You’ve reached the moment where you’re ready to move beyond your comfort zone and bring your dreams to fruition. You’re poised for success, have mustered up the courage to share your ambitious goals with the world, and then it happens: Instead of the safety net of support you had expected, the people closest to you plant seeds of doubt in your abilities and the possibilities ahead.
Most of us have come to expect and steel ourselves against the skepticism of strangers, but what do you do when your harshest critics come in the form of family, friends or spouses? You trust them to know your strengths and weaknesses. After all, they’ve likely known you for many years. If you don’t have the support of those you would expect to be in your corner, how can you influence the rest of the world?
Pursuing your dreams can be extremely difficult when you lack support, even more so when you are guilty of being your own worst critic. But if you’re going to walk toward success, you’ll often have to do so while facing doubt from others and within. In order to consistently believe in yourself, you need to practice self-confidence and cultivate it daily.
Start with these three ways to exercise self-confidence when nobody else believes in you:
1. Arm yourself with an arsenal of positivity.
I studied computer science in the ’90s. One of the key tenets of computer programming was “Garbage in. Garbage out.” Humans, like computer programs, can’t expect great outcomes from trash inputs. Continue feeding on the doubt of others and your confidence will forever be on shaky ground.
Conversely, if you want to increase your self-confidence, you must reprogram your inner voice by taking in and surrounding yourself with positivity.
- Create a daily confidence programming habit. Start your day by reading a chapter from an empowering book, an excerpt from your favorite spiritual material or an inspirational quote. Trade in part of your morning news program for uplifting podcasts and audiobooks.
- Accept that you might not be able to change the people you work with or the family you were born into, but you can make the choice to interact with supportive people. Attend conferences, meetups and networking events to find groups of like-minded supporters to help affirm your mission. Find a mentor who can provide both the realistic perspective and motivation to propel you forward.
- Remember that your circle isn’t limited to those you know in person. Utilize social media, online forums and other web-based vehicles to garner a web of virtual support.
2. Celebrate the failures of others.
Before they were considered legends, our highly regarded history makers experienced failure. Study failure in addition to success and realize that the victory of even our most iconic influencers was built upon their conviction to continue after falling short of perfection.
- Albert Einstein: Slow to speak and read, Einstein’s parents thought he was “sub-normal,” and one of his teachers described him as “mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams.” It took Einstein nine years after graduating college to obtain a position in academia.
- Babe Ruth: Ruth chewed tobacco and drank whiskey by the time he was 8 years old. The first time Ruth led the American League in home runs in 1918, he also led the league in strikeouts.
- The Wright brothers: The brothers crashed their first two airplane creations before making more than 700 successful flights with their third glider.
- Beyoncé: When scandal erupted after the original Destiny’s Child members were ousted from the group, the remaining group members harnessed the public shame to catapult themselves to success by penning the award-winning song “Survivor.” Beyoncé is now a household name with a cult-like following (Hello Beyhive!).
Nobody is perfect. If you aren’t willing to fail, you aren’t willing to win.
Related: Why Failure Is Good for Success
3. Calm your inner critic.
External support falls flat if you don’t believe in yourself. But your inner critic’s words aren’t always so easy to identify. Instead of being straightforward, he or she can appear in the form of doubt, guilt, shame and worthlessness. To prevent your inner critic from impeding your progress, you’ll need to master the art of creating a supportive inner dialogue.
- Remember your past victories and accomplishments. Recall the challenge, emotions and mindset of who you were in that moment. Remind yourself that at any time you can be that person again.
- Identify your strengths. Ask yourself, What am I masterful at doing? Once you’ve answered the question, celebrate your talents by communicating this value to others.
- Encourage yourself regularly with self-affirmations grounded in your true capabilities, instead of hope affirmations, which are generic in nature.
- Divorce the scarcity mentality. Believing that opportunities are scarce helps foster the fear that we aren’t good, wealthy or intelligent enough to fight for our scraps of a tiny possibility pie. Instead, understand that we live in a world of abundance. You can decide at any moment that you are beyond enough to create opportunity in a world where there are plenty.
Receiving outside validation can be tremendously rewarding. However, it is your personal responsibility to master the confidence that comes from within. If your current atmosphere does not cultivate self-confidence, then it’s time for you to design a more supportive environment for yourself. Take the first step of believing in yourself and watch as everyone else begins to follow in your footsteps.