When I was in school, both college and post-graduate, one of the things I found most challenging was participating in class discussions. I had this acute self-consciousness that made me hyper aware of how others–not just the teacher but my classmates– would regard my answers. This made me so uncomfortable that I usually did not participate at all.
I realized that I had received a lot of cultural messages growing up in my family–as the youngest and the only girl–about being seen and not heard. Speaking with other women I realized mine was not an uncommon experience. Women are culturally (and also possibly biologically) influenced to be somewhat less assertive than men. But in a competitive marketplace where healthy self -trust and self- assertion frequently determine our level of success, this can be a real handicap for a lot of women. It can stop us in our tracks when we should be sailing forward.
Of course, men have fears of their own around self-trust that may be similar in some ways. Here are 4 common fears about self-trust and tips to overcome them so you become unstoppable:
1) Fear of being “too assertive”or “pushy”
a. Why it’s a problem–As women we are especially culturally encouraged to “go with the flow” and “keep the peace” probably more than is healthy for us. But when “going with the flow” means becoming a passive observer of our life rather than an active creator, we are headed for trouble.
b. Signs you might be holding this fear: Feeling like life is passing you by, being resistant to goal setting, feeling envious of more assertive people.
c. What to do about it: Get a reality check. Ask a more assertive friend what you are hesitant about doing or saying. Ask them, “Is this being pushy or is this just in my own head?” Ask yourself, “What am I missing out on by not trusting myself and just going for it?”
2) Fear of being wrong
a. Why it’s a problem: No one likes to be wrong. It can be embarassing and a real time waster. But if you hold back your creative energy out of fear, you will never have truly lived your life. Your input, your projects, your contributions will never see the light of day.
b. Signs you might be holding this fear: Analysis paralysis that blocks action. Strong opinions about the rightness or wrongness of other people’s actions and opinions.
c. What to do about it: Think about it this way: What’s the worse that could happen if you are wrong? Being wrong can be a refreshing reality check just when you need it the most. After all, finding out that we are wrong and being able to course correct has better consequences in the long term than continuing to operate from erroneous thinking.
3) Fear of being disagreed with
a. Why it’s a problem: When we are disagreed with we are confronted with other ideas and perspectives that may or may not be “true” for us. The challenge here is to stay open to new ideas while trusting what you know to be true, while at the same time not being overly invested in “being right”. Probably the main reason people have this fear is the deeper fear of loss of personal power if one’s ideas are not validated and acknowledged by other people. (See #4 )
The reason this is a problem is two fold: 1) Obviously, not putting your ideas out there in some fashion means you will never go forward in creating them. 2) We need feedback from the real world in order to test the viability of our ideas and choices in three dimensional reality.
b. Signs you may be holding this fear: Being overly agreeable at the expense of your real thoughts and feelings, self-consciousness that blocks self-expression.
c. What to do about it: If you have this fear, ask yourself, “Why am I afraid of getting differing feedback from other people?” Being disagreed with can be challenging but also deeply rewarding. Other people’s perspectives can teach you new valuable things that will assist you in refining your own thought process. It can also deepen your understanding of other people and bring more depth to your relationships.
It is possible that your misgiving is actually the realization that your idea is not yet fully formed. Perhaps the time is not yet right to share it. Ask yourself if you are “pushing the river”. Be compassionate with yourself–your idea may need a bit more time to germinate before you put it into action.
4) Fear of being a “maverick”
a. Why it’s a problem: Your success depends on honoring your own unique gifts, whatever they happen to be. Being a “me too” is not a recipe for success. The world needs your unique contributions and holding them back serves no one, least of all yourself. No one ever won the Nobel prize by thinking like everybody else.
b. Signs you may be holding this fear: Over-reliance on authority figures and mentors, taking a lot of courses and programs but never putting the information into practical action.
c. What to do about it: Think about all the famous figures you admire. Where would they be if they hadn’t had the self-trust to act on their “maverick” beliefs? Ask yourself “Why am I afraid of being different? Could I be afraid of my own power? Could I be afraid to lead?”
I hope you found this blog post helpful. Have you ever struggled with self-trust? My Inner Wealth Tool Kit is designed to help you dissolve self-trust fears at their root so you create success with more ease and more joy. You can pick it up for free here .