The #1 Reason You Second-Guess Your Value (and how to stop it)

The #1 Reason You Second-Guess Your Value (and how to stop it)

You know that you have something of great importance to share with the world. You know this is a cause that needs to be spread.

It’s burning a hole in your gut, and it’s taking everything you can to not let it burst out from within you.

But instead of fireworks and a blaze of glory…

Dead air.

Somewhere between the passion, the avalanche of ideas, and the torrent of enthusiasm entered a familiar foe: the Voice of “Reason.”

Cunningly, he pretends to be your friend, your ally, and most importantly, your Protector. He’ll keep you safe from the critics and failures, he tells you. He’ll keep you swaddled in the hypnotic warmth of reason and a cocoon of bubble-wrapped existence.

Shadowed in his well intentioned promises of security and comfort, though, is a sinking sense of defeat; a disbelief and decay of the great adventure that was dying to be born within you.

Why the voice exists, or why we second-guess ourselves

Other than our instinctual drive to cling to the known, perhaps that greatest catalyst for the voice of reason comes from our inability to see our gifts.

Because our talents are so ingrained into who we are, they become invisible. Like a person with bad eyes days without glasses, we forget how clear the world looks when our vision is impaired.

The reason we don’t believe in and adequately value our talents is because we our unable to see our own greatness. Our incredible gifts are so second-nature to us that we are unable to see how great they are. Because of that, we don’t acknowledge our own genius.

It’s just the thing you do. It’s just what you’ve always done.

It’s so average, so normal… how can it be great?

Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. You have immense value to give to the world. And there are so many people that would marvel at what you do because to them you’re speaking another language. In their eyes you might as well be a magician.

Find that hard to believe? Let this settle in:

We second-guess what’s second-nature

Whatever our gift is, we second guess it because it’s so natural, so innate. And because of that we must periodically and deliberately remind ourselves of the value that we bring to the world.

Specifically, there are three things to help you stop second-guessing yourself:

  1. Save thank you notes, emails, and words of encouragement, and refer to them on a regular basis. On a weekly or monthly basis go back to those encouraging notes and let them sink in. Really acknowledge just how appreciated and valuable you are to others. (If you’re just starting and don’t have many of these, imagine in the future when your inbox is flooded with them and think about how wonderful it will feel to have such a huge impact.)
  2. Solicit your future self for perspective. Imagine a conversation with yourself 10 years into the future. What would she say about how far you’ve come? How proud would the you 10 years ago be about what you’ve overcome?
  3. Bask in your former glory. Think back to two or three instances in your past when you’ve done something you were truly proud of, times when you really felt you did something that mattered. Maybe it was partnering on an important community project, writing a short story, or just helping a friend solve a challenging problem. Take a moment to remember that your gifts and talents are appreciated and needed.

Perhaps the biggest dream-killer of all is comparing yourself to others. You don’t have to be Jimi Hendrix to call yourself a musician. You don’t have to be a black belt in Karate to call yourself a martial artist.

You can be on the path, and help others along the way. You can own your greatness no matter how far you’ve come. Keep plodding along and it’s just a matter of time before you make your mark on the world.

My question for you today is this: What will you do today to cultivate and acknowledge your value to the world?


photo courtesy of marco

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Comment & Add Your Voice

Rebecca Tracey April 3, 2012 at 11:17 am

This message needs to be re-iterated again and again and again. Even as a coach who KNOWS that I bring heaps of value to my clients, there are days when the “authorities” (the big kahunas inside my head) totally berate me! They’re such friggin jerks sometimes! Brutal, inconsiderate little buggers.. 
Thanks for the reminder to go back and read over thank-you notes. A few testimonials is all I need to pump myself up again and get right back at er.


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

 @Rebecca Tracey You’re welcome Rebecca. You’re right, it’s very easy to forget.

lonnie_scott April 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

Great post and wonderful message! This lesson bears repeating.


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

 @lonnie_scott Personally I need to be reminded of this every day.

gibsonplace April 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

I have only just begun to follow Jonathan’s blog and entirely inspired by what I am reading! I thought I was the only one with that little voice in my head always warning me failure is just around the corner. My husband and I have just started a small business and we seem stymied by doubt. The problem is time. We need more of it to focus and we both work in corporate America full-time. I will be listening in to the Webcast on 4/24 and hope to be further inspired to “do” something about this dilemma. Thank you for this great post!


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:17 am

 @gibsonplace You’re welcome, good luck to you and your husband. :)

ryanrutley April 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Amen. I’ve often said “I know I can do great things, but if I can do them, they don’t seem great.”

This is just like the ‘inner critic’ when we write. If your inner critic is stopping holding you back, fire them and hire one who can contribute constructively!


JonathanMead April 3, 2012 at 3:37 pm

 @ryanrutley Great advice Ryan :)

teresacapaldo April 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

Today and each day I put myself out there, explore new territory, reach out to people on forums and express who I am fully.  I take chances and don’t worry about how I am perceived…so long as I am being genuine and speaking my own truth, those who find resonance, will hear me. 
One of my favorite guides says “you will attract the people you need in your life and they will attract you to them” and I believe that, I have found that to be true.
Your 3 tips to stop second guessing are good ones, I especially like to look back even a month ago and reflect on my progress, many little steps amount to moving towards something better, something different, and each day that is all we can do.
Thank you Jonathan for another great post!


BenjaminOliverJenks April 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I’ve been dealing with a killer case of writers block and this post was very helpful.
I’m going to finish this post I’ve been sweating for the past few days. Rock it!


JonathanMead April 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

 @BenjaminOliverJenks Glad you found it useful Benjamin.

mjblack917 April 3, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Thanks Jonathan for your inspiring words.  That little voice inside often is the culprit killing my BIG thoughts and dreams.  Being a graduate student/career changer your voice of encouragement is helpful to settling my hesitations to risk.  I’ve played it safe for too long.  Time’s ticking for me; that means embracing my ideas into action more frequently.  I look forward to your future blog and webcasts as part of this important step in my development.    


saraho April 3, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Two posts on this same subject arrived in my in box today. Just what I needed to read, so glad I opened each of them! I’ve always struggled to acknowledge my own greatness (even hard to type it!) and now that I’m going into business just selling ‘me’ (as opposed to stuff I buy and sell and a space I create) I need to get with it and welcome my own beautiful self and what she has to share.
Love your suggestions. I do something similar that my daughter taught me. She saves all her birthday cards  where friends and loved ones write notes about how much they appreciate her and what a wonderful person she is. She says whenever she’s feeling down she pulls out that box of cards and gets uplifted. I loved that idea and am now doing it myself. Need to remember to pull them out more!


JonathanMead April 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

 @saraho That is too sweet. Your daughter sounds like she’s got a good head on her shoulders.

CrystalsQuest April 3, 2012 at 10:34 pm

This is a topic that’s fascinated me for years, and I’ve looked into a lot of the common factors in why we do this to ourselves (because I’ve fought through that voice too).  I believe it goes further than simply overlooking what is innate.  There are a few big things that contribute to our self image that are SO standard we never question them:
* Educational programming – we’re taught there’s only one ‘right’ answer, and that it has to come from an authority figure, not us.* Advertising – the underlying premise of most ads is that we are incomplete/not good enough without whatever product or service is on offer.  Compound this over years of buying products, services and still feeling inadequate/ incomplete and you’ve got a recipe for being convinced there’s something wrong with you, instead of the fact that NONE of these products & things deliver that sense of completion.* Nuclear families – with limited time and/or resources, there’s simply no way anymore that a child can grow up feeling that they are the centre of their parents’ lives – and the more often something else is demonstrated to be ‘more important’ than the child, the less the child thinks of their own importance.  Sad fact of modern life :(  It really does take a tribe to raise a child.
I’ve used and loved all the techniques you share, Jonathan.  Can I add another one?  
You know when something brilliant happens, and the first thing you do is reach for the phone to share it with someone?  I once read that it’s a good idea to reach for a tape recorder (mp3 player, now) instead.  Tell yourself the news, like you were on the phone to your friend.  When you play it back, you get that excitement and motivation fed back to yourself all over again.  It’s infectious, in the best possible way!
Looking forward to your event!


JonathanMead April 4, 2012 at 9:11 am

 @CrystalsQuest That’s a great technique Crystal. Thanks for sharing that.

The Hungry Traveler April 4, 2012 at 4:56 am

Starting an art school for the local community from what appears to be the ashes of a website that only carried me across the Pacific. A wonderful piece to read at this time and remind myself intentional living, rather than hoping and waiting, is the best way to go. Thanks JM!


PureSignal April 4, 2012 at 6:04 am

This really resonated with me:
“Our incredible gifts are so second-nature to us that we are unable to see how great they are. Because of that, we don’t acknowledge our own genius.”
Today, I’m going to focus on making my iPhone app the best it can be.
Thanks Jonathan!


JonathanMead April 4, 2012 at 9:10 am

 @PureSignal Kick ass Kyle. :)

cdstern April 4, 2012 at 6:43 am

“Because our talents are so ingrained into who we are, they become invisible. Like a person with bad eyes days without glasses,” Because of this, my friend and I have decided to send each other the thank you emails and words of encouragement that we receive from people in our lives.


JonathanMead April 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

 @cdstern Great stuff man, I think that will go a long way for you.

Chick_Tech April 4, 2012 at 8:57 am

I love this! Can this be a prerequisite read to being an adult? The only thing I’d disagree with is the refer back to positive notes bit. I have a 3 glance rule for positive and negative notes. If at that point I didn’t get it, I’ve got bigger problems. It allows me to move forward based on my own merits and not of what others think, expect or want of me. 


JonathanMead April 4, 2012 at 9:09 am

 @Chick_Tech It’s true that it’s always better to get that validation from yourself. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little recognition from others too.

TalkingPuffins April 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

My problem is a variation of this one: “Because our talents are so ingrained into who we are, they become invisible….” — my talents are so ingrained as to I am, that I do not appreciate what comes so easy and naturally to me.  I have a tendency to brush off compliments as “it was so easy, no big deal”…when in reality is not that easy or they wouldn’t have sought me out to accomplish that task.
Today, I will remember that I have family and friends and clients who contact me for information and my opinion or thoughts on a wide variety of topics.  I am skillful, I am knowledgeable and I am appreciated! 
Thanks for a timely article Jonathan!


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

 @TalkingPuffins Yes, you absolutely must not brush them off. What you do is a big deal.

sarahwaldin April 5, 2012 at 8:15 pm

I love how that one sentence resonates with so many of us (the one about “our talents are so ingrained …”). Such beautiful truth – a universal.
thanks so much for the great work you do Jonathan.
A simple sentence like that sets so many of us free from the thoughts, fears that cloud our minds and our purpose. 
What comes naturally to us IS our life work – one that we can be paid for. Our natural talent …


BenjaminR April 7, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Wow Jonathan.. this article really impacted me!
Especially “Well, I’m here to tell you that it is. You have immense value to give to the world. And there are so many people that would marvel at what you do because to them you’re speaking another language. In their eyes you might as well be a magician.”
Wow.. thinking about that, I realized “wow, what I am doing to help heal myself and others is definately a skill most other people don’t have, and I didn’t think much of it before as it has become normal to me!”
Thankyou so much for this article!
I commit to letting go of more of my fears using EFT around my business and attracting people who are open to the healing I am offering.


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:18 am

 @BenjaminR Glad you were inspired Ben.

SteveErrey April 9, 2012 at 3:02 am

The whole deal with “reason” is that our brain does it on our behalf, acting automatically with our best interests in mind.  Or what it thinks are our best interests.
Aiming to exert control over what’s happening and most importantly to increase the certainty of the outcome, our brain will do whatever it can to steer us towards those aims.  Even if it means stomping on a dream or three.
Personally, I think that to “cultivate and acknowledge your value” you have to first of all cultivate an awareness of your own thoughts, then acknowledge that a thought about not being good enough or not as good as they next guy is *just a thought*.  It’s no more important a thought than a thought about where you parked or what you had for dinner 3 nights ago.
What sets the course is the meaning you attach to your thoughts, not the thoughts themselves.


hirstmusic April 23, 2012 at 7:16 am

Epic post, as always. Loved the part about comparing yourself to others being a dream killer. Been there, done that.


JonathanMead May 5, 2012 at 11:20 am

 @hirstmusic Been there many times. :)

Ameenafalchetto May 25, 2012 at 12:41 am

We are always told to fit in, to do what we are told, and to be modest. Then we are graded throughout school and we always strive to be at the top whilst adhering to the rules … fact is this just kills all creativity and the ability to sing it loud and proud just what makes us awesome …it’s hard to keep the little voices that tell us that we aren’t special at bay but it’s a practice.  


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Scott Stephens March 19, 2013 at 12:20 pm

I’ve been slowly realizing how important my value is to the world. There are so many people stuck, not able to see the potential they have within them. And I still struggle with being able to see mine sometimes. I will keep standing behind all of my accomplishments, and the encouragement people have given me. And keep reaching further and further out to help others do the same.

Great stuff Jonathan!


Frank April 23, 2015 at 11:43 am


Excellent post!

I think you have to remember all the time that every one of us is different and unique.

This way you can stop comparing yourself to somebody else because you are not comparing eggs with eggs.

We all have our own special skills even if we may not recognise it yet!


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