Jessica Wildfire on why you should doubt yourself more. Yes, you read that right.

Some people love to say, “I’ll do whatever it takes.” They’re so confident, it makes me want to puke a little.

Catch phrases crouch on their tongues, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting victims at cocktail parties and writers’ conferences.

It’s just one of a hundred lies that clutter people’s brains. But the biggest one is “trust yourself.” The mother of all platitudes.

And you should.

Except when you shouldn’t.

Plenty of catch phrases circle around the idea of self-trust and honesty. You’ve probably surfed past something online that read, “You’ve got to be brutally honest with yourself,” or “A List of Brutal Truths About X.”

And yet, we’re also told to trust ourselves. All the time.

So, you have to trust yourself. But you also have to be brutally honest with yourself — which implies you lie to yourself.

It’s confusing as hell. The real question is, how do you know when you’re being honest with yourself?

Cross-examination. That’s one way.

Otherwise known as doing your research.

I’ve met too many people who base their career plans on one or two success stories. They tell themselves — and me — that everything will work out. They’ll write a cyberpunk novel with a twist. And it’ll be a big hit. Then you find out they’ve never read William Gibson.

Or they’ll just do what Beyonce did.

Or Steve Jobs.

Or Elon Musk.

Or Lady Gaga.

All of these people found success their own way. They didn’t copy someone else. They either got lucky — in which case you’ll never emulate their success. Or they did a helluva lot of work and research. They foraged for lessons and secrets from lots of different places.

You also know when to trust yourself when you can admit that you might be wrong. If you feel certain about something, be careful. Certainty is a lie we create to cover up something that smells really bad.

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 Featured image by Max Sat — Flickr.