Once you trust yourself, the world opens up to you. Those opportunities you’ve been dying to have and the better life you seek all come to you when you finally realize that you’re capable. The universe doesn’t give you what you want. The universe gives you what you can handle.
People often reply by telling me success doesn’t matter. I totally disagree. You play ‘success games’ because of the person you have to become in the process to win them. This contentment culture is a cop-out. I don’t buy it and deep down, neither do you. If you could design your life from scratch like a video game character and choose your attributes and outcomes, would you really pick the current version of yourself? Thought so.
I’m not trying to make you feel bad. I’m just being honest. Until you trust yourself to make some serious moves, you’ll always feel like you left some potential on the table. Will your life be miserable? No, not at all. But is that your goal in life? Avoiding misery? Is that it? Gotta answer that for yourself I guess.
Self-help advice really doesn’t do much. At best, it can diagnose your problems and provide suggestions. But you still have to take the leap of faith yourself. There’s no way around the gut punches you have to take to get what you want.
You never hear me say corny lines like “F.E.A.R. stands for false evidence appearing real.” No, fear is as real as it gets. Your brain isn’t giving you false evidence, it’s trying to help you avoid the psychological pain that definitely will happen along the way.
You can’t really get rid of fear. But you can have a better understanding of it and try to re-orient that energy like a judo fighter who uses the momentum of heavier opponents against them. You can find a way to make fear push you into situations instead of shying away from them. This is an intuitive process you can only learn through trial and error, but the diagnoses might help you get started.
I wanted a divorce, but I was afraid to leave and afraid to be alone. I wanted to quit my job and have enough money to do so but I kept putting it off. Luckily, the universe delivered me a gift I’ll be forever grateful for.
What gift? Massive band-aid ripping pain. My wife ended up leaving me. I was so distraught that I botched a project at work that cost my company hundreds of thousands of dollars. They suspended me for a week. I asked to take a sabbatical for a month and they let me.
All the things I didn’t quite trust myself to handle were forced on me. I was living the unknown I was previously afraid to face. How did it feel? It felt terrible. I can’t really recall a time in my life where I’ve been that sad. But guess what? I handled it.
I’ve been running a business and writing full-time for the past three years. I rebuilt my social life and have great relationships. I’m fine. In retrospect, I should’ve pushed the envelope myself instead of waiting. I don’t know what unknowns you don’t trust yourself to handle, but you can handle them. Trust me.
I’ve thought about this for a while and I think I’ve found another angle on why we’re afraid of rejection. The common wisdom says that you fear rejection because you take it personally even though rejection isn’t personal. Sure, that’s true sometimes. Oftentimes we let the way other people view us take up too much rent in our minds when we shouldn’t care what they think.
But, sometimes you should take rejection personally because the rejection is a sign that you’re actually not good enough or worthy enough for what you want…yet. And you’re going to take that personally. Some studies say that social pain registers just as much pain in your brain as breaking your leg.
I once launched a product that got zero sales. The truth? The product was slapped together and not all that good. So I didn’t have the right energy behind it when trying to sell it. I half-stepped because I was afraid to put my all into something and still get rejected. I had to level up and create better work. Eventually, I did, and it worked.
Still, putting your all into something still doesn’t make you immune from rejection. Sometimes you can put your all into something and simply not be good enough at the task at hand. But just because you’re not cut out for one thing doesn’t mean you’re not cut out for a bunch of other opportunities. You’re smart enough and talented enough for something to stick. Question is, will you go through the pain required to find what sticks?
Best piece of advice for dealing with rejection: learn to develop an acquired taste for it. You’re never going to like it, per se, but you can develop a sort of masochistic appreciation for it.
Let me give you some solace here after reading two sections that were quite blunt and aggressive. I know that you have the capability to finish what you start because I’ve done it. That matters because I used to be the perpetual ‘all ideas but no execution’ type. You name it and I’ve probably tried it — MLM pyramid schemes, selling knives, several half-hearted attempts to start my writing career.
But now I look back on what I’ve done and it still surprises me to this day. In February, I’ll start year seven of my writing career. Three books published, millions of readers, God knows how many words I’ve penned at this point. Day in and day out getting better at my craft for years. I try to be honest about how I got this to stick.
Ok, the deep diagnosis is done. Let’s take a look at some ways you can learn to start trusting yourself for real.
Your brain needs proof, not promises.
You can’t convince yourself that you’re a higher version of yourself until you actually do something toward that end. There’s no way to psych yourself up enough to become that person without any effort.
You can tell yourself you have the potential to be an entrepreneur all you want, but you won’t become one until you try to sell something. If you’re socially awkward, don’t watch Mad Men and try to convince yourself that you’re Don Draper, talk to people. Here’s the thing, your initial attempts will surely be bad. But it doesn’t matter because you faced the resistance.
Steven Pressfield has a great quote about this from the War of Art:
“The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.”
Your brain doesn’t register the results you get, it only registers whether or not you tried in the first place. Things don’t have to go well right away for your brain to have that proof. You’ve probably compelled yourself to do something you’re afraid of before, and even if it didn’t go well, it felt exhilarating didn’t it? Thing is, it also probably felt overwhelming too and makes you think ‘damn do I really want to do that again?’ You have to. The best moments of your life come from the other side of fear.
Why does any of this really matter? Am I just being dramatic? That’s up to you to decide. I’ve come to the point in my life where I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I want you to do what’s best for you, sincerely.
I just share my view of the world and my philosophy. If it resonates with you then the message is for you. If not, live your life. Stop reading self-help articles. It’s a free country.
So how do I look at life? Every time you make a promise to yourself that you don’t keep, every time you hesitate because you don’t trust yourself to get the job done, every time you fall short in the effort category, you lose a little piece of your soul.
Look at our society. Why do people bicker so fervently about politics? They don’t trust themselves to manage their own lives. Why does data show that most people are unsatisfied with their jobs? They don’t trust themselves to go it alone. Why do the vast majority of people fall well short of their capabilities? I think you get it by now.
Trusting yourself is so important because, at the end of the day, you can’t rely on anyone else. Nobody cares about your problems to such a degree that they’re going to fix them for you. Nobody really gives a damn about your sob stories, your dreams and aspirations, or your well-being. Let’s be honest here. You have to look out for yourself. Like I always say, nobody is coming to save you.
Nobody will ever really trust you until you trust yourself. People gravitate toward leaders who have one quality. It’s not intelligence, or charisma, or work ethic. It’s certainty. Believe who believe in themselves are magnets for followers. When you trust yourself and people can tell, they’ll come to you. Until then, you’ll live a normal life.
Sure, people will trust you kind of, sort of, a little bit. They’ll trust you enough to give you $15/hr, but not to run the company. They’ll trust you to keep up with little obligations, but they won’t trust you when you say you have big dreams you’re going to follow through with. They might even lead you lead, but that leadership will always stand on a foundation of sand instead of bricks.
Again, you decide whether or not I’m right. And…trust yourself to make the right decisions.