Every day I wake up at 4:00 am. I jump right out of bed – bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the day. There is always a smile on my face and stars in my eyes. I know that every day will be an amazing blessing; filled with patience, peace, harmony and joy. I am always focused and moving forward and each day is always brighter than the last. I always accomplish everything I set out to do every day, because I am a perfect example of personal development. I workout every day. I read meaningful literature that advances my mindset every day. I am perfectly poised, confident, healthy and wise. I never waver. I never flounder. I never doubt and I never screw up. And all of this is complete and utter bullshit.
The truth is, I am constantly slipping between a state of confidence and disillusionment. I sometimes doubt my ability to move forward in my life. I over analyze mistakes and relive past failures. I give myself permission to do stupid shit I know I shouldn’t do. I get angry, impatient, depressed and closed off. And I look at myself in the mirror and wonder what sort of authority or ability I have to give anyone else advice about how to live a happy, productive, exceptional life.
Inevitably, if I stare long enough, I remember how far I have come and how much I have changed and I remember; I am not an imposter. I am not spouting off some fake shit that I don’t believe or practice or that hasn’t made such an enormous difference in my life. I am just a regular human being – perhaps only exceptional in my resilience – and this personal development journey is not a straight and wide path paved with gold, but a meandering, narrow passage of dirt and mud across the precipice of failure and success and doubt is par for the course.
Everyone who is trying to improve their lives, establish good habits and make a difference is going to have those moments of self-doubt and unsteady confidence. It is natural. We make great progress only to have it all wiped away by a bad day or a tragic circumstance. We fall back into old habits easily and we can become very critical of ourselves – doubting our drive, discipline, progress and ability. We feel like imposters in a world we are trying to create for ourselves and it undermines our efforts and all too often it pushes us to just give up.
Well, it doesn’t have to and here are some of the lessons I have learned walking this path and trying to help others walk it.
It’s ok to doubt yourself.
I doubt myself because I am usually doing or trying things I have never tried before. Establishing new habits, new ways of thinking, new means of thriving. I don’t know what success looks like sometimes and that makes me search for signs that I am on the right path. I see foreign landmarks on my personal development journey and I wonder if these are the things that should I should be seeing; if these are the signs that I am on the right path.
You are going to run into some things on your journey that make you question why you are trying to do some of the things you want to do and if you are on the right track. Some really important new habits are going to be a serious struggle and you are going to doubt you can handle them. But you can. You want to. You need to. Because discomfort, doubt and struggle are the true signs of that you are on the right path to progress in your life. You chose to undertake these struggles and changes for a reason. Revisit those reasons frequently, and let occasional doubt be a normal part of the journey. An expected road sign that signals you are on the right path, but one that you never follow on a tragic detour.
Nobody gets this right all the time.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, is getting this living thing right all the time. I don’t care what anyone says or what image they portray to the world; everyone has their faults, bad habits, emotional baggage and regrets. Anyone who tells you different is a seriously full of shit. No one is happy all the time. No one is always confident. No one is always bright and shiny and brilliant. It’s just not possible, so get it out of your head that you always have to get everything right. You won’t.
You don’t have to be perfect. You just have to be steadfast. Every setback should rent only a small room in your mind and be evicted immediately to make room for more progress, more hope, more discipline and more resolve. These are the things that should take up most of your subconscious living space in your mental neighborhood. Consider every failure; forgive yourself, learn from it and move on. That is how you get it right and that is what the people who seem to always have it working are the best at.
Self forgiveness is part of the journey
Every time I make a mistake I over analyze it. I wallow in it, like a pig in shit, and smear it all over every part of my life and let the stench of it contaminate my being. Forgiving yourself for mistakes seems to get harder and harder the further along you get to creating a really incredible life that you are truly proud of. You feel like you should be beyond silly mistakes. You should know better. When you are in the infancy of your personal development journey, mistakes are tolerated, like forgiving a child who doesn’t know any better, but the further we get the harder we are on ourselves.
One of the most important and freeing lessons I have cultivated in my life is self forgiveness. Accepting the apology in my heart for the mistakes of my mind is such a powerful weapon that I sharpen as often as possible. I don’t have to linger in the stink of my mistakes. I can forgive myself and move forward and that means that those things that I mess up don’t become reasons for continued failure but lessons for future success.
Never Give Up
No matter what – no matter how much I doubt myself, no matter how much I fail, no matter how much I get this shit wrong – I will never give up. Ever. It’s not an option, because I would rather fail a million times at something I really wanted, then never fail, for lack of trying, and never even have a chance at the things that matter to me. I don’t care how long, how hard, how much blood, sweat, tears and pain that I have to endure to be successful, I will do it, and so will you.
Because we keep trying. We learn our lessons, we let our bruises heal and we keep trying. We let people talk shit about us, we battle the self-doubt and discomfort, we weather the storms of life but we never give up. We might feel like complete and utter imposters sometimes, doubting our abilities and our efficacy for change, but we never forget our reasons for the things we do and we scream those reasons, loud and frequent, to be heard above the doubt.
We all feel like imposters sometimes. We make mistakes, we over burden ourselves with regret and anxiety and depression over things that are out of our control or things in our past. We are scared that we are not doing enough or that we don’t have it right or that someone else is doing it better. This is normal and sometimes you will get it wrong. But we don’t need to live in that space all the time and think that we are not deserving or worthy of the praise we give to ourselves for the progress we have made. We are not imposters if we continue to try. We are not imposters if we never quit and we are not imposters if we are honest with ourselves, no matter what we show the rest of the world.