, rather than down.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- What is there here for me to learn?
- How can I understand myself better through this difficulty?
- What are my strengths and how can I use them to see this situation through?
- How have I overcome adversity in the past?
The answers to these questions can provide you with a different path, and one that may provide guidance and direction.
There are often lessons inherent in life’s challenges, if we look for them. A medical diagnosis, for example, can reorient someone toward what’s really important in life. In the face of adversity, the likelihood is that there is an inner truth we can uncover.
Difficulties in life can help us to know ourselves deeper.
They can be an opportunity to connect with who we are and what we need. For example, the loss of a job can be met with panic or direct us toward our life’s true path.
Sometimes we get so bogged down with what we’re lacking, that we miss the gifts that we possess internally. When your self-esteem is low and self-doubt is high, focus on your strengths. If you don’t know what your strengths are, get clear on them. Write them down. Focus on them. Use them.
When you start to think thoughts like “What’s wrong with me?” or “Why can’t I ever ___?” your self-esteem will plummet. Watch your thinking and allow yourself to focus on what you DO have to offer.
Remember the times that you have overcome adversity in the past.
What happened? What did you do? How did it turn out in the end? Was there a lesson you came out of it learning?
Recalling times that we overcame something difficult in the past can give us the courage to move forward during a current life struggle.
It’s often helpful to practice acceptance of our current circumstances.
When we resist what is happening, we suffer. Allowing life’s challenges to define who we are as a person is a waste of time and energy. We then have less time and energy to rise to the challenge.
When faced with adversity, don’t take things personally.
Understand that challenges happen to everyone. It’s what we do with these challenges that create our character and cultivate resiliency.
Chances are that you’ve experienced many challenges in life and have come out the other side. This is resiliency. You’ve made it!
And you will make it this time, too.
Dr. Jennifer Huggins - www.painpsychologistla.com
I used to be so awkward….(Okay, I still am a little bit. But now I dig it.)
I was so awkward that…
-The first interview I ever went on the interviewer asked if I was okay. He said I looked like I was going to cry. (I wanted to, I was so uncomfortable!)
-During my first ever 90-day review I was told I needed to be more confident.
-For most of my twenties, I was told I lacked “executive presence.”
I was awkward because I wasn’t confident in myself. Now, I believe confidence directly correlates with self-love and self-worth.
The more I learned to love and appreciate myself, the more confident I became. The more I was myself, the more confident I became. Being true to myself and being confident in my gifts is what has allowed me to start my own business at 27, write an Amazon Best-selling book, and share my story.
I smile sometimes when clients, entrepreneurs, or friends say, “You’re so confident Ginger, I could never do what you do." or “I love your confidence, you go after what you want.” I wasn’t always this way.
It took me a while to figure it out but one of best gifts you can give to the world is to be yourself.
There is ONLY one you. You don’t have to change yourself or be someone you think others will like.
Own. it. Rock. It. Love it.
Ginger Marie Corwin, Life Coach & Yoga Teacher - www.gingermariecorwin.com
If you suffer from self-doubt, you’re not alone. Most people struggle with this at some time in their lives. A lack of belief in yourself will limit what you can be, have and do in life. It crushes your dreams.
Self-doubt is instilled in us by experiences as we were growing up. Events like being criticized by a parent or teacher or being rejected or excluded create limiting beliefs about our self-worth.
When you feel paralyzed by self-doubt, notice what your self-talk is like. Usually you will discover thoughts like, “I can’t...,” “I’ll never be able to do this,” “What if I fail?” “I’m not good enough.” All of these are dis-empowering and will cause you to sabotage your success. It’s important to realize that just because you have these thoughts, it doesn’t make them true.
Turn the negative thoughts around.
When you notice negative, fear based thoughts, turn them around by asking yourself empowering questions like, “What if I can figure this out as I go along?” “Why do I love believing in myself?” “What can I do to get better at this?” “What if everything works out perfectly?” “What if I can simply try again?” “What if this turned out to be easier than I thought?”
As you think these questions, your brain will go to work to answer them and you’ll experience a shift in consciousness. You need to make this a practice over time in order to create new default thinking.
Another effective exercise is a visualization exercise to imagine the limiting thoughts leaving you. First, acknowledge the thoughts and thank them for what they have been trying to do for you. (Keep you safe by avoiding risk) Then, imagine the negative thoughts flowing into a balloon. See them leaving your mind and body and filling up the balloon as a grey mist or any way you like to visualize them. Then, release the balloon into the sky.
When the balloon is so high as to be hardly seen, pop it. See the thoughts bursting out and turning into light. Then replace those thoughts in your mind with thoughts that support your intentions and good feelings about yourself. See the new thoughts as the most beautiful light you can imagine, pouring into the spaces left by the old thoughts.
You can extend the visualization by picturing yourself as confident and the things you want as already accomplished. How would you hold yourself, walk and speak as a confident person? How would you feel knowing you had achieved what you desire? How would you celebrate your success? Practice “wearing” the success and confidence you desire.
Practice Self Love.
When your self-talk is about beating yourself up, stop and put your hand on your heart. Picture your inner child. Now, speak to yourself as you would to that small child who needs reassurance, love and encouragement. Picture holding that child as a loving parent would.
Tell the child she or he is safe and is doing the best she can. Let the child know it is fine to make mistakes, because that is the way we learn. Tell the child she is loved, no matter what. Say, “I love you. I love the one who feels afraid and full of self-doubt. ” Feel your heart open.
List your successes.
At a time when you are feeling pretty good, make a list of all the times you have been successful or accomplished something you wanted. These successes can be large or small. It’s important to acknowledge every win you have, because the more you focus your attention on success, the more you will see evidence of success in your life.
If you aren’t sure of your accomplishments, ask a close friend or family member. You may be surprised at all the things they see in you as successes! Then, when you are having a hard time believing in yourself, you can go back and read the list. There will be the proof that you can do what you want to do.
Estra Roell, Life Purpose Coach– www.americaslifepurposecoach.com
I was huddled in the very back of my mom’s closest, thankful for the hanging clothes and laundry basket hiding me from the big scary world out there. I was overcome with an urge to hide or disappear. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I called out to my mom: “I don’t wanna go. I just wanna stay here!”
No – this isn’t a memory from when I was a toddler or even a grade-school child. This happened when I was eighteen years old, just a few weeks before I was scheduled to head off to college. Suddenly, my plan to go to a college in another state where I knew basically no one seemed like the absolute worst decision I had ever made. The reality of it, piggybacked with a surge of intense fear, felt almost like something was physically pushing me into hiding, into avoiding my future.
In times of transition and change, we often lose our confidence in ourselves. A move to a new city, a relationship lost, the birth of a baby, a new job, a new school, a failure or loss…any of these can leave us unsure of who we are and how we fit into the world, even when it’s a good change!
In these situations, we lose the outward signs that define us – the friends we hang out with, the work that we do, the shops we like to frequent. We are the metaphorical fish out of water: we frantically flap our fins, getting us nowhere and attracting stares in the meantime. How we used to be doesn’t make sense in our new circumstances. Life demands that we learn a new “survival dance” – psychologist Bill Plotkin’s apt term for our daily dance of operating in the world.
So, how do you choose to believe in yourself when you have, in a sense, forgotten who you are?
First ground yourself in the physical aspects of your new reality.
Get out of your head and engage your five sense. Take a walk outside. Notice your surroundings and your feelings. Breathe. Walk barefoot on the earth. Go to a natural landmark near you – the creek, the river, the lake, the ocean, the woods, a nearby mountain. Grounding yourself reminds you that you are not alone and puts your struggle and fears into perspective.
Do the next thing.
When we are in liminal space – the anxious in-between spaces in life – we often have to bring all of our focus to simply doing the next thing. In getting quiet and centering ourselves, the “next thing” becomes clear: pack the bag, sign the paperwork, unpack the boxes, send the email, mail the job application, nurse the baby. We become radically present focused, one of the many gifts of liminal space.
Sometimes, this will require us to walk through thick patches of fear. Remember that being perfect is not the goal. Whatever you discern to be the next step will either be a step forward or it will be a learning experience that helps you to know yourself and build your character. Mistakes are part of the fabric of a life well-lived.
Connect with people.
Find people who can relate to you and be supportive during this season of change. Hearing other people’s stories and sharing your own struggles can ease a lot of tension and restore your confidence in yourself. Especially when you make a change that separates you from your past networks, you will need to find some new circles that can speak into your current circumstances.
Remember that your personhood and value are not actually defined by what you do.
Self-doubt often comes after a failure or when we’re stepping out into something new. We must come up with a narrative that helps us to navigate the doubt. These are not the empty positive statements we may have learned to say into the mirror (“It’s a great day, and I feel wonderful!”) instead, this means coming up with an encouraging statement you can say to yourself in the hard moments (“I am learning a new skill, and it will take time. This is helping me become who I want to be.”). Find words that honor your struggle and reinforce hope and confidence.
Open yourself up to receive the gifts that come in this season.
We are often much more open to growth and learning during these vulnerable times. In our regular routines, it’s difficult for new ideas and possibilities to break through. To grow into our gifts and our work in the world, these transitions are necessary. Though there is pain and uncertainty and fear to wade through, there is often something beautiful on the other side.
The classic example of the caterpillar is the perfect reminder. Inside of the chrysalis it’s body melts into something unrecognizable, but on the other side of its transformation it is something completely new and more beautiful made from the same cells that made up its caterpillar body.
I did eventually leave that closet. And, I did end up going to that college several states away. My transformation was much like the caterpillar’s. A shy, academic girl became, just a few months later, the happy and bold Freshman Class President. The seasons of transition, self-doubt, and hardship have continued, but every time there has been new beauty, growth, and self-understanding that have come from it.
Candace McCallister, LAC – www.sweetwateroffering.com
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