Trust in Yourself to Handle Any Situation

I often wonder why we often have so little trust in ourselves as men and fathers. I have yet to really find the answer to that. I do know that a lack of trust is based on fear, and that some fear is instinctual and healthy and keeps us on our toes. The rest – the parts that hold us back from becoming our true selves – is destructive and inappropriate, and probably can be blamed on our cultural and societal conditioning.

I think about being a young boy back in elementary school. Often my mother, when sending me off to school, would say “Be careful.” Mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, and grandparents never said something like “Go out there and take lots of risks! That’s the only way to tackle life!” The cautious approach in “Be careful” implies that the world is dangerous and that we won’t be able to handle it. What our elders were actually saying was “If something happens to you, I will blame myself and feel awful about it. I don’t think I can handle those responsibilities and emotions.” Our mothers and fathers essentially passed on their lack of trust in their ability to handle whatever comes their way.

As I got older, perhaps 18 or 19, I remember wanting desperately to go visit my older cousin across the state, and my father’s outright refusal to let me go on my own. His answer never wavered: “You are too young. What if something happens to you?” The translation, of course, was “You are not competent enough to handle a trip like that on your own.” Having become wiser with age, I now know that he was really saying “If anything happens to you, I will be responsible for letting you go and I can’t deal with that.”

This overprotective father of mine was once in the emergency room for a small heart attack brought on by stress, over eating, and smoking. I remember seeing him on the bed with the tubes coming off his arm and into his nose. When it was time to leave, I told him I loved him and would see him soon. As I walked toward the door, he mustered the strength and in a weak voice said “Be careful since I won’t be home for a couple days.” Even in his medicated stupor, he was sending me cautious words of doom and gloom. I think he typifies the great percentage of fathers, and mothers, out there. Thinking about the shear number of “be careful”s our parents and guardians pestered us with, it is astonishing we even managed to walk out the front door!

Besides the obvious connections, I think the cause of our underlying fear might lie someplace else. But does it really matter where our doubt and indecisiveness comes from? I don’t think so. It’s not my place to analyze the mind in this way. It might be quite impossible to find out the actual causes of our pessimism and negative self-talk, and even if we did truly know, that wouldn’t guarantee a change in the person. If something is troubling you, start where you are currently at, and make your moves forward to change it.

We know that we don’t like how our lack of trust in ourselves stops us from getting what we want out of life. But knowing this is a first step in focusing on what we need to change. You don’t have to waste valuable energy asking why. It doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you begin to develop trust in yourself, until you come to a point where you can say: “Whatever happens to me, in any situation, I can handle it!”

You might be doubting and saying, “Come on man, what about cancer, or divorce, or the death of a loved one?” Your skepticism is warranted. I once doubted this myself. But you just have to have faith and let life unfold before you. Give yourself a winning chance by using all the tools in your toolbox: books, blogs, YouTube videos, family, friends… As you move forward, you will come closer and closer to the self-confidence that you ultimately will have to handle anything that comes your way. And no matter what, always remember: You’ll handle it!

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