Take Melissa for example. For seven days, Melissa fretted over how she did on a college exam.
Although grades had been posted three days before, Melissa was afraid to look. She had not fully prepared herself for the test, and was already coming off a C paper from the previous week.
Then there is Bruce. Bruce had to select three members of his team to layoff because the company was not performing well and costs needed to be cut.
Bruce thought long and hard about the pending layoffs, and although made his decision, continued to question whether he made the right choices – sometimes long into the night.
Although what is done is done, and actions are often irreversible, how we respond to such situations is still under our control.
Regardless of our position in life, we are all faced at times with situations like these.
We have the choice to live in self-trust or self-doubt.
When we live our lives in self-doubt, our confidence is low and we feel vulnerable. We shy away from challenges and other opportunities.
Continued self-doubt may even lead to physical symptoms like increased heart rate and high blood pressure.
When we live our lives in trust, we feel confident about ourselves, and the decisions we make. We have the courage to move forward into unchartered waters.
There is lightness within us. Our self-confidence is high, which in turn builds our self-esteem.
For most people reading this, I am offering nothing new.
All simple stuff, right?
Melissa already understood all she had to do was not think the worse. All Bruce had to do was believe in his decisions.
But the question remains, how does one begin to see the glass half-full?
Just because something is simple, doesn’t make it easy.
Start with these four cornerstones:
Consider Past Wins
As football coach John Madden once said, “success breeds success.” For Melissa, past successes may be an “A” paper or other academic achievement. For Bruce, a past success could be a previous decision made under fire that proved correct.
Consider your Circle of Influence
Who do you spend the most time with? Are they elevating your self-confidence and trust, or do they bring you down? As Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend most time with.”
Increase Your Self-Awareness
The foundation of emotional intelligence is awareness. Start becoming aware of your thoughts as they occur. No need to suppress anything, simply allow them to flow, observing what you are thinking. We cannot manage thoughts unless we are first aware of them.
Quiet the Negative Self-Talk
Once you become aware of self-doubting thoughts, begin to challenge them. Reframe self-doubt into new perspectives.
For Melissa, a reframe may be to consider what a poor grade represents in the overall pursuit of her degree.
For Bruce, a reframe could be understanding his decision would have been difficult for any manager, but to take comfort in knowing he weighed and considered all facts.
Learning self-trust is not a destination, but rather a journey that will sometimes have a few bumps in the road. And like all journeys, it is one we need to prepare for to avoid obstacles that will sometimes threaten our self-confidence.
One final note about Melissa. When she built the courage to check her grade, she actually found she had received an A. Needless to say, she felt a little silly with all the worrying that had consumed her.