“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Theodore Roosevelt
Self-belief is “confidence in oneself and one’s ability,” it stems from positive thinking, talking to others, plenty of practise and in some cases, training. Although we aspire to have more of each, we often struggle to find them. The belief we have in ourselves can show in many ways – our behaviour, our mood and the way we carry ourselves. Individuals who lack self-belief will often find that certain areas of their lives will be affected. Relationships, career, lifestyle and state of mind can all take a hit unless some action is taken to improve these qualities.
Do you lack self-belief?
Suffering from low confidence and self-worth can be debilitating. Your behaviour, your body language, how you react to different situations and how you speak can depict your confidence levels and the amount of belief you have in yourself. Confident people are typically more positive about themselves, whereas those who lack self-belief often think negatively and therefore talk negatively about themselves. A lack of self-belief can be paralysing and keep you stuck in fear and negative thinking perpetuating a cycle of self-doubt and failure.
If you are lacking self-belief you may feel:
- Uneasy and shy
- Uncertain of what you want and who you are
- A sense of worthlessness
- Negative thoughts about your abilities and yourself in general
- You are unable to enjoy and relax in situations that you’d like to
- As if you haven’t got a sense of direction in life.
Why is self-belief so important?
There are several positive things that self-belief does:
- Self-belief helps you see opportunities – Having clear goals helps you to notice those elements around you that can assist you in reaching them. But clear goals by themselves are often not enough to help you spot opportunities, if you have a clear goal but you don’t actually believe that you can achieve it, your mind will still fail to identify the opportunities around you. A lack of belief will effectively ‘blind’ you.
- Self-belief facilitates finding creative solutions – When you approach a goal/problem with disbelief, you will feel anxiety and your thinking gets clogged by it, which makes finding good solutions to reach that goal or overcome the problem less likely. Having self-belief makes you relax and think more clearly, it stimulates reasoning, memory and, above all, creativity. This makes it more likely that you’ll think outside the box and come up with creative solutions that work really well.
- Self-belief stimulates action and persistence – It’s hard to take action and put in the hard work towards a goal if deep down you don’t truly believe you can achieve it. And when you fail to accomplish your goals you are just unfortunately confirming your lack of self-belief. However, if you believe in yourself, you’ll feel motivated to take action, you’ll stay motivated and you won’t be discouraged by mistakes or setbacks therefore reinforcing your self-belief.
- Self-belief makes others take you more seriously – Other people frequently play a role in you achieving your goals. If you ask someone for something and you believe they’ll give it to you because you deserve it, they will sense the conviction in your voice and they’ll be more inclined to respond positively to your request. Conversely, if you lack belief, your request will likely be more hesitant, which will make it more likely to be rejected.
So how can you develop self-belief?
It’s likely that self-belief alone isn’t enough to achieve your goals and it’s very likely that you still need to take action, in particular, to persevere as well as learn the lessons that can be learnt by making mistakes. Developing self-belief is definitely a good start towards achieving your aspirations, below are some recommendations to help develop belief in yourself:
- Set high but realistic goals – Sometimes when we set unrealistically high goals and we try to achieve them, we fail and our self-belief plummets. We demand too much, too fast, and it backfires, from very high goals, we end up at having no goals whatsoever because ultimately, we lose faith in ourselves. The key for building self-belief is to set bold but realistic goals, and work hard to achieve them. In achieving these goals, you will build your self-belief, when you reach a goal, it’s a good idea to set an even higher one and push yourself even more. But the whole process is incremental. You gradually aim higher, and with each step forward you build self-belief.
- Recognise your accomplishments – Most people who lack self-belief have a strong inclination to filter out the positive aspects about themselves. Do you see or acknowledge your achievements, or do you obsess about all your failures? If you do that, then when you look at yourself, all you see is failure, which means that you don’t believe in yourself. To build self-belief you need to reverse this process. Consciously working on identifying and acknowledging your results and strengths, spending some time each day thinking about them, will help incorporate your strengths and successes in your self-image and thus you’ll gradually begin to believe in yourself more and more.
- Cut down on comparing yourself – Comparing yourself to others is like losing a battle, no matter how good you are at something, you will always find somebody who is better than you. Comparing yourself to others will make you feel as if you’re not really good at anything, which will sabotage your self-belief. It’s a good idea to reduce the amount of comparisons you make to others – you’ll never eliminate it completely as it’s part of human nature, but you can reduce it significantly. Keeping your mind busy with meaningful tasks and challenges will mean it won’t have time for making futile comparisons that harm your self-belief.
- Develop yourself – Continually aim to better yourself. Life is a learning journey and even in our mistakes we can learn from them and better ourselves. After all, self-belief is a reflection of how good you are at handling the various aspects of life. And the more you grow as a person, the more of a reason you have to believe in yourself.
It is this combination of developing yourself, challenging yourself and deliberately thinking about yourself in more constructive ways that represents the ideal recipe for building self-belief. Put into practice these ideas and you’ll see your belief in yourself steadily improve. With more self-belief, you’ll be more confident and more motivated to go for what you want, and you’ll make better use of the resources existing all around you the get what you want in life. The world is your oyster and self-belief is the key that opens it.
By Georgina Yates