How to Believe In Yourself, I.

By Gabby Gabriel

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“Now you might understand why a person who says, ‘I always get parking spaces,’ gets them. Or why a person who says, ‘I am really lucky, I win things all the time,’ wins one thing after another, all the time. These people expect it. Begin to expect great things, and as you do, you will create your life in advance.” – The Secret

A friend replied to my Instagram story, the quote from The Secret above,

“The Secret has worked for you? I feel your success is tied to the fact that you worked your ass off.”

I mentioned that although I worked hard to get to where I am today, the foundation of that hard work had been self-belief. To which he asked, “How do I cultivate that?”

This article is a framework I have used to cultivate self-belief against all odds and in the face of my biggest failures. I am still early in my journey to becoming all that I hope to one day be, and I am by no means an expert. Still, there is one lesson I have learned throughout my career as an entrepreneur: learning to believe in myself when all the odds were against me has been the foundation of my growth and progress.

Learn to Embrace Failure

In 2018, one of my businesses failed, which was a public embarrassment as a community of people was involved in this project. After running out of funding for the project, I embodied tremendous shame and self-doubt that something I put 200% belief and effort into didn’t work out… and it didn’t work out in a very public way. Besides the public embarrassment, I also depleted my savings and had debts to pay — I learned the price of failure the hard way. Extremely depressed at the age of 30, it was hard for me to realize that I had other abilities to offer the world.

I just kept thinking about how much of a loser I was for being in this position. Did that mean I wasn’t good? It took me a couple of years to realize that failure wasn’t necessarily because I wasn’t good but because I wasn’t the version of myself ready to do this kind of project… It was the lowest point I have experienced so far, and I didn’t know how to get through this.

I had to learn to separate the failure of the project from the failure of myself. Projects fail, but life continues. I continue.

Failure is a necessary part of success as it gives feedback on what needs to change for growth. The most successful people on the planet learn to become comfortable with failure and understand that failing is part of succeeding, as self-belief is. Society doesn’t teach us this at school, and it’s something we need to learn outside of the conventional realms of culture, but the earlier we can embrace it, the earlier we can succeed despite failing.

What Am I Good At?

“Pain + Reflection = Progress ” – Ray Dalio

I had to look at what was around me and dig deep to think about “What am I really good at?” Reflecting on what went wrong and being forced to change, I needed to return to my roots and consider my strengths. By focusing on my strengths, I could find ways to go back to doing what I am good at, and by making minor progressions on what I was good at ( social media/marketing), I slowly started to build back my confidence.My fourth business, a marketing agency, became very successful, built on the foundation of my biggest failure. It took two years for the guilt & shame to go away, and when the plan I made for building the agency actually worked, I realized it wasn’t me that wasn’t good but that I wasn’t (or China wasn’t) ready for that project yet (and I do still plan on finishing that project in the future).

Often, people choose to focus on their weaknesses and conquer those, and at times that could be necessary. We should always be working to improve ourselves. At the same time, when trying to build confidence/self-belief, we need to focus on what we are good at, which requires self-awareness & honesty. Every person has his/her unique talents, whatever they may be, and it is this unique set of talents that the world most needs.

Leaning into what we are good at when we lack confidence is an excellent way to restore or build confidence. What we are good at can be something other than a professional skill. It could be as simple as a hobby or being a good friend, family member, or community member.
Leaning into what you are good at could be committing to a fitness routine, volunteering with an organization, or joining a game night. The point when lacking self-belief is to go out and find small wins. A consistent set of small wins help rebuild or build the confidence we need to move through a period of difficulty.

You Are The Company You Keep

Spending time with positive-thinking people and minimizing exposure to negative energy/naysayers/complainers is essential. The people closest to us frequently swat the seed of possibility from our hands. “Oh honey, that idea isn’t for you. It’s for Jimmy down the street.” We all can think of times our parents, siblings, and partners have told us an idea isn’t good or that we shouldn’t take action on something we thought we should. Not to say that it’s not wrong to get feedback from others, but if we find ourselves in an atmosphere where we are meeting more resistance than encouragement, then that is often a signal that we need to change the environment around us.

“Well, what can I do if the biggest negative energy comes from family members? I can’t cut them off” If your brother is the most significant source of negative energy, you don’t need to cut him off, but perhaps spend less time around him, not discussing your hopes and dreams with him. Minimize those who bring bad energy, and watch how much you start to feel.

Find friends & mentors by joining organizations or groups that welcome the mindset you wish to embody. Find people you admire and want to be more like, and spend time with them. I joined several professional organizations that assisted in finding other like-minded people, and by changing what’s physically around us, we strengthen what’s within us.

Seek Professional Help

Struggles with self-belief and self-esteem could be founded on childhood traumas or past experiences that will be alleviated through therapy or professional assistance. Seeking professional assistance, be it a coach or a therapist, is not a sign of weakness but one of the best ways to strengthen individual character.

Society often discusses the importance of physical health, and it’s typical for someone to talk about going to the gym. Finding a good therapist to work through inner challenges is no different from finding a personal trainer to hitting physical goals. Finding a third party who is not a friend or a family member to hold the mirror to you and give honest feedback about the past or situations you are currently working through is one of the best ways to take self-awareness and self-accountability to the next level. I personally hire coaches and therapists for every aspect of my life. I have found seeking professional assistance has accelerated my growth and has developed my confidence.

The key here is to find the right therapist or coach. I had friends try a coach or a therapist and quickly relent that it was not for them when that particular coach/therapist wasn’t for them. Finding the right therapist requires interviewing and experimentation, be encouraged if the one you connect with isn’t for you.

Patience & Practice

The road to greatness takes time. We need to be willing to practice patience with ourselves & with circumstances. We sometimes need to evolve into a different version of ourselves for us to have the necessary skill set to achieve a particular goal or task. Where I am today is because of the years I put in trying to figure it out, despite fear & ignorance:

 

 

Two pictures from my Instagram dating 2017 & 2018 while I was working on the failed project.

Despite the failure of that particular project, the determination & effort & skillset I developed during those years prepared me for the next venture that I started on the bedrock of that failure. Frequently people are obsessed with the end result, I also use future goals to motivate me today, but we need to learn how to be patient and sacrifice in the short term to gain in the long term. Every day I was committed to my vision for the life I now live, and small wins along the way kept me moving forward. Having dealt with significant failure in the past, it no longer stings me like it used to, and there is a genuine momentum for progress that takes over.

When I first started my marketing agency, I was so scared when I gave our first pitch. However, I did not let that fear stop me. Strong people are afraid just as much as anyone else. They just learn to move forward despite the fear. “Fake it till you make it ” or “Fake it till you become it” whatever the slogan, the concept is the same. We need to practice being the person we hope to develop into, and with patience & practice, we slowly become that person.

Gratitude

On the journey to self-belief, it is essential not to take for granted all that we already have. There is always something to be grateful for. During crisis or failure, it can become hard to see the good that is still part of us or around us. I challenge you to take the time in those experiences to find the lessons, the takeaways, the reasons to continue, or the strengths that still belong to you. Gratitude is a mindset and gratitude fuels self-belief. Gratitude lets us make decisions from a position of abundance, not scarcity. When we believe we have enough, then we have room to make mistakes and grow.

“What’s your favorite thing about your mother?””She loves life more than anyone I’ve ever known. I hope she doesn’t mind me telling you this, but recently she’s had some health problems. And her health got so bad at one point, she called me and said: ‘I was starting to wonder if there was any reason to go on. But then I had the most delicious pear!’”

What to do on bad days?

Not every day will be filled with self-belief, gratitude, and excellence. It’s essential to create systems for nurturement when a crisis comes. I like talking to those in my circle, watching inspirational videos on GoalCast, and going for a walk. Bad days are part of the process, and they will happen, but understanding what works for you and being honest about the situation with yourself is how we use these moments as reasons to pause & reflect, not to give up on ourselves.

In Conclusion

Self-belief is a skill that can be cultivated with time & practice. Embracing small wins with patience, surrounding ourselves with positive people, growing our self-awareness & being honest with ourselves are all the essential tools to fuel our inner fire.

在我的官方微信账号上阅读中文版文章 (Read the Chinese version of the article on my official WeChat account: )
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