Attain Supreme Self-Belief Using the Bruce Lee Method
It takes unrelenting levels of effort to build a poisonous narrative of self-doubt in your mind. On the flipside, you can redirect that effort and transform yourself into a powerhouse of self-belief.
One of Bruce Lee’s most punch-to-the-face quotes – and make no mistake, the guy was a motivational, Chinese proverb-style, quote-spitting machine – was:
“Never waste energy on worries or negative thoughts, all problems are brought into existence - drop them.”
If I may be so bold as to rewrite this Bruce Lee quote just to sound the way I interpret it:
“Never waste energy on worries or negative thoughts. All of YOUR problems are brought into existence by YOU. Drop them!”
Are you guilty of negative, self-destructive thinking that in no way serves your goals? Don’t worry, at times many of us are. And believe it or not, at one point, so was Lee. But as most of us know, he was no ordinary man. He had that something special. That ability, at a very early age, to recognize his negative traits and not let them snowball into all-out catastrophes. In fact, he did the opposite.
He corrected them. He over-corrected them. He took them so far in the opposite direction that he turned them into what were seemingly super powers. Powers of the body. Powers of the mind. Powers that helped him become a lean, mean, physical and intellectual fighting machine.
How exactly did Lee eradicate self-destructive thinking from his mind and accomplish this? How did he pack so much advanced personal development and professional success into the 32 short years he was alive? And how can we learn from him? Let’s have a look at Bruce Lee’s techniques for attaining self-belief.
The Power of Daily Affirmations
In his prolific teachings, interviews and books, including Bruce Lee Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee's Wisdom for Daily Living, Lee shared many of the affirmations, based on his own observations about life and human behavior, that he actively worked to assimilate into his daily thoughts. He wanted to build a better Bruce and he knew he would have to overhaul his mindset to do it. Here’s some insight into his pattern of thinking:
Life has no frontier: “Life is wide, limitless.”
While this is an incredibly broad statement, it’s also a no-brainer personal development concept that directly applies to self-belief. The way I interpret this is that in no matter which aspects of yourself you lack confidence, the opportunities to transform yourself into whatever you want are right in front of you. No matter how stuck you may feel at any given moment, you can get yourself unstuck and begin to thrive. Life (and the wide-ranging opportunities it provides) is limitless, so make that a weapon to kill the voice inside your head that keeps stomping on your self-belief and sabotaging your success.
I am the commander of mind: “I am the power that commands the feeling of my mind and from which circumstance grows.”
This is a big one. Why? Because it speaks to our nasty habit of letting the thoughts and opinions of others affect how we feel about ourselves and in turn, our confidence level. A huge part of believing in yourself is trusting in your thoughts, ideas and resulting actions – and when you do, it puts you in total command. Think about it – have you ever seen Bruce Lee in a movie or interview where he was not in command? No! His dedication to self-development and command of his mind spilled over into everything he did. And being in command is the ultimate result and reward of believing in yourself.
Action is the high road to self-esteem: “Where it is open, all energies flow toward it.”
Yes, of course, action is the ultimate self-esteem builder! But that means you have to actually get up and do something. If you have an idea for a novel, it cannot just remain an idea – you have to write it, publish it and get the thing up on Amazon. If you want to be a stockbroker, you have to get your degree, pass the FINRA exam and call up Goldman Sachs. Have some idea for where you want to go, take action and if you had never believed in yourself before, you will now.
Start from the root of your being. “Don’t look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
At some point in our life, we all saw somebody who had something we wanted and we tried to imitate them, but the fact is there’s absolutely nothing about that kind of behavior that builds self-confidence. In fact, if you go down that path, in the long run, it only serves to make you feel lazy, unoriginal and untrue to yourself. Here, Bruce Lee teaches us that it is at the root of our being from which our unique personality, our creative vision and our true personality stems. All of which serve as a direct lifeline to sustaining our self-belief.
A quick note about affirmations – they can really work. They can program your mind to believe a stated concept. So find the holes in your self-belief, the affirmations that can patch them up, repeat them to yourself daily (out loud, in writing, recorded into your phone and played back) and let them work their magic.
Limits are for Losers
There’s a Bruce Lee story in the book The Art of Expressing the Human Body, written by Lee and edited by John Little, that’s stuck with me for years and that I’ve quoted time and again. Told by Little, it serves as a powerful parable for self-belief.
“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile. So this morning he said to me ‘We’re going to go five.’ I said, ‘Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.’ He said, ‘When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.’ I said ‘Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.’ So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out. I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, ‘Bruce if I run any more,’ –and we’re still running- ‘if I run any more I’m liable to have a heart attack and die.’”
So what was Bruce Lee’s response?
“It made me so mad that I went the full five miles. Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, ‘Why did you say that?’ He said, ‘Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.’”
As Bruce Lee so clearly stated, putting limits on yourself is as soul-crushing as it gets. It’s the equivalent of saying “I can’t because I don’t believe in myself” – something that if you say to yourself once, you can easily end up saying a thousand times.
Think without limits and supreme self-belief can be yours.