Why a Strong Self-Esteem Means Everything

There was a time when sailors believed if they reached the edge of the horizonthe earth was believed to be flat, and the result was few sailors dared venture far into the seas for risk of falling off the edge. Despite this limitation being developed from a completely absurd idea, it was a belief that for centuries prevented humans from discovering a significant part of the world.

WHAT WE BELIEVE TO BE OUR LIMITATIONS OFTEN END UP BEING OUR LIMITATIONS WHETHER THAT BELIEF IS SOUND OR NOT.

Our thoughts have the curious element of often being self fulfilling. How much does what we expect from ourselves influence our lives? When we think we are capable of accomplishing a task, we are more likely to actually try it, try harder while doing it, and persevere when we don’t find immediate success. This mindset alone is often enough to differentiate between success and failure. When we believe we are incapable of success, we have no reason to try, to work hard, to persevere, and thus we will likely end up just supporting that belief with little effort that reduces any real chance of success, our belief having been fulfilled.

Consider the bicycle. Before we ever learned to ride we had seen people riding bicycles everywhere thus we knew it was possible. Initially it was difficult to learn, attempting to balance on two thin wheels while trying to steer at the same time. In most cases it required plenty of falling and getting back up. But no matter how much discouragement there was, we always could fall back on the knowledge that it was quite possible, and so we found the gumption to persist until we could figure it out for ourselves.  And we did. How might this process have been different had no one ever ridden a bike before. Would we have doubted our ability? Would our willpower have been diminished a bit when the first wobble tossed us onto the pavement? Would we have even bothered to try?  

EVERYTHING THAT HAS EVER BEEN DELIBERATELY ACHIEVED STARTED WITH A SOLID BELIEF IN ITS ATTAINMENT.

Humans reached the moon because there were people who first thought it was possible. Brainstorming began, ideas were tested, plans were constructed, and with a lot of persistence the moon was finally reached. If it wasn’t first thought possible is it likely anyone would have been willing to try? Our  expectations regarding what we are capable of accomplishing directly affect what we are willing to try and as a result what we are likely to accomplish. If we choose limit ourselves with our internal beliefs we must accept that this choice will also limit our own potential.

There is no way to ever know how many great lives never reached their full potential due to an initial  lack of belief, yet just like the sailors who never ventured to the seas, its safe to assume many lives never ventured far beyond their own limited personal beliefs. History is ripe with examples of resolute beliefs that altered human existence. Flight was once considered a ridiculous idea, thoughts about communicating with radio waves was reserved only for the insane, and sending video into space was just plain inconceivable.  Yet here we are at a time when we take all these items for granted because at least someone at some point thought they had it within themselves to get such a thing accomplished.  We have ample evidence throughout history to illustrate the incredible nature of of our abilities when we mix open minds with imagination, but not if we limit ourselves with our own thinking.

IF WE ONLY NEEDED TO BELIEVE SOMETHING WAS POSSIBLE FOR IT TO BE TRUE WE COULD ALL TURN OUR CATS IN TO DOGS SIMPLY WITH THE POWER OF THOUGHT. 

Expectations alone are nothing.  Belief in our own ability does not affect the outside world and expecting it to do so in a recipe for disappointment.  Our internal beliefs can never act as replacement for the skills necessary to succeed. Having the confidence that we could ride a bike did not give us the skills to actually ride that bike. But this initial confidence mixed with desire produced perseverance, which resulted in the necessary repetition required to develop the skills we needed.

If only achievement was as simple as just believing; who could stop us then?  We can not rely on belief alone, but what we can do is fill our minds with the type of thinking that fuels achievement. Whatever starts processing in our brain to initiate action is without a doubt dependent on this initial belief, and thus the importance of not limiting our own beliefs is critical.

Often times ambition develops not from thinking things are easy, but from thinking they are possible. We don’t always need to know the answers.  Often the confidence that we can find the answers is more significant that already knowing them; it creates a healthy willingness to forge ahead. The student beginning a medical degree cannot possibly know what it takes to be a doctor, but is rarely surprised at becoming one when the degree is finished. The nature of accomplishment is tied directly into what we think we can do far more than in knowing how to do it.  

The prominent psychotherapist Dr. Nathaniel Branden who writes extensively on self-esteem described the process of internal thinking in this manner:
There is a continuous feedback loop between our actions in the world and our self-esteem. The level of our self-esteem influences how we act, and how we act influences the level of our self esteem…Research shows that high-self-esteem subjects will persist at a task significantly longer than low-self-esteem subjects. If I persevere, the likelihood is that I will succeed more often than I fail…Perseverance is self esteem building.”
This feedback loop can work for or against us, it is up to us to choose what direction that loop will take. If we believe hard work is worthwhile, we are apt to work hard. If we believe we don’t have the necessary talent to succeed, we are not apt to bother trying to develop any skill. What we believe about ourselves can both inspire or hold us back. This choice, while obvious, is not always easy because remaining on the positive side of this loop requires a refusal to accept the elements we constantly face that unnecessarily try to limit our view about our own abilities.
We encounter setbacks, we experience societal pressures and beliefs, we feel self doubt as times, and we inevitably carry plenty of false convictions. These forces will constantly attempt to limit our views and set this loop in the wrong direction so we must choose to believe in ourselves anyway.

WE CAN NEVER EXPECT TO SUCCEED AT ANYTHING IF WE BEGIN BY BEING CONVINCED WE WILL FAIL.

As Henry Ford once expressed, “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t – you’re right.”
It should come as no surprise that few great things are ever achieved by small minded thinkers. We don’t know our limits so we have no need to impose them by choosing anything than thinking big. When we get this choice consistently right we have discovered one of the most rewarding elements of life; happiness by choice.  Are you making the choice to believe in yourself?
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