"Believe it and you can achieve it". We've all heard it, seen it in others, but why it is so hard to believe in ourselves.
I remember a scene from the film "Pretty Woman" when Julia Roberts replies to Richard Gere "The bad stuff is easier to believe. Have you ever noticed that?" Her answer struck a chord with me and I still struggle to find my self-worth to this day.
Why this is true and more importantly what can we do about it?
In her fascinating TED TALK, " Getting stuck in the negatives", Alison Ledgerwood demonstrates her results from a series of experiments that prove what we already instinctively knew. It's easier to believe the negative stuff.
That's not the end of the story. She explains further, it does take work to think more positively and it is possible to train yourself to be more positive and build your self-esteem.
Here are my top 10 proven actions that have helped me through some bad times into the more positive and productive periods in my life.
1. Every time you have a bad day. Ask yourself "What was good about today?" You always get out of life what you focus on most. If your focus is negative you'll just get more of what you don't want but if you break the pattern with a single question and make an effort to focus on what you do want, then you are more likely to achieve it.
2. Set small achievable goals for yourself but make sure you complete them! Inch by inch you will start to feel that you are more capable with each accomplishment.
3. Set out to improve every aspect of your life by just 1%. Think about it. 1 % improvement in each area of your life, each day, builds up your motivation, momentum and your achievements which automatically help you believe in yourself.
4. Take Time Out. When you get stuck. STOP! Break the routine! Walk the dog! Go dancing! Out with friends! Sailing. Whatever you enjoy doing the most, relaxes you and puts a smile on your face. For me it's saddling up my horses and hitting the trail! I learnt a valuable lesson from a wonderful boss I had many years ago. He used to laugh at me when I would stubbornly stay all night trying to solve a problem at work. He always told me to stop, go home and get a good night's sleep. Inevitably the next morning, I would find the solution within the first 5 minutes of starting work. Solving a problem quickly gives you more self-confidence and it sure beats struggling on when you're tired and telling yourself what a "waste of space" you are.
5. Eat that Frog! Mark Twain once wrote "Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day" Brian Tracey used the quote as the title of his book for combatting procrastination. The idea is, when you look at your to do list, what is the one task that you least want to do. Do it first and get it out of the way, after, you will feel pumped up and more relaxed. Your productivity will sky rocket for the rest of the day as will your self-esteem.
6. Tell your inner self to "SHUT UP!" In his highly entertaining motivational talks Les Brown, hilariously explains that you would never treat others the way we treat ourselves. When that little voice starts nagging you about how useless you are. Tell it to shut up! It's not what's happening around you that prevent you achieving your goals. They are just hurdles you can go over, under or around. It's our self-defeating inner voice playing on our emotions that holds us back. Give yourself a break.
7. Help other people. There are very few things in life that give you such an instant boost of self-worth than helping someone else. I thrive on helping others especially when I'm feeling depressed it's an instant reversal to the slippery slope of depression.
8. Recognise your skills. List all the skills you are great at. Can't think of anything. Ask your friends and family. What is it about you that everyone likes and admires? If your life is just an endless list of mistakes well maybe your worth is as the crash dummy of life. Half the battle in life is avoiding the pitfalls, and if you can help others in that respect then your contribution is invaluable.
9. Face your Fear. My favorite quote on this subject is from Oprah Winfrey "The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free" In my opinion and through personal experience, facing your fear head on will only make you stronger. Last year was the hardest year of my life. My beautiful 4 yr. old son was diagnosed with a rare and very aggressive form of Leukemia. BUT despite the pain, despair, fears of losing him and loneliness at being separated from my other son and my family. I got up every morning to go and sit by his bedside from dawn to midnight. It was hard, very hard but he is on the road to recovery now and both of us have come out of the experience so much stronger and less fearful than before. Do not let fear hold you back. You have so much to offer the world.
10. Do something you believe in. A sense of purpose is one of the most powerful ways to feel fulfilled. When you know why you are doing something. The drive and motivation just flow without effort.
The most important message I want you to learn is keep moving forward. "When you rest you rust" No matter what happens to you in life don't give up. Let go of the past, stop fighting it. It's like hitting your head against a brick wall, only you get hurt. Learn from your mistakes and move on. Forgive those who have hurt you. May be you should thank them for they have made you more aware and stronger.
Get off the "Pity Potty". Dust off your dreams and start living your life. Don't let anything or anyone stop you. It will not be easy; if it was easy then everybody would be doing it. Success will be all the sweeter, having worked hard and overcome all the obstacles.
It took the horror of my son Leukemia to snap me out of my "I'm not worthy" mindset. Since then I have started a new online business, which allows me precious time to be with my children and animals, financial freedom to buy a new home and I can help other people realize their dreams.
What's your dream?