I read a quote recently from the great poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who once said: “Self-trust is the essence of heroism.” To some, that statement may seem like common sense – believing in oneself and one’s own instincts equals bravery personified. But I would argue that the percentage of people who actually believe it is quite low. I need only look around me to seemingly prove it. In the media and on social channels of communication the culture du jour seems to be one of self-loathing (“I’m not _________ enough) and fear. As a society, we’ve also come to equate fear with weakness. Yet Emerson’s quote was penned more than 130 years ago. So why haven’t we figured it all out yet?
The answer to that question is that some of us have figured “it” out. Many of the greatest leaders, athletes and visionaries in our world seem to crystallize their fears and uncertainties into conscious action toward SOMETHING. As I’ve written extensively of their stories in The Win Within – Capturing Your Victorious Spirit – certain people are able to overcome such great adversity that their journey to greatness seems like folklore, a legend, the impossible. But one of the incredible things I’ve gathered about those who can captivate, integrate and then ACT on their Win Within is that it all begins with self-trust.
Believing in one’s self seems innate, right? Something we’re born able to do. But that isn’t necessarily true. Especially as we enter into adulthood, through various life experiences or trauma – we can begin to doubt our instincts, our abilities, and our worthiness. And once it leaves the station, the negative self-talk that results can behave like a runaway locomotive – obliterating everything in its path on its way to self-destruction.
But what if I told you there was a way to stop the train from leaving the station? Would you try it? It’s worth a shot. If we can’t achieve greatness without believing we’re actually great then this is a worthy exercise. Here we go:
Think about the next “big” thing you want to do, but have been worrying over. Think about the things you’ve told yourself that make it impossible. Reflect on what your inside voice has said to you about your ability to do the big thing. Now – call to mind the most important person in your life – the one whose happiness and success matters to you deeply. How would you encourage that person to achieve the big thing? What type of positive messaging would you use? Now take all of that wonderful advice and encouragement and say it to yourself about the big thing you want to accomplish.
This exercise might feel weird or unnatural at first. The weirder it feels, the more likely it is that you need it. But the fact is – the way we see ourselves determines the entire course of our lives. Remember: bravery is in recognizing our fears and finding a way through them. Weakness is standing still.