Don’t Underestimate Yourself

“As long as you think that the cause of your problem is ‘out there’ —as long as you think that anyone or anything is responsible for your suffering—the situation is hopeless. It means that you are forever in the role of victim, that you’re suffering in paradise.” ~Byron Katie

You can do just about anything you set your mind to. And just about is plenty good for accomplishing more in life than you have time to accomplish.

Yes, there are some things in life that we won’t ever be able to achieve. I will never be a professional ballet dancer no matter how diligently I train. You may not get the specific job you want because the employer won’t hire you.

You may go after something with every confidence that you can achieve it, and then something unexpected prevents you.  Of course severe physical or emotional illness can hinder you. But these are the exceptions.

The rule is that there are millions of things you can accomplish.

When I coach clients, they often revert to the fallback position of over-examining their emotions. Emotions are important and have their place, but they are a smokescreen to taking action.

I try to refocus the client on action. Positive action always makes you feel better.  Even one tiny forward movement can be enough to turn around your entire outlook.

Here are some common feeling-charged thoughts that try to divert you from action:

  • It’s hard. I can’t do it.
  • I’m too lazy. I just don’t have the motivation.
  • I don’t really need to be doing this thing. I’m fine the way I am.
  • I’m feeling down right now. I can’t do anything when I feel this way.
  • I can’t afford to do that.
  • Something bad might happen. People won’t like me anymore. I’ll make them mad.
  • I failed at this before, so clearly I’m not capable.
  • I don’t deserve this. I’m just not good enough.

I wish I could tell you that these thoughts had enough truth in them to merit inertia. But that’s not the case.

There are millions of goals and desires for which you have the ability, intelligence, resources, and stamina (mental, physical and emotional) to accomplish.

It may not be easy.

It may not always be fun.

You might fail the first time and have to start again.

But most of the time, with the proper research, training, planning, preparation, and consistency, you can do what you set out to do if you really want to do it.

That’s the key: you have to want it enough to turn your back on comfortable excuses and scary feelings. You have to admit that they don’t really have the power to stop you.

When you are standing naked in The Land of No Excuses, it can be intimidating. Invisible eyes are on you saying, “Ok, now you actually have to do something.” But it can be exhilarating too.

Maybe you no longer have excuses not to do something — but now you have a good reason to do anything. The world is your oyster.

My friend and client Stephanie has lost 140 pounds in the last year after a lifetime of obesity. She’s launched her own business and is trying many new things that weight previously prevented her from attempting.

Leo, my friend and partner for The Habit Course, has built his entire business and blog around taking action. He’s become  pro at creating good habits and dropping bad ones. Look at what he’s accomplished.

The beautiful Diana picked up and moved to Italy to follow her dream of owning and running a bed and breakfast. In spite of a period of severe anxiety, she figured out how small actions could keep her moving forward. She used her anxiety to focus her creativity rather than being victimized by it. She is now living her dream.

Author, speaker, and master coach Steve Chandler awakened to the truth of his own abilities during a workshop with the amazing Byron Katie. He overcame a victim mentality, reinforced by alcohol abuse, to become one of the most sought-after speakers and coaches in the country.

If you are reading this and thinking, “Yes but . . . ,” I invite you to dismiss those two words from your vocabulary. Of course you have difficulties, special circumstances, limitations.

We all do. But don’t underestimate yourself. There are plenty of things, millions of things,  you can do, so focus on them.

There are unlimited resources to help you do what you want to do. You can Google just about anything and find out how to do it for free.

There are books, courses, workshops, mentors, teachers and coaches available to help you. This post isn’t about giving you the resources — you know where to find them.

This post is a reminder of the truth. Don’t underestimate yourself. You can do just about anything you really want to do.   Most excuses don’t hold water.

You are now standing naked in The Land of  No Excuses. It’s time for action. What are you going to do next?

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28 thoughts on “Don’t Underestimate Yourself”

  1. Dear Barrie,

    Another thought provoking article that “strips bare” common excuses we use in order to stand still in our self-made garden of misery … where all we produce is, ahem -wink wink – ‘whine’.

    Barrie, your point about the need to WANT change, therefore facing the feelings and any excuses, puts things in perspective … it can be difficult accepting responsibility for our life and so much easier finding “reasons” for why we don’t.

    Another article to mark for re-reading.


    • Hi Peppy,
      You are definitely one who doesn’t let excuses hold you back. I am always inspired by your comments and your courage!

  2. Barrie, this article is very timely for me. Just the other day, I had the thought, “I can never get things accomplished because the pain and inflammation from RA disease makes me feel lethargic and unmotivated.” When I feel like this, I withdraw. Mostly everything comes to a halt. Then another thought came, “Why can’t I change it? Why not try to be outgoing when I’m feeling the worst? Why not push through it, instead of going with the flow?” It would be like changing a habit. I think.

    Thanks for the reminder, Barrie. I will take action to change this habit.

    • Hi Marianne,
      You certainly have good reason to want to withdraw — I’m sure RA can be really debilitating at times. Maybe you can still go with the flow, but find ways to do small things that productive and forward-moving. When I’m distracted, I generally notice pain less. Maybe that is the case for you. Thank you for sharing.

  3. I cannot hear this enough! Negative thoughts can feel so real as if they were true. I know they are not, but I have to admit that I sometimes forget that.

    • All of us do Maya. None of us like to admit we aren’t doing something because we just don’t really want to. That’s where excuses come in. And then excuses get us focused on negative thoughts. It becomes a vicious cycle. I’m trying to teach myself to admit that I just don’t want something badly enough when I avoid doing it. That’s the truth of it.

  4. Thank you for this subject. I am on the verge of starting to blog and I’ve hit a wall. I wrote 2 items last week to get started and when I awoke in the morning, I felt embarrased and judged and NO ONE had even seen it but me. Old fears started to rise and I’ve been fighting them since. Fears of being judged by those who know me. I’m holding off right now emailing the go head to build the blog becasue would if I have only 3 or 10 blogs in me and then I stop? I’ll of spent my money to build it and there is the possibility that I’ll change my mind for one reason or another. Mostly I fear that I’m not the writter I think I am or that I want to be. This post reminds me that I must go forward and follow through and if I’m not a blogger after all….Thats Ok

    • There is always the possibility that you will quit Catherine, but only if you choose to. Just put all of those fears in a box and don’t allow yourself to look in the box except for 5 minutes on Friday mornings. All other times, just keep taking action toward building your blog. 🙂

  5. “No excuses” to do what you really want. Thank you for this post. As a retired nurse after 32years, I am starting my second career as a writer. My first children’s book will come out in October 2011. I am also writing creative nonfiction. I can identify with the comment above about being judged in the writing community on blogging but my readers have been nothing but supportive. Thank you for this post. Keep on, keeping on. It reminds me a little about what the Talmud says, “You don’t see things as they are, you see things as you are”.

    • Wow — how exciting! Congratulations on your book. Isn’t it wonderful to have a second life after a long first one? “I’m too old,” is rarely a good excuse. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Barrie ~ This is a beautiful and poignant post about something most of us are guilty of. I think you said it best when you acknowledged it will neither be easy or always fun. As someone who has said far too many times, “I can’t because . . . ” – I am glad you were there to remind us all that we absolutely can! In the end, it’s all about taking action! Thanks again for helping me do that time and again. ~Steph

    • You are so welcome Steph. I’m proud to use your story as a shining example of “no excuses” living and success. 🙂

  7. Hi Barrie,
    I have used most of these excuses at some point or other over the years. But this year, I decided it was enough. I wanted to push myself, I wanted to see what I could accomplish. What was I capable of?
    And I’m doing it. Suddenly I found that the pain of not doing it was worse than any pain I might experience actually going for my dreams.
    And you are right, action is the key.
    PS. Love Byron Katie too!

    • Good for you Shona! Yes, inertia is slow torture. Action takes a bit of initial discomfort, but then it’s usually far easier than we ever anticipate. Keep it going. 🙂

  8. Absolutely wonderful post. It has really struck a cord with me, I’m going to bookmark and read it whenever I have a “Yes But…” moment.
    Many Thanks

  9. “It is better to fail than to never have tried”
    “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky

    We can do almost anything and it is okay to try, it is okey to fail.
    Just as long as we pick ourselves back up again.

    • Great quotes Daniel. Failure is generally a prerequisite for success. If we never fail, we aren’t attempting new things!

  10. Thank you so much for this post! I’ve noticed recently that over the last few years I’ve managed to self-reinforce some tendencies in myself, to the point that I don’t try to break them:

    “I don’t do well with power tools; I like to do things by hand.”
    “I get territorial with other women.”

    Things like that. I’m trying to break those habits, and accept that it’s my choice to allow these things to be true…or not.

    • Hi Shadlyn,
      This biggest hurdle is awareness that you hold yourself back with these beliefs/excuses. If you’ve formed a habit of thinking them, you will need to re-train your brain to make new thinking automatic. Start by telling yourself out loud that you can easily use power tools. Visualize yourself using them. Put a note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself. Then start using them. You can do it!

  11. Hi Barrie
    Thank you for those inspiring words. I have recently learned that I will be made redundant in the next couple of months and am feeling very down and scared about having to find a new job. Sometimes my low self worth gets in my way. I really need to get out of my own way, put my “big girl panties” on and stop making excuses!
    Regards from Australia

    • Hi Lynn,
      Maybe you can just begin by viewing this job loss as a doorway to something better. Now is a great time to evaluate what you really want for a career, what other opportunities are out there. Maybe this will offer you some needed down time, time for reflection. This could be a very good thing for you — you never know. 🙂

  12. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an very long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t show up. Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over again.
    Anyhow, just wanted to say great blog!

  13. I don’t know how to thank you Ms.Davenport.
    After reading your article, I started to feel great.
    Thank you forever

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