A new year, a new you. Get the new app, read this book, or take this course. There is nothing wrong with a new start, if it’s based on a different foundation.
No one ever tells you that the new you is the same as the old you—unless you stop and examine how you feel about your past attempts.
It’s not what you want to do, or what you have done that’s the problem. It’s why you stopped, or didn’t even try.
A new app, or book, is not going to change what’s in your heart and mind. You may feel hopeful and excited to start anew. But sooner or later, you’ll go back to your default setting.
Take a moment and think about what you wish you could do. Be still and try to answer this question: Why haven’t you started working on it? Or if you started, why did you stop?
Whatever your answer may be, there is a belief running in the background. It’s what’s stopping you. And if your experience is similar to mine the belief is:
I have nothing of value to offer anyone. I’m not special, and I have nothing worthy of sharing with the world. I’m just an average person with an average life.
Whatever the label we put on this belief, it’s still the same. We feel like frauds or imposters, because our contribution is never good enough (assuming we contributed anything).
I don’t claim to have the ultimate solution to eliminate this belief. But I can tell you this: No matter what caused you to believe you have nothing to offer, you’re not alone.
We all experience insecurity, lack of deservedness, or doubt about our abilities and contribution at one point or another. It’s a by-product of having an ego that will do whatever it takes to protect itself from getting hurt.
And I don’t want you to waste your time and energy digging into why, or when the belief was created. Instead, let’s focus on two things.
- What happens when we allow this belief to run our lives
- How to move forward, even when we believe we have nothing to offer
The painful consequences of limitation
If we’re functioning with I got nothing all the time, we will, in most cases, stop ourselves from trying. And that comes with serious consequences.
Loss of drive and initiative: The ego says: I know I got nothing, I know myself better than anyone. This depressing thought keeps perpetuating itself and stops us from even daring to dream.
Rejecting success: Experiencing success in any situation will not mean much to a know-it-all ego. It was luck, or might’ve been a mistake—not ability. And you torment yourself and fear being exposed as a fraud.
Cynicism and no sense of value: It’s easy to sink into negativity and not appreciate anything when we don’t value our contribution. Can we enjoy anything we don’t appreciate?
Victimhood and helplessness: If I don’t have anything, it’s life’s fault. It becomes easy to blame family, biology, and fate for all of my shortcomings (real and imagined). And who can do anything remotely challenging in victim mode?
All of the above are not actions but rather mental and emotional reactions that will chip away at your self-esteem and confidence and suck the joy out of life.
The longer we hold on to the belief I have nothing, the harder it becomes to let go and take action. If you have struggled with this destructive belief, keep reading.
How to move forward in spite of perceived inadequacy
I’m not an advocate of digging into the past and uprooting beliefs. I’d rather start here and now.
I’ve worked with these strategies separately. Today, I’m hoping the combination will be a simple and effective process to do things differently. While I mention writing as my example, the same steps apply to any creative, or unfamiliar goals.
1 - Recognize past excuses.
The ego is capable of coming up with countless excuses to keep you from doing something new that may cause you pain or embarrassment.
Your mind will remind you of past failures, or not having enough talent. Or worse, it’ll second guess every desire and action.
I wasted so much time struggling with the belief that I got nothing and hid behind lame excuses (don’t have time, I’m tired, I need to learn more, need equipment, need more space) that stopped me from doing two things I’d love to do: writing and creating music.
Take a moment and think of the excuses you’ve been telling yourself.
2 - Honor your feelings.
You will feel pain when you look at the belief and its army of excuses. And you’ll automatically try to suppress and avoid, or fight the unpleasant feelings, causing yourself more pain.
Feel the discomfort right now—anger, fear, anxiety, apathy, doubt, regret, or even shame.
Sit with the feeling and notice the sensations manifesting in your body. Stay still till you feel okay. It may take a while.
3 - Clarify what you want to do.
What is it exactly that you’re trying to do? Vague dreams don’t inspire. They overwhelm.
Writing a best seller is beyond scary. Writing a story based on a specific life experience is manageable.
Determine one thing you can do right now.
4 - Start.
Do it. Just write the first thought, or play a few notes on the piano, or record the first minute of a podcast.
A tiny action will prove to you that you can do something about your dream.
5 - Separate fact from fiction.
This is the most crucial step. No matter what you think about yourself, please know this.
No one was, is, or will ever be you. End of story.
You are one of a kind. From your DNA and heartbeat, to your family, your experiences, and your perspective. No one will ever experience the world the same way as you. No one has your ears and eyes and knows what’s in your heart. No one will be able to interact and respond to life in the same way, using the same words, feeling the same feelings, and thinking the same thoughts.
The odds of coming into this existence are inexplicably slim (1 in 400 trillion, that’s a whopping 11 zeros). You are one of life’s lottery winners, against all odds.
Embrace it! Appreciate it!
For fun, look up a song that has been covered numerous times and listen to its different renditions. It’s the same melody and lyrics, but the sheer fact that someone else performed it in their own style transformed it. Two songs I love that have been covered by various artists are: The first Cut Is the Deepest, and Hallelujah. Look them up and listen.
In your case, you’re not only the performer of the song of your life. No one has the same lyrics or melody and no one can begin to truly know your song.
You are not perfect. No one is. But you got this—because it’s you, not because of what you lack or don’t have.
Let the fact of your unique being sink in. And then take another step.
You may face doubts and experience setbacks. That’s expected. Regroup, remind yourself that you’re just preforming your own song, and start again. It may work, it may not. But it sure beats the fiction that keeps you from even trying.