In my work, I meet a diverse group of people with a broad range of capacity and effectiveness.
At first, I was surprised to find that even highly effective executives and business owners often struggle with self-doubt and insecurity. I guess I was surprised because I assumed that someone who had climbed the ranks of the corporate ladder or who had what it took to run a business must be confident and self-assured.
In many cases, this simply isn’t true. The majority of people I meet struggle with some degree of diminished capacity and effectiveness – because behind the curtain, where only they can see their inner world, live parts of themselves that don’t believe they are competent or capable.
This creates an inner tension between these insecure parts of the psyche and more take-charge and confident parts that present a facade of confidence and expertise – at least most of the time.
So when I tell my clients to trust themselves before they trust anyone else, they like the sounds of my advice. But, deep inside, many of them don’t really believe they can.
And when I suggest that there is no one more qualified than they are to make the important decisions in their lives, they think of all their mistakes and regrets.
It’s no wonder that we often hand-off authority to others. We don’t trust ourselves to get it right so we seek the approval and guidance of others who are far less qualified than we are to know what we are and are not actually capable of. No one else can possibly know what we are up against, what we have survived, and what keeps us up at night.
Advice from a well-meaning friend, a boss, a spouse, a motivational speaker, or even someone who is an expert in their profession or field can’t possibly account for the inner obstacles we face when trying to take that advice.
Most of us have learned to resist our inner tension and force ourselves past it in an effort to be successful – to be admired and to receive approval and praise. But we notice the emptiness of these consolation prizes.
What we truly lack is self-approval. What stands between us and self-trust is far more worthy of our interest and our energy than the pursuit of external accolades. Getting curious about the inner tension creates the possibility of resolving it. As that happens, an authentic confidence emerges based on Self-trust.