Feeling stuck is inevitable—there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it!
When you feel stuck, it feels like you’ve lost control, like there isn’t anything you can do that could possibly get you out of the place you’re in. But no matter how permanent being stuck may feel, it is only temporary, and you have the power to transform your circumstances. Today, we’re going to talk about how to get unstuck.
And you’re not alone. After almost every class I teach and speech I give, someone from the audience comes up and expresses their frustration and confusion. What’s wrong with me? They ask. Why can’t I make any headway? This is where they usually blurt out, I feel stuck!
When you’re stuck, it’s easy to lose track of your own dreams and desires. That’s because being stuck confounds us. We used to be so clear, so focused, but now we’re riddled with self-doubt. It’s so easy to feel frozen or worry that life is passing us by.
Being stuck may feel like you’ve lost sight of your life purpose. Or it may cause you to prioritize the needs of family members over your own so that you don’t feel useless. After all, it’s easy to get sucked into helping someone else achieve their dream while your own feels like it’s dying on the vine. We all want to contribute and matter and be valued, so if you aren’t clear on what your dream is, you might as well help someone who is, right?
The last time I was stuck—oh yes, I have felt stuck multiple times in the past😓—I didn’t trust my decisions, couldn’t hear my intuition, and was nervous that I would never find a way to escape the overwhelming feeling that I was not good enough.
But with all my experience being stuck, I now realize I was simply at a crossroads. A crossroads I couldn’t identify or was scared to face because I feared any decision I made would be the wrong one. And, it must be said, every time we’re stuck, part of the solution will be taking a risk.
Learn how taking risks can actually be a good thing—and often a necessary step in reaching your goals.
Why You’re Stuck
Before I provide you with six steps to get unstuck, let’s talk for a brief moment about why you might be stuck. Ask yourself
- Is there a decision that is overwhelming you, so instead of deciding, you just don’t decide anything?
- Is there some part of your life that you’re unhappy with but haven’t been willing to admit it?
- Are you hiding something about yourself—a secret, maybe—that you’re terrified will be discovered because it might harm the status quo?
- Have you been compromising your values?
- Are you refusing to take action because you either don’t know how to take the risk, are scared people won’t approve, or because you’re worried you’ll fail?
- Are you afraid you’re not good enough to actualize your dream, achieve your goal, or be loved for who you are?
- Do you have a relationship that is not healed and brings up feelings of guilt, shame, or humiliation?
- Do you stay busy guessing what everyone else wants you to do, or do you ask a thousand people before you decide anything?
- Is the life you have been living not the right life for you anymore?
- Are you waiting for someone else to give you permission to make that important decision or take that risk?
We get stuck because we are, in fact, stuck. Stuck between a rock and a hard place. Stuck not knowing what to do next. Stuck between taking the safe route or the risky one. Stuck between keeping someone’s love or feeling like we will lose them forever. Stuck between living your best, most brilliant self and stalling out on your dreams. Stuck between the past and the future.
Being stuck is a wakeup call. It’s asking you to choose who you’re going to be. But the irony is when we feel stuck, making decisions feels like the hardest thing to do.
So, let’s change the definition of stuck. From now on, I want you to think of being stuck as being at a crossroads. You’ll soon discover that making a decision when you’re feeling stuck will not be as difficult as it once was.
I get that being stuck might feel scary, but take a big, long moment to consider your life. And I mean ALL of it—your family life, your personal life, your relationships, your career, your hobbies, your goals, and your dreams.
This is your moment, your chance to change anything and everything. That’s the gift stuck gives you. Stuck forces you to stop and decide to walk in faith towards a future you can’t see yet.
Ask yourself: Are you fulfilled? Are you happy? Are you living the life your soul intended?™
Be ruthlessly honest with yourself.
Here’s the truth: Being stuck doesn’t mean staying stuck. Life is far too short to feel stuck and unhappy about the place you’re in day after day. But the good news is you can break free from anything that is holding you back. Simple changes will help you build the life you want to be living piece by piece. And I can show you how because, boy—years ago, I was stuck in the widest, deepest, darkest rut imaginable.
I’ll share six strategies that will help you spark positive changes in your life. No matter your particular situation, making a few difficult but necessary changes can create a more fulfilling life—one you’re proud to live, and one that makes you look forward to waking up in the morning.
So, what are the six steps to get unstuck?
How to Get Unstuck in 6 Steps
1. Don’t Wait for External Forces
Stop waiting for that magical something to occur. How many times have you said…
“I’ll do that when…”
“I’m waiting for…”
“If only I had…”
“When I have more money…”
“When my kids grow up and leave the house…”
“When I have more time…”
Does any of that sound familiar to you? I bet it does! If you’ve said any of those things or something similar to yourself before, it’s time for a wakeup call. These external forces are completely beyond your influence, so when you’re waiting on things outside of your control, you lose just that—control.
You are no longer in charge of your own narrative because you’re waiting for other people, forces, and things in the universe to align for you. Imagine your life is a novel and you’re its author. Waiting on external forces is like handing your masterpiece over to someone else and saying, “write whatever you like!”
I’m sorry to break it to you, but the universe is never going to align perfectly for you. To get unstuck, you need to understand what’s inside your circle of control and what’s outside your circle of control. When you rely on external forces, you surrender your control, which makes it very difficult to find happiness or make progress on your goals. You can’t drive a car from the backseat!
You can change your narrative through the choices you make. You have the power to decide how to live each day. You can decide how you react to all of life’s ups and downs. You are deciding, right now, the future you want to build for yourself.
In order to truly get unstuck, stop waiting for all of those “I’ll do it when X happens…” X may never happen. You are the only factor that really matters.
2. Stop Relying on Excuses
Excuses, excuses—they excuse your potential and let you off the hook.
Excuses are so difficult to overcome because of how real they feel. Our excuses stem from aspects of our lives that are very real. Having no money in the bank feels very real. Not feeling loved or like you could ever be loved feels very real.
But that’s the thing about excuses—they feel real because they are grounded in a seed of truth. But then we take that seed of truth and let it grow until it festers into an overgrown garden of excuses.
Because excuses feel so real, we get extra defensive about them. You might lash out when someone pushes back on one of your excuses. You may say things like, “you don’t understand me,” or “you have no idea what I’m going through.” These types of replies, once again, take your power away and build evidence that your excuse is real and unmovable.
I have a friend named Marta, and I love her dearly, but boy, was I tired of hearing about the show she was one day going to put on! First, she couldn’t find the perfect venue. Then she couldn’t find the perfect music. Next, the dates didn’t align the way she was hoping.
One day, I finally had to look her in the eye and say, “You will never put on this show.”
Since elements of her show weren’t PERFECT yet, she was refusing to put it on. She was using this search for perfection as an excuse to stay stuck in what was familiar—as an excuse to ensure she did not fail.
Her fear of failure had taken over; she was allowing herself to make excuse after excuse. Was it true that the venue wasn’t perfect? Probably. Was it true that a different month of the year might be better? Maybe. These were real concerns, but by turning each minor issue into an excuse, all she did was push her dreams further and further into the future.
Our excuses come from a real place, and that’s precisely why they’re so insidious. Both of my parents really did die in the span of a single moment right in front of me. I could use this fact to create any number of excuses for myself—excuses for putting off my education, for treating others poorly, or for relying on alcohol to numb my pain.
“Well, you don’t understand what happened to me” could be my excuse for doing or not doing absolutely anything for the rest of my life.
The Wheel of Fear convinces us that some form of what happened in the past will happen to us again. We will fail, we will be rejected, or we will be hurt. But by falling into the trap of your excuses, you take away your courage and the ability to live your destiny.
3. Treat Yourself With Compassion…
Being stuck in our professional or personal lives is a tough place to be, and often, we’re the hardest on ourselves during these times. But you’ll continue to be stuck in that rut if you’re not encouraging, kind, and compassionate toward yourself.
Treat yourself with compassion throughout your journey. The more difficult of a time you’re having, the more compassion is required.
Now, I’m not suggesting you completely let yourself off the hook for anything and everything (more on that in my next point ⬇️), but a little compassion can go a long way. The next time you put yourself down, either in your head or in front of other people, take a step back and look at the situation through the lens of compassion. If the same situation was happening to someone you love, would you have the same harsh words or insults for them?
Not very good at giving yourself compassion? I get it. People who are attracted to Fearless Living are usually the type who suck it up and work hard and tend to be overly responsible. So let me give you a simple way to increase your compassion: practice being kind to yourself.
4. … But Don’t Let Yourself Off the Hook
Leading with compassion does not mean letting yourself off the hook whenever things get tough. If you’re truly going to commit to getting unstuck, you’ll have to put in the work.
Be accountable to yourself for the goals you set and the changes you want to make because if you don’t hold yourself accountable, no one else will. You won’t have teachers chasing after you or parents telling you what to do—the changes you want to make are all up to you. Of course, the Fearless Living community will always be there to answer questions, listen, and guide you throughout your journey, but it’s up to you to hold yourself accountable.
Reminder: you can always ask a Coach or fellow Fearless You member to help you hold yourself accountable.
“No one can be fearless alone!”
Now, I know we can often be our own toughest critics, so don’t mistake not letting yourself off the hook with beating yourself up whenever things don’t go exactly as planned. Holding yourself accountable does not mean holding yourself up to an unreasonable, “perfect” standard, and it is not a license to insult yourself; being accountable to yourself simply means committing and showing up as best you can each and every day.
As I always say: “Do what you can the best you can when you can.”
5. Free Yourself With Forgiveness
I’d like to take a moment to talk about forgiveness in the context of being stuck. Forgiveness is a huge topic, and one I know well. Don’t worry; it’s one I’ll cover in much more detail in future posts. For now, I just want to talk about how forgiveness (or lack thereof, I should say) keeps us stuck in the past.
As you work toward loosening the grip fear has on you so that you can get unstuck, there’s a good chance forgiveness is going to come up. What grudges are you holding onto? What hurts or pains are you afraid to forgive? Denying forgiveness means carrying all of the negativity, pain, unhealthy thought patterns, and moments from your past with you wherever you go. And all of that baggage makes getting yourself unstuck all the more difficult; after all, carrying all of that baggage everywhere is HEAVY! 😓
Here’s the thing about forgiveness—it doesn’t require you to work absolutely everything out with the other person. It doesn’t mean you have to sort through every one of your differences or relive a trauma from your past. And it definitely doesn’t mean you need to bring that person back into your life. Heck, you can forgive without ever talking to the person you know you need to forgive. (This was true for me when I forgave my father.) What so many of us get wrong about forgiveness is that it has nothing to do with the other person. Forgiveness has everything to do with yourself.
You choose whether or not you are able to forgive. Forgiveness is never easy, but the more you can free yourself from the chains of your past and forgive the people in your life, the more space you’ll have to focus on your future. Then, you can focus your energy on getting unstuck and building the life you actually want to live.
6. Be Willing
The last and arguably most important step to getting unstuck is to be willing. No one can make you change. And the more they try, the more you will resist, whether you realize it or not. Change must come from within, and it must begin with you being willing (even if you don’t feel like it).
Your ability to get unstuck comes down to whether or not you are willing to show up for yourself day after day. Are you ready and willing to take the leap necessary to move forward? Are you willing to put in the hard work to change how you see your circumstances? Are you willing to get outside of your comfort zone and build your self-confidence? Are you willing to listen to your needs and honor those needs? Are you willing to befriend the fears that are keeping you from living the life your soul intended?™
How Do You Get Unstuck Fast?
Getting unstuck is a journey that requires continual effort—but it does get easier. And you can fast track your journey by joining a community dedicated to helping each other get unstuck.
With Fearless Living, you can skyrocket your progress to get unstuck fast. How? By cracking the secret code to fear. Fear is what’s holding you back and keeping you stuck.
My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program will help you get out of your comfort zone, confront your fears, and begin living the life your soul intended. ™
You’ll learn how to treat yourself with compassion without letting yourself off the hook, navigate negative thoughts and the same old routines, find peace, and much more. It’s time to take the leap!
In my 25+ years of coaching, clients have come to me with all sorts of personal, professional, and relationship challenges. But at the root of so many of these problems was a lack of confidence—a lack of trust in their own abilities. They needed a Confidence Coach.
By the way, if you are a professional Life Coach who understands how fear works, has confidence building tools with proven case study results, and can personalize your coaching to focus on confidence, you could potentially be a Confidence Coach. (All Certified Fearless Living Coaches qualify as Confidence Coaches.)
Your clients’ confidence issues so frequently keep them from trusting their instincts and moving their lives in a positive direction. As their Life Coach, you’re there to help them build self-belief and a sense of empowerment. With these qualities, they can start to connect to their inner truth, move outside their comfort zones, and start to flourish.
The point of life coaching isn’t to make your clients dependent on you. It’s to help them build confidence and trust themselves to solve their own problems. However, confidence building is rarely a quick fix. The clients you work with will have often spent years, if not their entire lives, listening to self-doubt and fear. Moving out of this mindset takes time, but it’s very much worthwhile.
In this article, I’ll tell you what solid confidence coaching looks like and how to instill true confidence in your clients.
What Is a Confidence Coach and What’s Their Role?
First off, let’s clarify that a lack of confidence is a normal human experience. Anyone can feel unsteady when they venture out of their comfort zone, finding themselves in a new work role or trying to build a community in a new city.
Ongoing, debilitating confidence issues start when someone has exaggerated self-doubt and fear even in familiar situations. I once worked with a client, Linda, whose story illustrates this really well.
Linda was a pilates instructor who worked at one studio for many years. Her classes were always full and, sometimes, there were even people on the waiting list. Linda would often be on-call to cover for other instructors, and she rarely said no. She was a great instructor and a loyal employee.
However, she couldn’t bring herself to talk with her boss about a raise and working better hours. She wasn’t confident enough to speak up about the value she provided to the studio and why she should be paid more. So, she self-sabotaged by staying quiet, meaning she kept working terrible hours for not enough money.
This is a classic case for a Confidence Coach. In essence, they’re similar to a Life Coach, but they focus specifically on creating a sense of confidence as a way of facilitating the desired behaviors in the client’s life.
As a coach, support your client to see the truth of who they are (not who they think they are) by highlighting their natural strengths and pointing to things they’re already doing well. Linda’s hesitancy to ask for a raise and better hours was because of this limiting belief (what we call “a lie of fear” in Fearless Living): that it is up to others, not herself, to decide her worth. She saw herself as only worth whatever the studio decided to pay her. She was also afraid of being seen as incompetent. To hide from this fear, she took everyone’s shifts, worked overtime, and didn’t ask for a raise. But the truth was, she was already competent.
In our conversations, I challenged her self-belief that she was incompetent with the facts. For example, the fact that her classes were always full and other instructors routinely asked her for advice. After I continued to ask her questions about the difference between her perceptions and the facts, a new reality started to form, one that Linda could believe in. It was inspiring to watch her build momentum. Eventually, she became confident enough to ask for fair compensation and hours.
What Clients Look for in a Confidence Coach
Clients who look for a coach to help them with self-confidence often know their self-doubt (and a certain type of fear) is keeping their professional and personal development on hold. But even though they know that, they don’t know how to overcome it. You’re there to give them that nudge and be the witness to their unfoldment.
They are counting on you to show them how to take action despite their fear. They want empowerment.
Here are some typical goals clients bring to a confidence coaching session:
- Feeling more secure in their romantic relationships
- Improving their low self-esteem
- Being their authentic self with friends and family
- Building confidence with public speaking, dealing with clients, and other professional areas
- Strengthening their self-love and self-belief
- Improving their overall wellness and mental health
- Becoming more confident and effective leaders
Although these may seem like very different goals, they all come down to one specific skill your clients need to learn. That skill is taking more risks. This even applies to things like self-love. In order to love yourself, you must stop people-pleasing and start honoring your own needs, priorities, and dreams. This can feel scary to your clients; they worry this new way of being may repel the people around them.
At the same time, they’re probably aware that this fear isn’t going away on its own. For that to happen, they need to act first. They need to start behaving differently despite the fear.
That’s why change feels like a risk to them—even though it doesn’t necessarily put them in actual physical danger.
To help them become a more confident person, your job as a coach is to acknowledge those risks and guide your clients to see they’re worth taking. This is one of the eight fundamental coaching skills I teach in my Life Coaching Certification Program. This was also a game-changer for Linda when she was trying to build her confidence to ask for a raise at work.
We started with very small risks. First, I acknowledged her for little things, like making eye contact when she would normally escape it or for not overexplaining herself when her fear urged her to. Over time, those acknowledgments built Linda’s confidence and momentum, and she was able to do the impossible.
She spoke to her boss and asked for a raise and better working hours in one conversation. To her surprise, she got both. Incredible, right?
By the way, even successful corporate executives, small business owners making millions, and celebrities who seem to have it all need more confidence. Right now, I’m working with a client who makes a half-million dollars a year leading teams for one of the biggest companies on the planet, yet, when it comes to taking a new job, she doubts herself. She hesitates. She still wants the new job, yet she’s deathly afraid to rock the boat and leave a job in which she’s comfortable but dissatisfied.
So no matter how much money someone makes or what their job title is or their previous confidence quotient, most people, at some time or other, have a crisis of confidence.
The Basic Toolkit of Confidence Coaching
Now, you might be wondering: How is a transformation like Linda’s possible? What exactly did you do, Rhonda?
While I couldn’t possibly explain the whole coaching process here, I’ll share the foundation for how to coach someone with confidence issues. Let’s talk about the most basic toolkit of a Confidence Coach. While there are many other tools you can use, here are the four essentials.
The clients who want to build confidence typically need more structure during coaching sessions. That’s the easiest way to create a sense of predictability and security. From that place, it’s easier for them to be honest about their obstacles and face them.
A bulletproof way to have a good structure in your session is to be mindful of how you open and close it. I highly recommend you have a scripted way of doing that. (But make it your own, and make sure it fits the situation!) This way, coaching can become a “container” for difficult feelings and anxieties, and your work together will be smoother.
If you’re not sure how to structure a coaching session, download my Perfect Coaching Session Framework Fearbuster Coaching Toolkit for actionable tips.
Once you set up a structure, your next task is to help your client become aware about what’s holding them back. They can never reach their full potential if they don’t understand the root fear behind their lack of confidence.
The manifestations of their fear can vary from limiting beliefs to self-sabotaging stories to negative self-talk and more. To understand where those things are coming from, your client needs to name the core fear that’s driving them in their moments of low confidence. I help my clients do that through introducing them to the Wheel of Fear—the behavior pattern motivated by avoiding what they dread the most.
Linda’s core fear of being incompetent blocked her. She felt too insecure to ask for a raise and better hours because she was worried her boss would tell her she wasn’t skilled enough to warrant more money. Linda wanted to avoid hearing that at all costs. That’s why she couldn’t muster the courage to talk to her boss for years.
Once she became aware of that mechanism, she could identify the ways it was controlling her and lowering her self-belief. Just adding that awareness made it so much easier for her to act differently.
Start With Small Actions
Building confidence through coaching always starts with small actions. It has to. As I said before, the fear won’t go away on its own. Some change in behavior, no matter how small, is required to set a precedent.
The first steps can be super tiny. Depending on your client’s needs and capacity, they can include:
- Practice speaking up for themselves with a friend
- Setting clear personal boundaries with someone non-threatening, like a sales clerk
- Making eye contact when it feels uncomfortable
- Small talk to a stranger in a safe environment, like the grocery store
- Making a phone call they’ve been avoiding
- Returning their coffee when it’s not the one they ordered
Small first steps can be pretty much anything, as long as they help your client see they’re capable of doing something they thought they couldn’t.
Fearless Coaching tip: The smaller the actions, the better. Most coaches make the error of focusing on big goals, big dreams, big steps. The big forward movement will happen naturally once your client gets more confidence under their belt. My clients usually go from feeling frozen to making leaps within weeks because they’ve radically changed their perceptions of who they are with every (small) risk they take.
Then, your role as a coach is to anchor the confidence they gain through acknowledging these small victories.
Recognizing the progress they’re making helps your clients be more confident. People with low self-confidence tend to underestimate their value. By practicing acknowledgments, they begin to understand and appreciate the small steps they’re taking in order to grow.
In psychology, this technique is called positive reinforcement. It draws on the fact that when a behavior is rewarded, it tends to be repeated. That’s why acknowledging your clients is a huge help for them.
Being rewarded for the steps they’re making enables them to make more of them. With time, they will become experts at acknowledging themselves and won’t just depend on you. As they build momentum, they also gain more confidence.
Fearless Coaching tip: The real reason we spend time educating our clients on how to acknowledge themselves is because every acknowledgment a client writes down becomes a diary of proof, proof that they did change, that they did do it. As humans, we forget the hard work we’ve accomplished and focus on what we didn’t do and what’s left to do. Life Coaches become the guide, the witness to their change, as does their list of acknowledgments. As their acknowledgment list grows, so will their confidence.
Apart from formal skills, certain personal qualities can make a Confidence Coach more effective. However, many people mistakenly believe that to coach others, you need to have an unshakable sense of confidence yourself.
This couldn’t be further from the truth! If you’ve struggled with confidence and self-esteem issues, this may actually make you a better coach. You’ll understand your client’s frustrations more easily because you’ve been there, too.
I doubt I would be so successful in coaching Linda if I hadn’t been through my share of struggles. Due to my lifelong low self-esteem, which arose from trauma, I could better understand where she was coming from. I had more compassion and no judgments about the state of her life. With time, we identified that she’d been through some traumatic experiences too.
Confidence coaching clients look for someone they can relate and open up to. As a Confidence Coach, you don’t want to just be a cold professional. You also need to be human. This means sharing your own vulnerability and imperfection. This means admitting that you, too, used to struggle with confidence—but found a way out.
That’s how your clients start to trust you. They know you won’t judge them because they know you know exactly what they’re going through.
Fearless Coaching Tip: Your clients do not need trauma to have confidence issues, so don’t go looking for trauma to validate the reason your client’s confidence is down. Focus on moving them forward, not looking backward.
How to Become a Confidence Coach
I could speak about confidence coaching for hours, but the bottom line would remain the same:
Coaching people to be more confident comes down to helping them understand, process, and overcome their core fear.
Confidence isn’t the absence of fear. It’s the ability to act despite it because you know the risk is worth it—and you are 100% worth it. It’s knowing how to move towards the desired direction while accepting that it won’t always feel easy.
While many Life Coaches can help with that, Certified Fearless Living Coaches are suited particularly well to this task. In our Life Coaching Certification Program, we concentrate on working with fear as the underlying obstacle to everything in life. Confidence coaching through this framework proves to be very effective.
Not sure if this is the right training for you? No pressure. You can take our short questionnaire to find out. After you do, schedule a free call with one of our Coaches, who will help you determine if LCCP is a good fit.
So many people ask me about motivation. They want to know how they can find self-motivation and how they can motivate clients they are coaching, but I have a secret I’m going to share with you today:
Motivation is temporary. It doesn’t last! And this means it’s definitely not what you’re looking for. Basing your motivation and attitude on external factors that you don’t have control over keeps you running in circles.
So, what’s the alternative?
Intrinsic motivators are the answer, and they will help you build momentum in your life rather than waiting around for motivation to strike—because it won’t. If you’re waiting for motivation, you will be waiting a long time. Intrinsic motivators put you in control, and they lead to long-lasting results.
Continue reading to learn the difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, as well as the simple steps you can take today to begin building momentum toward living the life your soul intended.™
What Causes Lack of Motivation?
Lack of motivation develops when we rely too heavily on extrinsic motivators instead of intrinsic ones. Motivation is a broad term that carries a lot of guilt for many of us. I’m feeling unmotivated; when will my motivation strike? Why are other people more motivated than me? What does feeling motivated even mean? WHY DON’T I FEEL MOTIVATED?
I’ve felt the same way! 🙈
The real honest truth is that motivation is a lie. Society, weight loss programs, online content, and self-described gurus have a lot to say about “finding motivation,” but the truth is: You don’t just find motivation. You’re not going to happen upon it one day out of the blue—no matter how much you wish, hope, or pray for motivation.
True motivation is built—it’s not a miracle waiting to strike. If you’re waiting for motivation, you will always have a reason to delay getting started.
I’ll be able to do that when I…
I’ll get started once someone else…
I’ll be ready when I get…
Do any of those phrases sound familiar? Thoughts like these give you a reason to put your life on hold. They have you thinking something magical (in this case motivation) is right around the corner. When you’re waiting for outside factors, you surrender control over how you feel and where your life is headed.
When most people talk about motivation, they’re talking about extrinsic motivators, such as hiring a fitness coach to keep your health and exercise routine on track or getting your teens to do their chores by rewarding them with an allowance.
But the problem with extrinsic motivators is that they are short-lived. How do you stay motivated constantly when the motivation is temporary? If you’re looking for extrinsic motivators to inspire you to get you off the couch or to start that business you’ve always dreamed of or to finally clean out the garage, you’re searching for a temporary fix.
Now, don’t get me wrong, those temporary fixes can support you in the short term, but only for the short term. For example, hiring a fitness coach can be a significant first step. Still, without intrinsic motivations, you will probably quit or skip some sessions, telling yourself it’s too expensive or you don’t have the time. Your forward movement will stall without combining intrinsic and external motivators
So what’s the real reason you’re spending too much time on the couch? What’s so scary about starting your own business? What’s holding you back from cleaning out the garage?
What is keeping you from completing these tasks or getting started on your dreams?
What’s holding you back is fear—and it’s much more complex than a simple lack of motivation.
Our fears are ingrained deep within us, and you’re not always as aware of them as you may think. So, you keep putting off starting your side hustle business. Why? Are you afraid your ideas might not succeed? Are you afraid of what other people might think? Do you worry that you won’t have enough time for your loved ones and, in turn, they won’t appreciate you anymore?
A rewards-based system of extrinsic motivators will not cut it. They will leave you feeling worse. At Fearless Living, we focus on intrinsic motivation because you actually have control over it.
Extrinsic motivators might get your kids to bed on time or keep your employees from being late, but they won’t help you break through to the root of your behavior patterns.
Looking deep within yourself will get you away from the excuses that are so easy to fall back on. Remember when we talked about “I’ll do it when…” and “I’ll get started when I get…” These are the excuses we tell ourselves so that we can keep hiding behind a waiting game of “ifs”.
Intrinsic motivators are within your power; they don’t revolve around other people, the weather, money, or anything else that’s outside your circle of control.
Intrinsic motivation occurs when you do things just for you—not for other people, not because you think you have to, and not because you’ll earn some sort of reward. You do it for yourself because it’s central to your identity. People who are intrinsically motivated don’t get up in the morning thinking about all they HAVE to do; they think about all they CAN do.
Finding motivation within yourself is not always easy, but next, I’ll share some simple steps that will help you get started.
Are You Willing?
Willingness is a critical part of Fearless Living. Willingness is what it takes to find your intrinsic motivation, radically shift learned behaviors, develop a new habit, and build momentum toward living the life your soul intended™.
Before asking yourself if you are motivated, ask yourself if you are willing.
Are you willing to practice building momentum one small step at a time?
Are you willing to practice showing up for yourself?
Are you willing to take your life into your own hands?
Are you willing to practice suspending your disbelief to discover what’s possible?
No amount of external motivation will have an effect without willingness. I can tell you how to build better relationships with the people you love. I can tell you how to practice self-love. I can tell you how to follow the path of your dream career. But no amount of advice I or anyone else can give you will matter if you are not willing.
So, are you willing?
I myself was not willing for many years of my life. I spent years making excuses for myself, and even though I was going through a very hard time in my life, the excuses made it worse. I was too afraid to put myself out there and too afraid to even try because I thought I might fail.
I thought I couldn’t start my own business until I had a bunch of fancy degrees. I thought I couldn’t find a partner until I lost weight. I thought I couldn’t quit drinking until I got over the trauma of my past. All of that was completely wrong. I was waiting for some magical force of nature to turn my life around when that power was already within me.
What changed? I stopped waiting for all of the pieces to fall into place and started showing up for myself. Day by day, I showed up for Rhonda. In other words: I practiced being willing. And that’s what I want for you, too!
Learn more about the importance of being willing and how to set clear intention statements in my article: Overcoming Self-Doubt: Why You’re Stuck and How to Get Unstuck.
Want to Stay Motivated? Build Momentum!
We’ve talked a lot about the bigger picture of motivation, but what about the small stuff? How do you find the will to complete day-to-day tasks? How do you start that book you’ve always wanted to write and actually stick with it after a few weeks? How do you bring yourself to clean out that closet down the hall that’s packed with stuff?
As difficult as finding intrinsic motivation can be, there’s another secret strategy I want to let you in on. The secret behind getting anything done is building momentum, and to build momentum, you first have to start. But don’t worry; building momentum starts with taking the tiniest step—such a small step that no matter how unproductive, lazy, or uninterested you may be feeling, you can easily accomplish this one small thing.
When I say small task, I mean it! What’s one thing you can accomplish in 2-5 minutes? Choose something no longer than that. Your tiny task might be taking out the garbage or sending an email to inquire about possible new career opportunities. Or it could be doing something just for you for a change and signing up for the Fearless Living Training Program.
Think small. If you have a task that’s way too big to tackle today, break it down and divide it into smaller pieces. What’s one thing you CAN do right now? Could you water one of your plants in 2 minutes? Could you pick up 10 things around your house in 5 minutes? Could you prep one healthy snack, like stuffing a couple baby carrots in a baggie, for your lunch tomorrow in 1 minute?
The magic of momentum is that it builds. It doesn’t matter that you began with a small and seemingly insignificant task—it’s enough to get the ball rolling. You have to start somewhere.
After you complete a 2-5 minute task, pick another 2-5 minute task. Push forward to continue building that momentum. Sure, there are some days that momentum just won’t be sparked no matter how hard you try. BUT, while you were trying to ignite your momentum, you were still able to complete a few small tasks. Plus, you finally took a step in the right direction—and that’s what’s important!
Do what you can the best you can when you can. – Rhonda Britten
How to Stay Motivated in 5 Tips
Now that you know that intrinsic motivation is what you’re going for, here are 5 tips to keep you motivated
Tip 1: Ask Yourself: What Kind of Person Do I Want to Be?
Whenever I’m in a public bathroom, I practice my free throw by taking that wadded-up paper towel I’ve wiped my hands with and tossing it into the trash. Then, if I miss the “basket,” I pick it up and throw it in the garbage. That may seem silly, but I’ve been in many restrooms, and paper towels are piling up near the trash can.
I take the time to pick it up and put it in the wastebasket because I want to be the kind of person who respects myself and others. If I don’t do it, it creates a bathroom that no one wants to visit. It harms the reputation of the establishment. Every time I take a few seconds to do this, I am proud of myself. I am living by my values. I am practicing self-respect.
What kind of person do you want to be?
Do you want to be the kind of person who follows through or gives up? Do you want to leave the trash on the floor for others to pick up or respect yourself and others enough to pick up your own mess?
Do I always want to pick up that waded paper towel? No. But I always do. That’s how you live by your values and respect yourself. You do things even if you don’t feel like it because you want to be the kind of person who does.
Knowing what kind of person you want to be will reveal what matters to you and what you value, giving you a clear path forward.
Tip 2: Get Clear on Your Intention
Too often, we do things because we feel like we “should,” but the problem with those “shoulds” is they drain your energy. Shoulds are very different from living by your values. Shoulds are based on what you fear others will think or say if you don’t do something.
I invite you to create an Intention Statement to support you in staying focused and on track.
Reminding yourself WHY you’re taking that action and being sure to tie it to your values makes it a lot easier to take that first small step, like picking up the trash around the garbage.
Be sure to use the stem sentence: I am willing to practice…
Adding “practice” and “willing” to any statement automatically makes any action more doable.
Tip 3: Know Your Pace
When I’ve been at a frantic pace for a while or finished some deep work, rest is called for. That rest may be puttering around the kitchen, daydreaming while lying on the hammock, or taking a mid-afternoon nap.
We aren’t machines. We live, breathe, love, try, fail, and dream. Part of honoring our humanity is listening to the needs of our body and paying attention to its natural pace.
I’ve been tracking how I spend my time using our Daily Training Manual. I do this whenever I want to increase my awareness. I discovered that my natural pace is one week on and one week off. If I’m on fire one week, I need to relax and have more space to simmer and daydream with fewer deadlines the following week.
As I schedule my tasks, meetings, and appointments, I pay attention to my pace. I do my best to have one week heavy and the following week light. You may find you like to pile on the tasks for three weeks in a row and play the fourth week.
Knowing your natural pace will remove guilt and stop you from blaming yourself for being less than a machine.
Tip 4: Change Your Goal to Momentum
The word “motivation” trips me up. So instead of focusing my attention on being motivated, I focus on building momentum. With each action I take, based on my values and priorities, soon, the wind is at my back, and things are naturally easier to do.
When you find yourself saying, “I need to get motivated,” instead, ask yourself, “What’s one thing I can do to build momentum?”
Shifting your language is one of the most powerful acts you can take on your behalf to propel you forward to live the life your soul intended™.
And be sure to pay attention to how you feel when you want more motivation. Are you feeling helpless, powerless, or frustrated? Use those feelings to become more aware of how you are treating yourself.
Is your life and are your actions aligned with who you want to be? Are you speaking up and asking for what you want? Are you giving your power away to others so that you have someone to blame when life doesn’t work out? Check on the quality of your relationships and review how well you’re caring for your needs.
Most people want to be motivated because we want to feel alive, so if you focus on feeling alive and building momentum, motivation will take care of itself.
Tip 5: Decide to Take One Daily Action
(Yep. I’m repeating this one since it’s so important.)
Water one plant. You don’t have to do more than one plant, even if all your other plants are wilting around you. For instance, grabbing a glass of water and watching the leaves come to life for one plant may inspire you to grab another glass of water. But listen up. You do not have to water the second plant.
Or if stuff a baggie with carrots for a healthy snack, you may find yourself deciding to grab the yogurt too. You could send one email and may choose to keep answering the ones you’ve put off answering. It starts with ONE step.
Let momentum move you forward by only focusing on the first and smallest action.
By the way, what do writers say is the hardest part of the writing process? Sitting in the chair, that’s what—the first step. If I sit in a chair and stare at my closed computer, I will more than likely open it and then more than likely will pull out a clean word document. What happens then? I am more likely to write. But I gotta sit down first (or stand if you have one of those fancy standing desks.)
Find Intrinsic Motivation With Fearless Living
Taking one step, any step, toward living the life you actually want to live is enough. One step is all it takes. Learning how to focus on intrinsic motivators instead of external ones takes time and patience, but you will get the hang of it the more you put time into understanding your own fears, needs, and boundaries.
Fearless Living can help. My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear, including all of the fears that keep us caught up worrying about the outside world. We can’t control the outside world, but we can control how we react to outside factors.
With the Fearless Living course, you’ll learn how to treat yourself with compassion, identify your core fears, build self-confidence, find intrinsic motivation, and so much more. Let’s get started!
Do you really believe in your dreams? Do you believe your dreams are attainable? Do you actively pursue them every day of your life? Do you even allow yourself to have a dream?
For most of my life, I didn’t have dreams; I had fantasies. Fantasies are things you know are impossible. Mine included being the next Lucille Ball (In today’s world it would be Kristen Wiig from Saturday Night Live), singing for thousands (like Beyonce), and having a happy home life, birthing twelve children with an adoring husband by my side (Sigh!)
It wasn’t until I had a roommate who divulged how she became a real-life working actress in Hollywood that the acting fantasy turned into a maybe-possible-dream. A dream I could do something about and, with a lot of luck, become a professional actress. (It happened by the way. Not the Lucille Ball part but, at one time, I was a working actress living the dream in Los Angeles.) But my other fantasies still felt impossible.
For too many of us, dreams stay dreams. Or worse, they get stuck in the fantasy category—never acted on, and never invested in. And as each year ticks by, we just get older.
Dreams can so easily fade away the older we get. The wide-eyed optimism and big ideas we allowed ourselves to flirt with when we were younger get trampled on by, well, our day-to-day, regular ol’ life.
It has you thinking, how can I believe in my dreams when I have so many other things going on in my life? How can I find the time for my own dreams when I have a career and my family to focus on? Or worse, Do I even have a right to have a dream? Isn’t it just too late for me?
We see others fail, so we believe we will fail too. We see others get hurt, so we assume we’ll get hurt. We’re told not to think we’re better than the rest of the world, so we give up.
If you’ve ever had a dream you’ve forgotten about, if you’ve put your dreams on hold for your family or career, or if you’ve lost sight of what your dreams even are anymore, this article is for you.
Today I’m going to discuss why dreams are important and provide strategies to help you light that spark once again. Because dreams are not only for the young at heart and the brave amongst us—they are for everyone, and they keep us inspired, thriving, and waking up happy to be alive. ✨
Why is it Important to Believe in Your Dreams?
Dreams are beautiful, magical things. They contain our hidden aspirations and our deepest calling. They keep us going, help us look forward to the future, and inspire us to be our best selves. But far too often, the daily drag of life, the ups and the downs, and general busyness keep us from achieving our own dreams.
It’s so easy to go day after day without believing our dreams could be a reality, and that leaves us uninspired and even more likely to succumb to our fears.
Believing in your dreams is far from the only thing that will keep your fears at bay, but it will help you build a life you truly want to live—one where you feel passionate, vibrant, and fulfilled.
Your dreams are YOUR dreams, not someone else’s. They belong to you. It’s your own life, and that means you are the only one who can make your dreams happen (with some help, of course). You can’t rely on friends, family, complete strangers, God, or even the universe to intervene and force you to make your dreams happen. Instead, you must decide to claim your dreams and state them aloud so that you get them into your bones—because they are your dreams.
Just like the long-dead but so very much alive in spirit through his words, Ralph Waldo Emerson states: “Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. “
You’re the only one with control over the decision to say yes to a dream. You’re the only one who decides if you follow the nudge or not and which dreams are worthy of your effort. Because turning a dream into reality takes effort. Sure, it’s great to have support and other people who also believe in your dreams, but without you, the dream dies.
Not sure you believe in your dreams? Or maybe your dreams lack the passion and excitement they once brought you? Let’s talk about how you can light that spark again to begin believing in your dreams and actively pursuing them.
For now, think of claiming your dreams as a pathway to your purpose, giving you the internal permission (and nudge) you need to live the life your soul intended™.
How Do You Believe in Yourself and Your Dreams?
Don’t Let Fear Overcome Your Dreams
If you’re already a part of the Fearless Living community, it’ll come as no surprise that we’re going to talk about fear first. If you’re new, welcome to the community! 💗
Believing in your dreams is all too often tied up in your own fears. That’s what fear does—it hog-ties your dreams, so they can’t breathe or have room to grow.
Fear is so overpowering and all-encompassing, and at the same time, it’s so, so, so sneaky. Fear makes us believe our dreams are not possible, could never come true, and aren’t worth pursuing—let alone thinking about.
When fear is leading the way, our dreams are pushed aside, forgotten, and even ridiculed.
Truth be told, fear usually presents itself as the rational, grown-up, and intelligent part of ourselves. It praises us with a stern voice, telling us we will come out ahead if we give up all the silliness of that stupid, wasteful dream. And when it convinces us to say no to the nudge in our heart that would lead us toward a bigger, bolder life, it’s almost as if we’re dying a slow death, convincing ourselves this is the “right” choice to make while killing any chance for our dream to keep us inspired, on fire, and feeling alive.
How does fear convince us to lay down our dreams?
Fear makes us think we can’t do it. It makes us think we’re not smart enough, not young enough, not old enough, not rich enough, not good enough, and on, and on, and on. But that’s fear’s trick. It’s making us think those things because of something much deeper.
For example, you dream of starting your own small business and selling inspirational wooden signs, signs you carve yourself. But fear might tell you no one will buy your signs because folks can buy cheaper ones from Home Goods. And what about all that paperwork you need to do to start your business? It’s so easy to believe you aren’t capable enough. You aren’t smart enough to figure it out. And the real dream killer phrase you find yourself saying, I don’t feel like it. Fear is sooo good at convincing us we really don’t want to make our dream happen.
Fear goes into overdrive, convincing you that giving up your dream of making inspirational signs is all for the best because wouldn’t it be selfish or stupid to focus on this frivolous enterprise? Imagine the time it would take away from your family. And how are you going to find buyers? I mean, really. Who do you think you are?
But what’s really going on here?
Your fear of failure is kicking in. Your fear of failing overpowers any will or desire to try. Instead of pursuing your dream, you falsely believe it could never happen, and this way, you never have to find out if you will succeed or not. Fear wins, and your dreams die out.
Or maybe you’re like my BFF Marta, who had a dream to pursue her lifelong love of singing and become a professional singer. She’d taken lessons since before she could remember and was quite good. She was even the lead singer for a band or two, and people cheered. But her dream was killed off when an agent told her that her voice was nothing special. At that moment, fear took hold. It told her she didn’t have what it took. Her fear of rejection was so intense that she didn’t even try after that. Again, fear won, and her dream died out.
Psst. Good news. Marta IS singing again. Once she started the work of Fearless Living, she understood what happened. Of course, she was sad she had let one person decide her future, but now she knew what to do. Marta has been singing ever since, doing solo shows and singing with an A cappella group of four women who are fulfilling their dream together.
Overcoming your fears is an incredibly challenging and complex topic that we can’t completely cover in this post. But I encourage you to continue following my blog for future fearbusting articles and to begin by learning more about the 10 Most Common Types of Emotional Fears and Overcoming Them.
As a start, begin by becoming more aware of your dreams and what fear may be lurking by asking yourself: When you find yourself casting a dream aside, is there something deeper going on? What’s the worst that can happen? Or ask: What’s the real reason you don’t believe in that dream of yours? Is it that you don’t believe in yourself?
Prioritize Your Needs
Oh, gosh. This is a hard one because needs are so hard to name and claim. But it must be said: You’ll never be able to pursue your dreams if you don’t prioritize your own personal needs.
Now, if you’re like so many other humans out there, you might look at prioritizing your own needs as being selfish or weak because you either should be taking care of the people you love, or you shouldn’t need anything at all. Worrying that you may appear selfish is especially common for parents and grandparents who are used to giving everything of themselves to their families. And weak? You know who you are—the fiercely independent and gotta-be-strong-at-all-costs folks. I used to be afraid of both—appearing selfish and weak—and this stopped me from even contemplating my needs.
Here’s the cold hard truth—you aren’t able to effectively care for others or build your internal strength if you don’t effectively care for yourself. Ensuring your own needs are met is actually to the benefit of those around you. When you get what you need in life, you are able to be a happier, more focused, more forgiving, more patient, more interesting human being. And who doesn’t want to be THAT person or have that kind of person in their life to support them?!
When your needs are met, there’s no more stress, no more burnout, and no more losing your cool. You can then focus your energy on being there for those you love. And being there for yourself and your dreams!
Ever lash out at someone you love unexpectedly and feel terrible about it? These sort of situations happen when we are not making sure our own needs are met. So, how do you ensure your needs are met, and how do you know what your needs are anyway?
You may already know what your needs are, or you may need to take some time to think about it. It boils down to what’s most important to you. What do you need in life in order to feel happy, healthy, and fulfilled? Each person’s needs are different, and there’s no right or wrong answer.
Here are some ideas to get you started, but don’t limit yourself to these alone:
- Financial Stability
Figure out what your needs are, and then do all you can to stand up for those needs. Your health, happiness, and dreams depend on it!
Be aware of your needs, practice identifying and meeting your needs, and always be on the lookout for when your needs are neglected. After a while, you will begin to see the signs. Feeling low? Starting to snap back at people? Tired even though you’ve had plenty of sleep? Haven’t smiled in a while? There’s a good chance one or more of your needs aren’t being met.
The path to believing in your dreams and finally pursuing them begins with ensuring your needs—all of your needs—are being met. Don’t worry. You’ll get better and better at figuring out your needs and learning how to fulfill them.
Stop Waiting for One Day
Are you waiting for something to fall into place for you to begin pursuing your dreams? Are you waiting for ideal circumstances? Are you waiting for more money or more time? Are you waiting for your kids to get older? Are you waiting for the “right” moment?
Believing in your dreams means taking steps towards your dreams all the time—right now, today—not just when you “think” the time is right. Let’s face it; the real world won’t stop for you, and there will always be some reason to put off your dreams.
So do not wait!
I will when I have…
I will if I get…
I will when the time is right…
I will when other people…
I will if I have enough money…
I will when I have more time…
Reality check! Those ifs and whens may never happen! When you’re waiting for one day, you could be waiting forever, and you most likely will. And I don’t want you or anyone else to have those types of regrets!
Here’s one of the phrases we live by at Fearless Living:
Invest in the life you have to get the life you want.
Now is the time to invest in yourself. Now is the time to stop making excuses. Now is the time to believe in your dreams.
No more ifs or whens—your journey toward fulfilling your dreams continues each and every day.
Smaller, More Attainable Goals
Let’s take a moment to get a bit more practical about how we reach our dreams. I get it—no matter how much we believe and how many manifesting principles we practice, our dreams sometimes just seem so far away… so far away that it’s hard to even know how to get started.
This is when it helps to take it back a step. Instead of focusing on those big, wild, amazing dreams you have, break it down into something smaller—something much more attainable. You don’t have to accomplish everything all at once. What’s one small step you can take towards your dreams?
Let’s say you’ve always wanted to publish a book. That’s an impressive, monumental feat, but just because it’s a big dream doesn’t mean you can’t work towards it. It could be a long road, but that road needs to begin somewhere. Instead of waiting until you have the time or waiting until inspiration strikes, what’s one step you could take to help you get closer to people buying your book on Amazon?
Break down that large goal into smaller steps. What needs to happen first? Could you sign up for a writing class? Are there writer podcasts you could begin listening to on your daily commute or while you’re washing the dishes? Is further research required? Could you reach out to someone who has published a book in a similar genre to ask for guidance?
Here’s another example. Let’s say you’ve always wanted to go to Italy. You’ve dreamed of taking a delicious bite of fresh Italian pasta while sipping red wine next to a Venetian waterway. But when will you go? When will you ever have the time? When will you have the money to take that trip? By wondering and waiting, you will never realize that dream.
What step could you take today? You could start learning Italian on Duolingo for 10 minutes every day. You could bring lunch from home twice a week and put the money you save aside for your trip. If you’re in a stable spot financially, you could begin researching what cities you will visit and what time of year is best to book your trip.
A small note about dreams. Dreams come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to dream about living in a mansion or running a $1 million company. Those might be your dreams, but it’s also quite possible that some or all of your dreams are less than huge. Don’t think that just because they’re called dreams they need to be some out there, wild, and extravagant idea.
Your dreams are whatever you want them to be, and they could be as simple as wanting to plant your own vegetable garden, learning how to play an instrument, finding more freedom in your career, or taking your kids to Disney World. No idea is too big or too small to be one of your dreams.
It’s Time to Realize Your Dreams
Imagine you woke up every day with a sense of purpose. Imagine you began to pursue your dreams now instead of waiting for that one day to come? Live the life your soul intended™—today, not someday.
If you’ve been struggling to make your dreams a reality or find it difficult to believe in your own dreams, my 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is for you. It is designed to crack the secret code to fear, including all of the fears that keep us from pursuing our dreams.
With Fearless Living, you’ll learn how to prioritize your own needs, maintain boundaries, manage negative thoughts, find self-fulfillment, and pursue more opportunities for growth. Getting started is only a click away.
When you don’t trust yourself, you are letting fear take the wheel. Suddenly you’re in the backseat with your hands pressed over your eyes as fear speeds down the road blundering over one bump at a time. Without self-trust, fear keeps driving, which means you’ll keep feeling stuck, heading in a direction you never intended.
Trust is a complicated topic for so many of us, myself included. And while we might understand how important trust is to our external relationships, trusting ourselves is something that’s often ignored.
I spent years of my life believing that trusting others was enough. I thought that trusting my partner more than I trusted myself was a sign of love. I thought that trusting other people’s opinions more than my own would help me find acceptance amongst my friends and peers. I thought that it was normal and okay to put down my own ideas after I expressed them.
Does any of that sound familiar? I bet it does!
What are the signs? How can you tell if you lack self-trust, and what can you do about it? This post is all about recognizing your own lack of self-trust so that you can make the kind of changes that will lead to a happy, confident, and trusting life.
What Does Self-Trust Feel Like?
Self-trust helps you develop self-confidence, which frees you from the anxiety of wondering what people are thinking about you. If you trust yourself, it means you know yourself, and if you know yourself, no one’s impression of you can make you doubt yourself.
Self-trust gives you strength, confidence, and peace of mind. It’s reassuring, serene, and peaceful—but powerful.
What is self-trust called? Self-trust is your personal power; how many people do you know personally who spend most of their time worrying about what other people think? I bet it’s quite a few (and you probably relate to this too!)
When you don’t trust yourself, you wrap your happiness into external factors—ones you have no control over. You look to others to make your decisions for you. Your happiness depends on other people’s approval and acceptance. You don’t trust yourself to know what’s right or wrong, what you enjoy or don’t, or who you really want to be spending time with.
But what does a lack of trust look like? What does it feel like? How do you know if you don’t trust yourself? Lack of self-trust is incredibly common, and there are some telltale signs you can watch out for. And I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but a lack of self-trust can lead to derailed relationships, poor judgment, self-doubt, and unhappiness in every area of your life.
What are the signs? Let’s find out!
Five Signs You Don’t Trust Yourself
1. You’re Terrified of Making a Mistake
What if the next step you take is the wrong choice? What if you make a mistake? What will people think of you?
If you’re constantly terrified of making a mistake, it’s a sign that you don’t trust yourself or who you are. You believe that the next mistake will cause your reputation and personal identity to unravel, no matter how many successes you’ve had or right choices you’ve made in the past. The next mistake you make will show everyone—including yourself—what you really are: a failure. Or even worse, you’ll be rejected and kicked out of the tribe.
This fear of failure cripples your self-confidence and self-trust. Instead of using mistakes as learning opportunities (which is what they are!), the possibility of making mistakes keeps you from trying anything. You don’t trust you’re every bit as beautiful and talented and wonderful as your friends, family members, and colleagues.
And fear of rejection harkens back to the number one human need written into our DNA: Our need to connect and belong. How often do you worry you’ll be ostracized if you say that or even think that? When was the last time you made a choice that you knew wasn’t based on your values? One that you felt like you HAD to make because you were anxious about going against the crowd or what people expect of you?
Are you the type of person who never chimes in when someone asks a question, even though you are 99% sure you know the answer? Does that one teeny tiny percent hold you back from speaking up? What if you are wrong? Everyone will see that you messed up and think of you as a failure. While that fear is very real, it doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation. If you are 99% sure you know the answer, TRUST YOURSELF.
Heck, if you want to trust yourself, you must practice speaking up as often as possible. It’s a skill that must be mastered if you want to build your confidence. So, be willing to give up “I don’t trust me” as an excuse for staying stuck—speak up instead!
The worst thing that can happen is getting the answer wrong (if there is a wrong), and that’s okay too. You will learn something new and be better for it. In fact, most answers have little to do with wrong or right. Answers to most questions are a synthesis of your personal philosophy, experience, and values. So go ahead, speak up. Let people get to know the real you.
Learn more: How to Speak With Power and Authority: 5 Important Steps
Here’s a new way to think about it. If you stop yourself from applying for a promotion just because you might not get it and don’t want to be a failure, you’re guaranteeing you won’t get it. Going for it regardless of the results is trying; it’s moving forward, making an effort, and not letting fear win. That’s being brave. That’s believing in yourself. You’re going to fail in some capacity in all areas of your life—it’s all part of learning, growing, and pursuing the life your soul intended.™
If you hold yourself back from trying for fear that you might make a mistake, you are not trusting yourself.
2. You Put Yourself Down In Front of Other People
Have you ever suggested an idea to your friends, family, or coworkers only to take it back and say it will never work? You laugh it off and say, “It was a stupid idea anyway. Don’t listen to me.”
Your intuition and insightful inner voice inspired you to suggest something, but then your lack of trust in yourself clamped down and scared you into taking it back. This is tied to a deeper fear of looking foolish in front of other people; if you’re wrong, then people will think you’re a failure, and if people think you’re a failure, eventually, they’ll reject you.
This fear expresses itself when you put yourself down in front of others or make jokes at your own expense. This fear causes you to undermine yourself in front of others, which, in turn, does make it less likely for people to want to listen to your ideas. If you don’t even think your idea is good, why would somebody else?
Imagine making someone a sandwich. You put great care into the sandwich and make sure it’s got all the delicious fixin’s, but when you’re about to hand it to the other person, you say it’s no good. “I made this sandwich for you, but it’s probably pretty gross. I may have dropped it; I’m not sure. I think I forgot to add cheese. I don’t know how to make a sandwich. You probably don’t want to eat it.”
Putting yourself down in front of others creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. For example, you believe no one will think your ideas are worthwhile, so you tell people your idea and add that it’s no good rather than simply suggesting the idea. Your idea might have great value, but when you put it down in front of other people, they won’t listen to your idea; they will hear that you think it’s no good, which, in fact, translates into the belief that you’re no good.
Even if you don’t actively put yourself down or undermine your own ideas verbally, you may say those things inside your head to yourself, which has the same disempowering and debilitating consequences. Constantly putting yourself down erodes trust with yourself, brings down your self-esteem, and prevents you from truly loving yourself.
If you put down yourself or your ideas in front of other people or inside your head, you’re not trusting yourself.
3. You Only Make Decisions If Others Around You Agree
Does this sound familiar? Have you ever been riding in the passenger seat of a car when a trusted friend or family member was driving? They’re in the driver’s seat, and you trust them to know where they are going. Even though you see them make a wrong turn, you don’t speak up because you believe they must know a different way than you. You believe that they’re better and more knowledgeable than you.
But then the other person realizes they’re lost, and when you say you noticed they took a wrong turn but thought they knew a different way, they ask you why you didn’t speak up.
You didn’t speak up because you didn’t believe you might know more than the driver. Just like whenever it comes time to make a decision, you keep quiet and go with the flow—other people’s flow. You ask for other people’s opinions because you just assume others know what’s best. You believe everyone else has the answers, and you don’t. You might tell yourself that you’re just “making sure” or “double-checking yourself.” That’s called crowdsourcing your life. If you have a crowd decide your life, it definitely is not your life.
This is a clear sign that you don’t trust yourself. If you can’t make a decision without having other people agree with it, it means you don’t trust your own judgment, which means your missing the self-confidence it takes to determine your own future.
Now, at times, I get that it’s valuable to listen to other people’s opinions, especially when they’re highly-trained experts in a particular field where you’re seeking an answer, but you always need to listen to yourself too. Believe me: you know what you want better than anybody else does. And I bet a part of you knows this too.
For example, my friend Charlotte knew she had cancer. She just “knew.” Her doctor disagreed. It took her a year to get the proper diagnosis. Charlotte trusted the “expert” more than she trusted herself for an entire year. So yes, experts are nice to ask and, at times, essential, but when you begin to trust yourself, that trust will become like a beacon pointing the way to the answers you seek. And, good news: Charlotte is doing well and listening to herself way more often.
If you only make decisions based on what other people think and whether or not others agree, you are not trusting yourself.
4. You Second Guess All of Your Decisions
What about when you finally make a decision? Do you find yourself wondering if it was the right one? How often do you second-guess your decisions, and do you frequently regret your decisions once they’ve been made?
If you don’t trust yourself, making a decision is agonizing enough. But when you constantly second-guess yourself, finally making the decision provides no sense of relief. This self-doubt means your mind is always spinning and running through possible outcomes. What if you had done it this way? Oh, this way would have been so much better! Why can’t you do anything right?
Dear friend, please take a deep breath!
When you overthink every one of your decisions and burden yourself with regret after regret, you keep yourself running in circles, never living in the present, only the past. The truth is you already made that decision. It’s done; either there’s nothing you can do to change it, or it’s not worth changing.
Now keep in mind I’m not talking about being stuck in a job or marriage you absolutely despise; I’m talking about all of the small to medium decisions you make every day that are weighing you down
What do I want to eat for dinner?
What Netflix show do I want to watch?
Should I buy one or two jars of pasta sauce?
Does my boss want a coffee today?
What do I get my mother for Christmas?
What car model do I want to buy?
What colors do I want to paint my house?
For many, many decisions in life, there is no right answer. Simply making a choice, any choice, is what’s most important. AND once you’ve made a decision, go with it. Decisions are tough enough without adding on layers of regret to each one you make.
And here’s something else. Every time you re-decide a decision, you’re using up your most valuable resource—your energy—for the same thing twice! Every single decision takes energy, leaving you with a lower energy tank than before. So trusting yourself to make a decision increases your self-confidence and energy, allowing you to feel more present and alive rather than drained and defeated.
If you second guess or regret most of the decisions you make, you are not trusting yourself.
5. You Don’t Have Clear Boundaries Set
I’ll never pass up an opportunity to talk about boundaries! Boundaries are so so SO important; they play a huge role in making sure your needs are met, and that you feel safe inside and out.
Boundaries ensure you stay safe physically, mentally, and emotionally. Not sure what your own boundaries are? You’re not alone. So many of us are TERRIBLE at setting boundaries because that’s what we were taught. Our parents and role models didn’t set good boundaries, and they taught us we didn’t need to either. In fact, if you’re like me, you were taught that putting up a boundary means you’re being selfish.
Because who said trust yourself?
People, mothers especially, often believe they are doing a good job if they put everyone else’s needs before their own. Boundaries? What boundaries? My people need me!
It takes self-awareness to determine your own boundaries and self-trust to stand up for yourself and be your own advocate when you feel your boundaries are being crossed. No one knows better than you what your own boundaries are, and no one can defend them as strongly as you. You are your own champion, and if you can’t trust yourself, how will you know how to truly trust anyone else?
I encourage you to learn more about understanding your own boundaries and the consequences of having them crossed. Read my article: Why Personal Boundaries Are Important and How to Develop Them.
Don’t shrug this off. Without personal boundaries, you’ll burn out, develop simmering anger and resentment, and keep yourself from developing a personal identity that exists outside your family or your work. You’re not just ‘mom’ or ‘manager’ or ‘wife;’ you are uniquely YOU—someone who has their own personal needs and boundaries.
If you don’t understand your own needs and haven’t set clear boundaries, you’re not trusting yourself.
How Do You Build Trust in Yourself?
Did you relate to any of those signs? I know I did. I lived most of my life not trusting myself. So many of us lack self-trust, but the good news is building self-trust is something you can work on, and taking the first step is simple.
As you’re practicing trusting yourself, be sure to lead with self-compassion. Just like you would show compassion towards your kids, spouse, parents, siblings, friends, and employees when they are learning something new, show compassion toward yourself. This is the first step in supporting yourself to build self-trust.
Now, if you’re the type of person who’s saying “Rhonda—yuck! Self-compassion sounds weak, and it’s something I don’t have time for,” consider using different language. Instead of self-compassion, think of it as going easy on yourself or being kind to yourself. Give yourself a break as you work towards developing trust. It’s not an easy road, and there will be plenty of obstacles to navigate along the way.
To build self-trust, you will also be practicing believing you are enough. And by the way, that’s the absolute 100% truth. You are enough.
Try saying it with me:
“I am enough exactly as I am.”
“I am enough exactly as I am.”
“I am enough exactly as I am.”
Understanding this and treating yourself with compassion will get easier the more you practice. Continue putting in the work because your relationship with yourself is not one you can push aside.
For my full list of self-trust strategies, read my article: How to Trust Yourself and Build True Self-Confidence. I share five critical strategies that will help you develop a strong and understanding relationship with yourself—the only self you’ve got.
Trust Takes Time and Effort
Trust is difficult for so many of us, which is why it’s something we need to work at vigilantly. Because without trust, our relationships fail, including the one we have with ourselves (AKA: the most important one!)
Building trust will take time, but with that trust, you will be able to live a confident, centered, happy, and healthy life. And isn’t that the life your soul intended™?
Let’s build up your trust one need, one boundary, one gratitude, one compassionate moment at a time. My 10-week Fearless Living Training Program is based on decades of learning how to crack the secret code to fear, including all of the fears that keep us from trusting ourselves. With Fearless Living, you’ll learn how to trust yourself through self-compassion, personal needs, clear boundaries, and so much more.
Take that first important step for yourself. Prioritizing yourself for a change is something you won’t regret. Let’s get started!