Being able to the appreciate gifts that all experiences bring, good or bad, right or wrong makes the difference between being a victim of circumstances, or the hero of your life story. – Lorraine Cohen
2009 was one of the toughest, most painful, comfort-zone zapping, heart-busting, faith building, healing, profoundly alive, exhilarating, creative, and freeing year I have had in a decade.
I admit that my own faith and confidence shook many times last year as the voice of my inner victim became stronger! Thoughts begin to swirl around, “What am I doing wrong? What makes things so hard? Life is not supposed to be this hard! What do I do?”
Contemplating all of these changes stirs up my inner chatter, which can often happen when I do something bigger for the first time, “Can I really pull all of this off? Will people respond to what I am offering and say yes? Is this what I am being Divinely guided to do or is it motivated by my ego? What if I build it and no one comes?”
When you’re making big and small changes in your life, it’s normal to have those times when self-confidence wanes, fears and doubts creep in, faith wavers as a result of the conversations you have inside our head and with others outside in your world.
How to boost your confidence and avoid spiraling down into a black hole.
- Avoid comparisons.
One of the fastest ways for self-esteem and confidence to plummet is when we compare ourselves to others. Our tendency is to focus on all of our faults and flaws which feed into those painful mental patterns of “not good enoughness” and all the ways we come up short from embracing our own greatness.
Are there people that you admire who possess qualities you wish to emulate? They might be qualities you can begin to cultivate and strengthen that will enhance your self-confidence and self-esteem. Often the things we see admire in others are disowned parts of ourselves that are waiting to be revealed, embraced, and loved. What are you denying about yourself that you are ready to own?
- Recalibrate your expectations.
Were your expectations realistic or too ambitious? Were you trying to jump too far and too fast? Did you have what you needed to succeed or were there some essential pieces that were missing?
A colleague of mine started a new business last year and has done well in a short period of time. Her vision for her first year was lofty and, although she has a consistent flow of revenue coming in, she has quite a bit of outstanding debt that feels burdensome. There have been a few times when her confidence has fallen, fears have accelerated and she’s had doubts about whether her decision to start a business was a good one, especially last year.
Typically it takes at least three years (there are times when it is less) to build your business platform with the right systems in place, establish a solid reputation and brand, and position yourself for clients and customers to find you. It’s good to raise the bar high enough to excite and s-t-r-e-t-c-h you. When your expectations are too high and unrealistic, you can set yourself up for disappointments and many sleepless nights of fear and worry.
- Let go of the “I’m not ready” excuse.
How many people do you know who start out being fantastic right at the get-go? No one does. The idea of waiting until you feel more confident to take those next steps is backwards. Proficiency and skill is developed through practice and messing up. Making mistakes is an integral part of the learning curve.
And when you do take that leap of faith and trust in yourself, you might be delightfully surprised to find out you know more than you thought and you did better than expected. I also suggest checking to see that you are not aiming for perfectionism, rather for excellence by doing your very best.
We all know that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. Did you know he also invented the stock ticker, the electric vote recorder, the automatic telegraph, the electric safety miner’s lamp, fluorescent lights, the motion picture camera, and the phonograph? While struggling with the light bulb, he replied, “I have not failed seven hundred times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those seven hundred ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work. – From the book The Power of Patience, by M.J. Ryan
And you don’t have to take those steps alone. You can get help from friends, colleagues, and professionals when treading in unfamiliar territory. If we all waited until we thought we were ready to do things, we might never take those next steps into infinite possibilities. Who knows what doors might open for you when you say YES!
- Go with the flow.
Sometimes, we become so attached to the outcome that when things go in a difference direction, we react with frustration, disappointment, anger, fear. There is a reason why things happen even when you do everything right.
Good, bad, right or wrong – every person and experience is in service to your growth, healing, and evolution.
It’s easy to focus on what went wrong rather than what might be in Divine perfection because there is a higher purpose to your experience. Be open to the mysteries of life by staying open and curious without taking things too personally. Look for the gifts, miracles, and blessings in each experience even when the result is undesired. Nothing is ever wasted.
- Celebrate all that is right and fabulous about you when things seem to go awry.
Put your attention on all that is right about you – your unique talents, gifts, qualities, skills, and values. It’s easy to lose perspective and get into judgments and the blame game.
So, take a good look at yourself and be willing own what is wonderful, fabulous, and loveable about YOU. And if you have trouble seeing yourself clearly and lovingly, ask the trusted people in your life for feedback. And then let yourself take the love in, ok?
- Cultivate a strong self-care regime that you commit to daily.
I’m an advocate for self-care. The better you take care of YOU the better you’ll be able to show up to the people and things you value the most. Think of your self-care practices as part of the foundation of a house – your inner home.
A great example is the reminder parents receive on planes in case of an emergency. If the airbag drops down, parents are instructed to breathe the oxygen first so they don’t pass out before attending to their children. Regularly feeding your body, mind, and spirit with the things that nourish and revitalize you will strengthen your courage and confidence.
- Shake off the drama.
We’re all great story tellers. In fact we become so proficient in the stories we tell about ourselves, others, God, and the world that we can lose perspective between what is real and true and complete fabrication based on illusions, expectations, and anticipated outcomes.
We get so caught up in the emotions and drama we forget to stop, step back, and question whether we are sourcing our inner truth or empowering our fears to create more drama.
When you get caught up in negative self-talk and drama, ask yourself the following questions to help you regain perspective when fears arise and confidence drops:
- In what do you trust?
- In what do you have faith in no matter what happens? Where is your faith unwavering?
What are you grateful for? (Personally, I write at least one full page of things I’m grateful for every night).
- What do you know in your heart and soul that is absolutely true? (The stories and dramas you create vs. what is real).
- What healing/growth opportunity is emerging in this experience? What is the gift or blessing for you in this experience?
A few words about faith, trust and courage
Courage and confidence go hand and hand. Each quality strengthens the other.
Life is a journey of faith trust and courage to become the person you were born to be. There are times when you will screw up, things don’t go the way you hoped or wanted despite doing everything right, or when you hesitate to take that step into uncertainty and unknown.
Your confidence may shake and you might want to run back to your comfort zone when it feels nice and safe. You’re human! Courage is about following your heart in spite of what your mind and feelings are telling you. Courage is an act of love and faith to do what is right and true for you; to be willing to do whatever it takes because you must!
Each person expresses and experiences courage differently. Courage is an internal feeling that can be powerfully directed outward in the world as an expression of your heart’s desires and soul’s intentions for your life path.
Ultimately, courage has little to do with what you might view as heroism and heroic acts and everything to do with the choices you make every moment and every day throughout the course of your life. Acts of courage can be seemingly small yet powerful in the ways you can transform yourself and your life.
Embracing your courage will give vibrancy and aliveness to your life. Giving into fears and doubts without taking those leaps of faith with courage and trust allows you to become a spectator to your life rather than being an active participant in its creation.
Regardless of what is happening outside in your world, the one power you always retain is how you choose to see things. You can believe the stories and dramas you create from your fears and live your life in expansion or constriction. It’s up to you where you choose to place your attention. It’s your life.
What will you choose to create today?
Dance with the Universe and claim your power. Turn fear into courage in a new eight-week program with Lorraine Cohen. From Spark to Flame: Awakening Your Courageous Heart will help you release your fears, cultivate a deeper connection with your SELF and Divinity to experience more faith, trust, and courage to have a more abundant and joyful life. Learn more http://www.yourcourageousheart.com. Register for the FREE preview calls on 3/23 & 3/31: http://powerfull-living.biz/courage/couragecall.shtml