[Author's Note: Before you ask, this is NOT about the book "Choose Yourself" by James Altucher. I haven't read it yet. It's on my list. Pinky swear.]
A colleague (let's call her Gina) confided to me that despite being a six-figure entrepreneur (with real profits), despite having retired her husband, and despite being able to travel the world, she still grapples with her inner belief that she's just not good enough.
From the outside, it seems like Gina's got it all figured out. But secretly she worries that every success she's had is just a fluke... and that at any moment, everything she's worked so hard to build will come crashing down.
No matter how many wins she racks up, no matter how many clients she helps, Gina's inner critic keeps pointing back to that insecure, misunderstood, neurodiverse teenager she used to be.
Disobedient. Space cadet. Disorganized. No one thought she'd amount to anything mostly because no one took the time to accurately diagnose her neruodivergence.
And even though she can see herself more clearly now - even though she's killing it in her life and career - Gina still grapples with owning her awesomeness.
Impostor syndrome? Maybe. Gina's really good at what she does, and she knows it. She talks about the results she gets for her clients, so I don't think it's that so much as the programming that's keeping her from confidently choosing herself.
Why is choosing yourself so hard?
Maybe (as a survival skill or coping mechanism) you were conditioned to seek external validation and approval or learned to prioritize the expectations and desires of others over your own. Not that I speak from experience or anything! This often creates feelings of guilt or shame when you start to prioritize your own needs and desires.
That's a hard knot to untangle!
While it might be easy for some people to step forward confidently and say "pick me", choosing yourself is not always as simple as deciding to take ownership of your own success or creating your own opportunities. If that were the case, we'd all do it with ease! Sometimes there's more at play than you might realize. It's also about dealing with the inner demons that tell you that you're not good enough, that you don't deserve success, that you're an imposter, and that you're one mistake away from failure.
Additionally, choosing oneself often requires stepping outside of one's comfort zone and taking risks. When you choose yourself, you're putting yourself out there, taking risks, and exposing yourself to criticism and rejection. Fear of failure, rejection, or judgment from others can be powerful barriers to making choices that are truly aligned with our own values and goals. It's not easy to do, especially if you're a marginalized person or if you've been conditioned to seek external validation or play it safe.
"Suck it up, buttercup, and put on your big-girl panties" becomes a problematic platitude that just serves to frustrate and enrage rather than inspire action.
Choosing yourself also requires a certain level of self-awareness and self-confidence. You need to know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want to achieve - and vocalize it. So often that truth gets buried under the well-meaning "shoulds" of others. That makes it harder to believe in yourself and your abilities when others don't.
After my first marriage ended, I had a LOT of unpacking to do. So many stories of unworthiness were programmed into me from the years I was hitched to a well-intentioned someone telling me over and over that I was never going to achieve my dreams.
No, really! I do believe he thought he was being helpful by trying to encourage me to "just be happy with what you have" or that I'd be better off if I would just "get a 'real' job."
After you hear those messages for a while, you start to believe them. That's how brainwashing works. It took years of self-examination and staring down those old stories to remind me of who I really am. I didn't do it alone. I had friends, family, therapy, and now I have a husband who adores and fully believes in my magic.
Choosing yourself means being willing to go against the grain and chart your own course, even if it means going against the norms and expectations of your family, friends, or society. That's not always an easy (or safe) thing to do.
When we choose ourselves, we take control of our own destiny. We no longer wait for someone else to tell us what to do or how to do it. We become the driver of our own life, charting our own course and creating the success we crave. By taking ownership of our success, we also take responsibility for our failures. We learn from our mistakes, adjust our course, and continue to move forward.
But choosing yourself isn't always easy. It requires you to step outside of your comfort zone, to embrace your strengths, and to be vulnerable. It means taking risks and being willing to fail. It means letting go of the expectations of others and trusting in yourself. That's scary stuff, right there!
How can you get over the fear and self-doubt that hold you back from choosing yourself?
The power to choose yourself lies within you. You really do have the ability to create your own opportunities, to design a business that aligns with your values and strengths, and to pursue a life that's more in alignment with who you are and what you want to be about in the world. It means identifying your strengths, your values, and your vision for the future. It means being intentional about the work you do and the clients you serve.
Start by reflecting on your values and priorities. What is truly important to you? What do you want to achieve in your life and business? Once you have a clear understanding of your own values and goals, it can be easier to make choices that align with them, even if they may be uncomfortable or uncertain.
Then, recognize and celebrate your worth and value. It may seem awkward (and you might need some help), but YOU need to recognize that you are valuable, and that you have something to offer the world. Instead of trying to be someone you're not, embrace your strengths and use them to your advantage.
Redesign your business to be more in alignment with who you are and what you want to be about in the world. So long as it's legal, it's YOUR business. It's okay to do it your way! Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your unique strengths and talents. Write them down! Sing your own praises and remind yourself of them often.
Don't wait for someone else to give you permission to pursue your goals, take ownership of your success. Create your own opportunities and don't be afraid to take risks. Don't be afraid to fail, because failure is just a stepping stone to success.
Speaking of which, learn to reframe failure as feedback. Instead of seeing failure as a sign that you're not good enough, see it as an opportunity to learn and grow. While sometimes failing is a good indicator that it's time to quit, don't just assume that's the case. Ask yourself what you can do differently next time and how you can use the experience to improve.
Practice a little self-compassion and recognize that choosing yourself is not selfish, but rather a necessary step towards personal fulfillment and success. It's natural to feel fear, self-doubt, and other negative emotions when you're stepping outside of your comfort zone. Be kind to yourself and don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. Instead, acknowledge what you're going through and remind yourself that your feelings don't get to drive the bus. Make time for self-care activities to help you feel more centered and confident.
Surrounding yourself with a supportive community of like-minded folks can provide motivation to stay on track or encouragement when you're trying to prioritize your own wants and needs. It may be slow-going at first, but stay the course! Choose people who uplift you, support you, and believe in you. Avoid people who bring you down, criticize you, or undermine your confidence. In Gina's case, she found that her mastermind community was invaluable for overcoming her inner critic and staying on track.
Seeking out resources such as workshops, coaching, or mentorship can provide valuable guidance and support on the journey towards choosing oneself in business and life. As a coach, my job is intimately connected to helping people see the value they bring to the table and how to use that power for good in their lives.
Take courageous action. Not "massive action". Courageous action. The best way to overcome fear and self-doubt is to do something. Start small if you must, but take a step that moves you closer to your goals. As you take action and see progress, your confidence will grow, and you'll be more motivated to keep going.
If you're struggling to choose yourself, know that you're not alone. It can be hard to break free from the expectations of others and build a life and business that really works for who you are. But your world is waiting for you, and every minute you stall, everyone loses.
That's why do what I do! In April, I'm hosting my popular Cashflow Creator Workshop. This workshop is designed to help you create a business that aligns with who you are and works for how you're wired to work. It's time to stop hiding and start embracing your power to choose yourself. Registration is now open, so sign up and take the next step towards the life and business you truly desire.