What holds you back? Is it self-doubt? I ask this question because more and more I am convinced that you and I are the ones that hold us back more than anything else. In my close work with clients and students for over 30 years I have consistently seen the biggest barrier to a person’s success is within the mind. I know that is true for myself also.
Self-doubt comes from very early in life when we don’t understand language and messages we receive. Much of being a child in the first few years of life has to do with meeting our needs. The world however is not always as concerned about our needs so we end up getting mixed messages. These messages shape how we view the world. For example: if we didn’t get the touch and nurturing we needed we may have decided we were not okay in some way.
These past interpretations of the world unfortunately still shade our life experience even as a mature adult. There were many of these messages from our parents, peers, teachers, church etc. that made us doubt who we are. In the course of a lifetime many people feed our self-doubt. Even our belief systems can fill us with self-doubt. There is no need to point fingers at those who filled us with doubt because it is more systemic and that is the challenge.
Breaking the cycle of self-doubt, which is pervasive in our culture takes awareness and inner focus. From my own inner work and my work with clients I can recommend several ways that can be helpful to build a positive sense of self.
1. Become mindful, watch all your thoughts – The more you watch your thoughts the more you find out how you talk to yourself. Most people are unaware of the amount of negative and critical self-talk that goes on inside their own minds. The first task is to understand how you talk to yourself. This brings the insight and awareness necessary for change.
2. Do you best to not judge yourself as either good or bad – As you listen inward you will see how often you beat yourself up with your thoughts. Remember this is past programming that you need to be aware of, but too judge yourself or be critical would be to beat yourself up even more.
3. Turn the volume down and eventually off on the inner critic - This is the voice that says, “that was stupid, what an idiot I am, etc.” The voice of the critic is the adult voice of the negative messages you received as a child. This inner critic serves no positive purpose unless you enjoy put-downs.
4. Start rebuilding your sense of self - Once you see how much your thoughts shape your sense of who you are, you can reshape your self-worth by rewriting the program of your mind. Imagine all the negative and critical thoughts changing to positive and supportive thoughts. Imagine moving from I’m not okay to I accept myself.
5. Reprogram you mind – There are many books, cd’s and programs (many web based programs) about positive self-esteem. Set up a plan to fill your mind with positive thoughts, affirmations, inspiring ideas and more. Another approach is to learn to meditate and that alone will do many positive things for your sense of self.
There are professionals like myself that can also help with self-doubt.