On the other hand, this virtual world comes with its fair share of problems too. Technical issues can make you want to rip your hair out, and sometimes just trying to keep up with an environment that is constantly evolving can feel like a full-time job. Even worse, sometimes it feels like there are haters everywhere—those people who are super quick to criticize and tear down, willing to say so many things from behind the safety of a computer screen or a Facebook group that they would never dare say to your face.
But honestly I think the hardest part about blogging or starting an online business is the internal battle we face—the one that happens in our own head. It’s that little voice that creeps in and tells us we’re not good enough, or that what we have to share isn’t valuable, or that we can’t do it. It’s the voice that tells us that all those people who are quick to criticize us are right.
It’s the voice of self-doubt.
And learning how to quiet that voice, how to silence the internal critic and instead keep moving forward is perhaps the most critical lesson we can learn. Because as bloggers and entrepreneurs, protecting our confidence will be the most important thing we will ever do.
Here are a few strategies that have helped me—they might just help you too:
- PUT YOUR BLINDERS ON. Stop comparing your own blog or your own progress to others. You might not believe this about yourself yet, but your own experience and perspective is completely unique from everyone else, and that is what makes it valuable. Yes, there may be others writing about similar topics, but no one else is exactly YOU. The Internet is very vast, which means that there is a lot of room for many voices. If looking around at what other people are doing makes you feel small or insecure or like you are falling behind, then you need to stop looking. Simply put your blinders on, and concentrate on the next task, the one that is right in front of you.
- FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE TO GIVE. Remember, when you make blogging about your readers and how you can help them, you will forget to stop worrying that you might not be good enough. Furthermore, although it doesn’t feel like it, the fact that you know what it is like to experience self-doubt is actually a gift, because it will help you get into your readers heads and understand their fears, and show more empathy. Ultimately the thing all of us want most of all is to simply feel understood! If that is the gift you can give your readers, then you are ahead of the game. No matter what niche you write in, there is probably someone feeling like they are not good enough–you can channel your experience and the way you feel right now into encouraging them!
- FIND A CHEERLEADER. We all need encouragers in our lives! When I am feeling down, the first thing I do is call my accountability partner Edie, because I know she will not only take the time to listen and sympathize with my frustration, but also help me see the positive in whatever situation I am struggling with. If you don’t currently have someone in your life who can speak truth in a positive and encouraging way, I strongly urge you to find that person. You might try forming an accountability group with a few other EBA members, or perhaps reaching out to a close friend offline. Let them know what you are struggling with right now, and that you could really use some encouragement. You might just be surprised by how supportive people can be!
- PRACTICE SELF AFFIRMATIONS. Many of the most successful people in the world have made a practice of daily self-affirmations—intentionally taking time to fill their mind with positive self-talk. While it might sound a little hokey, I can tell you that it does work. Continually tell yourself you ARE good enough, and eventually you can’t help but start to believe it.
- IGNORE THE CRITICS. This one can be tough—believe me I know—but the reality is that putting yourself out there and finding success means that sometimes you will be criticized. It’s not fun and it’s not right, but it is a big part of what we do, and ultimately we all have to realize that if we want to reach our goals and achieve our dreams, we have to learn how to just tune it out. Let it wash over you like a wave. Realize that the people who are criticizing often do so because they aren’t brave enough to act, and also realize that while sometimes it can feel like “everyone” is talking about you, the Internet is a huge place, and that is almost NEVER the case.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
It takes courage to put yourself out there, and that courage counts for a whole lot more than the minimal effort it takes to tell someone else they were doing it wrong. As long as you understand that for yourself, no one else needs to. So protect your confidence. Guard it with your life. Tell yourself again and again, “I’ve got this.”
Because you do!