How to Build Self-Confidence | Overcome Limiting Beliefs

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Today’s reading has been edited and adapted from “Success Through Thought Habit” by Benjamin Johnson, published in 1908.

Have confidence in yourself. Believe in your ability to do big things. Only by having faith in yourself, can you compel others to have faith in you. Think big thoughts and back them up with big deeds. You can, if you will. And you will.

Many a little seed has longed to develop and send a little shoot up toward the sunshine. But growth has always been delayed until suddenly the outer wall that limited its growth is burst apart! Many lives are in the same condition: the wall of thought that limits them must be burst before real growth can occur.

The one great infallible rule to be learned when you desire to think constructively, is that the conditions you desire will exist for you in just the proportion that you are capable of developing your own natural powers. If you persist in drawing a line of demarcation between yourself and that which you desire, or if you feel that a certain person is responsible for what you are to obtain, or that a certain condition dependent on other people is necessary for your development, then just so long will you be kept from making the progress that you should.

To say feebly, “Yes, indeed, I was full of enthusiasm when I started in the work, but one thing after another went wrong until I just thought I would stop trying and get out while I could,” shows that your backbone has never been developed at all; otherwise every obstacle would have spurred you on to greater effort.

Most of the disappointments in life come because we are not only limited in our ability, but also in our vision of what will bring to us the greatest happiness. To desire a definite thing is the way most people begin to prove their ability to obtain a goal, but often after this ability has been proved, the thing itself does not always prove what one anticipated, and disappointment results. Now, nothing was wrong with the rule or the wish, but the individual did not realize the wisdom of working for a condition rather than a specific object.

For example, instead of feeling that to love and be loved by a certain person will make one happy, it is wiser to desire happiness and feel (even though the individual may disappoint one) happiness will come in its own way. To desire a condition and then become upset and discouraged because every plan is changed, retards the progress of many until we learn that often what seems like a cruel disappointment is merely the opening of a better way to get results.

A well-known physician on the Pacific Coast once spoke of his own experience as an illustration of the necessity for keeping one’s faith in the ultimate outcome, no matter how dark things may look. He had just purchased a beautiful home in a large east-coast city, established a lucrative practice and received the appointment of Professor of Medicine at one of the best colleges.

One day it occurred to him to try one of his own tests on himself, and he subsequently found himself afflicted with tuberculosis. He described himself as being utterly crushed, both mentally and physically, for the first few days. But finally he rallied and became determined to win success in spite of poor health, loss of income, and the sacrifice of his home.

In ten years he had a splendid practice and his health was completely restored. In fifteen years he was independently wealthy, and to quote from his own words: “Had I remained in what seemed to me initially such a desirable condition, I would have made a bare existence. As it was, when I recovered from the shock, I became determined to make good on my potential. Instead of the limited income of a college professor, I became determined to become a specialist capable of earning large sums of money. I seemed to make money the moment I entered the new town and I spent it as readily as I made it. I felt my supply was unlimited, and so it has proved.”

The spirit that controls the Universe is never limited. We are blessed with a profusion of everything, and yet we fail to take advantage of our blessings. With the sunshine pouring down, many people shiver and walk on the shady side of the street. With air laden with health-giving oxygen, many walk with their shoulders bent, and obstinately refuse to breathe deeply enough to give their lungs enough of Nature’s remedy to purify and invigorate the blood that is pumped into them for this very purpose.

Nature is always lavish. We alone impose limitations to health, wealth, harmony and happiness. Hundreds, yes thousands, of people are every day ignorantly worshipping a God of Limitations instead of a God of Abundance. They are not really worshipping the God that does exist, but the God that they think exists, and they excuse their own failure to accomplish by explaining: “If God really wanted me to have this or that or the other, he would give it to me.”

The farmer might as well say: “If God wants me to have a good harvest, He will send the showers the crops need, and just the right amount of sunshine, and He will stop the weeds from growing, and when the time is ripe and the grain is ready, I will gather it in and send it to the market.”

Likewise, the merchant might say: “I won’t take that trip to look over new things; I am sure God will send me just the right articles and my patrons will be just as well satisfied.” And so, one might go on down the line until in every department of life we could well imagine everyone sitting down lazily and explaining, “God will provide.” And God does provide, but in proportion to the intelligence with which demands are made, the energy with which the work is prosecuted, and the ability to organize one’s thought, habits, and efforts.

Those who worship the God of Limitations may be known by one very common trait. They are always “going to do something,” and they are always waiting for the proper time in which to begin their efforts. If they want to continue some type of study, they will wait until the time when there are no interruptions and thus never commence that study. If they intend to pay a visit, they will wait until the time is just right for that trip, and often-times that particular trip is never taken.

They admire and recognize ability in others (and often desire feebly to imitate them), but always their vision of their self-created God of Limitations interposes, and they hear, “It may be all very well for those others but you know you have not the strength, not the ability to attempt anything of the kind.” So back they sink again not realizing they lacked will rather than ability.

Ask people of this type if they enjoyed a movie or a book or an outing, and the answer will be, “Oh yes, it was very nice, but,” and that “but” speaks volumes. This limitation-thought extends to all their acquaintances, and naturally their children are fairly steeped in it. Even the neighbors are limited and they grow to think of “poor Mrs. Jenkin’s bad heart” and “Mr. Brown’s bum leg”.

Try to mention a constructive thought, and that too is used the other way about. For instance, instead of saying, “I am happy, I will be happy,” the person with a limited vision declares, “I will not be depressed.” The one is affirmation, the other negation.

Likewise, children are requested not to be bad instead of reminding them that it is easy to be good. They are told not to be late for school instead of suggesting that they be on time. They are warned not to get their feet wet instead of requested to keep their feet dry. All small matters — yes, but they show the trend of thought.

Right now someone is probably asking, “What is the difference anyway?” The difference is this. By telling someone to do the right thing the right way, you prevent the thought of doing anything the wrong way from entering the mind. Always suggest what you desire accomplished, not what you wish avoided. Always affirm what you desire to accomplish; never explain why it is impossible for you of all people to accomplish it.

Don’t you believe in any limitation?” I am asked. And I answer by a quotation, “Impossible, there’s no such word.” No one can see the other side of the ocean, yet every day tens of thousands embark (filled with the faith that they shall reach the other side safely) and they do.

The beginning of the history of civilization in our own country, as we learned it in school, is one of the best illustrations we have as to the futility of limitations. Poverty, contempt, ridicule, all were tried on Columbus without avail. He persevered until finally the Queen herself pawned her jewels to aid him. Yet Columbus had never seen America, nor had the Queen any definite ideas on the subject. And then when he did depart, it was in a vessel that no sane man would embark on today. But Columbus didn’t dream of a limit; what he was longing for was a new country and he found it.

And so, we who would succeed and progress each day must learn that the only limitation we have in life is the one we acknowledge ourselves. The opinion of others can not hinder our growth unless we acknowledge its power. The room that is wired with electricity remains unlighted until the switch is turned on, and even then the amount of illumination depends upon the number and size of the lamps. The very same wire conveys enough current for all the light we need; it is the way we use it that really counts.

Within every life is the vital current that acts upon the individual exactly the same as the electric light does to the home — with this exception, there may be trouble along the line that will cut off the supply to the electric light, but with the individual nothing can cut off or diminish our supply of light but ourselves — the amount that we get being always determined by our desires and our ability to use it wisely.  The “I am” and the “I know I can” individual has learned the first lesson in the use of this current.

Finally, we succeed in life by recognizing our oneness with the Universal Supply, and working firmly toward our goal without regard to the apparent obstacles, or fear of the future. We are daily building up a consciousness that is crowding out every vestige of limitation, and thus making it possible for us to work toward the success we desire.

You will never find time for anything. If you want time you must make it here and now. Human limitations to progress must be resolutely swept aside before the first step toward development can be made. As one writer has so aptly said, “The individual who insists on being carried soon forgets how to walk, and, naturally, loses the ability to use their own limbs.” So in the use of the mind, the only success you can obtain is the one that you can visualize. The only hindrances to that success are the limitations you recognize.

To limit yourself, your friends, and your household, by the thought of weakness, ill-health, lack of training, lack of knowledge, or for any other reason that may be expressed, is merely building the wall of limitation higher every moment. To banish the feeling of limitation, it is necessary to make the positive affirmation, “I can accomplish” without explaining anything stands in your path. You have made your own limitations, and you may destroy them if you will but use your will-power for that purpose.

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All transcripts from our motivational podcasts are edited adaptations of the original work and copyrighted by LivingHour.org.