Why your life is not getting better and better, and how it can be.Jun 05, 2017
Part 1 “What’s eating away at my Confidence?”
Everybody suffers from self-doubt at times. There are no exceptions.
That sounds like a bold statement, but let me explain why I am stating this with such certainty.
It is easy to be confident when the circumstances are in your favour. But honestly, are the conditions ever perfect for very long?
It is tough to sustain your self-confidence when adversity strikes. It doesn’t take much for self-doubt to take over. When self-doubt takes over, it can undermine your self-esteem, and it can get you stuck in a destructive vicious cycle.
Self-doubt undermines your hopes, dreams, and desires. Whether you are aware of it or not.
When the cycle repeats itself, you have created a complex self-sabotaging scheme for yourself.
The problem is it is possible that you are not always aware of the destruction of self-doubt, the self-sabotaging, or your diminishing self-esteem.
All you are doing is just trying to protect yourself from discomfort and pain and getting through the day, surviving the increasing pressure and demands from your environment and from within yourself.
You are getting by, managing the worries, adversities, stress and anxiety.
What if you have far more control over your life than you think you have?
My next 4 blogs are all about how you can regain control of your life, empower yourself, and increase your level of success, well-being, and freedom.
This first blog is about confidence and self-doubt and their tricky relationship:
- What is confidence?
- Where does doubt come from?
- Why is it so hard to maintain confidence?
- What can I do to get it back and maintain it?
The next three blogs I discuss:
- How to deal with life’s adversities while maintaining confidence
- How you can feel more powerful and be on top of self-doubt
- How to experience freedom from feeling overwhelmed, stress and anxiety.
What does confidence mean?
The origin of the word is from the Latin word ‘confidere’, meaning: ’to have full trust’
The meaning in English:
Merriam-Webster: ‘a feeling or belief that you can do something well or succeed at something.’
Synonyms are self-assurance, self-confidence, self-possession, assertiveness, courage, boldness, nerve.
Antonyms are: uncertainty, doubt
Confidence lives on the other side of doubt.
“Doubt involves uncertainty, distrust or lack of sureness of a fact, an action, a motive, or a decision.” (Wikipedia).
Self-doubt involves uncertainty, distrust or lack of sureness of one’s self regarding an action or decision or one’s worthiness or capability.
Why is it so important to learn how to deal with doubt, understand what it means and what the consequences are if you let doubt win?
- Doubt can be the emotion that stands between you and your goals, your dreams, or your desires.
- Doubt can be the invisible wall between where you are and where you want to be.
Confidence is what will help you overcome doubt.
Contrary to what you may believe, confidence is not something you have or don’t have. You are not born with it, it is a skill that everyone can develop.
Which describes you best?
- Maybe you are a confident person and think you don’t need to read this as it doesn’t apply to you.
- Maybe you perceive yourself as confident and are denying that you have any doubts, so you don’t want to read this and look at a part of you that you don’t want to see.
- Or maybe you lack confidence and think that is just who you are and you have become complacent, have learned how to live with it and don’t want to disturb this seemingly ‘safe’, content feeling you have finally accomplished. You don’t want to stir up muddy water.
- Or maybe you are eager to learn more about this subject because you are tired of having self-doubt running the show, keeping you from succeeding.
At best, many of you are living a mediocre life.
The truth is, you are missing out on a spectacular life.
A life where you can feel free, joyful and abundant.
Most people are not aware that self-doubt is keeping them from reaching their full potential.
How do you know whether self-doubt is getting in your way?
By looking at the life you are living right now.
- Are you living the free, joyous, successful, spectacular life you once imagined and dreamed of?
- Have you accomplished some of your desired goals, your dreams?
- Do you have any more dreams and desires?
- Are you able to take your own critical voice with a grain of salt?
- Do you know what you are thinking about predominantly on an average day?
If you can’t say a confident, big YES to these five questions, doubt is most likely getting in your way.
Where does doubt come from?
You were not born with self-doubt. Doubt is a product of conditioning.
This conditioning starts when we are very young.
As babies and toddlers we learn how to walk and talk, we learn what is right and wrong, good and bad, appropriate behaviour or not appropriate, and we get to know ourselves, mostly through the eyes of the adults that are responsible for taking care of us and loving us.
This is the time when we acquire beliefs about who we are, what we are potentially able to achieve and capable of, and what we deserve.
During the first six years of our lives, our young minds are very imprint-able, meaning, we absorb everything literally like a sponge.
- We believe that everything that is modeled to us is the right way
- We believe what we are told
- We learn how to get what we need to survive
- We learn what to do and what not to do, in order to avoid any physical or emotional pain.
No matter how dysfunctional our behaviour might be, our survival must come first. We learn early on which behaviours work best to avoid discomfort. For example, if the only way to get attention from our parents is through misbehaving, that’s what we will learn.
Sometimes children endure unimaginable traumas in dysfunctional families, which is very unfortunate and horrible. Somehow they develop strategies and a coping mechanism so they can survive.
But the dysfunctional, learned behaviour causes problems later in life, especially when children suffered physical or mental abuse. It is important to recognize that the need for the right support early on can really help these children develop more balanced.
Every child encounters some level of distress or ‘trauma’. Not intentionally.
Sometimes a child can take on a belief after overhearing a conversation, and draw conclusions with their underdeveloped mind that have nothing to do with what is really going on.
For example, when parents worry about a job promotion and finances, a young one will pick up on this and create a belief about life that it’s hard to succeed and that there is never enough money. He or she can start feeling guilty for wanting something and believe they are the cause of financial distress.
Most parents do the best they can with what they know. They want what’s best for their children and love them more than anything, but that does not guarantee a trauma-free childhood.
Parents make inevitable ‘mistakes’ (for lack of a better word), or poor choices of parenting, and it’s not always a bad thing.
In fact, the ‘mistakes’ parents make, prepare children for a life with challenges.
Without challenges, no person would have the drive to grow and expand and create amazing experiences.
Everybody knows what it feels like when you accomplish something that was difficult, but you managed to do it! The thrill of achievement is sweet.
It feels great, it boosts your confidence! It would not feel the same if it was all easy.
Confidence comes from accomplishing something difficult.
That’s what challenges are for.
They offer you the chance to overcome self-doubt, expand your boundaries and realize your dreams.
We would still be riding horses if it weren’t for people with a dream, and the courage to imagine something unimaginable and take on the challenge to create it. In spite of doubt, discouragement, and ridicule. That’s why we have cars and fly airplanes now.
Nothing is silly or unachievable when it comes to your dreams. You are no different than the Wright brothers (invented first successful airplane) or Karl Benz (invented very first automobile in Germany).
Why is it so hard to counter or avert self-doubt and maintain confidence?
It all depends whether you are able to take responsibility for your continuing self-growth as adults.
- If you blame your parents, or other people and events in the past for where you are now, you are missing out.
- If you have never examined why you make the choices you make and whether they actually benefit you in any way, you have a lot to gain by starting to look at yourself and your actions.
- If you think you have no choice, you are making yourself a victim of your circumstances, and that is why you are feeling stuck.
Do you realize that the critical voice is not representing who you really are, but it is the voice representing fear, urging you to stay safe, keeping you small?
According to some psychologists, the two most self-defeating thought patterns they encounter in adults are:
- “I’m not good enough” and
- “I can’t succeed” or “I will fail”
These are examples of conditioned beliefs, stemming from our first six or seven years, that are responsible for self-doubt.
Why are you unable to take control over these patterns stemming from your childhood?
- Firstly, most of these conditioned beliefs are outside your awareness. How can you take responsibility for something when you don’t know it’s there for you to take control over?
- Secondly, our primal nervous system is there to protect us and keep us safe. It is so much easier and even logical to keep yourself safe and stay away from potentially dangerous challenges. You don’t realize that the adult is no longer in real danger, it’s the child in you that’s still trying to stay safe.
It’s the vulnerable child that speaks when you hear that critical inner voice.
The ongoing battle between what you desire and your critical inner voice telling you ‘you are not good enough’, ‘you don’t deserve it’ and ‘you will fail’, is draining your energy.
You simply don’t have the energy to muster up the motivation to take on a challenge when you think you are bound to fail to achieve anyway, if you believe this inner voice.
Can you see how extremely difficult it would be to sustain a high enough level of motivation to keep yourself focused on achieving your goals, and reaching for your desires and dreams, when deep down you hold on to the mostly unconscious belief that success is permanently beyond your reach? It's like stepping on the gas with the brakes on.
We are living in stressful times. The pressure and expectations from the outside world are enormous. Anxiety runs rampant with teenagers and young adults.
When self-doubt and low self-esteem meet pressure and high expectations, anxiety is born.
Self-doubt often goes hand in hand with anxiety. The desire to achieve your goals and the belief that you will be unable to fulfill this desire causes a feeling of struggle.
The task before you triggers anxiety.
This is especially hard for our children! They don’t have a choice how and what they want to learn, and avoidance of a task often means trouble for them.
The demand placed on children and young teenagers has become unrealistic. Often society and the educational system is trying to make a square fit in a round hole, and then they blame the child for not being round enough to fit.
Add to that the children's lack of confidence and low self-esteem and they feel there is nowhere to go with their feelings of insecurity and self doubt. No wonder they suffer from anxiety and other problems. It’s hard to achieve your full potential when you are struggling with self-doubt and anxiety.
Self-doubt and anxiety are the perfect recipe for underachievement.
It is so unfortunate, when negative thoughts come to caution you just as you are seriously thinking about taking on a challenging task, and then convince you to not take action. That way you don’t have to listen to the painful critical voices, and you push them back into the subconscious.
Generated from imprinted childhood beliefs, the painful message you are trying to avoid is telling you that you don’t measure up, you are incompetent, inferior, slow, too weak, too short, too fat, you are not intelligent enough, skilled enough, or just a loser.
Who wants to hear that?
What do you do about it?
You try and quiet the peanut gallery by avoiding the trigger: the goal you had set for yourself.
You protect yourself by avoiding the challenge.
The good thing is it gives you short-term relief from your anxiety and self-doubt when you decide to back away from the deemed unachievable task.
But the really bad thing is you missed a chance to build confidence and succeed. Your failure to succeed becomes a self fulfilling prophecy, the proof you are not good enough is there.
This is destructive for your self-esteem.
This is a vicious cycle many are in. You will maintain your failures in life or perceive yourself as a failure so long as the child within you believes it would be foolish to try something difficult and risk failing.
Your inner child is trying to protect you from painful feelings of doubt, insecurity, and from making you feel worse about yourself.
Giving way to the inner child’s plea, the anxiety triggered by the thought alone of taking on the challenge will ease immediately as soon as you decide to back out, do it later, or never do it at all.
The brain learns through repetition. This vicious cycle of believing you are a failure, and not taking action gets rewarded by averting anxiety.
When this occurs repeatedly, the brain learns this pattern.
By the time we are adults, this automated process protects you from anxiety, self-doubt, and insecurity but progressively damages your self-esteem and confidence.
Say hello to self-sabotaging.
What can I do to get my confidence back and maintain it?
Now you know the mechanisms of self sabotaging.
You also know what your life is like right now. Just look at it and how you experience it.
- Are you happy with your life?
- Are you giving your best every day?
- What are your goals, dreams and desires for your future?
- Are you lacking confidence?
There are three major ways you can overcome doubt and boost your confidence.
Learn all about it in my free video series: “How to overcome self-doubt”
Click this link right here to sign-up, and you will immediately receive the first video by email. A few days later video two and three will follow.
Next week, I will post the second blog in this series of four.
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