How many times have you felt yourself shrink? 

How many times have you made yourself small enough to fit into some role that you wanted no part of? 

How many times have you kept your mouth shut when you wanted to scream loudly, or handed over your power to someone who didn’t have your best interests at heart? 

How many times have you succumbed to an impulsive or addictive behavior rather than making a clear-minded choice? 

How many times have you told yourself, "I can't. I'm not strong enough. I'm not courageous or confident enough to be all that I desire to be?" 

Every day we are confronted with hundreds of choices that either make us feel confident, strong, and worthy, or rob us of the things we desire the most. Paralyzing fears, repressed self-confidence, and untapped courage are the obstacles that prevent us from making powerful choices—choices that are in concert with our best interests and deepest desires. For too many of us, unworthiness permeates most of our decisions in dealing with our finances, our families, our bodies, our weight, or our self-image. 

When we lack confidence, we feel unworthy of having what we want, of speaking our truth, of making radical change that would transform the foundation of our future. When we feel weak, helpless, and powerless, we lack the strength to ward off the thoughts of defeat, negativity, and fear that prevent us from living the lives we want. When we relinquish our own power and deny what we are capable of, we succumb to our addictions, our fears, our unhealthy impulses, and the patterning of the past. We act as if and believe that we are indeed weak and insecure. 

Of course, this negative cycle may not be happening in all areas of our lives. We may be thriving at work or in our relationships. But for far too many of us, there are areas where we have lost control, where we can't gather enough strength to break through our fears and meet our deepest desires. Every time we make a choice that is based in fear, we are sealing in the belief that we are unworthy, that we are not good enough or not strong enough to be in control of our own lives, our thoughts, our beliefs, our choices—and, most important, our future. Every time we make a choice based in fear, we teach our minds to believe that we are helpless, hopeless, and powerless—three emotional states that leave us feeling the victim. What do we need to be confident, to stand in all our strength, and to feel great about ourselves? We need to rebuild our confidence. And we must begin by improving our self-esteem. We need to learn to love all of who we are—our history, our flaws, our misgivings, our weaknesses, and our fears. And even more than learning to love ourselves, we need to take love on as a cause. We need to become warriors for love. We need to fight for ourselves and stand up for who we are and what we want to become. We need to be warriors instead of victims, fighters instead of followers. Why a warrior? Because a warrior lives and acts with great strength, integrity, and commitment. A warrior has ignited the courage within. She can face her toughest emotional challenges and break the old patterns. A warrior takes an aggressive stance toward her opponents—which are, so often, the fearful voices of the enemy within. 

Excerpted from COURAGE: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence by Debbie Ford, reprinted with permission by HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Copyright 2012.