“A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because her trust is not on the branch but on its wings.”
Isn’t it true, thanks to that nagging inner voice full of self-doubt that loves to taunt us, we often don’t trust our wings and believe in ourselves?
We’re afraid to put ourselves out there on that branch.
You know what inner voice I’m talking about. You’ll never succeed. You can’t do this. You’re making a fool out of yourself trying. You’ll never be good enough.
That cruel, critical voice in our head can beat us down and leave us full of insecurities, fears, and anxieties. It can keep us from reaching out for cherished dreams and living life to its fullest. It can devour our confidence and steal our happiness.
Maybe I can relate to this quote so much because as a writer I’ve had to face those inner demons. Writing a book reflecting your personal values, beliefs, humor, and personality and then sending it out to agents and publishers to be read with critical eyes and often rejected isn’t easy. When my agent was trying to find a publisher for my first novel, I received both encouraging (“I am sincere when I say that I believe Julie is a talented story teller, and I found all her characters to be distinct and likable, however….”) and critical (“I found some of the dialog rather stilted”) rejection letters.
And if you’re fortunate enough to be published, then you’ll share your story with readers and reviewers with all their opinions – good and bad. I definitely felt like I was putting myself out on a limb. I tried to take it all in stride, but the criticism I received undeniably zapped my confidence. Not to mention all the rejection letters I collected as a freelance writer over the years submitting short stories and articles. My inner voice often chimed in asking why I ever wanted to be a writer in the first place.
No doubt you’ve felt that same crippling and paralyzing self-doubt at times in your life when you stepped out of your comfort zone, striven to achieve a goal, or received criticism. So what can we do to build up our self-confidence?
Here are four tips to help you trust your wings and believe in yourself:
Write Down Your Successes
Write a list documenting all your successes. Even seemingly insignificant achievements can boost your confidence if you recall the feelings of pride, strength, joy, and satisfaction you felt at the time. Remember when you won the 50-yard-dash in school, overcame a fear, solved a problem, received encouragement from a teacher or employer, or when someone fell in love with you? Write these experiences down.
When I was first starting out as a writer, I kept a bulletin board with clippings, acceptance letters and even encouraging rejection letters to help me remember early accomplishments. And guess what? By celebrating and focusing on my successes – large or small – I developed a reservoir of confidence that allowed me to continue submitting my work and endure the inevitable rejections.
If you’re shy about listing your achievements, ask someone you trust to help you remember all the triumphs you’ve experienced in life. Keep the list handy and pull it out whenever self-doubt begins to creep its ugly way into your head.
Tackle Your Fears
When you’re thinking about reaching out for a goal but feel afraid, ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” The answer is usually not life-altering.
In fact, if the answer to that question is failure, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Failure can be a great learning tool, an opportunity for personal growth, and a guide toward a better path. Failure can build courage, inspire us, and strengthen us. In addition, failure can make success, when it comes, all the sweeter.
Remember that the reason for failure is not that you’re not educated or smart enough, or that you’re too old, or not talented or good enough. Often, the reason you fail is because you don’t believe in yourself and therefore put barriers in front of you and place limitations on yourself.
So take baby steps and expose yourself gradually to your fears which can make them seem less potent. As i wrote in my article, “Clear Your Mind of ‘I Can’t‘” take those belittling two words out of your vocabulary. Use the adrenaline from your fears as motivation instead of using doubts and worries as an excuse for procrastination and inaction.
Don’t Listen to Nay-Sayers
Even well-meaning people can drag you down with their negative thoughts and words. Don’t listen to people who sap your confidence, inspiration, and energy just because they’ve lost those qualities themselves. Toxic people can poison your mind with the thought that everything is impossible and hopeless and that ideas and dreams are stupid.
Instead, surround yourself with supportive, enthusiastic, smart, and passionate people who bring out the best in you. You want people who believe in you and will help you face all those nagging fears and doubts with courage.
Remember, no one succeeds without trying and being rejected many times. 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.”
Believe in yourself and you will have the last laugh.
Don’t be your own worst enemy. Treat yourself well and quit beating yourself up over past failures that cripple your confidence.
You wouldn’t mentally abuse and incessantly criticize someone you love, so why do it to yourself? You are capable, intelligent, and worthy. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a chance to make mistakes and to try and try again. Remember that your self-doubts and fears are only thoughts and feelings. These emotions don’t have to dictate your future.
As Honore de Balzac said, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”
So be like that bird that trusted its wings. Whenever you are out of your comfort zone or striving to do something great, believe in yourself.
True, that’s no easy feat, but it is crucial to living a fulfilling life.