I started reading a new book by Norman Vincent Peale called “The Power of Positive Thinking” and I really want to share with you the things I am learning in every chapter in hopes that maybe it will inspire you in some way as it already has me in just reading the first chapter.
Ch. 1: Believe in Yourself
All of us, if we are honest with ourselves, deal with an inferiority complex in some capacity in our lives. We lack confidence in ourselves. We feel inadequate. We have doubts that cause us to lack faith in ourselves. I will admit that I definitely deal with this in my life. I have a dream of someday becoming a speaker but there is a part of me that is holding back from really going after that. I lack confidence in my ability to communicate my feelings to others in an effective manner. I second guess myself and am dealing with a lot of negative thoughts that whisper in my ear that there is no way I could be a good public speaker.
We must believe in ourselves. To be self-confident, it takes training and rewiring our minds. We have to be mindful of the thoughts that go through our head on a daily basis. We must tell the negative voices to sit down and shut up.
Peale shares two steps to conquer self doubt:
Step 1: Discover WHY you have those feelings of self doubt.
This takes time and a lot of self analysis. There is a reason why we don’t believe in ourselves anymore. Maybe you had an experience where someone said you weren’t good enough. Maybe you were bullied as a child. We forget how things from our past can creep back up in our adult lives and affect how we are now.
For example: John had an older brother named James who made straight As in school and John was more of a straight C kind of kid. He compared himself to his older brother and wished he could be more like him. At this point an idea was born in his head. He begin to think he could never be a straight A student; he began to believe he wasn’t smart enough.
Another example: I have been self conscious about my upper lip since I was young. My insecurity began in middle school– I didn’t just wake up one day with issues about my lip. One morning I found a razor on my desk with a note that said that I needed to shave my mustache. That day was when I became self conscious. I have been waxing or using hair removal creams ever since.
Negative self-talk stems from somewhere or something that has happened to us in our past. It’s up to us to discover that and to daily rewire our minds so those negative messages that replay in our minds don’t continue to embed lies.
Step 2: Feed your mind positive affirmations to help you rewire your subconscious and repeat those affirmations to yourself over and over again.
Negative self-talk is something we must conquer like we conquer bad habits. To conquer a bad habit you must replace it with a good one.
To conquer an inferiority complex we must feed our minds positive messages to cancel out the negative ones. Positive messages could be inspiring quotes from people you admire, like authors or motivational speakers. It could be reading an inspirational book or a religious text.
When you dwell on those types of inspirational words and repeat them to yourself over and over again it becomes embedded in your beliefs, therefore overriding the negative messages of self-doubt.
Example: I am a high school teacher and this year I have a student who is dealing with depression. This particular student opened up to me last year about her depression and other issues she was dealing with. I was there for her last year when she needed someone. Even though I do not have this student in my class this year, she still comes and visits my classroom often and we talk about not only her situation but life in general.
One day she came to my room to talk as usual and I asked her about school, her home life, etc. She pauses for a second and says, “Can I ask you a bad question?” I told her, “You can ask me anything you’d like.” She admitted to me that she cut herself the other night after a month of not. She asked if one mess up is bad. She then said, “I was doing so good and now I am no longer clean. Now I am back to being a self-harmer.” I stopped her right there and said, “Don’t ever say that again. Do not let depression and self-harming define who you are. That is not who you are. We all make mistakes, we all mess up but don’t let that define who you are.” At that point I realized the deep issue going on. She didn’t believe in herself. She didn’t have the confidence that she could battle depression, that she could be clean and conquer her dark passenger. I wanted to help her conquer those thoughts.
I am no therapist (although there are times I wish I would have sought after that profession), but I told her that once she got home that she had to grab a sticky note. On that sticky note I wanted her to write 5 things she aspires to be (and write those things in the present tense as if she was already those things). She then had to put it by her bathroom mirror so she could see it everyday as she woke up and as she went to bed. I even had her take a picture of it to keep on her phone and also to send to me. I told her she had to say those 5 things out loud to herself in the morning when she got up, during lunch or in the afternoon and in the evenings before she went to bed. Since that conversation, I have noticed a difference in her. She carries herself differently. Yes she is still battling depression but she seems more confident and happier.
We must discipline our minds. If our minds are obsessed by thoughts of insecurity and inadequacy it is because those thoughts have dominated our thinking over a long period of time. We must give our minds another more positive pattern of ideas. How do we do this? We can conquer the lies in our heads by repetitive suggestion or confidence ideas. We must watch what we constantly fix our attention on.
By rewiring our brains and feeding ourselves positive messages, we can accomplish many things. When we have belief in ourselves any problem life throws at us, no matter the difficulty, we can get through it because our attitude becomes better and we can react to live’s difficulties with confidence and strength.
The saddest thing to me is that people don’t seem to care enough about establishing self-confidence and therefore they settle for less than what they are capable of doing in their lives. The don’t end up living up to their true potential. This, to me, is a tragedy.
I still struggle with self-doubt on a daily basis but I am learning how to conquer those doubts and believe in myself again. I want to live a life of greatness. I want to leave a legacy that my family can be proud of, that my kids and grandkids can be proud of. If I want to do that, I have to also model for them self-confidence. I have to model for them how to follow their hearts and their dreams.
May you know that you are enough. That you are worthy of living a life of greatness. May you begin the journey of digging deep and getting rid of the lies that fill your head that tell you “you aren’t good enough” and “you could never do that.” Those are lies. Believe in yourself again, not just for yourself but for your loved ones.