For much of the first part of my life I wavered. I lived somewhere in between unbridled confidence and unrelenting self-doubt. I think we've all been at both extremes at one time or another. But the question I recently began asking myself and others is "Where do we live most often and why?"
Confidence is often easy to identify. I can tell you some of my most empowered moments.
- Singing an 8 page alto solo from the Messiah with full orchestra to a full house at the age of 17.
- My first presentation as a coach in front of about 150 entrepreneurs.
- The day I rode off the lot on my new HD Streetglide.
- The day I jumped out of an airplane.
- The day I walked on fire.
- The day I hiked the highest peak east of the Rockies and west of the Pyranees.
- The days I walked 60+ miles in 3 days for breast cancer research.
- The day I decided to sell the business I'd built for 20 years.
- The day I decided to get divorced (the first time).
- The day I got married (the third time)(and yes, this one was the right one).
- The day I launched the business they all told me was impossible. (it was awesome by the way)
So what about self-doubt? Those are easy to identify too
- My first day of school as the "new girl"...with high water pants and a foot taller than any other boy or girl in the class at age 9.
- The day I got married (the first time - that should have been a hint, I know).
- The day I went on my first date after my divorce (the second time).
- Starting a new business, after recovering from bankruptcy.
- My first time singing with my rock band, drew a total blank, middle of the song, broke down in tears and ran off the stage.
- My first time back on a dirt bike after taking a massive fall.
- My 100th time standing back up on a snowboard after not being able to stay up at all.
- My first time attending an EDM concert, as an adult, in full steam-punk gear. (I had a blast by the end of the night).
Some moments are humorous and memorable now, others feel heavy just writing them. Yea, we've all had some version of those lists. The ups and downs of life that hold tight in our memory. But ask yourself the question...where do you live most often? More importantly, ask why?
Self-doubt often comes from the fear of the unknown, or worse, the fear of repeating the past. We made that mistake once, are we making the same mistake again? What makes us think it will be different this time? Our minds are built to look for patterns, to avoid fear, anxiety, pain, disappointment. So naturally, who would ever want to repeat those moments? Unfortunately, living in self-doubt makes us relive those moments every day. Maybe not in action, but in our heads, in our hearts, in our skin.
You've heard the quote "A coward dies a thousand deaths, a brave man dies but once". Essentially it means that rather than thinking about dying in battle, simply take the field.
But if the brain is actually wired to avoid the pain of actual death by recognizing patterns, how do we ignore the memories that say, "don't do that, it hurt the last time". Don't get on stage, don't get into another relationship, don't get on that bike/snowboard (insert sport implement of your choice, I'm not all that coordinated)...how do we choose to keep trying?
How do we shift from self-doubt to self-confidence?
It starts with "this" is not "that". This time isn't the last time. It's that simple. It's not the same partner (and even if it is, it's not the same moment in time, same circumstances, same mindset). It's not the same ski slope, same weather conditions, same experience level. It's not the same YOU. You learned something the last time...what was it? To practice that song a few more times? To communicate better and not hold a grudge? To manage your money more wisely?
If it's time for you to move from where you are, to where you want to be and you feel like your feet are glued to the floor...remind yourself that THIS is NOT that.
But there's more. We can acknowledge that this is not that, but then we have to keep moving. We actually have to take the first step and face the fear. How? Step back into your power. Step back into the moments that confidence was your state of being.
Who were you in those moments of total confidence? Sometimes it came at the moment of decision...to get out of the relationship, to step onto that stage, onto that fire. Other times the confidence didn't come till in the end you were victorious. The first part? That was just plain courage. Courage is not the absence of fear. It is being afraid, and doing it anyway.
The second part? That's about knowing that you are worthy. Take the time to connect with your list of empowering moments. Write them down. Close your eyes and truly feel them. Take the time to remember who you were in that moment, how you stood, what you were doing, why were you confident? Were you more prepared, more practiced? Were you surrounded by those you knew would accept your great success or forgotten words and either way you would be loved? Were you hiking a moment at sunrise? Or did you simply KNOW, you chose to believe...that you were willing, worthy, and capable?
When you step into your COURAGE....there is a purpose driven excitement in the air.
When you step into your own sense of KNOWING you're worthy..there is a calm confidence there.
With both come a sense of conviction, determination and peace. You're able to stop wavering, questioning, worrying. Sometimes it allows you to stand and take the field...and others, it just let's you breathe.