If you struggle to trust yourself completely and make decisions in your own life, you’ll rarely get what you want – and even if you do, you’ll still doubt that you deserve to receive it.
This is hard, because it will paralyze you. You’ll find that you end up living a life that’s on everyone else’s terms. You might even follow the rules for so long that you forget who you would be without listening to others.
One of the saddest things in the world to me is that many people realize on their deathbeds that they didn’t use their lives in the way they wanted. That they didn’t take risks, they didn’t grow much, and their entire life was basically a waste.
Can you imagine realizing that? That you’re about to die, and you didn’t try anything you wanted to try, you stayed as risk-free as possible, clinging to an imagined sense of safety?
I can’t. And I don’t want you to experience that, either.
I’ve taken more risks in the past 8 years of my life than most people take over an entire lifetime. I’ve been afraid of every single one, and I’ve never regretted any of them.
Here are 9 things I’ve learned. If you understand these pieces, you’ll be able to take back control over your own life, figure out who you are, and trust yourself deeply.
1. You must understand the nature of fear.
Doubt is fear. Fear is the body’s response to experiencing a threat of death.
Mostly everything we experience fear-wise is a reaction to a threat of death. If you’re afraid of speaking up for yourself because other people won’t like it, the fear beneath that is that you won’t be loved and you won’t belong. The body-level fear beneath not being loved and not belonging is that many years ago, you would have died if you were shunned from your community.
This is a real fear, deeply rooted in your body’s biological response.
As humans, we want to feel safe, we want to feel loved, and we want to feel like we belong. If something threatens any of those things, our primal response (fight/flight/freeze) kicks in.
But in this day and age, this primal response is rarely accurate. It might be true that if you speak up for yourself/quit your job/whatever other people won’t like it, but it is not true that you’re experiencing a threat of death.
If you wait til you’re not afraid, you will never do anything worthwhile. If you’re starting something completely fearless, you’re not growing.
People who doubt themselves see fear as the enemy. People who trust life see fear as both inevitable and a curiosity.
2. You must take an experimental attitude toward your own life.
The only way to not let fear run your life is to continually prove to yourself over and over that you did not die and the world did not end when you took a risk.
The only way to build this evidence is to take risks.
You must do the scary things. If you don’t do anything, you’ll only deepen the pathways in your brain that tell you that fear means you do not act, and that fear is Important. Fear is important when you’re running from a wild animal or in a sketchy situation with dangerous people, but it’s not really that important in our day-to-day activities. Fear shows you where pieces of your body – developed from childhood/past life experiences/societal attitudes – are uncomfortable with what you’re doing. That information is useful – and, most of the time, you don’t need to listen.
Get rid of the idea that failure exists. Failure isn’t real. If you want to figure out what you want out of your life, you will not do everything perfectly. The first thing you decide, the first person you love, the first career you try, the first time you set boundaries – probably none of it will be perfect. If you cling to the fear of failure, you will not even give yourself the opportunity to figure out what it is that you want.
You have to be wrong in order to get to what’s right.
Decide that everything is an experiment, taking you closer and closer to true freedom in your body.
3. You must understand that fear comes up with excuses.
Fear will make up excuses, and these excuses aren’t real. Because you are afraid but your mind doesn’t want to admit to being afraid, instead your ego will form creative excuses like: I just don’t have enough money. It would be too much effort. It wouldn’t work anyway. I don’t need to do it now, I’ll do it later. I’ll start in a few months. Now is not the right time. I’m not ready yet. I don’t really want that anyway.
None of it is true! Try to do anything risky and new, and watch how creative your mind can be with its resistance.
4. You must listen to what your body is telling you.
Your body always knows everything. It knows what you want to do next, what decision you want to make, what you want to do today.
The problem is that we’ve been taught our entire lives not to connect with our bodies. We get taught to stay in our minds and not feel our intuition, not feel our body-level sensations of feeling.
If you close your eyes and feel deeply inside your body, you might realize that you already know the answer.
5. You must understand that there is no “right” answer.
If you hold the belief that your life is always working out for you (which I highly recommend you do), and you also get rid of the belief that everything happens for a reason (also recommend), then you will inevitably realize that what you do ultimately doesn’t matter. There is no right or wrong answer. You’ll be ok either way.
And since there is no right answer, you might as well listen to your body – since at the end of the day, you’re the person you’ll always have to answer to, anyway.
6. You must accept that you will never know the answer for sure.
Though your body will tell you what you want to do, there will be other parts of you that are afraid. If you wait for a moment of 100% certainty, you’ll never do anything, because it will never, ever happen.
Intuition will feel deeper, like a knowing. You know what you want to do in your life. The fears and excuses will feel more anxiety-driven, they’ll feel uncertain.
7. You must tell your fears that they’re not in charge.
When you feel the sense of knowing, act. Act in spite of the fears and excuses.
The fear provides useful information – it can tell you about emotions you’re holding onto from past experiences in your life, and it can let you know when you’re in danger. And the fear is just a part of the stories you hold in your body – and you can tell it that it’s allowed to be there, but you’re not going to listen to it today.
8. You must be willing to let go of the people in your life who are holding up the old belief.
This will feel sad, and sometimes it is. If you’re wanting to make significant changes in your own life but you’re surrounded by people who doubt their own lives, you might discover that you need new friends, family, or a new partner.
The people you’re surrounded by are impacting your life. If you make change and they don’t support you, they might remove themselves from your life (or you might remove them). You also might discover that you’ll become distanced for a bit and then that person will shift, and you end up close again.
This will always be for the best, even though it might not feel good in the moment.
9. You must decide that you create your own life.
If you sit around feeling sorry for yourself, like most things about your life are due to circumstances outside your control, and that you can’t make the changes you want, that will be true.
We don’t control every single thing that happens in our lives, but we control our responses and our actions. If you want to transform something traumatizing into something inspiring and beneficial, you absolutely can. If you want to turn it into “poor me, life is awful to me,” notice what that brings you.
Life will be the way you decide it is. Your beliefs shape the way you see and experience the world.
If you want to stop letting fear and doubt run your life, decide that you’re not doing that anymore. Decide you trust yourself. Decide to become a person who trusts themselves.
Follow your body, and trust that you can handle whatever life brings you.
Because you can.