Dr John Demartini is a world-renowned specialist on human behavior, a researcher, author and global educator. He has studied over 30,000 books across most all the defined academic disciplines and has synthesized the wisdom of the ages, which he shares on stage in over 100 countries around the world.
Today, Dr Demartini talks to us about how to transform self-doubt into self-belief, and why identifying your highest values is key to growing self-belief.
Where does self-doubt come from? Is it from our upbringing or the result of our past?
Self-doubt is essentially a feedback mechanism to let you know that what you’re pursuing is not congruent with what you value most. Many people think that self-doubt is a weakness and want to blame things in the past for their perceived lack of self-belief. But I’ve worked with thousands of individuals, and the second they are setting goals that are not aligned with what is high on their list of values, they’re going to experience self-doubt.
When you set authentic goals that are congruent with your highest values, self-doubt diminishes or dissolves because you become more objective. It doesn’t matter what you’ve been through in your childhood – self-doubt is simply feedback that you are not being authentic to yourself and not living by your highest values where you are more objective and strategically plan.
When you set a goal that is aligned with your highest value, your self-worth goes up and your self-confidence increases because you are spontaneously inspired from within to act and can see clearly in your mind’s objective. When you do something low on your values, your self-worth goes down and your self-confidence decreases.
What do you mean by “highest values”?
Every human being, regardless of their gender, age or culture lives moment by moment by a set of priorities or values. This set of values is unique to them and whatever is the highest values on their list becomes the primary source of what drives them. Whatever is highest on the person’s value list is the thing that is most important and what they are spontaneously inspired to act on. It is here that they do not require any extrinsic motivation – they spontaneously act, don’t hesitate, are disciplined, reliable and focused. As they move further down their list of values, they become more extrinsically driven and require an extrinsic reward in order to do it and punishment if they don’t.
When you’re living according to your highest values, you become more reasonable and objective. You increase the blood with its glucose and oxygen into the forebrain, and you see your vision of what you want to accomplish. You strategically plan it, because you wake up the executive centre in the brain, which is in the forebrain. You tend to execute that plan without hesitation, and you have self-governance over the impulses and instincts that normally distract you and make you hesitate. But if you transiently attempt to live in lower values or attempt to set goals that are lower on your value list, you won’t spontaneously act. You’ll have to be extrinsically driven to get into action, and you’ll have to perceive way more advantage than disadvantage in doing so, or you won’t act because you’ll be functioning from the desire center or amygdala looking for pleasure and avoiding pain.
How do we know or discover what our unique higher values are?
If you haven’t defined them, you can go to the complimentary Value Determination Process on my website. It will help you take a look at what your life already demonstrates are your highest values.
Some people feel that self-belief is vain and see it as a negative trait. What are your thoughts?
Self-belief is not vain – true self-belief is a productive and meaningful response.
Your self-belief increases every time you set a goal that is aligned with your highest values and you persevere and achieve it. For example, I have a high value on researching and teaching. So anytime I have a goal in the area of research and teaching, I tend to act on it, get it done, and achieve it. I believe in myself; I believe I can do it; I know I’ll walk my talk and I’ll get my result. On the other hand, if I develop an arrogant kind of pride and exaggerate myself and try to force myself to do something not truly high on my list of values I will generally be humbled because the second I get arrogant, I’ll attract events to humble me. As the well-known saying goes, “pride comes before the fall”. This results in an essential diminished self-belief, which acts as feedback to return me to my more authentic highest values to regain my confidence.
True self-belief is not arrogant – it’s confident and certain that what you say you’re going to do; you’ll do. I’m certain that I’m going to be researching daily. I’m certain that I’m going to be doing some sort of educational process daily. I’m not certain that I’m going to work out every day. Although I do it periodically, I don’t do it every day – it’s not my highest value. So if I set a goal to work out every day, I’m going to have a high probability of hesitating, procrastinating, and frustrating. And I’ll start saying, “I should”, “I have to” and “I ought to”. Anytime you’re saying those words, you know that it’s an injected and lower value and you’re guaranteed to make yourself self-depreciate and lose confidence.
If you don’t fill your day with high priority actions that inspire you, your day is going to fill up with low priority distractions that don’t; and your self-worth and self-belief are going to go down. You’re not being authentic, and the universe is giving you feedback to try to get you to be more authentic. Your physiology, psychology, sociology, and theology around you are all trying to get you to live authentically. If you live by your highest values, your self-belief and self-worth are going to be strong. Your image of yourself is going to be confident. It doesn’t mean you are vain, nor arrogant.
How do we keep ourselves centered so that we don’t get arrogant?
The addiction to inflation is accompanied by deflation, the addiction to pride is accompanied by humbling circumstances. If we go into business and become narcissistic; we simultaneously become humbled. If we go into business and are overly altruistic; we eventually get angry because we’re doing something for nothing. Neither one of those is sustainable. We are wise to find equity and authenticity in order to have sustainable fair exchanges with people.
This global pandemic has brought with it a wave of uncertainty surrounding potential ideas and business ventures in many. What advice could you give around that?
Make sure you think your business venture through and make sure that there’s a real need or demand in the market. I’m amazed at how many entrepreneurs go out into the market with a fantasy – they borrow money and take risks, all before finding out if there’s even a real need for their business or offering. They project their assumption of what the market wants instead of finding out what the market’s asking for. As a result, they end up struggling or even falling flat because they’re going after something that nobody wants. It’s wiser to be bit more patient and to make sure in advance that you really have a market.
Then start looking at all the potential challenges you might face so you can plan ahead for what you can do and how to mitigate them. That’s the problem with just thinking positively because then you don’t want to look at any potential negatives or downsides or potential challenges and end up reacting instead of proacting. But if you’re not looking at them and mitigating them, your brain is going to intuitively bring them up to make sure you’re thinking about them. That’s what anxiety is; and what fears are – incompletely planned goals that are more fantasies than true objectives.
Once you know there’s a demand for your business or service, you won’t have as much anxiety – you only have anxiety for the things you didn’t anticipate, a fear of the assumed challenges you have not prepared for or mitigated. The moment you plan it out and say, “Okay, if this happens, here’s what I’ll do,” you don’t have a fear about it. That fear dissolves.
So, fear can be seen as something positive and constructive?
Elon Musk just made his own spacecraft and worked with NASA to go up to the space station. This process involved 100,000 people thinking of every possible thing that could go wrong, planning it out and mitigating it. That’s why they’re successfully doing it and achieving their goal – not because they had fantasies or practiced positive thinking. They thought of everything and prepared for every single thing that they could imagine that could go wrong.
Think of fear and self-doubt as friends – feedback mechanisms to let you know that you haven’t planned an objective or that you’re not anticipating any downsides. Then go ahead and plan and anticipate every possible downside – fear and self-doubt will then dissolve.
How do we distinguish between emotions and intuition?
Polarized emotions are subjectively biased perceptions that are lopsided. Either you’re conscious of an upside but no downside, or a downside but no upside. When you have biases like that where you aren’t seeing both sides, you have an emotion. So, emotions are essentially polarized feelings that offer you feedback to let you know you’re not being fully conscious and objective.
Now, don’t confuse synthesized feelings with polarized emotional feelings. Feelings have two types: polarized feelings or emotions, and synthesized feelings, which are gratitude, love, inspiration, enthusiasm, certainty, and presence. Going back to my example of Elon Musk – he was inspired, grateful and enthused – all signs that you’re living authentically. There were no obvious polarized emotions where you’d see him get infatuated, or resentful, or skew things and distort things. So, I’m not against feelings – I just want to emphasize that unstable and polarized emotional feelings are essential feedback messages in your life to point out that you are not centered, authentic and poised.
Intuition is there to try to neutralize any polarities to bring you back to a centered state. So, if you’re infatuated with somebody, your intuition will try to point out the downsides. When you’re resentful towards somebody, your intuition will try to point out the upsides and meaning. There will always be meaning. There will also be an upside and downside to each individual.
Think of your intuition is a negative feedback loop. Negative means, it’s trying to bring you back to homeostasis and bring you back to objectivity.
Many people confuse feelings with intuition. No, intuition is a neutralizer of emotions so you can set real goals and achieve real things, instead of relying on polarizing impulses and instincts that are just fantasies that fizzle out over time
You mentioned positive thinking earlier. Do positive affirmations have any impact on self-belief?
If you say to yourself, “I’m always up, I’m never down; I’m always positive, never negative; always kind, never cruel,” you’re going to beat yourself up because it’s unachievable and you intrinsically know that it’s not true. So, positive thinking by itself is delusional. It certainly has a place when you’re down, angry and resentful and need positive thinking to bring you back into balance. In the same way that when you’re infatuated and gullible, you need healthy skepticism. You’re trying to bring about equilibrium. But positive thinking on its own is only half the equation.
You talk about the three things we have control of. Can you please elaborate on that?
We have control of our perceptions, decisions and actions.
If a goal is not one of those three, it is something we don’t have control over. So, when somebody says,” I’d like to make a million dollars gross income a year”, that’s not a complete goal, but a result. What you do have control over, for example, is making 10 calls a day, and for every 10 calls you make, you close a sale. Let’s say that the average sale nets you one thousand dollars. So, every 10 calls give you a thousand dollars and every 10,000 calls gives you a million dollars. You have control over making 10,000 calls, but you don’t have control over the million dollars directly. Learning how to take control over the things you do have control over is the key and not going after things that are delusions or trying to control somebody else’s actions.
Focus on what you do have control over – your perceptions, decisions and actions – you’d be surprised at how impactful it is. You can have a result attached to a goal, but the goal itself needs to be broken down into perceptions, decisions and actions.
Anything else you’d like to add on the subject of self-doubt and self-belief?
Find out what is truly most important to you – that’s when your life will change. Let go of the fantasy, get grounded, give yourself permission to do something extraordinary; and prioritize your life every day – then delegate the rest.
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