“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” -Henry David Thoreau
We are living in difficult times. The amount of change and challenge is overwhelming. The pandemic is upending our lives and livelihoods. People are in a cultural war with each other. The news and social media sensationalize the negative. The day to day grind is enough to make the most positive person question themselves.
Adversity can bring out the best or the worst in us. The best manifests when we believe in our intrinsic value. The worst occurs when we don’t.
When you believe in yourself, you acknowledge and act on your potential. You spend less time focusing and therefore acting on what is less than excellent.
Even though this may seem obvious, many of us continue to wake up to another day weary with self-doubt and uncertainty. Why?
Let’s look back to Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo Galilei for some insight.
Do you believe the Earth revolves around the sun? Of course, you do. You can thank Galileo for that. He was an ardent supporter and teacher of Copernicus’ theory that the sun is the center of the universe and the Earth and other planets revolve around it. Unfortunately, this theory challenged the widely accepted belief of his day espoused by the astronomer Ptolemy and the mighty Catholic Church that the sun moved around the Earth.
In 1616, Galileo was brought before the religious authorities and forced to stop teaching what they deemed a heretical belief. He agreed and the Church allowed him to continue investigating Copernicus’ ideas as long as he didn’t uphold or defend them. In 1632, he published “Dialogue of the Two Principal Systems of the World,” a discussion about the ideas of both Ptolemy and Copernicus. However, the book was seen by the Church as supporting the Copernican model of the universe.
A year later, he was brought in front of the religious authorities again and forced to renounce his beliefs. He was placed under house arrest for the remainder of his life. Three hundred years later, the Church admitted that Galileo was right.
Belief in yourself can make others very uncomfortable.
Have you ever watched crabs trying to climb out of a bucket? When one gets close to the rim, a crab below will use its claw to pull it down. I doubt that crabs have any malicious intent. Most likely, they are just trying to grab on to something to pull their way up.
People are different. Our beliefs drive our behaviors. When you encounter someone who believes in themself, you can have one of two reactions. You can be inspired or threatened. Inspiration comes from your belief that if someone else can do it, so can I. Threat comes from your idea that another’s confidence shines an uncomfortable light on my insecurity.
Many of us resist daring to believe in ourselves because we fear to spend the remainder of our lives under a modern-day, psychological house arrest. Who are we to think that we can create something good out of this mess? However, if you don’t believe in your potential to emerge from this current crisis victorious, who will? If you don’t make it your mission to do more than just survive, but to thrive, you may doom yourself to a life of quiet desperation. You will have pleased those around you by playing it safe, small and surrendered, but you will have displeased your own self. Immensely.
Yes, we are living in tough times. The virus can make you or your loved ones sick. Your career may be on the line. Your industry may be vanishing right before your eyes. You and your once friendly neighbor may be on opposite sides of an issue. But don’t let this chaos stop you from believing in yourself. This moment of trepidation and uncertainty is the optimal opportunity to trust, focus and act on your personal best.
If this makes others uncomfortable with you, then look for different people to surround yourself with. We live in a hyper-connected world where it is much easier to reach out and find support.
The challenges we face healthwise, culturally and economically are not ending anytime soon. We need more people who believe in their value and can model it for those who want inspiration. You can prepare for the bumpy ride ahead by deciding to stand up for your best self.
It’s time to believe in yourself again.
- Write down everything you believe you are good at. Nothing is insignificant. It can be both character traits and skills. It can be within your personal or professional life. Writing will make it more real for you. When things go haywire, you can pay too much attention to what doesn’t work, your flaws, and what is deemed wrong or unworthy. Make sure to create a healthy balance of perspectives for yourself.
- Design a goal or purpose that taps into your strengths. It can be something monumental or something small. Size does not matter. Commitment does. Find something in your life to improve or pledge yourself to. When you place yourself firmly on a path, any path, uncertainty and distraction melt away.
- Decide that your mistakes are a necessary part of your growth. Correct them and learn from them but don’t shame yourself for them. Throw out the idea of perfectionism. It’s the enemy of progress. Take a moment to reflect on a mistake you have made. How do you regard it? Do you consider it an albatross around your neck or a crucial moment in your history that shows you a better way? How you think about the past has a big impact on the present.
Thanks for reading. Until next week,
Jo-Aynne von Born, Certified Professional Coach
Join me for a live, online training August 1st, Resolve To Be Resilient. Learn a method to transform a challenge into a chance to succeed. → details here
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