What do we really mean by ‘Self Belief’ anyway?
Self belief and confidence are often spoken about together, and there’s good reason for that. If you have the belief in yourself that you can achieve what you are setting out to do, you are laying a foundation for having the self confidence to do just that. Therefore, if you have the self belief that you can change how you feel and change your life, you are developing the confidence to trust in your own abilities, qualities and judgment. To be self confident means then that you trust in your abilities and BELIEVE that you can do what you set you mind to.
Sounds pretty wonderful doesn’t it? I know though that there are so many things that get in the way of that belief; lack of self worth, low self esteem, traumatic experiences, fear, shame, self limiting beliefs. When I’m sitting with a client either in the room or online, one of the biggest killers of self belief we often identify is the fact that others haven’t demonstrated belief in them. I’m going to quote Eleanor Roosevelt on this one, so repeat after me…
Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent
Self-belief is a necessary component of self-confidence; you must have at least some degree of self-belief to have self-confidence, but self-belief alone doesn’t necessarily guarantee you self-confidence. Tricky isn’t it? When we’re building self confidence we’re often needing to focus on several components but for today I’m focusing on supercharging your self belief.
Self Belief is Vital.
Not only does it simply feel good to believe in yourself, but it can also bring about other desirable benefits.
Research has shown that those with self belief (and associated self confidence) enjoy:
- Better overall emotional and psychological health, because they deal with stress and difficult emotions better.
- More time for their families and friends, as they tend to set healthy boundaries.
- Better relationships thanks to healthy boundary setting and ability to focus on improving relationships.
- Improved performance at work through better ability to concentrate and greater commitment to tasks (Hawbaker, n.d.; Ray, 2017).
BUT… How many things have you NOT done or tried because of lack of belief in yourself?
Self doubts and self criticism creep in, don’t they? Like unwelcome visitors that keep calling round simply because you played host to them before. Doubts such as:
- Can I really do this?
- Other people are better, smarter, more worthy than me.
- What will other people think if I do/say this?
- I can’t risk failure.
- Success is for others but not for the likes of me!
Self Criticism such as
- I’m not good enough
- I’m not worthy enough
- I don’t deserve to succeed
- Who do I think I’m kidding?
- You can’t do this
All these lead to self sabotage
Remember self belief is changeable, we can all be flexible and change. The levels of your self belief aren’t set in stone.
You weren’t born into this world with a sense of what you could or couldn’t do. Life and it’s experiences started to teach you to limit yourself. A toddler never states: “oh hang on I can’t do that because I’m not the kind of person who could…”
They haven’t yet learned to limit their own horizons or listened to people who exude pessimism and doubt. Re-examine and discard many of the limiting ideas you have about yourself; ideas that you’ve somehow collected along the way and…….
Supercharge Your Self Belief.
1: Challenge Your Inner Negative Voice
Just for a moment listen to that negative inner voice and notice who’s voice is it? A parent’s, old school bullies, an abusive ex partners? It could be a collection of different voices from different times and people. Let’s be clear on this; that inner critical voice wasn’t yours originally. It may be fooling you into thinking it belongs to you now, but does it really?
Challenge it’s origin, it’s truth and whether what it speaks is actually your story or someone elses.
2: Switch A Weakness Into Strength
I am currently working with a wonderful teenager who has Mondini Syndrome, which necessitates him wearing hearing aids. I have been supporting him to combat anxiety and build on his self worth and self confidence. I recently asked him what makes him unique and he instantly stated “my hearing aids”. We’d already talked about the fact that he feels judged because of his hearing aids but in exploring the idea of strengths and uniqueness further, he explained that also having hearing aids is a strength as it allows him to turn off the world when it gets too noisy or upsetting for him. He took what others would see as a negative and creatively flipped it into a positive resource.
If you only focus on what isn’t right about yourself rather than what is, then you will miss opportunities for self belief. Don’t assume there isn’t anything to improve about yourself, but just focusing on perceived weaknesses without either a) taking steps to improve them or b) also giving fair focus towards our strengths gets you nowhere.
For example, if you know that you can worry a lot then find the positive in this (trust me).
The positive side of worry is a powerful imagination…
When you use that imagination in the right context, it can be put to good use. See how we’ve flipped that perceived weakness into a strength?
3: Identify Your Superpowers.
We’re all still kids at heart and I’m going to ask you to tap into that. Think back to the superheroes of your youth. What superpowers did you imagine yourself having of your favourite superhero; x ray vision, super strength, flying, breathing under water…
Now, what did those superheroes all have in common? Courage, abilities and competence.
Your positive characteristics are exactly the same, they’re your superpowers; you probably just don’t think about them or write them down enough. So write them down now, not just concentrating on the present ones, but also the one’s you’ve had in the past and the ones you’d like to develop;
and so on…….
Really notice each one and understand what each one means for you, they’re importance to you. Prime your mind, both conscious and subconscious, into understanding the qualities which you have that contribute to your courage, competence and abilities and therefore your belief in yourself.
4: Coach Yourself
When you notice anxiety, worry or self doubt creeping in, grab hold of your rational mind and use that to start speaking to yourself rationally. Coach yourself.
- Think of someone important in your life who you have true belief in
- If they started showing self doubt or anxiety, what would you say to them?
- Sit down and say those same things to yourself
- What are the statements you hear yourself repeating to your doubtful anxious side, from the rational coach?
- Picture that rational coach part of you in your head. Does it sound like someone you already know or would like to know.
- What do they sound like, what tone of voice are they using?
Privately talking to yourself in this way at those times can increase you self belief and confidence quite quickly.
5: Create Your Powerful Image
True self belief doesn’t just come from convincing yourself that you can be or achieve what you want to achieve, it also comes from visualising you can.
- Sit somewhere calm and relaxed
- Close your eyes
- Visualise yourself behaving confidently, calmly and decisively
- What does that look like?
- What are the ways in which you hold yourself and sound to others?
- What are the ways in which you are demonstrating confidence and self belief
Watching yourself in that image is a way in which you can understand and learn how to act with self belief. You can then start to integrate that visualisation into practice. In doing this you understand how you don’t want to be… the old you… and see how you do want to be.
A Take Home Message.
Self belief doesn’t mean arrogance or blindness to your shortcomings. It also doesn’t mean believing that you are perfect. Your self belief really needs to be focused on how you want to be and who you want to become become. An important part of self belief comes from knowing your weaknesses and being relaxed about them, because self belief gives you a freedom and resilience to make mistakes and cope with setbacks. As your self belief grows, you start changing your old story of yourself
In changing the story you tell yourself, you can change your life.
I’m Helen Ferguson and for 22 years I’ve been a therapeutic professional in empowering children, young people, and adults of all ages to shift from feeling defined by emotional distress to feeling emotionally liberated and living life with courage, confidence and self esteem.
I help you emerge from the distress of anxiety and overwhelm, grief and loss, the emotional impact of trauma and abuse, and difficult life transitions, which have left you feeling as though a part of you is missing; to finding your own voice and feeling whole again.
You can access my Free Download – 10 Steps in Maintaining Control During The Uncontrollable: In this downloadable eBook I guide you through my comprehensive 10 stages in bringing back control to your thoughts, emotions, perspective, your self confidence, self compassion and self awareness. I provide you with knowledge, structure and and actions to bring the control back into your life, all based on my knowledge, expertise and skills.
I also offer a free call for anyone needing to explore what is happening for them and how I can help via my website
If you identify as a woman I have a free group on Facebook in which I provide a warm safe community for exploring, learning and building on emotional empowerment and emotional resilience. With weekly live seminars, weekly emotional health check ins and discussions on all topics relating to emotional wellbeing, it is an engaging safe community in which to feel supported and grow.