By Andrea Harkins
You and I are the same in many ways. You have your good belief systems and your strong personality traits and I have mine. You think that is enough to get you through your life in a happy and productive way. I agree, for the most part. Those things are important.
At one point in your life, however, you’ve believed something about yourself that is absolutely not true. You’ve allowed it to settle in to your core, your deepest place, and there it has sat dormant all this time. Today is the day to unearth the long-hidden barriers that you have allowed yourself to believe. When it comes down to it, you should stop believing these critical untruths now.
1. That you are inferior or insignificant.
Darn it, I’ve felt this way A LOT! I’m not sure why. I can’t say from where I developed that sense of not being as good as other people, or as perfect. I do recall in childhood feeling “chubby.” I would compare my body to my friend and well, I came up a little short. The doctor agreed that I was overweight and put me on a diet. I wouldn’t deviate from that diet. Not even when my mother offered me a piece of cake because she felt bad. I still find myself doing this self-assessment, but now, with maturity and confidence under my belt, I only view myself as “different,” not “less than.”
Then I grew up and there were many other reasons to feel inferior. I wasn’t getting good grades in college solely because I didn’t believe in myself. It took me two years to finally convince myself I was smart enough to earn A’s and from there on out that’s all I earned.
Part of feeling inferior or insignificant stems from fear of failure. If there is one thing that I can share with you, that you should believe, is that failure is not all that bad. It’s worth moving past the fear to allow potential failure to occur because you know what? Potential success might happen.
No, you are no less important or significant than the next guy. You need to push all that aside starting right now. Your significance in this world is so mighty and secure, but only if you recognize it. Your unique characteristics, your likes, wants, desires and the way you view life should be valued by you first; then others will see you that way, too.
2. That you cannot learn to defend yourself.
I’m no amazing person. I work hard, volunteer, practice karate and live a regular life. The one thing that has helped me tremendously with my personal confidence and worry is learning how to defend myself. The truth I want to share with you is this: Everyone can learn how to defend.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t EVER want to be in a situation where I need to use any of my skills or knowledge. I prefer to just practice inside the walls of my dojo. I don’t particularly want real-world experience to see if what I know will work. There are so many situations that can possibly occur that it would be impossible for me to know every defense. I am more equipped than most, though. At least have a basis for defense and that is what you must learn, too.
No matter your age or fitness level, there are many, many critical defense tactics you can master, from aggressive awareness, to learning how to punch, to grappling, to blocking, to how you stand, where you go, and what you do.
To increase your awareness and your self-defense skills, check out whatever you can. YouTube, your local dojos, classes in the local area (I’m in the Tampa Bay, FL area if you’re interested!), books, and articles can give you a few hints. Whatever you find convenient should be pulled off the shelf or out of the web and reviewed. Not everything needs to be complicated. You don’t need to be a black belt or any fancy martial artist to learn the important factors of awareness, personal space, and standard self-defense concepts.
There’s no guarantee that what you study will work in any given situation. There’s no magic in defense. There is no reason, though, to believe that you cannot defend yourself once equipped with some knowledge.
3. That how you look means everything.
As a woman, if you feel that you are not beautiful on the outside it is very easy to feel insignificant or unimportant. I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but how you look on the outside is just how you look on the outside. I know our culture places a heavy value on it, but beauty comes in many forms. Having the perfect nose, or the best skin, or the most fit body, might be a few of your desired traits, but so should be the freckles that warm your skin, the color of your eyes, the way you blink when you laugh, or your quirky smile.
People will fall in love with you because of the whole package. Those concerned with only the exterior do not deserve your time and energy. I’ve seen so many people who have impeccable beauty through their independence, or their positive outlook, or their style. Their attractiveness is found in their unique and singular presentation.
How you look is important, I agree. You can create your own style or your own focus and it does not have to rely on the physical attributes with which you are not especially happy. You have flaws, of course, but you need to STOP believing that you are anything but absolutely beautiful, inside and out.
4. That your lack of self-confidence or self-esteem isn’t harmful.
I teach karate partly to help others gain self-confidence or self-esteem. It’s important on many levels and it can even be harmful to your health or your personal success to feel this way.
Do you have a job interview? Do you have to attend class? Do you have to walk through a dark area alone?
In each of these instances, having a low self-confidence can harm you. The interviewer is not going to hire you if you can’t look him in the eye or if you cannot confidently highlight your personal attributes. If you are in class and never speak up, chances are you will not get the highest grade possible. If you are walking in a deserted area and your eyes are down and you display fear, then the perpetrator looking for a victim might just spot you.
If your esteem is low, there are a few ideas that you may want to consider. Try a martial arts class. Exercise. Get counseling. Create goals and slowly achieve them. Talk it out with a friend or someone who can help you identify your wonderful and significant traits.
You need to start breaking through this barrier that will always keep you from pursuing your dreams, keeping safe, or finding success. Lack of confidence can hinder the positive direction of your life.
5. That you cannot reach your dreams or your potential.
Each of the points I’ve made here are “barriers to entry” of reaching your dreams or achieving your potential. You can’t hope to accomplish success if you have hindrances that prevent you from moving forward.
You must create dreams and expectations by starting small. I can sit here and say that I wish I was the most accomplished martial artist in the world. Even if I put every moment and every bit of energy into my practice, it’s not reasonable. I can create dreams that are more achievable:
- I hope to gain five new skills in karate this year
- I hope to teach martial arts to others
- I hope to find a better perspective and outlook
These dreams and potential are achievable, but only if I reduce the lack of belief in myself. Allow time to dream and then apply your ambitions and hopes to your life. The only thing holding you back, is you, and that can be fixed! To get you going, start with a couple of small dreams like I outlined above. They could be simple and ready for execution immediately: I want to lose three pounds; I want to write a poem and share it with someone; I want to learn a new chord on my guitar; I want to learn a new dance step.
When you accomplish the smallest goals and start to feel fulfillment, you will also gain the confidence that you need to push yourself a little further: I want a high-paying job; I want to win a race; I want to learn to blog; I want to be a gourmet chef.
You CAN reach your dreams and work to your potential. While denial and personal rejection will only leave you empty and doubtful, pursuing a dream or two will increase your level of confidence and life-satisfaction.
Who knew that your life could be so much better if you STOPPED believing! I know that I normally tell you to believe, believe, believe! For these five untruths, though, these beliefs will hurt you and hold you back from achieving everything that you deserve.
I’m going to work on these with you. There are untruths that I believe about myself, too, and starting right away I’m going to stop believing.
You and I? We are going to be alright. Let’s stop believing together so we can Win at Life.