All of us, at some time or other, struggle with an inner voice that is critical, negative and even harsh. In its milder forms it sounds like this: “I can’t handle this,” “I’m not good enough,” “I don’t have what it takes.” In its more extreme form it’s judgmental and critical: “I’m stupid,” “I’m a loser,” “I’ll never succeed.”
What do you do when this negativity surfaces? You may try to ignore it or hide it. You don’t want others to know you feel “less than”– after all, everyone else seems to be doing so well. So you’re humiliated, thinking there’s something wrong with you. Stop. Let’s start right here. There’s nothing wrong with you. You’re having a confidence crisis. No more. No less.
“Confidence” is made up of two root words: “con” which means “with” and “fidence” which comes from the Latin that means faith, loyalty, fidelity, belief in, trust. When we lack confidence we don’t believe in ourselves.
The first tool for dealing with this is to confide the negativity. Tell a friend, a parent, a teacher, a counselor. If no one is readily available, confide in your higher self. Why is this necessary? Because if you keep all the negativity stuffed inside of you it just builds up and makes you feel worse. You need to release it, let it out. Only then can you make space for something else — something positive — to come in. In other words, don’t expect the negativity will just go away on its own. Let it out, let it go. Next, your confidant will reflect back to you something accurate and positive about you –something they know to be true (“You have handled difficult situations before,” “You can figure this out,” etc.). The reflection from the positive mirror is essential because up till now you are glued to the negative side. You need to get out of the grips of the negativity and receive a different message. Once you’ve done that you are ready for the third tool — envision taking small manageable steps, successfully, to correct the original negativity. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine each small step that you can take and see yourself taking them.
Say you’re facing a chemistry final next week. You think “No way, I can’t handle this.” That negativity can quickly mushroom and engulf you. As soon as you recognize you are going in that direction, use the tools (1) Confide: tell someone you trust, someone who believes in you, someone who has confidence in you, that you are having this negativity. (2) Reflect: they will give you an accurate, positive message back (“You have taken on hard subjects and done well; you can do that with chemistry.” Listen to this message, take it in. (Remember to breathe!). (3) Envision the small manageable steps you need to take to get back on track. See yourself breathing, grounding, organizing your materials, reading through the first section of the first chapter. Whatever the small steps are for you. Once you recognize that any task can be broken down into small manageable steps, and you can see yourself taking each one successfully, you are moving in a positive direction. Confidence is regained in a steady and methodical manner.
Is there a challenge facing you right now that you don’t think you are up to? Let me know what it is. The tools are available for everyone, all the time.