The next time you feel lost and out of sorts, ground yourself in the knowledge that you are not alone. At some point in time everyone feels as if they are still a naïve teenager or a babe in the woods. Yes, even that rock solid power broker who makes sure he or she sits at the head of the table in every meeting is vulnerable; oft times the most vulnerable of all. Just watch them. They spend just as much time comparing themselves to everyone else; and trust me; their insecurities are identical to yours.
I say this because that feeling is part of our nature. It’s our brain’s way of making sure each of us stays in line and remains a member of the tribe called human.
You see 40,000 years ago our greatest advantage wasn’t our physical strength or our ability to create weapons; it was our capacity to work together as a close-knit unit. Alone we gathered berries. Together we hunted mastodons. Our ability to work together, our social nature, moved us quickly to the top of the food chain and made us world’s top predator. It helped us build huts, villages, towns and cities. It helped us change the very world we live in, for better and for worse.
But today, the same programming that used to help us win as a species now holds you back as an individual. In today’s world, you are simply not in a constant state of survival and competition like your ancestors were. The problem is, your old programming doesn’t know that. Instead, it keeps sending you signals designed to keep you in line.
Even though you live in the modern world, your brain doesn’t translate your old programming into complete sentences. Instead it speaks to you through your fears, your habits and your discomfort. It tries to maintain the tribe called humanity by making you uncomfortable when you’re in a group situation.
Some people react to this by speaking out, others by shutting down. Some break through their programming and rise above it, but the vast majority listen to it and simply fall in line. So the next time you feel like a fish out of water, just know that everyone around you feels the same way. Everyone around you is afraid of speaking out. Everyone is petrified that they will be ridiculed or laughed at. That fear is what keeps you in line, not your intelligence or lack of ideas.
So now that you know that the habits, social mores, fears and insecurities are just your old programming’s way of maintaining control, it’s time to learn how to over-ride them. Only then can you take control of YOUR life and make choices that support YOU, rather than what society wants from you.
The next time you feel yourself feeling inadequate or uncomfortable, STOP. Take three deep, cleansing breaths and focus your mind on a point where your body touches the world around you. Feel your bottom as gravity pushes it into your chair. Feel the soles of your feet pressing against your shoes. Feel your clothes move against your body as you inhale and exhale. Feel the solid connection to your body as it takes up space in the world around you.
Now, move that feeling of connectivity into the center of your stomach. Feel it tighten as you draw your navel backwards, connecting it to your spine. Use that bundle of energy as a way to energize your confidence.
When you speak, inhale deep into your stomach and speak from that same store of energy you just built. Now let yourself be heard.