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How to Overcome a Limited Sense of Self and Be More Confident

This post was first published on my Medium blog—follow me there for the most up-to-date entries!

How many times do we find ourselves saying, “Oh, it’s just me.” What, exactly, does that mean, and why are we saying that? Here are four interpretations of what we might be saying about ourselves that demonstrates having a very limited sense of self.

I’m an uncomplicated bunch of cells

Some people get caught in the idea that they are just … well, an unsophisticated bunch of flesh and bone, moving and breathing.

Not so.

Described from least to most complex, science shows that our sense of self consists of three major components. We have the ability to:

· recognize our own face and body and know what those body parts are doing,

· possess a sense of ownership; that we are responsible for what we do or don’t do,

· become aware of our own emotions and make sense of our life experiences.

In other words, from the cradle to the grave, we have an ability to grow in our understanding of ourselves.

I’m fixed in my ways

The variation is, “It’s just the way I am.” I’ve always been that way. It’s how I always will be. I’m here to exist.”

Another variation would be, “I can’t help what I do. It’s just the way I am.”

That’s akin to saying “I can’t change; I’m stuck in my past. I’m here to be completely stagnant, so just put up with me the way I am.” That’s a very limited sense of self.

In her book, “Your Invisible Power”, Genevieve Behrend quotes her mentor, Thomas Troward: “Creative power is in no way limited by precedent, or what has gone before.”

That means, basically, we are not stuck with doing what we’ve done in the past. (Unless, of course, we choose to be stuck there.) Troward is basically saying that each day is a blank canvas; we can create our future.

Vincent Van Gogh told us, “Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “you can’t.’”

I’m the only one who thinks/does that

Oh, really? Your action or preference or opinion is so unusual that no one else could possibly think or do that?


It’s true that each person is unique in their ability to create a better world. But feelings, thoughts, or actions are fairly universal. Wondering about that “feeling” thing? Check out this wheel of emotions.

When you say you’re the only one who thinks or feels or acts that way, is that self-speak for accusing yourself of being abnormal?

If you believe your thoughts, feelings, and actions are abnormal, maybe you have a limited sense of self. You’re probably just experiencing the human condition.

I’m not good enough

This is the big kahuna.

If it’s “just you” then you’re saying that you can’t do it, whatever “it” is. You’re not smart enough, not creative enough, not skilled enough … you don’t have what it takes.

Many of us have been fed a bigger or smaller dose of that message for years.

We’ve grown up being told not to brag about ourselves or to be egotistical; not to be haughty or conceited or proud. Certainly, that can be good advice.

But there are other messages that most of us didn’t hear as kids. Here’s one:

Child, we are all made of the same basic stuff. You are like a snowflake.

Snowflakes are made up of three elements: crystals, water vapor, and dust.

As a teenager, my high school sweetheart gave me a silver necklace shaped like a snowflake. On the back it said, “So special are you; so unlike any other.” (And yes, decades later, I still have the necklace and we’re still married!)

So, you and I may come from the same cloud, but we are different because we go swirling and tumbling and spiraling into different paths to reach the ground. We fall and float through different temperatures and moisture levels.

Child, you are special. You have a unique set of gifts and talents and aspirations. Respect yourself for what you have created in the world.

Recognize your positive impact. Give yourself credit for what you’ve done to make the world a better place. If you can’t recognize your goodness and your contribution to a better world, why should anyone else recognize or respect you?

Child, love yourself.

True, you have your faults and failings. We all do; it’s part of the human condition. But, on the whole, you’re a good person; a lovable person.

Consider that “love yourself” command. Ask yourself:

Are you berating yourself for your shortcomings? If so, would you berate a friend in the same way?

Are you depriving yourself of something? It might be an item or a day off or a training course or something else that you want, but then deny yourself. If you’re denying yourself, are you showing love to yourself?

If it was your friend or your colleague your employee, or your child, would you give that “thing” as a gift to them? Okay, do you love yourself enough to give that “thing” to yourself — at least sometimes? If not, you’re probably just a person who hoards your stuff; not a person who loves yourself.

I’m asking that you examine only one thing: Strike this “just me” from your conversations with yourself or others. It doesn’t help you to move forward.

Listen to yourself. If you hear yourself saying, “It’s just me,” ask yourself if maybe you have a limited sense of self. And then ask yourself how you can be the amazing, unique, incredible irreplaceable, irresistible person that you and everyone else can (and does) love.

How often do you say “it’s just me,” and what is it you’re really saying about yourself? Would your best friend say that to you?

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