One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life is believe in myself. It may seem as though this is one thing you have to figure out once and, boom, you got it. I wish I could say this is how it’s done, but I will be the bearer of bad news, it’s not. It is an action that we have to rise up to time and time again. The worst part is that sometimes you try to rise up and it’s just not your day. Everything that you have been working towards, the confidence, the courage, can come tumbling down. In this moment take the time to evaluate and start again. If you are anything like me, you may find it easier to believe in others. I believe that everybody can do what they really want to do. I have the utmost faith in them and that they will do it with flying colors. Yet, when I try to turn that back on myself the words sing a different tune. They aren’t a merry melody, more like Mozart’s Requiem without the beauty. This is not easy to talk about. I want to tell you that I am always confident and don’t question my capabilities but that isn’t always the truth. I share these things because I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. If I could shed some light on my self-doubts and fears, maybe it could help even one person. You aren’t alone and this is not a flaw. Like I said, believing in myself is the hardest thing I have ever done.
There are big and small things that we have to believe we can do. If you know how to drive, you had to believe that you weren’t going to end up hurting anybody the first time you got behind the wheel. Every job interview, first day, new activity that you do takes a sense of belief. Some of those take a little pep talk, for others it’s just there. This is great! It means that it is part of our wiring to believe in ourselves. As a baby we believe that we will walk if we try to take a step, natural wiring. So, what is it that intervenes? Fear. Fear of failure, judgment, success, the unknown. Fear is also natural wiring. So how do we find the middle ground, cautious but courageous? The first incident that comes to mind when I think of a time that I truly 100% believed in myself was in 2013. I was in Japan with a performing arts group when I was offered the opportunity to stay for an internship to teach English. I was not fluent in Japanese, but I did know English. For a defining moment I believed in myself and took the offer. I watched my friends board a plane back to the U.S. as I stayed in a country where language was a barrier. Of course, I had to believe in those that gave me the offer. I had to believe that I was safe, but first and foremost I had to believe in myself. I had to believe that I was capable to do what I needed to do for the internship, for my safety and for myself. I needed a single moment to say yes. The doubts and fears would come later. Just knowing that one moment of courage and trust in myself could have such a huge impact on my life is liberating. It takes the pressure off. I don’t always have to be this courageous force to be reckoned with, that sounds exhausting. I only need to be the force when it counts.
Revelation #1: I only need to be a courageous, self-confident, believe in myself entity for a moment at a time.
As I said, the doubts and fears will come later. You have said “yes, I can do this” it would be hard to back down now. Not impossible, but definitely harder. You may think I will say just push those fears and doubts away but those are part of our natural wiring. They are there for a reason. The reason is not to talk you out of your decision, but to help you prepare. The conversation behind “what if” questions is that they are negative and a waste of time. If they cause you anxiety and keep you from doing the things that would be good for you, then yes, those aren’t any good. But if you have said yes and now those questions pop up, listen to them and find an answer. “What if I open a coffee shop and I can’t get my coffee bean shipment?” “What if I decide to go to school the next town over and my car breaks down?” What if I go to this dinner party and I hate it?” All of these questions are a great starting point for a plan. Answer the questions. “I make a list of other coffee suppliers in my area.” “I communicate with my friends and family and come up with a solution to borrow their car or get a ride if I am in a pinch.” “I find a polite way to excuse myself from the party.” Now the questions have answers. Now the fears and doubts know you have a plan and can be laid to rest.
Revelation #2: Fears and doubts are part of our natural wiring. “What if” questions can be answered and used to my advantage.
We have had our moment of courage, answered all of our “what if” questions but still don’t believe we can do something. What do we do now? We listen to it. Not forever, but for a moment we let ourselves rest. There comes a point where we know we should believe in ourselves, but we just don’t. This point adds extra animosity that we don’t need. “Damn it, I know I can do this but for some reason I’m just not. Why am I being so (fill in the negative blank).” We’ve been all been here. Our brain becomes the bully. If you have reached this stage, it’s time for a break. No matter what you try to do, the bully will continue to throw the punches. This is the perfect time to clock out. Find a bath, a book, or a friend that will help you to rest, recover, and restart. There is also the possibility that our self-doubt is beyond rest. At this point ask for help. The person I know that I can always go to when I am feeling particularly lost and full of doubt is my mom. She will listen, offer advice, or tell me to “suck it up buttercup” in whatever dosage I need. Find your person or group of people. If no one comes to mind, consider reaching out to me because no matter what. I believe in you.
Revelation #3: I don’t have to do this alone. If I need a confidence boost, advice, or pep talk I need to ask for it.
Believing in ourselves is hard, and that difficulty ebbs and flows. I wish I had definitive answers, all I have are mere suggestions. What I do know is that the more we believe in ourselves the easier is becomes. Every time you say, “I can do this” the easier you make it for the next time. It shifts your mindset. You may soon find yourself saying things like, “I believed that I could write my first book, and I did, so I can do this.” Whatever this may be. You have done hard things before you can do hard things again. You ARE a force to be reckoned with, even if you don’t feel that way all the time.
Revelation #4: I can do hard things.