Some good friends and I joke around about axioms of the pop-psychology and personal-development industry – there are some hilarious statements used out there, that are funny because they’re always true.
“You don’t trust your yourself” is perhaps the quintessential example. Statements like this are used by gurus, therapists and cult leaders all over to create instant “OMG-you-hit-the-nail-on-the-head!” feelings in the listener.
You don’t trust yourself, because you constantly beat yourself up for not doing “enough”. You hunt for solutions to motivation problems, because you don’t trust yourself to do the things you know you should. You fret about creating structure in your life to protect yourself from yourself: Better hide those cookies, or they’ll all get eaten!
Can we just write off “You don’t trust yourself” as a clever verbal trap, or is it tapping into something deeper? Is there a universal human confidence problem? Or are you just being paranoid? Either way you are your own worst enemy.
A lack of faith in yourself is impeding the wealth, freedom and impact you want to create – so let’s find out why you don’t trust yourself. And how you can find that faith again.
How do you know if you don’t trust yourself?
Lack of faith in oneself shows up in the way we make ourselves do things. It’s the difference between being your own worst enemy, versus your own best friend. If you spend a lot of time regretting things you’ve done or decisions you’ve made, you don’t trust yourself.
If you beat yourself up, if you think you’re not doing good enough, or if you constantly feel like you’ve got under utilized potential then you don’t trust yourself.
It really comes down to is this: You’re afraid that if you were to feel totally happy about your life, your motivation to actually do things might vanish.
People who don’t trust themselves are terrified of allowing themselves to feel good. They’re afraid that if they do feel good, their motivational drive will disappear – they don’t trust that they’ll still want to create, give or grow.
People who don’t trust themselves create self-perpetuating cycles of stress and anxiety to ensure they never get to that place where they’re happy or satisfied. This ensures they never run out of whips to crack over their own back.
So, as an untrusting entrepreneur, you do everything you can to make sure you don’t give yourself an inch:
- Even though you’re creating success in your life, you never seem to escape your “problems”.
- You weirdly plateau your income right at the place where it’s “just barely enough” – so accurately that it’s damn spooky!
- You tend to forget your biggest successes but you persistently dwell on your worries.
Resonate much? That’s what I thought.
So why oh why do you not trust yourself?
You don’t trust yourself because you weren’t always trustworthy
Like all great psychological truths, the answer to this particular conundrum lies deep in our pasts. Our childhoods. So stretch out on the chaise lounge and get ready to regress.
You don’t trust yourself now, because you were born into a world determined to make you do things that you don’t want to do. Things no human would want to do. Things you couldn’t be trusted to do without being coerced.
The adult world forces children to take action on all kinds of stuff without rationale: Study hard. Put money in your piggy bank. Eat your veges. Because you have to. Because that’s just the way it is. Because that’s what everyone does. Because life isn’t fair.
As children we endure the experience of our teachers, parents and superiors all bludgeoning us into doing the “right” things, not the things we want to do. This is just the way it is – I’m not attempting to change or even criticize this process. You just need to understand that this is happening and what it’s done to your mind.
As you grow into an adult, you start to develop your own rationale. Do you remember the point where you really saw the value in saving money? Or when it really clicked that eating your vegetables would be a smart move? Or that magic moment when you realized that focus, commitment and finishing what your start are all good ideas.
As the old joke goes, the older you get the smarter your parents become. It’s true and it happens because adulthood exposes us to the real world, giving us the all powerful Why. We unearth our own reasons for doing all that hard work and discipline stuff. We see the light.
For entrepreneurs, those moments are even more vital. They’re the pivotal instances of totally “getting it”, when we click and realize the things we’ve heard and read are really true: Sales and marketing are everything. These are the entrepreneurial lessons we read about when we start out, but don’t truly click with until we “grow up” as business owners:
You have to make something remarkable. You must make big promises and over deliver. Look for a problem to solve. etc etc etc.
The problem occurs when you arrive at any one of these “getting it” moments as a newly minted adult – and I use that term loosely; I know 50 year olds who haven’t made it yet. You get the rationale and for the first time you want to work hard and make huge things happen.
But for some reason, though you want success, you just can’t make yourself do the things that you KNOW create it.
There’s resistance, motivation doesn’t flow easily and everything feels hard. You don’t trust yourself.
You’re new to this place but the child inside of you has years of experience rebelling against all the adults and their coercive insistence on doing things just because you have to. So when your fully developed adult mind voices it’s desire for those grown up things too, your inner child has already put it’s fingers in it’s ears. Lalalalala!
You’ve spent such a vast portion of your life being coerced into doing things you don’t understand that, when you finally get the point, it’s already too late. Your inner child is in rebellion. The self sabotage has already begun.
Most people’s reaction to this only makes the problem worse. They start using the tricks that nasty grown ups used to use, but on themselves! They create artificial reward systems, leverage social pressure and more. Most to-do list apps are basically gold star charts for grown ups.
They don’t work because the more you try to coerce yourself like this, the more your inner child rebels. That part of you used to only hate the other adults but now it loathes you as well. It lashes out and it’s desires get more and more childish. Soon, you’re blowing off whole afternoons, to do nothing but eat junk food and watch cartoons!
Once established, the cycle is simple: Your inner child doesn’t want to do the things you know you should, so you try to force it to grow up with structure and coercion. In response, your inner child rebels harder, inspiring even more irresponsible behavior. Your response to that is to *drumroll* not trust yourself.
Of course you can’t be trusted. Part of you, a deep and very vocal part, wants to slack off completely. It hates all the grown up, coercive systems you use to attempt to make yourself productive and responsible. It tears your structure down with a sly and impish grin. How could you trust such a part of yourself?
The solution lies in giving yourself the thing your inner child always wanted. The thing it feels it has to snatch and steal. The thing it doesn’t trust you to provide, because you never really had:
Fun. Joy. Good times.
Your whole life, you’ve been trying desperately to grow up, diligently delaying gratification so that you could have a shot at the big business success in the distant future.
And your inner child has had enough.
Look around your life and ask yourself how many hours out of the last week include activities that seven-year-old you would have been genuinely excited to participate in.
If you’re like I was – or many of my clients were – the answer is zero.
We’re all so obsessed with growing up, progress and spartan “do-the-work” rituals that we actually forget how to have fun. We even forget that having fun is important.
The most powerful force of self sabotage in your life is the part of you (the inner child) that has not forgotten this. Not even a little bit.
The scary truth is that it’s our inner child who taps creativity, who’s standing at the switchboard for magical business sky-rocketing serendipity and all the other stuff that makes the real difference.
If you’ve built yourself a life that would bore a child to tears, it’s time to seriously re-evaluate your lifestyle. The structure and schedule you’re imposing on yourself, in the search for success, is unintentionally creating boatloads of sabotage.
When you slake your inner child’s thirst for fun and joy, you’ll get it.
You’ll get to the place where your inner child is aligned with your adult desires – where one hundred percent of you is collaborating in the same direction. That kid within you will, for the first time, see why you’re trying to do this “success” thing.
You’ll arrive at a place where work, success and productivity are synonymous with fun, play and joy.
It’s a long path and merely having “arrived” doesn’t guarantee you’ll always stay there, but the more time you spend in this magical vortex the easier it is to find your way back.
Over at my other company, Commit Action, we help entrepreneurs end procrastination and achieve superhuman success with a number of psychological hacks of which “Play” is just one! We just released a free video training program where I share all our best tactics and research. You can use this stuff to find out why elite entrepreneurs succeed easier, faster and more often… and how you can become one of them! The whole series is free. Click here to download everything.