Why is it so hard to believe in ourselves? To believe that who we are, as we are, is ok, is enough, is legitimate. That we inherently have all that we need to be and do the things we want. That our past is not something to be ashamed or embarrassed about, but the necessary steps we took to get where we are today and to go where we want tomorrow. That there is nothing we are doing wrong. That there is nothing wrong with us. That we can stand up for ourselves, put ourselves forward, own our strengths and create what we want, just as we are without feeling like we need any extra bells and whistles.
I struggle with this when it comes to teaching yoga. I don’t think I particularly look like a yoga teacher and I actually can’t do a lot of complicated yogaposes. I know some of the Sanskrit names but not many of them and I wish I knew more. I haven’t read a lot of ancient yoga texts. I feel illegitimate around other yoga teachers, wishing I could be more flexible in mind and body. Sometimes when I feel particularly bad I search for courses I can do to make up for all the illegitimacy. Then I try to breathe and calm down and go back to reading about Prince Harry’s engagement.
It is so easy for us to know our faults and weaknesses. We are so hyper aware of them. All the time. When things go wrong or don’t happen for us we tell ourselves it’s because we aren’t good enough. We are lacking. We are deficient. We blame ourselves and take responsibility for things that we have no control over. If only we were a little more capable, smarter, stronger, faster and a little less, well, like us.
We look around us and it is very likely that the people you see, the people you share neighbourhoods, cities, workspaces, cafes and train rides with seem far more qualified and able and brilliant and you feel illegitimate compared to them. They have far better qualifications, better skills, better experience, greater ability, they look better and just overall seem like far better people than humble old us. But it’s always dangerous to compare yourself to others. We seem to put a lot on other people. It’s easy to see what we want to see, and make a lot of assumptions about their lives.
Fundamentally we aren’t meant to fit into boxes and we aren’t meant to be like the people around us. It’s ok not to be typical. No one really is. It can even be good or fun to embrace what makes you different. We think it’s bad if we don’t have this experience, education or knowledge or don’t have these particular qualities that we believe are right or what we’re supposed to have. We have fixed ideas of how things are, how things will happen but we really don’t know and don’t have any control at all. Who knows how things will turn out? Honouring your strengths, your abilities, what you bring and what you want is surely a better way to spend your time than focusing all your attention on trying to be something else or making up for what you perceive as your flaws.
Self belief is hard. Sometimes it can feel too heavy to hold all the time. I don’t think you actually can or are supposed to feel it all the time. To doubt oneself feels pretty human and probably helps us stay humble and stops us from becoming a trumped up d**k no one wants to be friends with. When I find it hardest to believe that I’m ok, that what I’m doing is ok, that who I am is ok; is when I tend to need support the most. To hear from your closest allies that they believe in you really lightens the load. It’s almost as if they hold your self belief for you until you feel like you can hold it again.
Maybe we stay with all the reasons why we shouldn’t believe in ourselves and why we are not good enough to avoid the fear that actually we just might be. That we could actually believe in ourselves. And then what happens? Then you put yourself in situations that are challenging, that scare you to your core, that expose who you are to the world. You understand your courage and your strength like never before. Your power comes from within. You prove to yourself. You stand up for yourself. You are never going to be fully qualified, have the perfect amount of experience or knowledge or feel completely ready for what you want in life. Don’t ever let that stop you because what you do have is yourself, more than enough.