It can be hard to admit that we have perhaps less-than-positive thoughts about ourselves. Life is all about asserting confidence, faking it ‘til you make it (though that’s not always smart), and saying, “I’m fine” when people ask how you are—even if you aren’t fine. But the reality is that many of us hold, deep in our subconscious, ideas about ourselves that may not be kind or productive.
Your conscious mind might say, “Of course I believe in myself” and “Of course I love myself” because you understand that, logically, that is a healthy mindset. But sometimes, if you look at the course of your life and your circumstances that have been brought on by your actions you may realize, “Oh. Maybe I don’t love myself” or “Maybe I don’t believe in myself.” It’s possible that you heard words about yourself when you were very young—when your mind was still malleable—and they implanted in your mind. It can be hard to shake those as an adult. But the first step to starting to truly believe in yourself is admitting if you currently don’t. Here are some signs.
There are a lot of shots you don’t take
There are a lot of opportunities that you never went after. They were certainly in your realm interests and skillsets. But you have often decided that you weren’t ready for something—even though your peers, who were just as ready, went for it.
You think of the reasons you’d fail
When something comes up that you want to go for, the first thing you do is tell yourself the reasons you’d fail. You start drumming up all the worst-case scenarios, and giving yourself excuses not to do it. You don’t automatically think of the reasons you’d be great for it.
Pitching yourself makes you uncomfortable
When someone asks you, “So, tell me about your strengths” or “Why should we pick you?” You get uncomfortable. You might become defensive. You automatically assume that they are suggesting they shouldn’t pick you. That’s how you naturally interpret that.
You can’t visualize greatness
Picturing yourself having greatness—I mean really seeing it, smelling it, tasting it, feeling it, all in your mind—isn’t really something you can do. Your imagination cannot even conjure it up. That’s just your brain, and it won’t allow you to see yourself as great.
Less-qualified people have what you want
People who are far less qualified, less experienced, and less skilled than you have the things that you want. The difference between you and them is that they believed in themselves.
You get passed up, when the skills are there
You have had many experiences of going after something—getting an interview or giving a presentation—when you knew you had what it takes, but people didn’t buy it. You didn’t get the job. You didn’t hold the room’s attention. If you are good enough, but didn’t get it, then maybe the only thing missing was your belief that you’re good enough—and your ability to demonstrate that belief.
Confident people make you uncomfortable
If you think of people who put you on edge—who you fumble your words around, and who you just don’t feel at ease around—it’s confident people. People who believe in themselves and assert themselves—you don’t like them. Well, then you probably aren’t one of them.
You take rejection incredibly hard
When you put yourself out there and get turned down for something, you see it as confirmation of all of your negative thoughts about yourself. You don’t think, “Okay well, I’ll just work harder, and get it next time.” You think, instead, “Figures.”
You quit at the first obstacle
You quit something the second it becomes difficult. If there are known obstacles in advance, you don’t even start. You don’t believe you’ll be able to overcome those obstacles.
You set goals that you don’t pursue
You’ve abandoned most of your goals. You sometimes sit down and write out tasks you can do that week or that month, to get you nearer to your dreams. But, you don’t wind up doing them. It could be because, deep down, you feel, “What’s the point? It will be for nothing.”
You compare yourself to downers
When you compare yourself to others to feel good, you think of those who are truly down on themselves, exhibit low self-esteem, and don’t go after anything. You think, “At least I’m not like them.” You don’t compare yourself to those who are more successful than you and think, “I aspire to be like that.”
Your passion isn’t taking priority
You keep looking for excuses not to chase your dreams. You let dumb tasks and menial chores get in the way of you doing that higher task—that thing that is part of your bigger goal—perhaps because you are afraid to go after it.
You belittle your own progress
When people try to congratulate you on something, you belittle it. You say that it’s nothing. You say anybody could have done it. You won’t accept the victory, or the associated compliments.
And don’t like talking about your dreams
You don’t like when people ask you, “So, what do you want in life?” or “What are your ultimate goals?” It feels embarrassing or silly to say them out loud.
You’re hesitant to take help
People have tried to reach out a hand and offer you help that would have really moved your goals along. But you turned it down, telling yourself that you wouldn’t make the most of that assistance.