The most devastating obstacle in your journey to success, regardless of what your pursuit is, is your own lack of self-esteem and confidence.
It’s been said that you are your own worst enemy, and it is absolutely true. We don’t quit trying because someone tells us no. We quit trying because when someone tells us no, we take it to mean that what we are trying to accomplish is not worthwhile, or that we are not good enough or smart enough to do it. Our self image takes a hit, and it cripples us. Some are better than others at taking rejection, and still striving to reach our goals, but everyone has their breaking point. Even the most confident people can only take so many blows to their ego. Ask the most successful person you know how many failures they have had, and I’m sure they could fill an afternoon talking about them. Yet somehow, they managed to make themselves a success despite the failure.
We are raised in a society that preaches modesty and humility. A person with a strong ego, or high level of confidence is looked down on. Psychologists, counselors, pastors and parents alike teach us not to boast or brag; not to be “full of ourselves” and not to think we are better than anyone else. It’s a lie. While all men are created equal, we are not equal. As a newborn, we have all of the same opportunities as anyone else, but as we age and live through whatever circumstances we live through, we become who we are. We are a product of our environment, and subservient to our minds. We create our own boundaries based on life experiences- both failures and successes. Everyone lives through some level of hardship, or discrimination. The resulting change in behavior is based on how each person handles or reacts to those hardships. If we struggle with something continuously, and fail continuously, we build a wall around that thing, and decide that it is not something we are capable of. We push it into the back of our minds and avoid any circumstance that would cause us to need that skill. While it is true that we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, those weaknesses are not impossible to strengthen.
Being raised in a society that teaches us to believe that there are just some things that we cannot do only makes it more difficult for us to break through the boundaries that we have set for ourselves. We are taught our entire lives to lower our standards, because to believe that we are capable of anything is to be conceited. It gives us an excuse for failure. It makes it okay for us to give up, so we do. If someone believes enough in himself, he is labeled as an ego maniac, and yet, that person is capable of anything simply because he believes he is. He is not bound by limitations that society has given us such as lack of education or opportunity. He is not anchored by his background and family history. He knows that he is better than those who are not willing to do what it takes to be successful.
Writer, Robert A. Wilson said, “You cannot have too high an opinion of yourself because the world will always strive to correct you. On the other hand, if you have a low opinion of yourself, nobody will ever correct it. You will have it for life unless you correct it yourself.” It seems unbelievable that a parent would be sinister enough to rob their own children of their self-confidence, but it is so deeply ingrained in us that it is nearly impossible not to. We allow them to give up on some things. We allow them to fail when they submit to their natural desire to quit because something becomes difficult. Each time that happens, they lose a little more of their confidence. That’s not to say it’s the parents fault completely. Failure and difficulty has been a part of life since Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. As I said before, it is how we handle that difficulty that defines us, and it is never too late to change.
We must learn that there is a difference between pride, and self-confidence. We have to understand that to believe in ourselves is not a character flaw. Knowing that we are capable of whatever we want to accomplish is not ‘against the rules.’ It is not the responsibility of those around us to maintain our level of confidence. It is our own decision. Those that would tear us down are threatened by that confidence, and torn by their own lack of it. It’s not a cliché, it is the truth.
There is no need to be flamboyant; to rub your confidence or your success in others faces. It is not okay to point out the lack of self-confidence in others. It will not be well accepted, and is completely unnecessary. That being said, you cannot accept the criticism that will most certainly come from them. Being confident in yourself is not the norm, and will also not be well received. We have spent our entire lives allowing that negative feedback to affect us, and now it is time to stop.