This month’s topic is epic: Do you believe in yourself?
When you hear this question, what is your first response? Do you think people should believe in themselves? Or would you consider the idea – of believing in yourself – selfish?
Every person’s response to this question will vary, but for some, the idea of believing in one’s self will stir a bit of unease inside. So before we begin, let’s address this question: is it selfish to believe in yourself?
And the answer is . . . NO; it is not selfish to believe in your self! Selfishness is an unhealthy focus on self that places the self above others and disregards the well-being of others. It is not selfish to believe in yourself. ON the contrary, it is your responsibility. Believing in your self is vital to your entire well-being.
Believing in yourself is knowing, trusting, and valuing your true self. It is self-acceptance, self-respect, and confidence to assert one’s self. Self-esteem and self-efficacy are both causes and effects of believing in your self. Dr. Robert Burns, an expert in the area of self-concept, argues that “the beliefs and evaluations people hold about themselves determine who they are, what they can do and what they can become” To believe or not believe in your self is one of the most important decisions that you will make every day because it affects every area of your life.
Your appraisals of your self will determine things like: how you will relate to others, whether you will take risks in life or not, what types of jobs you will apply for, who you will marry or not marry. And on a day-to-day scale, it will affect your choices to try new things, how you cope, and what you spend your time on.
Now, I know that sounds like a lot, but it is just the beginning. It literally affects every area of your life. The consequences are far-reaching. People, who do not believe in themselves will not pursue their dreams because they doubt their ability to succeed. They often resist new opportunities or challenging circumstances to avoid failure. Personal goals and challenges are pushed aside, and change is an enemy. They may talk a lot about change, but there is little action. “Doing” requires a person to be vulnerable to failure, rejection, criticism, and judgments, and that risk is too big for people who do not believe in themselves. They are limited by their own beliefs. C, S, Lewis once said: “We are what we believe we are.” It’s true, but the good news is that we can all learn to believe in our self!
Every day is a new opportunity to believe in yourself, and it will affect your quality of life immensely. Believing in your self is associated with physical, mental, and emotional well-being, healthier relationships, more satisfying careers, and as a bonus – it is a “powerful predictor of happiness.” Considering all of the things people buy, and the experiences they try in the pursuit of happiness, I am left to wonder how productive their attempts will be if they do not believe in themselves.
There are a lot of reasons why people do not believe in themselves. Some women have been taught that their purpose in life is to please others. Their value comes from placing the needs of others above their own, and in doing so, they learn to devalue themselves and value others as more worthy than themselves. Unfortunately, this style of relating creates an underlying message that others can be trusted more than the self, and self-doubt begins to their corrode images and perceptions of their self.
People, who have been abused, devalued, or labeled as unworthy, may struggle with unhealthy appraisals of the self, and religion can be another obstacle to believing in one’s self. For many years, I believed that faith in God meant that I was not supposed to believe in my self. I had the idea of surrender completely skewed. Ironically, it was through my faith that I eventually realized how wrong I was. All great leaders believe in their self – even in the Bible.
It’s a new year; if you choose just one thing this year: choose to believe in yourself! It is one of the most important gifts that you could ever give yourself. If you do not believe in yourself – no one else will.
When you believe in yourself, you are not limited by your fears and/or possible failures. Everyone battles fear, and everyone fails (at least once), gets rejected, is talked about, and is the recipient of being judged. Not believing in yourself is not an antidote to these life risks. Whether you believe in our self or not – you will still encounter these not-so-nice experiences. So why not believe? Step out of the box and take a chance. Living your true self comes from believing in your true self. God has given each of us qualities and strengths: discover yours!
If you are wondering how to start believing in yourself, or how to improve your self-appraisals, below are 10 suggestions. Pick one idea, and when you have it mastered it, pick a second one. If you get stuck, set it aside, and try something else for a while. Keep working on it, and enjoy the happiness that begins to develop as you believe in yourself!
- Take notice of every time you find yourself doubting your ability to do something. Write the doubts down on a piece of paper, and look at them objectively. Are they relevant? Do the doubts reveal something about your beliefs? Are they fears? Critically reflect on them, and then separate them from self-concepts. You are not what you doubt; you are what you believe.
- Use affirmations to affirm yourself. If a negative thought comes to mind, replace the negative with a positive thought about yourself.
- Refuse ALL self-devaluations. For example, if you have guests over for coffee, and the coffee is too strong, resist telling your guests what is wrong with the coffee. Instead of offering to make new coffee or add water, recognize your kindness in making the coffee in the first place, and let your guests decide if it is too strong on not.
- Listen to podcasts about believing in yourself.
- Accept compliments. When someone compliments you, say “thanks” and resist the urge to explain why you are like everyone else or the compliment isn’t necessary or justified.
- Speak LIFE! When people ask you how you are doing, resist going into the difficulties and speaking all kinds of doubt and negativity over your life. Express your belief in yourself, and speak positively about yourself and your circumstances.
- Work at it. Self-actualization is hard work! Passivity will not get you there. You need to resist the laissez-faire attitude and be determined to do the hard work of change. When you encounter obstacles or setbacks, get up and try again. Don’t let your circumstances define your identity; learn to believe in yourself so that your identity defines your circumstances.
- Have faith. As humans we are limited, but our limitations do not render us as incapable or not good enough. Believe in yourself. Do what you can do, and trust God with what you cannot do.
- Surround yourself with people, who will support you and hold you accountable to becoming and believing in the person you were created to be.
- If you feel stuck, consult the help of a therapist or counselor. There are so many great resources out there today, and most of them are easily accessed.
So have a great year! Believe in yourself and experience the happiness that comes from knowing and trusting in yourself. This is the year to soar!
 Mann, M., Hosman, C.M.H., Schaalma, H. P., & de Vries, N. K. (2004). Self-esteem in a broad-spectrum approach for mental health promotion. Health Education Research, 19(4), 357-372.
 Burns, R.B. (1982). Self concept-developing and education. Dorchester: Dorset Press.
 Evans, D.R. (1997). Health promotion, wellness programs, quality of life and the marketing of psychology. Canadian Psychology, 38(1), 1-12.
 Zimmerman, S. L. (2000). Self-esteem, personal control, optimism, extraversion and the subjective well-being of midwestern university faculty. Dissertation Abstracts International B: Sciences and Engineering, 60(7-B), 3608.
 Garber, J. & Flynn, C. (2001). Predictors of depressive cognitions in young adolescents. Cognitive Theory and Research, 25(4), 353-376.