What People Don’t Want To Know About Self-Belief
It’s been a month and a bit since I’ve started consistently posting on Wednesday’s and actually telling people about it. I know I keep counting the weeks, but it’s just astounding to me that I’m still here. It’s astounding to me because I’m always plagued with discouragement and wonder if my stories are really worth following along.
Although – that’s not true.
I know there are people reading who benefit from this more than I ever hoped.
On New Year’s Eve, two beautiful souls gifted me a framed collage made up of all the thoughts and feelings people felt after reading this corner of the internet. In the early hours of the 1st of January, I read the compilation of love letters people had written to me to say that they could feel the depth of emotion in my words, and they felt seen and understood. It was the most thoughtful gift I’d ever received, and a tangible expression of the impact I’d always hoped to have. At the start of a new year, I felt empowered, celebrated and motivated to keep going.
But only for two days.
The next time I had to sit in front of a blank page and figure out what to write for that week, I felt anxious again. I would get high-key stressed about sewing parts of my heart onto the page and putting it out to the universe, only for people not to care or show up. The same thoughts would run around my mind, like a tortured hamster who was forced to stay on his wheel, and I would wonder if it would really be a big deal if I just stopped showing up to the page.
Often, in the midst of angst, uncertainty and yet another existential crisis, the help we need comes from unexpected sources. Kindred spirits are conjured up from thin air. The hope you needed to keep going may be found in a blogpost you might not ordinarily read but felt compelled to anyway.
People and words have always been the balm that helps soothe my wounds, and I’m a sucker for calling a bunch of people when I need help wading through my emotional mess. So is it really a surprise that on the brink of giving up I would meet someone who encapsulated both of those things?
As someone who used to be fluent in the art of losing people, I’m astounded by the way God crosses our paths with the ones who help us unravel our jumbled thoughts.
We met quite by accident.
While I was waiting on the phone to vent and cry to someone else, he picked up instead. He was one of those rare, old souls that knew how to help you wade through the swamp of your emotions, but also knew how to call out the good things he could see in you. I would call him a guardian angel, but I’ve learnt it’s irresponsible to place other fallible humans on a pedestal to be worshipped. So maybe we’ll just call him a friend.
When the anxious thoughts began to invade my mind and crush my chest, I called him again to ask what I should do. I regurgitated the same thoughts about feeling discouraged and waited for him to drip feed me all his comforting wisdom.
Instead, he asked “How many people is it going to take for you to believe in yourself?”
Have you ever wanted to punch someone in the face because you know they’re right, but you also don’t want to hear it?
All we could hear was the fuzziness of the phone line as I let the implication of his words sink in.
How many messages will it take for you to feel good?
How many people have to validate you before you feel legit?
How much affirmation and confirmation do you need to fill the holes in your Swiss Cheese heart?
“I guess it’s just easier for me to fall back on the narrative that I’m not going to succeed and that this isn’t going to be worth it,” I explained to him.
“So…it’s easier for you to not believe in yourself than it is to challenge yourself?” He said wryly.
Again, I resisted the urge to hang up the phone.
“Yes…” my voice trailed off as I contemplated the absurdity of that sentence.
And it is absurd.
I would shake the shoulders and metaphorically slap any loved one who told me that they didn’t believe enough in themselves to keep persevering. I’d give all the pep talks, hold them accountable and make sure they were implementing the baby steps that would get them off their butt and moving forward.
It’s easy to push other people out of their comfort zone, but when it comes to us, we’d rather cover our ears and stay comfortable.
I am the Queen of staying comfortable. I bet you are too. We crave comfort so much that we’d rather stay snuggled under the blanket of thoughts that tell us we aren’t good enough, this isn’t going to work or it’s too damn hard, because we think it’s going to keep us safe and warm.
Except it’s not.
If you dared open your eyes and take a good hard look around, you’ll realise these thoughts are just lies designed to keep you in one spot. But even after knowing the truth, we still stay curled under those blankets. We’re a generation that longs for escapism, yet we don’t actually like the change and the challenge that comes along with it.
On Boxing Day, I bought a pair of really beautiful, high quality, tan sandals. It’s now January and they’re still sitting untouched in the box they came in. I’m still walking all over the city in my old pair of shoes where the heels are worn down and the straps are badly frayed. You might think it’s crazy for me to attach myself to them, but I’ve worn them so many times that they’ve moulded to my feet. They’ve been with me on all my adventures. I know the exact fit and feel of them so well that trying to wear anything else would feel wrong.
While I was thinking about these shoes, I was reminded of something a mentor once told me.
“You have this habit of running back to the old things in your life that you can’t even see all the new things that are right in front of you. God has a whole new life He wants to give you, but are you ever going to reach out and take it?”
I don’t know how long you’ve been conditioned to crave the thoughts that keep you in one spot.
But I know that even attempting to believe anything different will feel so wrong and so weird that it’s easier to slip your feet back into the old pair of shoes. You know, the ones that carry you down the path of fear and inadequacy. Because of this, we find it hard to believe anyone who says there are good things ahead of us. We struggle to reach out and seize it because it’s easier to believe the lie that we’re not worthy rather than get disappointed yet again.
But anything that makes you into a better person will require a constant re-shifting of the things you repeat to yourself, and above all – a fight.
People will fight hard to believe in magic, sparkly vampires and the Avengers, yet they can’t imagine a reality where they believe in themselves.
Self-Belief isn’t a nicotine patch that you slap on once and expect to be cured from the addiction to your deprecating thoughts. It doesn’t come from 100 people telling you how much potential you have or 200 double taps on the screen. It’s a day by day thing. It’s waking up and choosing to wrestle with the thoughts that moan ‘come back to the blanket of lies.’
I’ve spoken to dozens of entrepreneurs, listened to every motivational speaker and every podcast host, and they all say the same thing. Self- Belief is a you thing. It’s there. It’s literally in the name. It’s an inside job no one else can complete but Y-O-U.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t lean on your people. It doesn’t mean that you can’t ask them to rally around you or support you. But your cheerleaders can only cheer for so long before their throats get hoarse. It’s going to be up to you to keep rallying around yourself when everyone else falls away.
My friend on the phone was right to ask me how many people I needed to believe in me before I believed in myself. All the external praise in the world won’t do anything for you if you can’t learn to validate yourself first.
People can hold up the mirror to show you the dark spots, sit with you in your mess, and hold one end of your string of jumbled thoughts. But it has to be you that does the work of untangling the lies that you’re not going to make it. No one else but you.
That’s a really scary sentence to process. Until you realise it’s actually freeing. The person you’ve always wanted to come along and save you from your deprecating thoughts has always been you babe.
No one else but you is going to know whether you’ve done the work to change your perspective and believe in yourself.
But you’re the one who’ll get all the benefit baby.
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