Reflecting on the commemoration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s achievements, it’s important to consider the one thing that made it possible for him (and many others) to indelibly impact the world: belief in self, first. Dr. King’s “dream” is often noted and recited. Still, it’s important to remember that in order to express and ultimately realize your own dreams, you have to believe in yourself.
Everything we have in life comes because of our belief that they are possible.
Yet, believing, especially in yourself, is much easier said than done. I know this first hand, because for the majority of my adult life, I suffered from one of the most debilitating diseases known to man – a disbelief in myself.
It started for me in high school. My teachers (while giving inspiration to other students) lowered their expectations for me and attempted to narrow my vision. Although this didn’t break me, it didn’t make me stronger. I carried with me, for years, a poison of self-doubt. Even during early career “successes,” my exterior image projected fearlessness; yet, inside I fought low self-esteem. Even worse, I felt like a phony.
Over years of pain (which is a great teacher) I taught myself how to cultivate self-belief, and I want to share with you what I have found to work. Believing in ourselves and our plan is not easy. If you want to believe in your greater purpose, there are ten things you must stop doing:
1) Not Guarding Your Heart
Your heart is the most important tool you have. It is not your experience, knowledge, or skills. It is your heart that matters most of all. Don’t allow just everyone to have access to it. Guard your heart with all your might because everything you create comes from it. If we lose our heart, we have lost everything.
2) Allowing Garbage In Your Mind
In this day and age, more content (blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, etc) gets published than at any point in the history of the world. Whatever we want to consume is accessible. The issue is what often lands on our plate is filled with negativity – from gossip posts to pure brainless themes like Cat memes. While individually, this content doesn’t do real harm, over time it eats away at our mind like a disease. Consume a disproportionate amount of inspirational content and cut out the crap.
3) Not Knowing What You Live For
“What’s my purpose?” This was a question I asked myself a few years ago. Answering it changed my life instantly. It’s hard to know where you’re going unless you know who you are – your truth. To create your life roadmap, first identify and prioritize your values. Doing so will give clarity of what you need in life as opposed to what you simply want.
4) Not Training Your Belief System
The first step to training your belief system is to use affirmations. Affirmations like, “Why am I so confident? Why do I believe in myself? Why do I trust my intuition?” are empowering questions that focus your mind on why you are, in fact, confident. Next, force yourself into creating a habit of belief. Some people are born with an innate self-confidence, but most of us are not that lucky. It’s a good thing we can teach ourselves new habits. Most experts agree it only takes 30 days to change our behavior. Just like a good exercise program, use the suggestions in this post to map out what you will do daily to boost your “belief muscle” over the next 30 days.
5) Thinking You’re The “Only One”
Do a quick read of ________’s biography (fill in the blank with the most inspirational person you know), and you’ll see how they also faced self-doubt at certain points in their life. If you are human, you have struggled with belief. I often find myself returning to Steve Job’s Stanford commencement address as a source of inspiration and guidance on how one of the most innovative men of our time dealt with self-doubt. This video is a different kind of soul food!
6) Allowing The Word “No” To Impact You
No one ever succeeds without being rejected (many times). Expect to hear the word “no” time after time, and you’ll be ready to overcome, time after time. As best-selling author Karen Quinones so eloquently said: “When someone tells me ‘no,’ it doesn’t mean I can’t do it, it simply means I can’t do it with them.”
7) Not Accepting Compliments
This is critical towards building your self-esteem, which is an important part of believing you can step into your purpose. Next time someone gives you a compliment, resist the urge to dismiss it, or question its authenticity. Instead, imagine it is true and you might just find that it is.
8) Going At It Alone
I write frequently about the importance of surrounding yourself with as many good people as possible. But let’s face it, sometimes the well for good friends is dry. That said, I don’t believe we were put on earth to be alone with our ideas. You must find your one supporter! When I decided to become a matchmaker, everyone told me I was crazy but I was able to find support from my wife. All you need is one person to have your back and it makes your belief infinitely easier.
9) Not “Faking It Until You Make It”
This begins with simply speaking confidently and assertively (even if you’re not). I’ve seen first hand that by simply speaking in a strong manner, people will believe what you have to say. Therefore, it gives you greater control over your ability to influence, and it helps to drive your actual confidence.
10) Not Surrendering
From working with and observing some very successful people in life, I noticed a common theme that I have adopted for myself: a) Work your ass off. b) Identify what you can control. c) Identify what you can’t control. d) Surrender to a higher power. It’s important to realize that no one has ever fallen while stepping out on faith. And understand that, in the eternal words of Dr. King, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” I think about this single point daily.
Self-doubt is crippling and will cause you to live beneath your privileges. To believe in yourself is no easy feat. Yet, it’s essential to living a fulfilled life. If you’re doing any of these ten things to yourself today, stop so that you can start believing in yourself tomorrow.
What are some other things you have stopped doing to increase self-belief?