Have you lost your confidence? Do you no longer believe in yourself? Are you afraid to try, or think you need someone else to do it for you, whatever it may be? You are not alone. Here are some of the most common reasons your self-belief may be suffering, and what to do about it.
1. You’ve given away your power
When you have a long-term relationship, intimate or otherwise, it’s easy to become dependent on another person. If you let your partner look after all the finances, or make all the decisions in certain areas, you can start to see yourself as ‘not good with money’ or someone who ‘just goes with the flow’.
Things that you once used to do, perhaps out of necessity now seem impossibly hard. It’s not that you’re incapable, or you’ve forgotten how. You’ve just given your power away.
Start rebuilding your sense of self. Open a new bank account. Start making decisions that are just for you. This doesn’t need to be a battle, more a gentle realigning.
Good relationships are a meeting of equals. Power is not about controlling or being controlled, it’s the ability to act in the way that you see best. Start taking back that power.
2. You’ve lost your sense of adventure
When you lose your confidence the world can start feeling like a scary place, even the smallest things may become intimidating. You’re no longer prepared to try new things or take risks.
It has little to do with the actual danger or even the perceived danger; it’s simply that you’ve lost faith in your ability to deal with the imagined consequences.
The answer is to do something every day that scares you. Start with small things – the idea is not to try and traumatise yourself! Dive into the water instead of climbing down. Send an email reaching out to someone you admire. Talk to a stranger. Try to have fun with this.
3. You don’t take time to play
Do you still make time in your life for play? Or is it all work and duty? Whether it’s competitive sport or just having fun, without play you’re missing a vital part of your life.
Play is a powerful de-stressor. That fact alone is enough reason to make play an integral part of your day, but it can also impact your self-image. When you play, even competitively, you’re not so attached to outcomes. You’ll experiment and push beyond your perceived limitations.
You must make time to play every day, not with the idea of achieving, but being open to discovery. When you remember to play like this you’ll often find yourself capable of more than you believed.
4. You don’t do anything new
We’re all creatures of habit, so don’t try to change that basic fact. But that doesn’t mean you need to be stuck in a rut, a lace that it’s all too easy to find yourself.
When you were younger you probably believed you could do anything and were willing to try it. When you stop trying new things you lose that belief. You stagnate.
Deliberately seek out new experiences, just for the sake of novelty. Try something new and you may discover that you like it but, more importantly, you’ll regain the belief that you can do new things if and when you need to.
Try something new for dinner tonight, for no other reason than you haven’t had it before. Surprise yourself.
5. You’re stuck in a job
One of the dangers of staying in any job for more than a year or two is that you may start to see yourself as “just” a [fill in your job title].
You may once have had dreams of starting your own business or landing your dream job. But the longer you stay in one position, without progressing, the more that becomes part of who you are, rather than just something you do.
You need to re-kindle your dreams. Start looking around, not necessarily with the idea of quitting your job, but start noticing possibilities.
What would you love to do? It’s rare that you’ll have the desire to do something that you’d never be capable of. Bring those dreams back to life and start to see yourself as much more than your current job.
6. You watch too much TV
There’s a lot of time and money spent making the images on TV look very convincing. The danger is that you start believing that what you see on your screen is a fair representation of the world in which we live.
Compare yourself to too many pictures of perfection and you’ll start wondering if you’re in some way faulty because you can’t live up to these ideals.
Watch too much reality TV or current affairs and you may come to believe that the world is doomed and there’s no hope for any of us. Either way it does nothing for your self-confidence.
Start watching programs that inform and educate you. Chooses channels that make you feel better about yourself. This may mean you need to stop watching mainstream TV altogether and seek out online content.
Never underestimate the power of video to implant ideas directly into your subconscious, especially when those messages are constantly repeated. Be very careful with what you allow into your mind. Start making choices which empower you.
7. You listen to the people closest to you
Family and friends can be dangerous, especially the ones you sleep with! How much attention do you give to their opinions?
Remember that most people are scared; they want to stay in their comfort zones, and they’d rather you stay in yours. When you act courageously you draw people’s attention to their own feelings of inadequacy.
Perhaps subtly and perhaps directly, people will tell you that you can’t, shouldn’t, or simply aren’t the sort of person who…
Surround yourself with people who believe in you, build you up and support you. You may need to distance yourself from people who drag you down or at least limit the amount of time you spend with them.
This can seem harsh. After all, these people are, for the most part, very well meaning. They’re only trying to keep you safe, according to their own limiting beliefs, but that doesn’t help. Remember, it’s your future that’s at stake. Who will you let determine it? Do you want your life to look like theirs?
8. You still believe what they told you in school
If you’ve been through the school system you may have all sorts of messages from early childhood rattling around inside your head.
You may not be consciously aware of these beliefs until the time comes to make a decision or take action on something new. That’s when they pop up and try to drag you down, keep you small and keep you safe.
Were you told that you weren’t responsible enough? That your work wasn’t good enough? That you couldn’t write well? That you weren’t the athletic type?
You have to let go of those ideas. Are they true? Who says so? Who actually said that to you? Is there any reason to suppose that they were right? And even if they were, is there any reason that needs to remain true today?
You are not six years old anymore. Reassure your six-year-old self that it’s okay. You’ve got this. You’re in charge now, and it’s you that will determine what you can and cannot do.
Be gentle. Remember, you were only little, and very impressionable! But that’s no reason to keep believing those stories. It’s time to move on.
Look after yourself
Self-belief is a precious thing. When you have it you can conquer the world. Without it, you’re lost and drifting. And it’s all too easy to lose. For most people it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a gradual wearing down.
Rebuilding your confidence won’t be instant either. Practice at least some of these things on a daily basis and it will get better, I promise. Don’t do it because I said so. Just do it for you, because you deserve it.
I believe in you.