It’s really hard to have self-confidence without having self-belief. Our belief in ourselves means having faith in our abilities and our own judgement, which helps propel us towards taking risks and reaching goals. Our self-belief has more to do with who we are intrinsically; our history, our relationships, our identity (internal and external), and our values. Our level of self-belief changes from time to time-based on new experiences, things we’ve learned, observed and aspired to; all of this helps form this very intimate belief in our self and our capabilities.
A little goes a long way
In most cases, we have to believe in our ability to do something before we take a leap (unless of course we’re being forced to do it through peer, family or work pressures). There’s no set formula for self-belief, but the good news is that a little goes a long way. For example, even with the tiniest bit of confidence we may say “Fine…I’ll give that a try, I’ve got nothing to lose”, or when we’re feeling extra confident we may say “Oh yeah, I was MADE for doing that – I’m going for it!”. However, when our self-belief is depleted by a failure, rejection, criticism or other blow, it usually can bounce back with a small achievement, newfound courage, a compliment or a kind word. It’s really quite remarkable! Our self-belief is closely (but not exclusively) tied to our self-acceptance, which is when we acknowledge, accept and truly like ourselves for all that we are, good AND bad. For instance, we may know in our heart we are really bad at artistic pursuits, but still take a chance on ourselves to complete an artsy project. It’s always good to challenge what we think we know about ourselves.
What’s your strong suit?
There’s a lot of societal pressure on us to be successful; to perform well at work, to have a great house, to be amazing parents, be fit, smart, funny and financially comfortable. If we have faith in ourselves and the path we’ve chosen to follow, then we don’t need to succumb to those pressures; we just forge ahead being our best, capable selves, knowing what our strong suits are.
If we don’t believe in ourselves, then we don’t have the confidence to take risks. When we don’t take risks, we don’t achieve goals. Even if we have all the money, supports and resources available to us, without the belief in ourselves, it just isn’t going to happen. Our self-belief is one of several key ingredients to success, and our potential is truly limitless. All of those ‘rags to riches’ stories we hear have one thing in common – the individual’s belief in his or her ability to achieve a goal.
Strengthening our self-belief
Luckily, self belief is a learnable competency, meaning we can increase our level of belief in ourselves and our abilities. Here are just some of the ways we can strengthen it:
- Make commitments to our self and then follow through on them. Our self-belief is weakened by abandoning these personal commitments.
- Learn to control and quiet the negative inner voice that tries to sabotage our self-belief. If we keep telling ourselves we’re not good at something, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and big surprise… we won’t bust out of our comfort zone to attempt it.
- Know when to listen to others’ opinions on what we can and can’t achieve. Sure, we may struggle with things like learning to swim or downloading new software, but it doesn’t mean we’re destined to be bad at it forever. When we hear negative comments long enough, especially from the people we trust and love, there’s a good chance we may start to believe it. It’s our job to know our own strengths.
- Take the time to appreciate a compliment and see if it aligns with how we believe ourselves to be.
- Look at life’s experiences. For example, think back to a time when you came through for someone. You pulled from your list of strengths and said, “I got you”. Whether it was your physical strength, compassion, expertise on a subject, or other skills, the fact is that you performed well and for a good cause. What a great way to feel good about our abilities!
In many respects we are our own motivational coaches – we need to make sure our self-talk is positive and builds us up. We can’t rely on others to sustain our self-belief; it’s up to us to do the hard work, soul-searching and make whatever efforts are needed to progress towards our goals to keep our self-belief strong.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” – E.E. Cummings