Stop Underestimating Yourself

By Brian Kim

I don’t know for sure when or where it started, just because people are so different, but the one thing I’ve noticed among the majority of people I meet is that they seem to underestimate themselves. They really do. And you know what? It’s to the point where you’re literally shocked at how badly they do it. It really is amazing to see just how one’s perception of themselves and the perception of those on the outside can differ so much.

People have no idea what they’re capable of until someone goes around and shows them just how capable human beings can be. Why do you think so many people get inspired? People need to be constantly reminded that there are no limits and that they can do it. We never seem to learn that lesson until we are forced to do so, when we have no way out. Don’t wait until then. You know it, deep down inside, you know it. You know you’re more than capable. It’s just a matter of digging through the negativity and criticism that has piled up for so many years to discover that yes indeed, you can do it.

Truth be told, for the better part of my life, I did underestimate myself. I don’t know how I developed the habit but I did. In school, I didn’t raise my hand, even though I felt I knew the answer. In meetings at work, I would keep quiet, even though I thought I had a brilliant idea to share.

The moment when it really hit me was when a friend told me this:

“Brian, you are your own harshest critic.”

It’s true isn’t it? We are the hardest on ourselves, more so than anybody else.

It’s amazing how people are able to only see the worst side of themselves. We are often caught in a race with the ideal self that we want to be, that we don’t see the good qualities that we have to begin with and we don’t see the progress that we are making toward our ideal self.

Whenever we thought of a crazy idea, we were shot down, so we probably inferred as children that we weren’t that bright. We compared ourselves to other people. We thought of great ideas, but didn’t implement them because after all, they came from us so they can’t be good right?, only to realize six months down the line, somebody else capitalized on it and gained a fortune. How many times has that happened to you? How many times did you have a great idea but didn’t follow through because you underestimated yourself?

Do thoughts such as “I can’t do that. I’m not good enough. I’m not smart enough. It would never work. I could never do something like that” often hold you back?

Each time you give in to underestimating yourself, you’re reinforcing the fact that you’re not good enough, that you’re not smart enough, that you’re not capable enough, etc.

So how can you stop underestimating yourself?

Think back to all the times that you succeeded. There were times, I guarantee it. Write it down in a journal. This will serve to reinforce the fact that you are capable of great things. It’s just that you tend to forget them.

Start trusting yourself on the little things. If you can do this one little thing, then you can probably do that other thing that’s a little bit more challenging. By doing that, you start to chip away at your underestimation little by little.

One way to disable underestimation is through physical exercise. When you don’t think you can run 30 seconds more or pump that last rep, go for it. Run for 30 seconds more and pump that last rep. You’ll soon realize it wasn’t anything outside you that was limiting you, it was really only you this entire time. It really was. You’ll find the voice inside that is responsible for underestimating yourself gets more quiet and less frequent as you challenge it on a consistent basis.

Constantly engage yourself in activities that test your limits. Don’t think you can ride the roller coaster? Look it as an opportunity to stack evidence. Don’t think you can ride the horse? Think back to your stack and look at it as an opportunity to stack even more evidence. Don’t think you can dance? Take a dancing class and stack more evidence on top of it.

By doing this, you start de-stacking your negative underestimating evidence and stockpiling your positive can-do evidence which you can withdraw from anytime you need to do so.

Success breeds success. Stack small and watch it grow.

As you start pushing the limits, try to break your own four minute mile (metaphorically speaking of course). A brief recap for those who don’t know. Many years ago, it was considered impossible to run the mile in less than four minutes. Then one man broke the limits by running the mile in under four minutes. Because the psychological barrier was removed, many other athletes were able to run the mile under four minutes as well.

All you need is to beat your own four minute mile and to prove to yourself that you can do it. So set up your own four minute mile and work slowly on breaking it and use that success as a huge catalyst to break your other four minute miles and remind yourself that it’s all really in your head.

Accept compliments. Don’t deflect them, accept them wholeheartedly. This will reinforce that fact that yeah you are something else! You do have unique talents and skills!

Encourage others. It’s easy to point out the flaws that other people make, but it takes a great man or woman to be able to point out the great things that other people have done. You’ll find that by doing so, you’ll be encouraged as well. We always get what we put out. And sometimes, that little nudge of encouragement is all a person needs to bet on themselves.

Stop comparing yourself to other people. If you think about it, it doesn’t make sense to compare. We all come from diverse backgrounds and none of us lead identical lives. We are all fruit (human), but just different kinds. One person can be an apple, another a orange. Because one’s an apple, he/she can make great apple juice. You shouldn’t be sad when you can’t make apple juice if you’re an orange. You’re an orange, you make great orange juice! You’re a rich source of Vitamin C. We each have our own talents and abilities and the sooner we realize that everybody else has their own, the sooner we can start to embrace ours and not worry about what other people seem to have that we don’t.

Don’t listen to the negative people around you. They serve to belittle you. The majority of people take sick delight in chopping people down. Pay no attention to them. Their negativity serves no useful purpose.

There are tons of stories out there of famous actors who were told they would never make it, directors who were kicked out of school, inventors given up on. What was the one thing that kept them going?

They bet on themselves. And that is one of the surest bets you can make. Why?

Because you are the house. You own the house.

You dictate what cards come up and if they don’t, you’ll grab the deck and pull out the cards you need and place them on the table.

You, and only you have full control of yourself so use it to stop underestimating yourself and remove the limits from within and see just how grand your life can be.

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