A general lack of self-confidence plagues the masses meaning a majority holds the market share on not believing in themselves.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine about her weight loss struggles, which she’s been dealing with since her 20’s — she’s now in her mid-40’s… that’s a long time to deal with the same problem.
We began by going over the basics; what was she eating and how much she was exercising. We were coming up with plans and all sorts of action steps she could take — many of which she’s tried before but hey, excitement was mounting as our conversation turned to all the possibilities, the best being a sleeveless dress by summertime.
This is a common conversation being had by millions of people — probably at this exact moment. It’s the perfect-sounding plan that we all pull a chair up to, tuck in a napkin, and gorge on. It’s an infectious moment.
So head full of plans and hearts bursting with excitement, I end up popping the balloon — unintentionally. As we were wrapping up, I asked one final question when the first crack appeared — the first weak spot to this almost-perfect plan.
I asked her if she believed in her ability to make her vision a reality. Did she think she could do it this time?
Perfect plans and big, audacious goals are easy to create.
The key ingredient to getting anything off the ground and moving forward is having the steadfast belief that you can make the change you seek happen, in some way, big or small.
There has to be faith and the belief that the skills and resources are there to figure things out. So when I asked my friend that question, her crestfallen expression said it all: she didn't know if she could do it. She just didn’t know.
(Here’s a tip: none of us know! Even the successful ones. They don’t know if they’re going to be successful when they start out, but they hold a belief close to their heart that it might work, that they have what it takes to see it through. They don’t give up. That’s what we know for sure — they don’t give up if it matters to them.)
The ones who have faith, who have a strong belief system, they’re the ones throwing spaghetti at the walls and seeing what sticks. They’re coming up with ideas, testing them out, and seeing where they need to adjust. And they don’t give up. (Have I inserted that enough? They don’t give up.)
That’s not to say they don't pull an audible and change gears when it’s clear something isn’t working. And they're not immune to fear — it lurks in the dark corners for them as it does for you and me. The major difference is they choose to believe more in themselves than in their fear.
We crack under pressure.
My friend still doesn’t believe in herself, and still struggles with her weight. The idea that she’s going to come up against hard choices (do I eat the cake that’s right in front of me, or do I push it aside and make myself a salad, or what do I do when I’m stressed? How can I not eat when my kids drive me crazy) are what keep her stuck. She doesn’t believe that she can consistently make the right choice.
She’s focusing on the obstacles, already setting herself up for defeat. This makes her feel bad about herself, and her excitement deflates quicker than an undercooked souffle. The pressure we place on ourselves to always make the right choice is hard to live with day in, day out.
We do this to ourselves. We create these negative emotions that we physically feel by the thoughts we have.
There’s magic in believing in yourself.
If you love yourself fully, you can believe in yourself easily. But you have to fully love yourself — speak to yourself with kind words.
Too many people overvalue what they’re NOT, and undervalue what they ARE. — Malcome Forbes
Stop undervaluing your gifts and what comes naturally to you. If you focus on those aspects of yourself, those unique traits that you have, anything that you want to achieve can happen in your unique way.
An alternate approach.
Build upon strengths, and weaknesses will gradually take care of themselves — Joyce C. Lock
My friend is fantastic with numbers, calculations, and solving complicated problems. She’s worked for other people her entire career and is amazing at dealing with bosses and admins and contractors. Her confidence in her career and her ability to deal with people is remarkable! People love her and she has an amazing network of friends and colleagues stemming back to elementary school.
Along with that, there are a few problem areas. She struggles with being able to commit to a fitness routine and stick with it. She prioritizes her kids and their drama over everything else — especially herself. She cooks the meals she grew up with that are laden with oils and fats; she’s proud of her roots and that’s how she shows it — and that’s not going to change. None of this is going to change because they are the same exact things she’s been trying to change for decades.
Instead of beating her head against the wall by trying to put practices into place that have continued to fail her for years, I suggested that she start from a place of strength instead.
Why not take her personality, and her analytical mind, her easy disposition, and her ability to get the job done and use those skills to solve her problem? This is where a little creativity comes in handy by using the problem-solving skills that work so well in one area of her life and putting them to use in another.
Begin from a place of strength.
Perhaps she workout with a small group of friends, or create a group challenge and once a week meet up outdoors for an in-person run with a friend since she loves being social. Friends are what will keep her laughing and showing up to do the workouts.
When it comes to changing up her eating habits, instead of stopping and changing up everything she does by depriving and eliminating foods, instead pick a few of her favorites for Sunday dinners. She can still enjoy food, create a Sunday family tradition, and not feel deprived.
Next, she needs to set up her priorities so she has room for herself and her needs in her own life. Since she good at wheeling and dealing, she can negotiate with her kids that when they need her, she’s there for them but not between a certain time frame, even if it’s only 30 minutes.
Can you feel how this approach is more focused on her and her strengths instead of her and how she needs to change everything up?
This isn’t about following a strict program, it’s about using her innate talents and skills to solve an old problem with a more aligned approach.
You know your strengths, use them to your advantage.
Write out your skills, your gifts, and what comes easy to you, and then creatively come up with a plan you can believe in. A plan that’s easy to believe in because it reflects your strengths. Use what you’re good at (because people have told you — you’ve proven it to yourself through your work) to increase your chances of being successful.
Confuse your brain by using a new approach — begin from a place of strength, advantage, and tipped scales.
Use your talents to achieve your goals instead of your weaknesses.
AM Costanzo is a wellness coach, a motivational junkie, loves a-ha moments, and loves to help people feel strong, powerful, and downright fabulous in body and mind!