Visualize you are an ice skater in a competition. You are in first place going into the final round. If you perform well, the gold medal is yours. You are nervous, anxious and frightened.
Then, mere minutes before it’s your turn to take the ice, your trainer rushes over to you with incredible news: “You’ve already won! The judges tabulated the scores, and none of the skaters can possibly catch up with you. You are too far ahead to lose.”
Upon hearing that news, how do you feel? Relieved, thankful, exhilarated!
Whereas a moment ago self-doubt and fear of falling short dominated your thoughts, now you are filled with a new found courage, confidence and sense of belief in yourself. So how do you choose to skate your final performance? Will you be timid? Cautious? Will you play it extra safe? Of course not. You will go all out to be and do your best because the prize is already yours.
You will skate like a champion because that is what you are.
Although you may not be an ice skater, you get my point. Often in life, the greatest hindrance to achieving our dreams and attaining our potential is us. Specifically, it is our inability to overcome the limiting beliefs that seek to have us doubt all we are capable of being and doing.
You know what that voice in your head says…
You can’t do it. You’ll never be good enough. You’re going to fail.
This voice of self-doubt that taunts you whenever you set a goal. It criticizes you when life gets difficult. It beats you down when you struggle to stand up against its running commentary.
Intuitively, we all know we should not let self-doubt bother us. Easier said than done. Much like an elusive enemy, it manages to slip right on past our defenses.
As I’ve discovered so many times in my own life, self-doubt is a challenging adversary. When it’s loose, it devours confidence, strips logic and reason from our mind, and steals happiness from our heart. In return, it leaves us feeling fearful, insecure and questioning our abilities. And perhaps worst of all, it seems as though the more you fight your self-doubt, the more it fights back.
We can, however, proactively position ourselves to greatly diminish the power self-doubt can have in our lives. How? Take practical steps to go all out to be and do our best, believing the prize is already ours by:
Living your Truth: Your personal truth represents the values and beliefs that guide how you lead your life. You may value development, personal health or wealth, community, honesty, or business success. When you believe deeply in what you’re doing and align your words and your ways appropriately, you are tapping into your reservoir of deepest potential. On the other hand, when your actions are at odds with your core values, your personal sense of truth, you will quickly lose faith in yourself at the first stumble, setback, or sign of rejection. And self-doubt will continue to have its way with you.
Aligning your choices with your intentions: Your intentions are the desired results of your actions; they are your goals. If you have internalized your goals and are consistently making choices that support attaining them, it’s much easier to be motivated to face your doubts, fears and frustrations head-on…regardless how nerve-racking your present circumstances.
Building a Network: It is virtually impossible to achieve our goals, dreams and aspirations alone. Life is, after all, a team sport. If you don’t take tangible steps to share your desires with others, you will miss out on the valuable experience, ideas and encouragement others have to offer. Make it a priority to build a network of people who can accompany you in the journey. It’s always easier to believe in yourself when you share your purpose and progress with people who are on a related path.
Telling yourself you can: Psychologists have been reminding us for years that we are each “architects of our own realities.” And they are absolutely right. The way we think about our potential has a significant impact on how we feel about ourselves and how willing we are to stay the course when facing challenging or uncomfortable situations. If you tell yourself you can’t do it, it’s likely that you won’t. Telling yourself you can, on the other hand, helps make success a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Stop listening to toxic people: Toxic people, those negative individuals we encounter in life who prefer to focus more on problems than orient to possibilities, are often quick to shoot down our ideas and diminish our desires. You know the type. You see white, they say black; you seek the good, they lament the bad; you seek opportunity, they are intent fixating on obstacles; you strive to build on the best of what is and they refuse to move past the worst of how things are. In a nutshell, toxic people steal our joy, zap our energy and constrain us from attaining our potential. They’ll try to lead you into a state of hopelessness.
Don’t let them do it.
Instead, surround yourself with supportive and passionate people who can both inspire you and bring out the best in you. Align yourself with optimistic people who possess the moral courage not to sugar coat present reality—those who will lift you up when you feel down and help you see the bright side of your darkest fears and overcome your most debilitating self-doubts when the challenges before you seem overwhelming.
Remember, feelings of self-doubt never disappear. They are always lurking in the shadows of your mind, ready to greet you every time you step out of your comfort zone and do something to try and lead your life in a more excellent way. But know self-doubt isn’t something you have to fear or resent. After all, your momentary doubts are only thoughts, not your future. If you believe you cannot accomplish something, you’ll prove yourself right almost every time. But if you believe you can and give your best performance to whatever it is you are doing, you will soon discover for yourself you are already a champion—simply for having given your best possible performance in that moment.
Are you willing to give it a try?