If you think these 3 thoughts often, you’re undermining your own self-confidence

Most of us have heard the quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” 

But where do our repeated actions stem from? 

Our mindset. 

Some thoughts help to propel us forward, persevere, and experience the fulfillment that life has to offer. 

Others undermine our confidence, preventing us from living up to our potential and robbing us of happiness in the process. 

Today, we dive into three such thoughts.

I’ve fallen victim to all of these. I’d bet you can relate to at least one or two of them. 

Let’s get to it. 

1) I’m not good enough

Whether it’s in the context of a job, a relationship, or a personal goal, this thought can cast a shadow over our every achievement.

Personally, thinking like this held me back throughout my twenties. 

For better or worse, I have had an entrepreneurial past, and when early ventures didn’t go the way I wanted, I put it down to me not being good enough

I didn’t know it at the time, but this thought really hindered my progress, not to mention happiness. 

Now, more experienced, I realize that some things are simply not within our control. Sometimes, we can do everything right and not get the result we expect. 

In short, more often than we might think, outcomes are not always closely tied to our ability. 

The problem with thinking we are not good enough is that it stops us from bouncing back and trying again when things don’t go our way, which only solidifies this belief. 

It sets us up for an endless cycle of doubt and dissatisfaction.

This is backed up by studies, too. Research suggests that self-criticism like this does not help us achieve our goals. 

If you find yourself revisiting this thought often, it might be time to reflect on its origin. 

Is it anchored in a past experience? Or perhaps it’s an external expectation or even a fear of the unknown? 

Understanding its roots can be a pivotal step in reducing its influence.

Instead of fixating on perceived shortcomings, channel your energy towards recognizing and celebrating your progress, however incremental. 

It will take time, but by doing so, this undermining thought will gradually lose its grip over you.

2) What would {name} think?

It’s a basic human desire to be liked and accepted by our peers. And it could be argued that there is indeed some value to it. 

However, doing things with the sole goal of making others happy is a recipe for insecurity and unhappiness. 

There are countless quotes on this, but perhaps the most famous is this one by John Lydgate, which President Lincoln later adapted: 

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.

So what’s the lesson here?

While it’s natural to seek acknowledgment, it’s crucial to remember that true validation springs from within

Your worth isn’t determined by the number of likes, shares, or complimentary remarks you receive but by your inner beliefs, values, and actions.

The next time you feel the weight of others’ expectations or opinions pressing down on you, remind yourself that your worth is intrinsic and that keeping everyone happy is impossible. 

Forget about everyone else for a moment; ask yourself instead, “What would future me think of this?” 

3) I should be __________ by now

Many of us have a sort of timeline for our lives.

By 25, we should have this; by 30, we should have achieved that. 

There’s nothing wrong with having goals. In fact, goals are awesome; they help us to work toward the things we want to achieve and give our lives a sense of purpose

Often, however, the milestones that we set for ourselves are motivated by our peers or by societal expectations rather than being authentic desires of our own. 

Making it worse is the fact that we tend to take the best parts of everyone else’s lives and think that we should have all of these aspects in our lives. 

And when our journey, inevitably, doesn’t match up with these checkpoints, self-doubt and a certain level of helplessness can creep in. 

I know this firsthand. 

When I was in my late 20s, I met up with a group of my old university classmates, many of whom I hadn’t kept in touch with. 

At that time, I had moved abroad and ‘tried out’ more than one career path. While not a traditional path, I was pretty happy to be experiencing different things in my twenties. 

But when I met my university classmates, I was struck by stories of peers who had launched successful businesses, bought houses, or started families. 

Suddenly, I felt like I should have not one of those things, but all those things. 

I know it sounds silly, but I even began striving to reach these milestones. 

It wasn’t until a mentor pointed out that success isn’t a linear journey and everyone’s timeline is different, that I began to appreciate my unique path. He reminded me that comparing my journey to others only robbed me of recognizing my own accomplishments. 

On reflection, I realized that many of the things I had been striving toward were not things that I really wanted. They were things that I thought I ‘should’ achieve. 

This mindset can have a compounding effect and hold us back even more. We spend more time thinking about what others have than working on our own goals. 

If you ever catch yourself thinking, “I should __________ by now,” pause and ask yourself where this is coming from. 

Be honest with yourself: is this really an authentic desire? 

Then, reflect on your personal growth and the strides you’ve made, not the achievements of others. 

As put by Dr. Jordan Peterson in his bestselling book 12 Rules For Life:

“Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday”. 

If you would like to dive a little deeper into this, check out the video below:

Rule 4: Compare Yourself to Who You Were Yesterday | Jordan Peterson

The bottom line

I’d bet many of you have had at least some of the above thoughts. That’s totally natural. 

The key to preventing them from holding us back is recognizing and addressing their origin. 

As always, I hope you found this post interesting to read and that it has given you some food for thought. 

Until next time. 

Picture of Mal James

Mal James

Originally from Ireland, Mal is a content writer, entrepreneur, and teacher with a passion for self-development, productivity, relationships, and business. As an avid reader, Mal delves into a diverse range of genres, expanding his knowledge and honing his writing skills to empower readers to embark on their own transformative journeys. In his downtime, Mal can be found on the golf course or exploring the beautiful landscapes and diverse culture of Vietnam, where he is now based.

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