Every single one of us is capable of greatness. So what is it about the human psyche that insists on casting a continuous shadow of self-doubt over our dreams? Why do we seem to sabotage our own success by taking actions that deliberately conflict with what we know we truly want? The answer certainly isn’t simple, but if we trace these thoughts all the way to their root cause, we usually find a great deal of fear and a poor sense of self-worth.
Sounds bleak, doesn’t it? But rest assured that fear can be managed, and better self-worth can be cultivated through a few simple changes in our thought patterns. Listed below are a few common, self-defeating thoughts, and how to transform them into more helpful, positive affirmations.
- “I’m not good enough, so I shouldn’t bother trying.”– Of course you’re not good enough—yet. True greatness takes lots of practice, and that is one of the toughest things I have had to learn as a writer. It’s painful and discouraging to see how much improvement we need in order to reach the level of brilliance we see in others we admire. I find myself avoiding writing sometimes just because I don’t want to see the awkward sentences that come before I refine my work. I cringe a bit when I read some of my first blog posts, but when I read my more recent work I can see that those beginning writings were part of the evolution that was necessary for me to grow my talent.
So this statement becomes: “I must try, so I can become better.”
- “It’s too late for me to follow my dream”- It’s easy to think our “window” of opportunity has passed, and could be gone forever. I look back at the 4.5 years I spent in college and think about how much freedom and opportunity I had to develop my talent. Now I am 31, with 2 young kids and very little time to work on my dream. But guess what I didn’t have while I was in college? The insight to know what I am truly meant to do with my life, and the maturity to know that it will take lots of hard work. After years of thinking success should come easy or that I will someday just be “discovered,” I finally have the wisdom I need, and a clear, realistic path to reaching my dream. I may only have a couple hours a day to work at it, but at least I know where I am going now. It doesn’t matter if you are 31 or 72, it’s never too late to start something. The time we spend dwelling on wasted time could be spent moving towards our goals.
So this statement becomes: “It’s time to move forward now.”
- “I don’t deserve happiness and success”- Here’s a funny little fact about true happiness: Most people are actually afraid of it. Maybe it’s because we are scared that too much success or happiness means some impending doom is inevitable. We think that at some point, we’re bound to lose everything. Maybe suffering is a safer place for some people, because it means they can’t be let down if they are already down. When we are up—happy and successful, down seems much scarier and more hurtful.
The thing is, you are going to have ups and downs. But as you work harder you will have more frequent and bigger ups, and you will learn how to handle your downs better. It helps to remember that many successful people before you have come back from some pretty massive downs.
So this statement becomes: “I am worthy of happiness and success.”
Everyone must start from the bottom, and the top can seem impossibly far when you let fear and self-doubt drive your thoughts and actions. When you learn to recognize self-defeating thoughts for the un-productive lies they really are, your self-worth can have room to grow and flourish. There will always be a small voice inside you that whispers,
“You aren’t good enough.”
Know that you have the inner strength to ignore that self-sabotaging voice, and move forward.
Ivy Shelden is a freelance writer and the founder of The World is Yours, a blog dedicated to helping people get in touch with their free-will and the power to create their own lives.