Does that voice in your head ever make you feel like you’re not good enough?
I’ve been there and it sucks. When I launched a startup I used to constantly feel impatient, frustrated and inadequate because I wasn’t achieving “massive success.” I fooled myself into thinking that I would only be good enough once I reached some “successful” milestone in the future. This perspective only increased the feelings of impatience and frustration and it turned into a vicious cycle of negative thinking.
Don’t make the same mistake.
Do you really want to spend your short life worrying about when you will be good enough rather than being comfortable with yourself now?
Today I want to share 4 powerful mental habits that you can use to break away from this negative cycle and that I learned the hard way.
Habit #1: Have Self-Compassion
Shame is a dangerous emotion. It can easily become a part of your identity if you’re not careful. When you identify yourself with tiny mistakes or over-analyze situations that make yourself feel guilty, it can easily lead to shame.
When things weren’t going as planned in my business, I used to think that it was because I wasn’t good enough. Although I knew to analyze the different factors of the business to realize where things were going wrong, I always pointed the finger at myself first!
If I could have done it all over again, I would’ve given myself way more compassion.
How to Practice Self-Compassion
Having self-compassion is important because it gives you permission to fail. Making “failure” acceptable will give you the confidence to take risks and try new things.
If you’ve been thinking about an experience you’ve been wanting to try, go into it giving yourself permission to fail and being compassionate with yourself if you do. This will remove the importance of the outcomes and will help you enjoy the actual experience.
A great tactic to make sure you’re practicing self-compassion is to role-play with yourself. Pretend that the issue you’re berating yourself about is actually an issue that a friend has.
How would you advise that friend? Would you call them a loser and make them feel low or would you encourage them to give themselves a second chance?
When you begin getting down on yourself or you hear that negative self-talk trigger, think about yourself and treat yourself as a friend. Give yourself the much needed compassion and support to simply do better next time.
Habit #2: Be grateful for what you’ve got
Like the famous Sheryl Crow line goes: “It’s not having what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”
When you’re focused on what you don’t have or what you’re not achieving, you discount your past success.
If you’re constantly telling yourself that you’ll be good enough once you reach a certain career milestone or have a certain amount of money in your bank account, you will fail to enjoy the path that you’re currently on. You’re essentially “living in the future.”
Being grateful for your current situation, no matter what state it is in will make you feel more comfortable with yourself. Beyond that, gratitude has also been reported to strengthen immune systems, lower blood pressure, and increase levels of positive emotions in people.
It may sound cheesy, but I like to start my day with a short meditation focusing on gratitude. The reason that I’ve made this meditation a habit is because it achieves two important things: having gratitude and presence.
Easy 3-Step Meditative Practice:
- Gratitude for the people in my life– this keeps me grounded and reminds me of all the supportive people in my life
- Gratitude for the small stuff– I then like to think about minor things that make me happy or that I take for granted. Things like the birds chirping outside my window, running water, food and shelter, even silly things like my favorite TV shows!
- Gratitude for the big stuff– I also like to think about the endless opportunities in life that I have access to, like hobbies I’m passionate about, volunteer activities and other cool things I can live and learn from! Other things I may take for granted such as freedom and health are important things to be grateful for every single day.
You can use this same practice and tweak it to your own life. It will help focus your mind on the what you should be grateful for and it will bring you back into the now!
Habit #3: Focus on Small Wins
Setting goals is a great way to focus your mind and energy towards achievement to kill that inner self-doubt. Studies have also shown that setting goals can increase intrinsic motivation.
A hack that I like to use to build confidence is setting up small wins. You can do this by setting smaller, specific, achievable goals. Tracking a series of small wins can lead you to a long-term goal systematically. It also propels success by feeding off of the momentum of each small win, making you feel excited and motivated at every win.
Here’s an example:
I always wanted to start my own blog but it always felt really daunting. To get started, I made a small goal of getting at least 20 subscribers within one month.
Knowing that I was working towards a very specific goal made starting a blog more real, it gave me a reason to launch it and work on it consistently. Although the goal seemed small, I remember how ecstatic I was when I achieved it. It got me motivated to continue writing and I proved to myself that I could do it!
When you are setting goals to help you achieve small wins remember to be specific, have a deadline, make them achievable and track them. When you achieve those small wins be sure to celebrate them with gusto!
Habit #4: Visualization
Visualization is not mumbo jumbo. Top athletes and entrepreneurs use visualization to help prime their brains for success. The reason why it works is because you’re activating a series of connected nuclei in your brain called the “reticular activating system.”
In short, the RAS controls your belief system and links the unconscious and conscious parts of your brain. It helps filter out the tons of information you are exposed to, narrowing your brain’s focus only on the information that is deemed important by you.
For example, have you ever been at a busy airport but still hear your name through the intercom or someone shouting for you? That’s because your RAS has been primed to pay special attention to something important, your first name. It then turns all the other noise around you into “background noise.”
Visualizing helps prime your brain for success by cueing the RAS to focus on things that matter to you.
How to Visualize
A handy visualization exercise I like to use is imagining my “ideal future.” I like to vividly imagine a variety of things like what I’ll be doing, with whom, in what location and even imagine the way I’ll internally feel.
By doing this exercise, my brain is now focused on the things I can be doing to achieve this “ideal future.” I’d love to work from anywhere in the world, so I imagine myself blogging away on a white-sand beach. Since my brain has been primed with that vision, I’ve become hyper-aware of experiences and stories that I can channel into blog posts because I’ve trained my brain to focus on achieving that ideal goal!
The interesting thing about visualization is that it can be as powerful as actually doing what you’re thinking. In a fascinating study, piano players were divided in two groups. One group was told to physically practice, while the other was told to “mentally” practice by sitting in front of the piano and visualize playing it.
The takeaway was that in both groups there were identical physical changes in the brain and after three days their piano playing accuracy was exactly the same, regardless of how they practiced.
Start visualizing the future you want so your brain can help you focus on the things that will get you there!
Being able to control that voice in your head can make a huge difference in your life. That voice has the power to hold you back from success, from living life to your fullest and so much more! By practicing the mental habits of self-compassion, gratitude, focusing on goals and visualization you can get over your self-doubt and negative self-talk.