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How to Stop Betting Against Yourself: 7 Keys for Personal Freedom

“Nothing reduces the odds against you like ignoring them.” ~Robert Brault

Do you ever wake up feeling like you’re battling yourself?

What’s worse is waking up in that battle and feeling like you’ve already lost before you’ve even started the day.

But think about that for a second: isn’t living this way crazy? We think it’s normal to be fighting ourselves. We’re taught we need to grind it out and make something of ourselves to be successful. We’re taught we need to become something.

And the underlying message is this: who we are right now isn’t good enough.

We’re starving for acceptance, but see ourselves as flawed, and we end up spending our lives in a quest to prove ourselves to the world and to ourselves.

The Fallacy of Needing to Earn Your Freedom

When I was a kid I felt radically wild and free. And I bet you did too. But I also would bet that something changed and you don’t feel as free as you once did.

As a curious, adventurous lad, I felt like I could do anything, be anything, and create whatever I wanted. My imagination was my only limit.

But then somewhere along the way I started to hear the voices of my parents, teachers, and adults around me send contrary messages.

I needed to…

  • Get good grades to prove my intelligence (and my worth).
  • Do what’s right (follow the pages of an old book) and not misbehave to prove my goodness.
  • Conform to socially-approved behavior to show that I was a valuable member of society.

Basically, I began to transform from a wild, starry-eyed child into a fully domesticated, trained human.

And that is where the battle starts. Don Miguel Ruiz calls this inner battle The Voice of Knowledge. Erwan Le Corre calls this the Human Zoo Predicament.

One voice is telling you to be wild, free, liberated—Do what you want! Follow your desires!—while the other voice chides and judges: That’s not practical. You must follow the template! Don’t venture off the path!

But is it possible that these competing voices could be harmonized?

The 7 Keys to Start Betting on Yourself

I knew I had to reconcile these disparate voices if I wanted to regain my freedom. I couldn’t stand to live in a warzone—especially if I’m carrying that battle with me everywhere I go.

If I want to live a happy, prosperous, and awesome life, I can’t do that while being my own greatest enemy. I need to be 100% on my own side and bet on myself.

Here are the seven keys I’ve found are necessary to start betting on yourself and reclaim your personal freedom:

1. Start the day on your side.

This is critical. The first thing in the day, do something to start on your side. Say, “I love you” while looking in the mirror. Write a page in your journal about all the awesome qualities you love about yourself. Do something to show yourself your loyalty to… yourself.

2. Make time for what brings you bliss.

The judging voice in our mind loves to see us do only what’s practical. You must win, and you win by being better and doing more, the judge loves to say. But getting things done isn’t what life is all about. Make time first for what brings you bliss, then start making love to your to-do list.

3. Honor the things you can’t measure.

We tend to not give ourselves credit for the stuff we do that isn’t measurable or trackable. That’s absurd. Is there no value in hugging a child, marveling at leaves in the wind, or lying in bed with your lover? Remember, just because it doesn’t fit on a spreadsheet or calendar doesn’t make it obsolete.

4. Be mindful.

Without mindfulness, you won’t even notice when you’re being your own enemy. Practicing awareness of your thoughts, beliefs, and patterns is the only path to change.

5. Be kind.

Seriously, you must be kind to yourself. If someone was insulting you or abusing you, you’d probably walk away, right? But how often do we take this abuse from ourselves? Since you can’t walk away from yourself (not that I know of, anyway), you must learn to be kind to yourself and give up trying to live up to your image of perfection.

6. Give your gift to yourself.

Whatever your gift is, you need to give it to yourself. Whether your gift is being a great champion for others, identifying the genius in people, or getting to the root of disharmony, make sure you give this blessing to yourself as well. You’ll also be able to give more deeply when you’re fully supported and energized.

7. Be diligent.

The voice of judgment is a tireless beast. It will stick around, lurking in the shadows and sneakily emerging when you least expect it. However, the better you get at ignoring this voice, the more it’ll start to get the point. Just remember, no one’s ever raised a statue of a critic. What this voice has to say can’t matter very much.

The True Definition of Madness (That We’re Not Told)

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. I disagree.

I believe the definition of insanity is battling against yourself every day. Why not try being your own supporter and champion, and bet on yourself for a change?

I believe you have greatness within you. And I believe the key to unlocking that greatness is by becoming your own greatest ally.

Over to you: Have you ever felt like you wake up battling yourself? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Photo by wtl photography

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About Jonathan Mead

Jonathan helps people stop betting against themselves and start creating lives of freedom. To complete your quest for inner freedom, get the free kit he made for you: click here to get the kit and start betting on yourself.

Announcement: Wish you could change your past? Learn to let go and create a life you love with the Tiny Buddha course!
  • Alison

    There’s a difference between the inner judge and conscience. How do you distinguish one from the other?

  • Razwana

    Jonathan – I agree with what you are saying and your definition of madness is refreshing in comparison to the other much quoted one!

    ‘giving your gift to yourself’ – I’d stretch this further and say give to yourself what you want from others. This is especially true for those who look for a partner in order to fulfil the need for happiness.

    - Razwna

  • Melinda Gonzalez

    I’m no expert, but I think the inner judge tends to come off as tense, constricted, hurtful, and judgmental. The inner conscience is a loving voice, and nudges us towards our true being – loving and kind to ourselves and others.

  • Melinda Gonzalez

    Thank you Jonathan, I think we all need to be reminded of this. I can tell when I am battling myself as I will often wake up with my entire body sore and tense (from the tension of the lovely mind battle).

    I know when I start feeling this battle, I stop and BREATHE. I just focus on my breathing, and my mind tends to calm down. I think, for me at least, it is the mind that battles. The heart already knows what it wants. Once I can turn my crazy mind off, my heart naturally leads me to what I need to do – where I need to go.

  • Jungo Rivera

    The posts on this site always seems to find me at the right time. Tiny Buddha always reminds me of the impact one has within his or herself. Thanks for the reminder I needed to conquer and accept myself.

  • Tammy Renzi

    I used to wake up battling myself until I started living the life that I wanted to live rather than the one I thought I should live. When I started exercising, eating healthy, and living a fun life with my husband, everything changed. I now wake up happy every single day.

    Love this post and its message!

  • http://twitter.com/GoalsHappenHere Goals Happen Here

    It’s SO true that we are unkind to ourselves when we wouldn’t let others be….or in ways that we wouldn’t be to others. We shouldn’t treat ourselves worse than we’d treat strangers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.vollink Tim Vollink

    thank you so much

  • http://www.facebook.com/scholley Austin Scholl

    This article resonates very strongly with me. Thank you for sharing your love and experience!

  • Liz Molitor

    oh jonathan, what an amazing post and wonderful reminders. thank you so much for articulating all of this in such a clear and loving voice. :)

  • CPT E

    I am plagued by the inner judge constantly and finding myself running
    away, literally and figuratively. It is incredibly draining.

  • http://twitter.com/designbydustin Dustin Lee

    Great post, I’m sticking this in my Evernote file as a constant reminder.

    I have high expectations for myself. Unfortunately, often the result is that I treat myself with far less respect than I do others. Why do we do this?

    I suspect part of the reason is that our relationship with ourselves is often invisible.

    I’m going to focus on giving myself the same respect I give others this week.

    Great post, Jonathan!

  • meghank

    Great message, Jonathan! Taking time to do the things we love often cannot be measured in what the world values — but those very moments are priceless. Remembering that while we are following our bliss is of utmost importance.

  • http://twitter.com/byaisling Aisling Smith

    great post, one i will want to read again Share

  • Joy

    Thanks for such a great post. So many useful tips. I find I wake up “against myself” also. How much better to start the day with love and kindness towards myself. Thank you for a great reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/rosxnatt rosmiati natio

    This is exactly what i feel. Everyday. Thanks for sharing ^^

  • http://www.facebook.com/antonia.tsoi Antonia Tsoi

    I battle with myself everyday and it’s crazy because I have ZERO patience or tolerance for anyone who can ,does not talk or treat me with respect and yet I put my own self down constantly. I have to make a conscious effort to be mindful of my thoughts and cultivate a habit of positive thinking everyday and it’s a struggle at times . This is a lovely read .Thank you Jonathan , for sharing. :)

  • lv2terp

    GREAT post, and wonderful perspective! Thank you for sharing these awesome tips! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/vinoo.choliparambil Vinoo Choliparambil

    I am also going thru a similar phase and the one main thing i am trying to learn/do is to HOLD ON TO MYSELF.
    I guess it is something like ur idea of ‘Bet on yourself’.
    Having insecurities and lot of self-doubts often makes me want to hold on to another person or something external to gv me strength.
    And it is a major shift.in mindset to let go off the external things which i assume wld make me feel secure and to just hold on to myself. I am working on it.
    Thanks for sharing the post.

  • Henrietta Decosta

    I was begining to think that I had got enough of wisdom from ‘Tiny Budha’. But reading this wonderful article by Jonathan Mead, made me feel grateful with a lot of humility. To be aware of how much abuse we take from ourselves (the internalised Critic in our minds) is to practice awareness, truly the only path to Change.
    Thank yyou Jonathan

  • Rita

    I was plagued by my Inner Judge, Tormentor or Critic, for many years and unaware of it, until I began to wonder why I had this constant undercurrent of Dissatisfaction with myself. I then became aware of how incredibly draining it was. It took me a long time to be able to hear the harsh thoughts of my Critic. It was easier to come to an awareness of them by observing the uncomfortable sensations that accompanied them on my body. I was able to do some of this through my efforts to practice Vipasanna ( a buddhist form of meditation). The sensations melted away when I was able to observe them with awareness and decreasing amounts of aversion to the discomforting sensations. very often I had to observe my strong Resistence to observing them. I am still practicing this awareness of the thought or sensation as it arises. Sometimes I still fail but I am not dissatisfied, because I accept it and know that nothing is fixed. I changes and i can change with awareness and acceptance of any moment time or sensation. Many articles like those of Jonathan”s, helped immensely too

  • @dan_steer

    I wrote a post about getting in contact with the “real you” and this seems relevant here:

    http://dansteer.wordpress.com/2012/10/30/i-think-therefore-i-am-not

    @dan_steer

  • http://www.mimaonfire.com/ Michelle

    I use to be the queen of betting against myself, so totally understood this article! I was literally my own worst enemy and people even would comment (on a regular basis) that I was too hard on myself. I still occasionally fight that voice in my head that is critical but it’s getting better. Great article!

  • Renee

    This is really great. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I judge myself many ways, many times on an average day and probably don’t even notice. This might just take the form of procrastinating something important that I have to move forward with.

    I’ve taken a few leaps of faith recently and my world has changed dramatically, even though most of the obvious (surface) things are more or less the same.

    I think I’d add to this list:choose to spend time with people who support you in these ways! When I let myself receive these gifts it nurtures my own attitude towards myself, and them, and it’s a wonderfully positive feedback cycle. It also helps to have one or two good friends who will point it out when you are judging yourself and creating problems.

  • Brittany

    I know exactly what you mean about battling with yourself from first thing in the morning. I loved this article and will definately be looking at your other stuff too. Thank you!

  • Lannie

    Thank you sooo much for this article. You helped me a lot today.