The biggest enemy to finding pleasure in life is self-doubt. It creeps in, makes us wonder if we are good enough, makes us feel less worthy, makes us give up, or at least slows us down on our path.
The very foundation of hedonism is confidence in yourself. Believe in yourself. In your abilities, in your decisions, in your vision of who you are and who you want to be. It’s good to question yourself. That gives you the ability to determine if you are on the right path and correct course if needed. Self-doubt though robs you of the ability to do that.
Self-doubt doesn’t pose any questions. It only gives one answer: “You are not good enough”.
It’s the internal enemy. It’s coded in us. Centuries of religious, patriarchal, societal, economic structures have taught us that we should “know our place”. Even the mantra of the past 40 years that you can be whatever you choose to be is not really true – the moment you choose something that is out of the norm, you are immediately bombarded by reasons why you shouldn’t do it, why it’s a mistake, why you are going to fail. The system tells you that you can be whoever you want to be, as long as you fit in. And the frame in which you are supposed to fit is very, very tight.
There are dozens of examples of that happening to us every day. Some are very basic – how many times you saw an outfit that you liked, but then gave up on it, because “it wasn’t right” – whether it was the colour, the shape, the fit. You liked it, do you need any other reason to wear it? Instead, you thought about what other people would think about you. Self-doubt, stealing your pleasure one more time. Some examples can be much more profound – for example – many men and women experience bisexual tendencies in one form or another, but never act on them, because it’s unacceptable, because it’s embarrassing, because “what will people think”… So, we rob ourselves of who we are and the things that would bring us pleasure, because of self-doubt.
The only way to break the frame that society has put in place for you is to have exuberant self-confidence. Self-confidence requires self-awareness. It requires full knowledge of yourself. It’s been said many times that the key to a successful relationship is communication. It doesn’t apply only to a relationship with your partner or any relationship between you and other people. It applies as well, or I dare say even more, to the relationship you have with yourself. You need to be able to analyze and communicate with yourself all the details about your own life. Your wants. Your needs. Your desires. Your fears. Your doubts. Your self-imposed limitations. Your talents. Your hopes. That talk with yourself is the key to understanding and defining yourself. It’s what gives you the ability to present yourself as who you are, not as who you are supposed to be or told to be.
It is not a one-time process. It’s not something that you define once and then live with it until the next “summit”. On the contrary – it’s a continuous process, communication on the deepest level, day after day. The more you do it, the better you are at defeating self-doubt. I know it sounds counterintuitive. How can continuous self-questioning be helpful and not result in crippling self-doubt? Because self-doubt is not based on facts. It’s not based on reality. It’s not based on real questions and real answers. It’s only based on fear and the answer is always the same. Self-communication allows for real questions, with real answers – and they leave no room for self-doubt.
Another benefit is that this level of self-awareness will allow for continuous improvement. You won’t wait for ages to fix something that you don’t like or don’t feel right. You will have to act immediately because your awareness of the issue will require action.
Don’t mistake self-confidence for cockiness. The former is a sign of a well-established individual, aware of themselves, their surroundings, and their path. The latter is a sign of weakness and the need to show off as something that you are not.