What gets in the way of us being able to forge ahead and stay on purpose? Why do we sometimes hesitate to speak up? Show our true selves? We see ourselves as confident, but we still hold back sometimes… I’ve studied this problem for many years, especially when working with coaching clients. Even very successful people have these moments of self-doubt and catch themselves unsure of what to say or do next.
First of all, we need to stop beating ourselves up about it! How important is it to be right every minute of every day? What’s wrong with not knowing?
I believe the source of this problem is:
In those moments, we don’t feel very purposeful. In fact, we feel somewhat useless! Which is the most probable outcome when we are ruled by fear.
I also believe this comes from institutionalized patriarchy, an insidious system of oppressive hierarchical structures that have been passed down from generation to generation. And I believe this system is as detrimental to men as it is to women.
In fact, when I tell groups of people about my organization, the Great Girls Network, which was founded to give women a sacred space to be authentic, speak up for themselves, and feel supported and encouraged by other women, invariably, several of the men in the room say they wish they could join. Most men don’t feel any better about themselves in the world than women do! And they wish they could have a safe place to feel vulnerable and truly express themselves.
So we have a society where women feel less than in many situations. And then we find out that men also do, even though they are conditioned to keep up a front of confidence. We walk around making up stories about each other, all based on the fantasy that others are somehow better off than we are.
In my years of focusing on my own personal development and working with hundreds of clients, I have concluded that this whole thing is an inside job. That no matter what we see going on around us, it is still up to us to change our perceptions and change our ways of seeing the world. It is up to us to take full responsibility for our success and, even more important, our happiness and sense of power in the world.
That is why I now urge you to question everything. Here are some things to ask yourself:
It has taken me years to not slip into the behaviors I have just described. And yes, my years of experience have paid off for me. I no longer feel less-than when I enter a room, and I don’t worry about what others think of me. Mainly because I think that is their business, not mine.
The important point I am stressing here is that when you stop worrying about being liked, approved of, accepted, etc., by others and just like yourself, approve of yourself, accept yourself, you will find that others will reflect that back to you. By coming from a place of fear, we get the exact experience we are afraid of reflected back to us!
Fear keeps us from feeling purposeful and useful and ultimately having a sense of happiness and peace within ourselves. There are many who offer you a sense of peace if you follow their recommendations. But the bottom line is that you are the one who has to decide, for yourself, that you matter, that you have value, and that you have a right to be here and be happy about it.
That lack of feeling purposeful is a major contributor to a lack of inner peace. And we do this to ourselves. I hope this article gives you some more things to think about on your journey of self-awareness. Just writing it has given me more food for thought and reminds me of ways I can keep feeling steady and on course in my daily life.