Principle #5 in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” is “Believe in Yourself.” In essence, it’s centered around this idea:
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That’s what makes you a winner“
— Venus Williams (Olympic Gold Medalist and Pro Tennis Champion)
I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. Following Jack’s teachings, I’ve enjoyed many successes in my life including starting a career as a writer and authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books that have helped tens of thousands of people get certified and get ahead in their careers. I credit much of my success to applying principles that he teaches in my life. I decided to go through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” again, covering one principle a week. When inspired, I’ll create a post for the principle such as this one.
Principle #5 is “Believe In Yourself”
“So many of our dreams at first seem impossible,
then they seem improbable,
and then, when we summon the will,
they soon become inevitable.”
– Christopher Reeve
Principle #4 is “believe it is possible.” If you believe your dream or vision is possible, the next step is to believe that you can do it. If someone else can achieve this dream, then you can do it too – unless you don’t believe in yourself.
The challenge here is often that inner voice that tells you why you can’t do something.
Would Your Friend Say This To You?
After a long and painful divorce, Susan was reluctant to date again. Finally, at the urging of her children, she agreed to go on a dinner date.
Barely 10 minutes into the date, before they even ordered, the man abruptly said “I’m not interested. I’m leaving.”
Susan was crushed. She rushed to the restroom to hide her tears. Eventually she talked to her best friend and relayed the story. “I can’t believe it,” Susan said.
“What did you expect?” Her friend replied. “You’re a loser. You couldn’t keep your job. You’re not pretty. Why did you even try?”
Of course, no real friend would say that. But Susan’s inner voice would.
Another important point here is that her inner voice didn’t start out this mean and hateful. Instead, as Susan allowed it to continue, it became more and more critical.
Your Inner Teacher
Many people refer to your inner voice as your inner critic but that isn’t necessarily true. It may just be a part of you that wants to give you some helpful constructive feedback.
Imagine that Snape is a teacher that wants to help a child learn. At first, Snape provides kind and gentle feedback. However, the child ignores him and doesn’t even acknowledge what the teacher is saying. Snape begins to use progressively stronger language and methods to get the attention of the child. The child hears him, but still doesn’t acknowledge him. Ultimately, Snape is yelling a constant stream of negativity at the child.
What if your inner voice was really an inner teacher? Imagine that it has an infinite amount of wisdom available to share with you that would be truly useful if you heard it. However, if you ignore your inner teacher, it will use different techniques to get your attention.
Instead of ignoring it, embrace it. Here are some simple steps you can use to do so.
Recognize that your inner teacher wants to help
Think of your inner teacher as your higher-self. It knows you better than anyone else in the world. It knows your values, your life purpose, and your dreams. It wants you to live a fulfilled life.
When it sees you heading in the wrong direction, it wants to help you get back on track.
Many times the best way to tell if you’re going in the right direction in your life is if you’re happy. When you live your life in alignment with your life purpose, you are happy. However, when you ignore your life purpose, happiness is often elusive. Your higher self knows this and attempts to get your attention when you aren’t happy.
Search for the real message it is trying to give to you
When you hear your inner voice, try to understand the constructive feedback it’s giving to you.
Many times it can be as simple as “be true to yourself.” For example, if you set a goal to exercise at least three times a week but rarely achieve this goal, your inner voice might start complaining to you. It thinks you want to exercise at least three times a week but you aren’t doing so. This apparent conflict gets its attention so it starts complaining.
Teach it to talk to you respectfully
If it starts getting mean, have a heart-to-heart talk with it and tell it to stop. Be compassionate, but firm.
Think of it like an overbearing friend that wants to help, but lacks sensitivity. Tell it you appreciate that it’s trying to help, but it needs to do so differently. It needs to tell you what you did well along with what you might improve.
Admittedly, it might change its behavior immediately. If it falls back into old habits, remind it what you need.
Believe In Yourself Summary
Your greatest enemy is often yourself. If you find your inner voice has become overly critical, take the time to teach it how to be more helpful. You wouldn’t accept verbal abuse from a friend. You shouldn’t accept from your inner voice either.