When it comes to learning how to believe in yourself, the answer isn’t straight forward.
Why? Because you simultaneously believe in yourself and don’t believe in yourself at the same time. Maybe you’ve experienced this before. In your mind, right before you’re going to tackle a new project, goal, or life path, you have these visions of your ideal self behaving exactly the way you wish you could.
And it’s not like you have delusions of grandeur either. You can see the logical path forward:
But then when it comes to the doing it part, all of a sudden reality smacks you in the face.
You believe in yourself, but not fully, because if you fully believed the process would guarantee the outcomes, then you’d follow through.
But in the back of your mind, there’s that hesitation and doubt. Maybe you’re not really cut out for this. Maybe you’ll end up giving it everything you’ve got and still fail.
So you spend most of your life going through this looping wave of up and down emotions where you have periods of full conviction followed by periods of full doubt and total stagnation.
Start and stop enough of these little initiatives and eventually you’ll get tired of riding the emotional roller coaster so you’ll quit trying altogether.
Let’s talk about how to avoid being this person.
You’re not going to fully believe in achieving some major long-term goal all at once. That’s why people who say things like “I’m going to start a million-dollar business” but have no business experience always end up failing. They might be correct about their potential to build such a business, but it’s just too far of a gap to bridge.
In your case, focus on activities that build quick wins instead of trying to make a major identity shift overnight. What do I mean? Don’t make proclamations about how you’re going to be in shape, just go to the gym, once. Don’t say you’re going to become a writer, just start writing.
In fact, that’s how I got started. I wrote one blog post and it got a few dozen likes on Facebook. That quick win and little dopamine spike were enough to motivate me to write a second, third, fourth, etc. I gradually pushed myself to tackle slightly large goals like writing for popular websites through guest posts. Then when I felt comfortable enough I wrote a book. Now I’ve published three and have a decent-sized following. Had I started out saying “I’m going to become a writer” I would’ve failed because that’s coming from an identity paradigm.
After becoming a bit of a recluse when I was married and working on my writing career, I had to learn social skills from the ground up after I got divorced. Embarrassing as it sounds in retrospect, doing things like making eye contact with everyone I saw and saying hi were the type of little exercises I did to get accustomed to talking to people again. Prior to the reclusive stage, I’d been quite extroverted. Identities build and unravel slowly.
You didn’t create the identity you have now, the one that’s holding you back, overnight. You spent years, decades even, building this identity that has caused you not to believe in yourself enough to follow through.
Throughout the process of learning how to believe in yourself more and building a new identity, you can also use this next process to solidify your self-confidence as you move forward with action.
When you focus on self-improvement, get some wins under your belt, and make progress toward a long-term goal, you start thinking about what’s truly possible.
You’ll realize how much you’ve sold yourself short over your lifetime. For me, I use this realization to combat my self-doubts. When I see a new challenge that seems daunting, I use a few strategies:
I’ll try some of the questions I tend to ask myself on you right now.
Are you so extremely dumb that you can’t figure out how to change your life? Really? Are you that inept? Nope. You’re probably just getting in your own way.
Is it really going to take this monumental effort to transform your life? Think about whatever goals you have in mind. Are they that difficult? No, your goal is probably comprised of different little components that just need to be…completed.
Are you truly inherently less worthy of success in your field than all the people who’ve succeeded in it? You’re not smarter or more talented than any of them? Really? They’re all superhumans and you’re just a lowly mortal? Come on now.
These are all things you know deep down, but just need to remind yourself of. It’s tough. I get it. I slip into self-doubt every other second of my life, but I keep going because I know the truth at my core.
As much as you doubt yourself like I said to start the post, you kinda know you’re the shit. You wouldn’t daydream if you didn’t like yourself at least a little bit. Without some underlying belief in yourself, daydreams wouldn’t be any fun because you’d know they’re total BS.
Use a combination of your irrational belief in a better future and dissatisfaction with your current circumstances to change your life. That’s what I did and still do. Keep your head in the clouds for a little bit to get inspired, but then come back to earth and realize you have some work to do.
Use the mismatch between who you truly know you could be and who you are right now to drive you. Bring them closer together. Do your self-doubts go away entirely? No, but the process of leveling up does get easier after you’ve accomplished something substantial.
You’re stuck in that chicken and egg scenario right now. Do you get the confidence first and the results later? Or do you get the results first with the confidence coming afterward? Both.
There’s no replacement for that initial little jolt of confidence you need to start. You can use self-help as a spark but that does have to come from you. After that, you further believe in yourself by solidifying that new identity.
You will have to BS yourself a little bit and “fake it until you make it” to start. But ironically, faking it til you make is often the real version of ‘you.’
You’re supposed to be confident.
You’re supposed to be bold and go for what you want.
You should move through the world like you own it, instead of the other way around.
Your default state should be power, purpose, and confidence. You’ve just been conditioned out of thinking this way. Learning to believe in yourself actually brings you back to your true nature. The hesitant doubt-ridden version of you is the liar.
So, there’s your magical self-help pill — believe in yourself and understand you’re capable of most things.
All you need is a moderate dose of conviction, momentum, and identity changing moments to set you on an entirely new path forever.