The opposite of believing in yourself often looks like self-doubt, insecurity and a deep lack of confidence.
If you feel all these things and also feel completely over it, keep reading. You see, not that you would know it now but for much of my life I have felt all these things… often.
Reflecting back, I realise that from my earliest school memories up until my mid-20s, I was riddled with self-doubt.
I just wasn’t a confident person, I was a “shy person”.
I remember in primary school, I was always worried about putting my hand up, I hated reading out loud and I forever thought other people were talking about me. I had big feelings and emotions (still do), so when I struggled at school I would end up in tears. Then I’d feel embarrassed about crying and this cycle continued for years.
I think back and wonder where did all this insecurity come from? Mum and Dad were the most supportive parents and they never put pressure on me to get A grades, or be the best sportsperson, or the best at anything. They just wanted to see me happy (and still do).
I think it all came from me, I’d imagine all this failure and embarrassment, I’d feel afraid of others laughing at me, afraid of doing something stupid. I would see my failure in my mind, it felt real, so the easiest thing to do was stay small and quiet.
I was quiet on the outside but the self-criticism was loud on the inside.
I wish I could go back and tell my younger self, what others think about you means NOTHING. I wish I could say, you are wasting so much time and energy.
I wish I could say, you are most likely imagining all of this!
I wish I could say, YES, Mum is speaking the truth when she says “All this feels so important today but soon you’ll realise it’s not!”.
Maybe it is just this, our culture puts so much emphasis on winners. And when you don’t feel like a winner (cool enough, good enough, pretty enough, smart enough), you feel like a loser.
That’s how I felt. I felt like a loser.
It wasn’t until I was 16, that I finally started to feel a sense of confidence.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t that strong inner confidence, it was from external validation. It was from my year 10 formal, all of a sudden EVERYONE was telling me how beautiful I was. Something I’d never experienced in my life (except from my family). I’d gone from getting no attention, especially from ‘the popular people’, no attention from boys… to a lot of attention. And although it helped me come out of my shell, it also made my body image issues get worse and contributed to an eating disorder.
When I did not believe in myself, it felt like an ongoing battle of self-doubt, where every decision was second-guessed and every achievement was underplayed.
I questioned my abilities, decisions and worth. This constant self-doubt lead to hesitation in taking action, fear of failure, and an overall sense of uncertainty about my capabilities.
I felt inadequate, I continually compared myself to others or to a perfect version of myself. I continually judged myself and feared the judgement of others.
My self-confidence was so low, which led to avoiding challenges, I was scared to speak up and share ideas. I had a general feeling of unworthiness.
Ok, now I want to tell you about the things that helped me go from self-doubt, insecurity and no confidence to where I am today.
It’s not like I feel ultra-confident 100% of the time, I still feel all these things from time to time, but in very small doses. And when I do feel them, I have the right tools to let go of them very quickly.
How I let go of Self-Doubt and Boosted my Self-Confidence
I worked on my negative self-talk
I stuck the “I am beautiful” post-it on my bathroom mirror. I’ll be honest I didn’t believe it for years. But it helped. It helped me to question my solid self-criticism habit. It helped me become more aware of just how toxic my inner dialogue was.
I didn’t switch all my negative thoughts to positive ones, but instead, I worked on letting go of the thoughts. I watched them enter, then I watched them leave. There was a new awareness of just how much time I’d spent hating myself, thinking I was fat, ugly, not good enough, the thoughts around calories, weight loss, anxiety about exercise and food. Yes, far too much time spent! To think we have this one and only very precious life. Yoga and Meditation helped (a lot).
Sobriety (no more binge drinking)
I spoke of my initial confidence, back when I was 16. At this time I also started drinking alcohol. Binge drinking. It helped me feel confident and amazing. It helped me talk to people I was nervous to talk to.
It also led to many dangerous scenarios, including when I was passed out and alone in the back of a taxi in Sydney on a New Years Day. Then waking up in front of the hotel I was staying at. Then in an ambulance, then in hospital. To top it off, the hotel rooms that were booked under my name and affiliated with my job at the time (a job that I loved) were also trashed by my ‘friends’.
This whole experience filled me with shame and embarrassment. And even more self-doubt.
It took me many steps back on my inner-confidence-building journey. Now, I am grateful for this experience because it led to a year of sobriety and it helped me to stop relying on alcohol for my confidence.
I am happy to report that for over 12 years since this experience, I now have a very healthy relationship with alcohol.
Quit the job that I loved, and then the one I hated
After that Sydney/hotel/hospital experience, I soon quit that job. Although I loved it, I needed a fresh start. Like any good Canberran, I searched for a job in the Government. I just so happened to land a job in the same Government Department as Carla. The money was fantastic, the security was awesome, however, there was no passion, no fulfilment. After about a year I began to question everything.
I remember, saying to Carla one day on the way to work “Isn’t there more to life”. This questioning led to us both quitting our jobs to pursue our passion. That day, that action, 10 x’ed my confidence. I made a big decision that said with conviction I BELIEVE IN MYSELF. This action spoke far louder than any words.
Followed my bliss
The passion I spoke of, was The Merrymaker Sisters! We’d discovered something that felt more like play than work. Something that lit us up and brought excitement to our lives. Waking up and working on something I cared about and was excited about built my confidence in the most amazing way.
If you have an inkling of what your bliss may be, I encourage you to step towards it, tip-toe if you must. Then continue stepping towards it.
Bliss is now one of our core business values, this helps us stay connected to our purpose and pivot when necessary. It helps us remember that business is not just about how much money you make, but the impact you make and the joy you cultivate for yourself and others.
I accept myself, flaws and all
Back to the self-criticism point. The practice of self-acceptance changed my world forever. It has been completely LIFE-TRANSFORMING. Once I began to accept and appreciate me, flaws and all, I began to realise that no one was perfect and that in fact, what makes us each unique is our magic. The daily practice of self-acceptance did more for my self-confidence than any other thing. This is why we created MerryBody, we linked a mindful movement (Yoga, Pilates and Meditation) with self-acceptance. Every time you press play on a MerryBody class, you are practising self-acceptance.
Kept on stepping outside of my comfort zone
Each and every time I step outside of my comfort zone I believe in myself deeper with more conviction. I don’t do this by bungee jumping or sky diving (I am never ever doing these haha).
I’ve done it by signing up to the Pilates Teacher Training, the Yoga Teacher Training, by going on the overseas trip, by speaking in front of hundreds of people (remember how shy I was as a kid! And yes, I still blush on stage!), and by making decisions connected to my bliss, my heart. I do this by not conforming with the ‘should be’s’ and instead, forging my own path.
All these steps outside of your comfort zone lead to a deep feeling of accomplishment. You feel proud of yourself!
As adults, it’s easy to get into the motions of life. The 9-5 and the waiting for the weekend, waiting for the 2 weeks leave. This is where I suggest, figure out what you want to do, and make a commitment to it. Book the trip. Start the lessons. Sign up to the course!
Self-care (not self doubt)
Self-care is not bubble baths. Self-care is checking in with your values and what is important to you.
It’s spending time and energy with the people you love. It’s reading a book for the joy of it. It’s drinking enough water. It’s eating the vegetables but also eating the pizza and drinking the wine (in moderation).
It’s laughing when you feel joy and crying when you feel sadness. It’s honouring your truth, your desires, your goals. It’s knowing that when you care for yourself, you are better able to care for those around you and the world beyond you.
I made it a practice
Everything I’ve spoken about above, all the changes I welcomed into my life, all the habits that helped me let go of self-doubt, all the steps that strengthened my inner confidence, are not items to tick off a to-do list and be done with.
They must be practised, daily. Again, this is why we linked it to our Yoga, Meditation and Pilates practice. A seemingly simple practice can be extremely powerful.
Alright, now I’d love to hear from you! Can you relate to any of this?
Have you gone through similar experiences? Or, are you hoping to go through this? Are you trying to figure out how to let go of your self-doubt, are you ready to feel more inner confidence?
Well, the best part is you have the awareness… so now it’s just about taking that first step. Take the first step and each step after will feel easier and more flowing.
If you’re not sure what your next step might be, but you know you want to make a big amazing change. I would love and am excited to invite you to join us for our next 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training Cohort.
Yes, you’ll become a certified Yoga Teacher, however, the real magic of this course is that it’s a formulated framework where you’ll step out of your comfort zone, you’ll build your self-acceptance practice, you’ll accomplish something grand and you’ll enjoy the process. This course will help you let go of self-doubt and welcome unwavering inner confidence.
If you have questions, reach out, I am here to help!
Right now we have a Black Friday extra early bird closes this Friday 24 November 5 pm (AEST).
Here’s the link to read more and join: themerrymakersisters.com/online-yoga-teacher-training/