Tag Archives: Self-Worth

self-doubt-7With every endeavor on untried ground there rises within us some measure of doubt as to whether we will be up to the task, accomplish what we desire or how we will appear to others as we conclude our efforts. But what is doubt? Where does it come from? Is it something that we’re born with or is it something that is learned and acquired? My belief is that it is learned and acquired.

When a baby begins to walk, talk or eat, these activities occur naturally, without effort or concern. Why? The thought processes that qualify or judge what we are doing have not been formed yet. Ask yourself this question. Have there been activities like painting, cooking, sculpting, reading or running that you have become so involved in doing that time, environmental circumstances and your concern with other issues never came to mind? It’s like you’ve been out of phase with the world, taken out of the loop, out of touch. What’s truly interesting is that after such an experience you end up feeling recharged, refreshed and more grounded and centered than you were before you started. Why? It’s because the mind and it’s judgments didn’t interfere with what you were doing.

Our judgment of the world comes from the workings of the mind. This is something that we were taught whether by our parents or from the feedback we get from others assessing our activities. These judgments come unhindered and are quietly incorporated into our beliefs about ourselves and who we are and then slowly and easily submerge into our subconscious. As children we become so attuned to what pleases our parents and family that we ultimately either transfer their authority and opinions to other significant people in our lives such as relationships, friends, enemies, neighbors and more or attract others to us who embody those same standards. As humans, we seek to create familiar circumstances over and over in our lives so we can feel security in the continuity of things. As children, and often as adults, we’re trained to take to heart what other say and feel about who we are and how we perform. As a result we go through a constant process criticismof comparing what we want to do with our perceived opinions, needs and requirements of others. Then, as we consider doing things that others may disapprove of or believe that we are incapable of, our mind very slowly begins to rationalize the validity of their opinions and judgments to the point that our own internal conversation begins to convince us that what we’ve chosen to do is unreachable or self-defeating.

Our doubt comes from two places: personal experiences that didn’t measure up to our expectations and learned internal dialogues that echo our parents and the opinions of others over our own. The first view necessitates the garnering of courage just to try again what we’ve attempted but from, perhaps, a different approach. This scenario is usually manageable and easy to overcome since this type of limitation is completely under our own control. However, if our doubt was initiated by training from others, it’s a bit more difficult to overcome, especially, since we had no control over the forming of what we now believe about ourselves before we even knew that we had a choice in such matters. Children almost always carry on their parents’ assessment of them throughout their lives, if not consciously, most certainly unconsciously. If their parents taught them to not believe in followtherulestheir abilities but to trust others over their own judgment instead, doubt will be a predominating influence in everything they do. What makes this so difficult beyond the fact that it has been incorporated into our belief system is that we also have no control over the doubt reinforcing feedback we receive from others. Because it’s ingrained in us, we tend accept those limitations at face value never questioning their validity.

If our investment in the opinions of others about whom we are and what we’re capable of is strong, doubt will be the primary limiting factor in every activity we consider doing throughout our lives. It acts like a hidden virus coming from a small seed, growing and overpowering our lives. Our self-worth will be sabotaged at every turn and we will feel powerless and insignificant at our core rationalizing that our perceived ineffectiveness comes from the world and the obstructions provided by others. In that light we never realize that our limitations came to us through our own early training. To extricate ourselves from this perspective we must first come to the understanding that doubt is a product of our own minds and training and that we must learn to trust our own feelings rather than the opinions of our parents and others in spite of our fear of their possible negative judgments and assessments. This is the hardest scenario for us to overcome.

If our faith in the judgments of others over our own is not as strong, our doubt may creep in intermittently depending on the circumstance triggered. There may be some situations where in we feel confident and others that we don’t. We must sort out which are which and work on the ones that are the most limiting through asking questions of ourselves as to where our doubt about them is coming from. Once the source is recognized, we can consciously take steps to intentionally create new experiences within the same issues thereby reprogramming our attitude and trust after Pic-The Thinkersuccessful completion creating a new assessment of ourselves and removing any potential for doubt. Restoring confidence can only come from personal experience regardless of whether it is spontaneous or planned. No amount of coaching or positive affirmations can substitute for the personal inner work that must be done. How we feel about ourselves is our own choice. Even as a child this is true but subject to much more difficulty since, as a child, we don’t know yet that we have a choice.

Doubt is odorless, tasteless and invisible. It is probably the most lethal opponent to our ambition and self-confidence. It is a viral agent capable of sabotaging every effort an infected person is able to muster. But it can be eliminated with care, patience and keen observation of how we feel when we choose to invest in any endeavor.  If you doubt its potency, simply consider what microscopic entity saved our hides in the movie War of the Worlds. It was odorless, tasteless and invisible to the naked eye. Yet, it annihilated an entire invading force…and they never knew what hit them.

Prescription-1...if you’re healthy enough to have sex. Really? Have we slipped so far into not listening to our own body that we have to ask an outside authority for permission to indulge in pleasure? What does it mean that we now feel so compelled to rely on others for personal validation?

Our western culture has become obsessed with experts, specialists, licensed professionals and “board approved” authorities. We pay others dearly for bodily assessments, psychotherapy, emotional coaching, career planning, financial and legal advice, dietary recommendations, performance enhancements, chemically extended sexual prowess, tuition for private instruction in career advancement and a whole host of other capacities that we and previous generations used to perform ourselves. Is it just the time that we feel is needed to “educate” ourselves sufficiently enough to be “qualified” to perform tasks for ourselves? Or is there something else that lies beneath the threshold of our Board Certified-1awareness creating fear and apprehension about anything we might choose to do for ourselves that’s not part of a skill or career offered by others and not sanctioned or legalized by some authority or board approval?

One of the factors underlying this obsession is our fear of “making mistakes.” That is, we doubt ourselves so fully that we are not as much vexed by not being able to perform a particular task or function but that we will feel embarrassed when we have to “call someone in” to assess our actions and make “corrections” so we can feel like we’re “back to normal.” But our fear of “making mistakes” goes much deeper than our perceived helplessness and the shame involved in its observation by others. The perceived self-doubt and the feeling of having to consult 404-errorothers comes from an absence of childhood training in assessing ourselves, our situations and our “qualifications” and coming up short in self-assertion and self validation.

Trusting ourselves and our own judgment is a very elusive quality to be able to pinpoint as to the origins of its enabling. For very few of us this confidence may have been innate but for the majority of us it came from building and accumulating experiences in which we performed tasks and received validation from our parents and caretakers for being proficient if not, at the least, competent. The validation comes from our parents and guardians in the form of their allowing and encouraging our personal choices even if they are not in line with what our confidence-2guardians believe are “the right” choices by conforming to their life experiences. Generally, if a parent has confidence in their own value and proficiency, it will be relatively easy for them to acknowledge and encourage their children’s choices without having to impose and have accepted their own values in order to validate their own self worth.

As second factor, and probably the one which has created the most personal damage to our self-image in our process of gaining and maintaining a feeling of competence and personal validation is the media. There is no doubt that there exists a bank of psychologists and sociologists studying the methods in which the retail and service markets could have the most influential effect on us, the general public, to encourage the purchase of their products and services. It is difficult enough navigating our lives in a confident manner after almost or never having received the encouragement that would have enabled our Self-Trust but the media has Mirror mirror on the wall-44taken this handicap one step further. To intensify the effect of this childhood deficiency they have projected an emphasis on us through their assertion that we are not good enough as we are. We need whiter teeth. We need a better education. We need a flashier car, a bigger house, more money, more free time and, most of all, their products and services that will gain the envy and approval of our friends and enemies alike.After receiving little, if not contrary support and discouragement toward building our own self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining life style and compounded by our parents’ inability to allow us to make our own decisions without appeasing their need for our actions to validate and accommodate their approach to life, we’re now hit with advertisements that only bring our learned perceived shame and incompetence directly to the surface of our awareness and potentially for all to see. Now, we’re petrified of exposure. We do all we can to hide our “imperfections.” In the face of the media and its diminished projected standards for us, we begin to believe that we are less than and that others, our parents, caretakers and the media, know better than we about our own lives and personal experiences. After all, if the outside world says it’s true, and they’re only an extension of our parental authority, then it must be true. So why do we believe that we must have others perform the tasks that we used to perform for ourselves? Because we’ve been taught to believe that we are incompetent and need the assistance of others to bring us to a state of being acceptable.

In deference to some of us who are not fully “in the bag” by believing that we are “imperfect” or even incompetent, and there are a few of us who have retrained ourselves and reprogrammed enough of a competent and self-sufficient self-image through long and hard work on ourselves, a third factor encourages us to seek outside assistance. In our very busy and filled up world there are tasks that we neither have the time to fix nor the opportunity to learn how to better manage. Even then we feel we have to “call in the experts.”

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1So, is it any wonder that most of us have been brainwashed so badly that we have to ask our family doctor if we’re even allowed to seek pleasure for ourselves let alone if we are able or “competent” to do so?Our ability to listen to our own body and our faith in our own judgment has been so thoroughly stamped out under the threat of disapproval, excommunication and the withholding of any support or affection that we now believe that our fate and prosperity rests solely on the approval of those to whom we’ve assigned authority over us and our personal accountability to on the chance that we might make a mistake and expose our imperfections. What’s so ironic is that we all make what we perceive as mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. Then, how is it that we have accepted training that says it is possible not to make mistakes? And what is a mistake anyway but the unmet expectation of those to whom we have assigned authority over us?

There is no one at fault for programming us in this way. Generally, our parents and caretakers did the best they could with what they understood about their own validity as adults. They have also become a victim of poisoned media thinking that perfection is possible, so, now, they naturally expect it of us; their children. And if we’re not perfect like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Ozzie & HarrietKnows Best and the TV portrayals of all the other nightly family situational serials from the 50s and 60s (we now call them sitcoms but they we’re deemed funny then) then there must be something inadequate with our parents’ child-rearing abilities; aka, they must feel left to assume that they are incompetent parents. Now, let me ask you. If you feel discouraged about your own competence and validity as a parent, are you going to be able to encourage your children to be independent and competent, especially, if you no longer know how that feels? Of course not. You’re going to instill the same fear of imperfection and making “mistakes” in them. And so it goes on and on. And now we hear an echo from the bible, and probably many other scriptures, saying, “The sins of the father (and mother) become the sins of their sons (and daughters).”

There are many ways to regain our personal power and Self-Trust. There’s not enough space to go into them all in a small article let alone the time. But in our first steps toward redeeming them it’s extremely important to recognize and understand why and how we have given away our power and Self-Trust in order that we may remain in a feeling that we belong, to feel that we are acceptable, even with all our abhorrent imperfections and that if we follow all the rules and Courage-Cat-Liondo what we’re told, we won’t be called out, exposed, withheld from, excommunicated or deserted. What a terrible price to pay for the illusion of being loved and the elusive security of belonging. The courage we can show in trusting ourselves and risking the exposure and possible disapproval of our personal expression and individuality while allowing others to have the choice to reject them are some of our most important components of loving ourselves and the world…as it is.

When we have the urge to do something that will directly benefit how we feel about ourselves there are two ways in which our ability to motivate ourselves can be sabotaged. The first is simply negative programming carried over from our childhood catalyzing our self-doubt and the second is input from others when we tell them what we are planning to do. Repairing the first influence can be very difficult and time consuming and often involves a long process of replacing our harmful experiences with new and encouraging ones. The second way is a lottell no one easier to compensate for if not openly overcome. The method is to minimize or eliminate the external inputs that may undercut our ability and confidence in creating and maintaining the motivational momentum that inspired us toward a new experience in the first place. Simply put, if we don’t tell anyone what we’re doing or planning to do, there is no possibility that their input or feedback will have a deflating effect on our motivation and momentum. Let me explain what happens when we tell others what we’re going to do while we’re looking for support.

When we tell others what we’re doing or intend to do two things occur. First, the energy we would have used for our project gets split and disbursed between the project itself and the process of making ourselves open to the input and influence of others. Many hands may often make light work but what if those hands have different intentions that take our project in a direction different from our intentions? Then our energy becomes dissipated diminishing our motivational momentum. Second, the feedback we receive from others about our project often resonates with the training we may have received in childhood that contributed toward doubting ourselves. Remember, our tendency toward the friends we choose, let alone confide in, almost always repeats our family connections and conditions due to our need for the security of recreating a familiar emotional environment. The word familiar itself is testimony to the strength and focus of that recreation. Most of the time, the discouragement we receive is given to us unconsciously. But sometimes it’s borne of jealousy and takes on a more sinister focus and direction. We usually don’t recognize the unconscious undermining but we do recognize the intentional undermining since we’ve been trained into learning how to become aware of malicious intentions and to spot intentional interference. We then might ask, “Why would we have or want either?” The answer is simple. Since we unconsciously base our friendships on the same standards, cautions and patterns that we grew up with, we repeat our family conditions and programming. And those family conditions often point only to the past cautions and “what ifs” that originally triggered our self-doubt. Let’s look at an example.

Suppose as a younger person we’re gifted with the ability and talent of an artist and a passion for it to match. Our dream may coalesce into a desire for schooling in Rome or Paris to study art in the home environment of the masters. After dreaming and pondering this for a while we realize we must tell our parents if there is to be any possibility for this to occur. As young as we are we have little or no other options. However, we all know what we’re going to hear. “Who’s going to BalloonPinPoppay for the school? You don’t even know the language. What if you can’t sell your art after you graduate? How will you support yourself?” These comments and many more are geared to present a need for caution as our parents do tend to worry. But what so often happens is the passion, the desire and motivation which arose in us during our dreaming and pondering process ends up getting squashed in the light of our parents’ personal experience, practicalities, fears and concerns for our welfare. There is nothing wrong with our parents sharing their concern for our safety and welfare with us. They usually only speak from their heart and with our best interests in mind. But our parents and the majority of our culture have been trained to look at the hurdles that must be overcome rather than learning to apply the passion that might fuel them toward what can be done.

As children and adolescents there really is no other way for us but to tell our parents and the people we care about what we want to do. This is done mostly out of a need to gain their permission. But as we get older and as we pick friends who reflect our family’s characteristics, how can we not expect to have the same type of focus, fears and advice we received as children? Unconsciously we are often still asking them for their permission as we did of our parents aszip your lip children. Even as adults and due to the similarities our friends often focus on the cautions and fears that our parents conveyed to us. Expecting the same response we got from our parents, the best thing we can do to preserve our dreams and their momentum is to not tell them of our dreams and plans…at least until we become a lot stronger in our Self-Trust and confidence to power our own actions.

Not telling our friends and acquaintances of our plans or dreams, especially when we have low Self-Trust and are suggestible by others, is a primary way of conserving and building our energy and emotional strength. When we reclaim the power of our own Self-Trust we can then divulge Peak performanceto others what we plan to do, especially when we’ve matured toward running on our own steam. This is one of the first and simplest ways we have in altering the defeating programming we may have received as children. The best way to maximize our Self-Trust is to minimize the influence of others on us while we’re building it.

The title might not make much sense at first glance but as I cover how we connect with others, especially when we first meet, it will begin to.

When we first meet someone we all go through a process. For some of us it is conscious. For others it isn’t and just seems to occur instinctively. In every interaction, whether conscious or not, we assess the other person as to our perceived safety with them, our susceptibility to their influence and how it is that we might benefit or lose through our interaction with them. Based on our assessment we will commit to memory our experience and prepare a future approach or response to them in order to be ready for future encounters. The underlying motivation for this is to preserve our feelings about our safety and maintain our personal integrity in relation to our view of ourselves. The response we prepare for them will have boundaries gauged by our need for safety but, more importantly, how much we believe we need or are allowed to defend ourselves against their influence if we perceive them as potentially harmful. ...continue reading