When embarking on something new and finding myself charting an uncertain path, there are moments when I freeze in my tracks, gripped by the fear that I won't be able to see it through. I question my intelligence, doubt my stamina, and convince myself I lack what it takes to succeed. I wonder why I haven't figured this out at this stage in my life. These are the thoughts that constantly play in my head, making me feel like I have no control over the remote, unable to skip to the next track. I attempt to drown them out, but they persist, like background noise in a bustling restaurant that I don't consciously pay attention to until someone mentions a movie I've been thinking about, the city I love, or the name of someone I know.
What I find fascinating is that even when I'm not consciously listening, these subtle triggers can suddenly bring back the last sentence or two of a conversation, something I'd easily overlook if it were about a different movie, place, or person. My mind is always tuned in to its surroundings, though we seldom notice it unless the noise becomes deafening or everything falls silent. On an average day, we've honed the art of selective hearing. This same principle applies to my internal thoughts. When I'm doing well, it's easy to ignore the lies. But when I'm in a jam or things aren't going as planned, those thoughts blare like a bullhorn, and I accept them as my truth, losing sight of the bigger picture and viewing my momentary setbacks as the death of my dreams and myself.
To stay true to myself and maintain my confidence, there are a few small adjustments I must continually make in my life.
Firstly, change the background noise. much like how I leave noise restaurants without even questioning it a at times because the loud atmosphere is a migraine trigger, we need to be similarly discerning about the environments we expose our minds to. Negative cable news channels, friends and coworkers who are always complaining, and those who derive pleasure from others' failures all contribute to a toxic environment. Today, I choose carefully who I spend time with, the places I frequent, and what I choose to watch for entertainment. The more negativity I surround myself with, the more my selective hearing will amplify the negativity that brings me down. I choose to be around people with a positive outlook, those who find humor in life's moments and refrain from reveling in others' misfortune. I seek out people who see my truth and affirm it for me when I can't do it myself. The mental 'noise' we are exposed to does have great impact on our thoughts and feelings.
Secondly, I must retrain my thoughts. Affirmations may sound simplistic, but they are statements that reflect our truths. I remind myself that I am intelligent; I hold two college degrees and have completed several year-long certification programs. I have the capacity to accomplish great things, as evidenced by my work in writing and producing a modern opera, recording two albums, co-founding an elementary school of performing arts, and more. While many have achieved more, my accomplishments are my own, and age shouldn't define my abilities. With age comes wisdom, and I've learned that even my perceived failures can transform into valuable opportunities when I'm patient and open to changing my perspective.
Thirdly, I understand that I don't always have to feel my truth to know it. There are days when I am overcome with fear, convinced I'll fail and lose everything. I enter panic mode and become paralyzed. But it's important to recognize that I am feeling fear; it doesn't define me. On the flip side, I may not feel courageous, but I know I possess courage. Faith and fear are like two sides of the same coin, both rooted in the unknown and predicting uncertain outcomes. They can guide us, or deter us, but ultimately, we have the power to pick up that coin and flip it ourselves. I can feel fear, but that feeling can serve as a reminder of just how courageous I am. Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's acting despite it.
Finally, I think it is important to consider a holistic approach to combat self-doubt and negativity. Embrace self-compassion, set achievable goals, and seek professional help from an experienced ICF Certified coach, or a therapist, when needed. Try visualization techniques for confidence, and lean on your support network—friends, family, mentors, and support groups —for insights and emotional reinforcement. This well-rounded strategy fosters self-confidence and personal growth, aiding you in overcoming self-doubt and negativity effectively.
These are just a few of the tools I've acquired during my time on Earth. I share them today to encourage you, but also because today, these are words I need to hear.