When You Trust Yourself, Then You Will Know How to Live
“As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
— Johan Wolfgang Von Goethe
The quote above is so true and yet not easy to apply to your life. Why? Because you find it hard to trust yourself. How do you do that? How do you find the faith to believe in yourself to live the life that is right for you?
Fortunately, many great thinkers have given us their advice on how to solve this mystery. So let’s take a look at how you can learn to trust yourself and live your best life, true to yourself.
The First Secret
“Self-trust is the first secret of success,” is the first piece of advice from the American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Only once you trust yourself can you achieve success. Before that, you are chasing other people’s ideas of success that they handed down to you. But those ideas are not your own. You can never be your own success while you are pursuing someone else’s goal. So the first secret to success is to trust yourself enough to pursue your own goals.
“Self-trust is the first secret of success.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
You Know More Than You Think
And you should trust yourself. Why? Because as Dr. Benjamin Spock put it, “Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.” When you trust yourself, you tap into a deep well of wisdom that lies within you. It turns out that an interest in comic book superheroes may be more than a passing phase in your life. Look at the wildly successful writer and director Joss Whedon, who said, “I’ve had so much success. I had something to say, I got to say it, people heard it, and they agreed.” What is within you will likely touch others if you just have the faith to let it out.
“Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do.”
— Dr. Benjamin Spock
Doubt Your Limits
Trust that you know more than you think. Trust your instinct even when those instincts go against most people’s advice, especially if they go against most people’s advice. Why? Because most people do not trust themselves. Instead, they doubt themselves, but if you must doubt anything, then do what Price Pritchett suggests, “If you must doubt something, doubt your limits.”
“If you must doubt something, doubt your limits.”
— Price Pritchett
Trust Opens You
You can only become what you can be if you push your limits back. That means doubting your limits while believing in yourself because, as poet E.E. Cummings put it, “Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” Doubting your limits while believing in yourself opens you to creatively explore a world of possibilities. Possibilities you can’t see now, but that you will be able to recognize when you trust yourself and question your limits.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
— E.E. Cummings
Don’t Allow Fear to Stop You
The problem is that it’s scary to confront your limits. It is more comfortable to stay within the bubble of what you know than to step outside your comfort zone. Yet, pushing back at their limits is what successful people do. They don’t do it because they are fearless; instead, they feel the fear and do it anyway. Successful people are not supper-people. T. Harv Eker has studies successful people, and he says, “Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.”
“Successful people have fear, successful people have doubts, and successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them.”
— T. Harv Eker
Don’t Fight for Your Limitations
Unsuccessful people do let their fears and insecurities stop them. They believe that they can’t do it. They always have an excuse for not trying. They say things like; I’m not smart enough, too old, too young, too poor, etc. But as successful memoirist, Elizabeth Gilbert writes, “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.” Maintaining a belief in your limitations results in a self-fulfilling prophecy; your lack of faith keeps you from trying, and thus you never succeed, “proving” you were right. And we all like to be right so much so that we will sacrifice our success and happiness just for the opportunity to say, “I told you so.”
“Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Belief is Half the Battle
The opposite approach to arguing for your limitations is to plead for your success. That indomitable spirit, Theodore Roosevelt, was the embodiment of his advice, “Believe you can and you are halfway there.” That is from a man who had prodigious faith in himself and who succeeded remarkably because of it. He was the youngest president ever elected, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Medal of Honor recipient, builder of the Panama Canal, and creator of the US Forest Service and the National Parks. Roosevelt did not know that he would accomplish all that in his life. He also did not know how he would achieve all the things he wanted to accomplish, which is a dilema we all face.
“Believe you can and you are halfway there.”
— Theodore Roosevelt
Don’t Wait for the Right Time
Roosevelt embodied the advice of world champion tennis player Aurthur Ashe who said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” You can’t know what it will take to accomplish your goal before you begin. All you can do is get started and learn as you go. Don’t wait for the perfect moment; it will never come. Don’t wait until you are ready; you will never be fully prepared. Instead, get started where you are with what you have.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
— Arthur Ashe
There is magic to beginning. Indeed, nothing can happen unless you do. But once you take that first step, the path will begin to present itself. Not the whole track, but the next step on the way. Take that step and trust in the advice given by the founders of the very successful Life is Good brand who summed up their story of hand printing t-shirt and selling them out of a van to becoming an international success by writing, “The work will teach you how to do it.”
“The work will teach you how to do it.”
— John and Bert Jacobs
Do What You Think You Can’t
But the work can’t teach you if you never take that first step. So get going. Give it a try. Think you can’t do it, then listen to one of the most iconic artists in history, Vincent Van Gogh, who said, “If you hear a voice within you say that you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” Do the thing you think you can’t do, and judge your success based on how much you are improving, rather than how you are doing compared to others.
“If you hear a voice within you say that you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
Comparing yourself to others is a sure way to make yourself feel inferior and discouraged. Instead, remind yourself that those who are successful today, were once where you are. So avoid making comparisons to others. Instead take to heart the words of writer Roy T. Bennett, “The more you believed in yourself, the more you could trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the less you compare yourself to others.” So if you must compare yourself to someone, compare yourself to the person you used to be. Look at how far you have come. Have faith in your prior success and you ability to learn, grow and adapt.
“The more you believed in yourself, the more you could trust yourself. The more you trust yourself, the less you compare yourself to others.”
— Roy T. Bennett
The Greatest Accomplishment
After all, trusting yourself is not about duplicating others’ success; it is about finding your personal success. You can’t do that when you listen to what others tell you and compare yourself to them. It’s not easy to trust yourself and follow your path, but it is the only authentic way to go. Because as philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson put it, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Being yourself is the most critical achievement you can make in life, and you can only do it when you trust yourself enough to walk your own path.
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Common Hours
One of the most famous men who trusted in himself and followed his unique path is the writer of Walden, Henry David Thoreau. From his experience, he offers us this gem, “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”
— Henry David Thoreau
Trusting yourself may be a scary path to success, but it is the only way to achieve meaningful success. So believe in yourself. Argue for your abilities and not your limitations. Then get started where you are. The fear will be there, but as you approach it, it will step back. Then follow your path one step at a time. Focus not on comparing yourself to those ahead of you but on the progress you have made. Let the work teach you how to do it, and you too will meet with success “unexpected in common hours.”
“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you’ll be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.”
— Golda Meir