Where To Find The Strength To Take Action: In-Depth Guide

If you’ve ever wondered where to find the strength to take action this article is for you.

Do not complain that you have an uphill journey, especially when you are heading for the summit – this internet slogan from an unknown author has stuck in my memory. When setting life goals – personal, professional, small and large – we always set ourselves some peak to conquer.

We are all prepared differently for this journey, and the path to the summit looks different for each of us. Some of us stand at the foot of the mountain equipped with knowledge, a map, mountain gear, provisions, support, and they may even have beautiful weather on their side. Others stand alone, with a heavy backpack, in summer shoes, with dark clouds gathering overhead and the wind picking up.

I began to wonder, why do the former often don’t even take the first step towards their goal, while the latter achieve the summit with determination. What is it that enables us to reach for our goals despite difficult conditions, and what holds us back? Where does the strength to act come from?

There are no psychological studies that unequivocally state that upbringing is the fundamental variable shaping our sense of worth. One can encounter many people who, despite being raised by sensible, success-appreciating, and supportive parents, do not believe in themselves in adulthood.

There are also those who believe in their abilities and achieve success with determination, even though they were troubled in childhood and were more likely to be punished for mistakes than praised. We all have the chance and tools to fight for our sense of worth.

So, what can be done to take control of building self-esteem, gain distance from oneself and the world, and effectively cope with life’s challenges?

First, realize that a high sense of self-worth is not a gift – we actually work on it throughout our lives. Second, start working on yourself and examine your beliefs, independently decide who and what can influence you, learn from mistakes, and focus on action.

Where To Find The Strength To Take Action:

1. Change Destructive Beliefs

Lack of belief in one’s capabilities and low self-esteem hinder actions, leading us to give up at the start without taking even a small step towards our goals and dreams. The assessment of whether we can achieve something or not is nothing more than a belief – a subjective opinion often based only on impressions, not facts.

Steven C. Hayes, a world-renowned psychologist and creator of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), emphasizes in the book “Thinking Traps” that we fall into the loop of our own beliefs and lose a realistic view of reality when we can only see it from the perspective of our thoughts, without examining those thoughts themselves. This refers to situations where it seems to us that what we think about the world, other people, or ourselves is the only and unique truth.

We do not examine our beliefs and forget that they give our individual, subjective shape to reality. It’s as if we were wearing glasses with yellow lenses and were convinced, as well as convincing others, that the world is yellow. Just change the glasses, and the world’s color changes.

The same goes for beliefs – just realize what beliefs you carry and how they shape your view of the world, how you see yourself. The ability to examine your beliefs is a crucial discovery because they determine your well-being and behavior.

Henry Ford (1) put it bluntly, saying, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.” So, if you were ever convinced that you are worth nothing – and you still unquestionably believe it – not much will work out for you in life. However, if you see potential in yourself, you will also see more opportunities in the external world and take on challenges more boldly.

Exercise:

You can take control of your sense of worth by taking control of the beliefs about yourself. Start by recognizing thoughts and opinions about yourself that limit you and make you unhappy, and then change them to more realistic and beneficial ones.

Write down on paper the negative beliefs/thoughts about yourself that you have been told or believe. Choose the one that truly affects, saddens, or worries you, e.g., I am not good at anything.

Now, answer the questions that will help you check how real and beneficial this belief is for you:

➔ Where does this belief come from? Is it based on facts?
➔ What specific events indicate that this belief is true?
➔ What experiences contradict this belief?
➔ Does this belief help you feel the way you want to feel?
➔ Does this belief help you achieve short-term and long-term goals?
➔ What results come from believing in the truth of this belief?

Considering the above answers, think and write below:

How else can you formulate this belief/thought to make it more realistic and correspond to reality?

Once you formulate a new belief, go back to the questions above and answer them in the context of this new thought. How do you feel with the new belief? Notice that for every general opinion about ourselves, we can find examples and specific events that confirm it and those that deny it. None of us is 100% one way; we are rather a certain way depending on the situation or our actions. We may fail in a specific task, but it does not mean that we are not suitable for anything at all.

True self-worth must be reflected in reality – it should be built on facts and specifics, not general judgments and conclusions based solely on emotions.

2. Learn from Mistakes

We can approach failures and mistakes in two ways – as a “victim” or as a “learner.” The “victim,” when making a mistake, reacts emotionally, justifies themselves, looks for others to blame, and pities themselves. The “learner” analyzes situations, takes responsibility for what they could influence, draws conclusions to avoid making the same mistake again.

To emerge stronger from failure, one must adopt the attitude of a “learner.” However, to build future success on it, one must focus on action. Reflections on what happened cannot last indefinitely.

Exercise:

What do your failures teach you? When you make a mistake or don’t achieve what you intended, refer to the following set of questions.

➔ What specifically was the failure/mistake?
➔ What are you responsible for in this situation? What do you have control over?
➔ What was okay in this situation? What did work out?
➔ What did this situation teach you?
➔ What steps will you take to fix this situation?
➔ What will you do differently next time?
➔ What obstacles might you encounter, and how will you prepare for them?
➔ What will be your first step to take action again?

3. Install a “Bullshit Detector”

A lot of information we hear about the world, ourselves, or our decisions holds no value. What’s worse, it instills fears in us, clips our wings, and complicates the execution of plans. In NLP (2), such messages are bluntly called “bullshit.”

It is truly our decision whether we allow these nonsense messages to impact us and hinder our actions. We can succumb to these discouraging messages and give up on pursuing our dreams, but that doesn’t absolve us of responsibility for our own actions. We are left to deal with the consequences of our decisions alone.

So that you never have to say, “If it weren’t for that bullshit I believed, I wouldn’t be afraid of so many things, I would be a few steps further now, taking on more ambitious challenges” – learn to defend yourself against worthless talk.

Exercise 1:

Remember what characterizes valueless messages. Try to recall a few of them and write them down. They are based on cognitive errors such as:

– Generalization – drawing general conclusions based on one or only a few facts (occurs in the case of stereotypes).
– Catastrophizing – predicting a negative future without considering other, more probable possibilities.
– Single-track thinking – selectively focusing only on the negative aspects of a situation, oneself, or another person.
– Magnification/minimization – exaggerating the importance of negative aspects or minimizing the significance of positive aspects in the assessment of oneself, other people, and situations, not supported by reasonable arguments.

They express opinions, not facts – people have individual maps of reality built on their beliefs, experiences, and interpretations. Based on these maps, they form judgments and express opinions, which doesn’t mean it’s the truth about the world or about you.

They instill fear, discourage action – these are messages that do not provide support; you might even feel the need to defend yourself against them, so you may react to them with irritation or anger. They do not provoke thought but stimulate negative emotions, often so intense that it’s difficult for us to find logical arguments that would question this message.

Exercise 2.

How to protect yourself from worthless opinions? Install a “bullshit detector” – a mental filter that helps create distance and develop a response to such messages. Ready? Let’s begin!

Think about something that doesn’t concern you at all, for example, last year’s snow or retirees in Canada. Observe your reaction to such messages: emitted sounds (e.g., a loud sigh, pffii, ugh), internal dialogue (e.g., so what? why should I care?), facial expressions (e.g., closing your eyes, looking up), body posture (e.g., turning your head, turning away), gestures (e.g., shrugging) etc. Remember this reaction, repeat it consciously several times – this will be your response to bullshit.

Below is a list of a few worthless opinions, advice, and suggestions. The exercise will be more useful for you if you supplement it with those you can’t protect yourself from, which are destructive for you and still affect you.

You can ask someone to read this list to you and react to each statement with the response you developed in the previous step. Repeat this several times until this reaction becomes a habit.

– Life is tough for everyone.
– You will never make anything of yourself in this country.
– If it didn’t work out for you once, it won’t work now.
– It will surely end badly.
– You have no talent or abilities.
– You can’t trust anyone.
– Nothing in life comes easy to you.

Remember that the “bullshit detector” is not a block, it’s a filter. The goal is not to apply it to every opinion you dislike – only to those that are not based on facts and undermine your confidence.

Exercise 3

If the “bullshit detector” doesn’t convince you, make use of the following tips. They will help you defend yourself against negative messages.

When you sense that someone is negatively evaluating your ideas, don’t engage in a discussion with that person. Take a deep breath and smoothly change the subject or withdraw from the conversation altogether. Trying to convince each other of your views escalates emotions and often ends in conflict.

React assertively, meaning step out of the conversation’s content. Express what happens to you when you hear such a message, for example, “When you tell me that I will surely fail, it makes me feel sad. I value your opinion, which is why I share my plans. I need to know specifically why you have doubts.” Change judgment into an opinion. “That’s your opinion; mine is different.” Don’t force anyone to agree; if someone wants to think differently, they have the right to.

If someone expresses overly generalized opinions (generalizations like – people are thieves, you won’t achieve anything by working honestly), inquire about facts and specifics. The best questions to use are: “How can you be sure that it’s true/will be true?” “What evidence supports what you’re saying?”

When you ask about the source of the opinion, it often turns out that the person can’t remember where they heard it or claims they heard it somewhere, sometimes can only provide one specific example, or responds in a confused manner – “That’s how it is, I believe so.”

Thank you for reading this article about where to find the strength to take action this article is for you and I really hope that you take action my advice.

I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here