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How to Believe in Yourself

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The holiday season is officially here and I’m here to deliver some shocking news: Santa isn’t real.

When I was a kid (and slightly nerdier than I am today) I remember trying to prove he existed. Whether that be by staying up late on Christmas Eve or trying to calculate just how fast his sled would have to travel to hit every kid’s home in one night, I was determined to believe in him.

The trouble was that for most of my life, I wanted to believe in everything but myself. No matter how outlandish it might seem, it was easier to believe in unicorns (which I do) than the idea that I’m perfect exactly as I am.

Not believing in myself sabotaged every area of my life:

  • I didn’t apply to jobs out of fear they’d reject me
  • I dated assholes
  • I didn’t set or maintain any boundaries
     

I seemed to believe that failure would be the end of the world.

As in, apocalypse type end of the world.It felt like a sci-fi end of days movie, complete with the overplayed cheesy theme song that one might awkwardly sway to at a middle school dance.

Now that I’m older, am I magically free of self-doubt? Hell no.

Better than that, I believe that failure at an endeavor is not synonymous with failure as a person.

Mistakes, disagreements, and breakups are now little pieces of data that I can draw upon when I need to remember that shit happens and life goes on. And not being liked sometimes means I’m doing the right thing. After all, I’m pretty sure that if Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. were stressing over what others thought, they wouldn’t have gone on to challenge the norm.

And while I’m not creating a political revolution, that plaguing sense of self-doubt often feels like a battle waged within me.

So how did I start to believe in myself? I developed a track record.

I created a list that I affectionately call my “Fearlessness List.” It sits as a virtual sticky on my laptop and recounts every time I didn’t believe in myself, but took action anyway. The list ranges from “ending an unhealthy relationship” to “building a website” to “setting boundaries with my mother.”

And that list may have been the greatest catalyst for my growth. No exaggeration!

Why? Because every time I feel self-doubt rise within me, I have an almanac of my achievements waiting to cheer me on. So when I take the next right action, whether I kick ass or fail, I’m developing self-trust.

And I can assure you, despite the many signs I see on the subway, the world has never ended because of it.

So here’s my challenge to you: Practice.

Practice acknowledging your self-doubt and acting anyway. Write it down and look at it often. Think back to past wins and throw those on there, too. And when you’re in a new situation and don’t know what to do, get comfortable, knowing that you already have everything you need inside you.

And as you practice, you’ll start to see that unlike my search for Santa, your best self was there all along.

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