Believe in Yourself
The single most important piece of advice from the world library of self help books
"Great character was never born from comfort"
Wait, did I just quote myself? Absolutely. I've read enough self-help books, watched enough documentaries, went through enough bullshit, and discussed at length with enough wonderful people to know what this whole game of life is about. With the new year ever-present and the new you most likely already in the garbage because of your inability to balance the desires of a hectic monkey mind, I am here to provide a saving grace. A lifeline for both you and me for the new year.
Why is this for both of us? Because what helps the bee helps the hive, and if we are going to heal this world, it starts with each other. We are going to walk this walk together, hand in hand.
“You must know for which harbor you are headed if you are to catch the right wind to get you there.” - Seneca
There is no point setting sail if the wind is not favorable. In the same regard, if you do not know where you are headed, how do you expect to get there?
Understanding this is crucial to your success this year. That means having a strong focus and understanding about what you want, not just from this year but from life, and maintaining that focus, even when times are difficult and you are tired or angry or upset.
Let us break it down and turn it into an idea that can prosper into new, good habits.
Simply Begin Again
It is time to clear your distractions and break out some pen and paper. We have to get serious for a moment. Serious about your direction and your intentions and what it is you are searching for. Serious because in all manner of respect, you have to be your own parent to achieve the greatness you deserve. You have to become a rock for yourself if you intend on reaching your dreams.
This leads us to the one and only question, your dreams. What do you want above all other things in life? What do you dream of when fear is out of the equation? What would you do if the possibilities were endless and you could have everything in your heart's desire, everything that you ever dreamed of? This is where your focus needs to be placed, this is what should garner your attention each and every day.
Now is usually the time that each of us, in the effort of sitting down and attempting to write our deepest dreams and aspirations, will allow fear to creep in and will forget most of that which we desire the deepest. Do not allow this to happen. Acknowledge the fact that you are afraid that these wonderful dreams might not come true and be comfortable knowing that your doubt will soon fade with time as you enable and empower yourself with faith through each gradual step towards your ultimate goal. Have trust in this direction, have trust in yourself, it got you this far in life already didn't it?
I am here to tell you that all of this is possible. It might not be easy, it may take a lot of effort, a lot of struggle, a lot of pain and suffering, but it is absolutely within your reach, don't you dare doubt it, not for one second.
So dream big. Dream so big in fact that you start to think you are crazy for ever daring to achieve so much. Do not be frugal here, do not hold back, tell the universe what you want, tell yourself what you want. Write it down, pin it up, stick it on the wall, or make your dream your screensaver. Do whatever it takes to keep this at the forefront of your focus.
Belief and Doubt
Humans are insanely good at picking out patterns. If you inhale enough information from enough sources you can start to pick out the sequences and systems that are in place throughout them all. If you dive into the world's mental health resources, motivational sources, ancient doctrines, and medical articles, you find a consistent theme.
The single most important piece of advice from all of this knowledge is about mindset. Specifically the mindset of belief in oneself and faith in the path you are on. It might sound strange to begin with, that the way to achieve your deepest dreams is already there inside you, but it is not in any way a new form of thinking. Belief has shaped the minds of each of us in ways we can't begin to imagine. Belief sparks religion, it creates cultures and societies, it is paramount to our everyday lives however, we are often too busy to see how it affects us and what we can do about it.
I want you to start thinking about your beliefs and how they might be shaping the world around you. Do you believe that people are out to get you (victim-hood mentality), do you say "why me?" when the world throws you under the bus? Do you exist in uncertainty, always doubting your actions and thoughts and dreams? Have you overcome some insanely difficult challenge? Have you succeeded through a crippling moment in life? Have you ever been a winner, or a loser, and reflected on how it came to be?
Can you see where doubt creeps in, how it darkens the edges of your dreams and goals and gets you to believe you are not capable. Can you see that throughout all of your attempts to be successful and achieve something, the most important facet was your mindset and whether or not you believed in yourself.
If you can see this then you can start using it to your advantage. You will find out that achieving what you want in life is not always about putting in the extra work and bending over backward. Success is not measured by the goals you crush or dreams you achieve, success is the mindset that allowed the cultivation of those dreams in the first place.
The mindset in question is believing in yourself. Never doubting your thoughts or actions or the path you are on. Always having faith in your direction.
Earthshaking, immovable, unrelenting faith.
Winner, Winner, Belief for Dinner
What is the difference between someone that exudes confidence and someone that shy's away? I believe the difference is that the former simply chose to be confident, the latter did not. The former, when a difficult situation arose or when anxiety crept into their mind, decided not to give it much time, they decided that although they felt uncomfortable with the feeling, that they will carry on nonetheless and be content with the outcome.
The latter chose to step back and away from the resistance in front of them.
When the former accepted the problem as a challenge and attempted to solve it, the latter saw the problem as overwhelming and chose that they did not have the strength to overcome such a thing. The former saw that the world was not fair, that they had been dealt a specific set of cards, and went to work making the most out of it with what they were given. The latter saw that the world was not fair and felt victimized by it, cheated out of opportunity, and looked for someone else to fix it for them.
One decision after another strengthens the connections in the brain that become our automatic responses to situations. These connections also determine our resting state, whether it be one of flight or fight. Our brains are constantly undergoing changes and adapting to situations.
Just like a muscle on your body, your brain needs resistance to get stronger. Imagine you want to get your bicep bigger, you pack a bunch of weight onto a bar and get yourself ready to lift it but when you pick it up, a little voice inside your head tells you it will be too heavy, and you put it back down.
You doubt yourself before you even get in the ring. This little voice echoes through the chambers of your mind and attaches itself to a synapse connection in your brain. You wait a few days, feeling let down by your inability to get motivated after the apparent failure from a few days before. You work yourself up to trying again, you go to pick the bar back up, but as you do it the voice reappears. "You're weak, you're not strong enough, you're not worthy". You tell the voice to shut up but a little part of you actually believes the voice to be true. You put the bar back down and decide it's not worth going through the mental turmoil that is associated with it, you tell yourself that working out is for idiots anyway. Your arms become weak as the muscles never come up against resistance. You never truly figure out what your arms are capable of going through.
Obviously, my example is extreme and went from hero to zero in an instant. I cut corners to bring to light the most important part of the exercise, what you believe in. You see, each time our example allowed the feelings of self-doubt to overcome believing in themselves they strengthened the wrong connection in the brain. Do this enough times and you end up creating a hopeless vacuum inside your life. You start believing you are incapable, and that is a slippery slope.
On the other hand, you can actively make the choice to believe in yourself. This doesn't need to become some namby-pamby, fake ass spirituality. You don't have to go shouting it from the mountain tops. It doesn't need to be grand or loud or in your face.
It does however need to be taken seriously. It needs to become your foundation, your philosophy for life. Why? Because doubt is always going to come knocking and each time you let it in it will grab a hold of you and throw you around like a boat in a storm. You can't let this happen. You must have faith that no matter the conditions of the water, no matter the storm or the wind or the seas, you will prosper through it. You must burn a belief in yourself into your very core.
Now you have your exercise, if you thought it was going to be something more than think again, less is more when it comes to belief. It is now up to each of us, in each moment, to dispel the doubt. To banish it from our kingdom. To believe in ourselves, and our brothers and sisters.
Look at the dream you wrote down. Look at the steps involved in achieving it. Look inside yourself and summon the courage to conquer that dream. Spark a fire, hold that torch close to you, do not let the waves of doubt put it out. And if they do, bloody well set it ablaze again. It is okay to give yourself over to the doubt, it is also okay if you have already done so in the past but it is time to put a stop to it, it is time to demand more from yourself, it is time to begin again.
What will this new year bring for you, who will you become, and most importantly, what will you choose to believe in?
"Don't wait until everything is just right. It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles, and less than perfect conditions. So what? Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident, and more and more successful." --Mark Victor Hansen