Self-belief is like any other skill – it needs to be practiced, like piano or Italian.
It gets built in the gym of daily life, in everything from changing a flat to changing your career.
Your ability to see yourself succeeding is the greatest predictor in actually creating that success.
In his book Unbeatable Mind, former Navy Seal, Mark Divine, writes about starving doubt and feeding vision. Doubt feeds off of feelings, particularly the pessimistic, cowardly ones that emerge when you’re creating something.
When negative feelings dictate your actions, self-belief peters out. There is always another course to take, another book to read, another person to talk to over coffee.
Mostly these are dithering techniques, excuses to stay out of action.
It’s so easy to listen your inner critic saying, ‘I don’t feel like it,’ or ‘Not today.’
Feeding your vision means knowing that it doesn’t matter if you feel like it. Begin, and you’ll start feeling like it.
Self-belief is not a destination.
It is not something you achieve before you start writing the book, or training for the marathon.
Self-belief is a daily practice.
It’s the willingness, even if it’s just for the next two minutes, to say to yourself, ‘I got this.’
Breathing never hurts either.
Self-belief tends to show up like a cheerful companion when you say to yourself, “I’m IN” and take a step in that direction.
Still, self-belief can go a little floppy.
I have moments, many, many moments when the grasping, self-obsessed, negatively vocal parts of me show up. With megaphones.
And actually, that’s ok.
As Pema Chodron says: “Rather than letting our negativity get the better of us, we could acknowledge that right now we feel like a piece of sh*t and not be squeamish about taking a good look.”
Look. Listen. Learn. Then get back on the path.
Think of it like parallel parking in a really tight spot. There’s a lot of back and forth, a lot of small adjustments.
In your head, the process might look something like this: Sulk. Notice. Reboot. Repeat as necessary.
Again, breathing never hurts.
Negatively rehearsing and outcome, judging yourself, or comparing yourself to others…we all do it. It is only a challenge if we stay stuck there, in the quagmire of negativity.
But don’t look where you don’t want to go (not for too long anyway). Toggle back. I’ve got this. Even if it’s just for five minutes. And even if your inner voice shakes.
The daily practice of self-belief is something to keep testing. Test it, don’t trust it.
This is the life gym where self-belief muscles are built.
Be a tourist outside of your comfort zone. Try stuff. Self-belief builds incrementally, choice by choice and breath by breath.
The alternative isn’t very attractive. As Anne Lamott says:
“If we stay where we are, where we’re stuck, where we’re comfortable and safe, we die there. We become like mushrooms, living in the dark, with poop up to our chins.”
And no one wants that…