How to start believing in yourself

February 21, 2013

“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will,” people say. Every one of us has our own set of beliefs about ourselves and our abilities. These beliefs define our thoughts about what we deserve in life and what we can and cannot do. These beliefs define our actions.

Sadly, it is these beliefs that stop many people from going to the new heights in life and fulfilling their dreams.

positive beliefs

Photo by Fairuz Othman

Do you have limiting beliefs?

If you are unhappy with your current situation for years, but unable to get out of it, you may be a victim of limiting beliefs. More often than not, people stay in conditions they don’t like because deep inside they believe they either don’t deserve or cannot achieve any better.

This is true for all sorts of situations, such as having the right relationships, getting better health or finding one’s true calling in life.

–          How many people do you know who constantly complain about their current relationship, but don’t call it quits?

–          Do you know anyone who hates his job for years, but never looks for another one and never starts his own business?

–          How about a person who wants better health and leaner body, but never does what it really takes to get it?

People site all kinds of external obstacles as their reasons to stay in situation they are discontent with.

They may tell you they stay in an unhappy marriage because everyone lives this way.  They don’t look for another job because you can only get a job if you know the right people. They don’t start a new business because they are afraid to fail. They don’t work on improving their health because “high blood pressure and heart disease runs in the family.”

In reality, other people around them find better relationships and better jobs, and become the first ones in the family to break the vicious circle of disease.

They do it because they believe it is possible for them.

What belief is holding you back?

To break free from limiting beliefs, it is important to understand where they are coming from.

Beliefs are formed based on our life experiences and interactions with other people.

–          We may believe that we are not pretty/witty/interesting enough to get into a relationship with a better person because we never have in the past.

–          We may believe that a person of our background can NEVER get a better job or become leaner because this is what our parents and our social circles kept telling us.

Often, people pass their limiting beliefs onto their children. You have likely received some from your family, too.

Three steps to believing in yourself

Once we understand what particular belief holds us back, it is time to develop a new belief. Just like an old belief, a new one should be based on experiences and interactions.

Step 1. Shut off negative noise

As a first step, shut off anything and anybody who reinforces your old belief. A husband who believes that you can never succeed in business, a friend who thinks you cannot lose weight, and parents who believe it is too risky to change your life situation and that it will only get worse. Naysayers only reinforce your old limiting beliefs and don’t give you a chance to practice new experiences.

Step 2. Find proof that what you want is possible

Secondly, you need to find proof that it is possible to achieve what you want. Look for real examples in life. Are there people who did what you want to do and have succeeded? Try not to think about those who failed, because this is an argument that will get you nowhere. You need to list as many examples as you can find. Even if you want “to boldly go where no man has gone before”, there are a lot of examples of people doing so.

Step 3.  Start small and celebrate mini-successes

Lastly, you need to start gaining new experiences that prove your new belief.  Too often we concentrate on mulling over our failures instead of celebrating every little successful experience or interaction.  It is through mini-successes in life that we gain that confidence and belief that we CAN DO and WILL DO better.

Get social support

There is a simple bullet-proof way to get new experiences and get inspired by other’s doings. You need to surround yourself with people with similar goals and people who already achieved what you are striving to achieve. It is very hard to fight this battle alone. So find yourself a community, offline or online, that operates on a different set of beliefs than your current social circle.

If you have identified that your limiting belief comes from the people around you, it is time to put your blinders on and associate yourself with other group of people. You really need people who will provide you with enough proof that what you want is achievable, and encourage you to make those mini-steps towards your goal.

Every big goal is achieved in mini steps. If you want to lose weight, celebrate every time that you chose to eat healthy. Take this as a proof that you are a type of person who makes good decisions, however small they are.  If you want to change jobs, start networking on LinkedIn. Send an invite to people in higher position despite nagging feeling that they will never connect with you. You will be surprised how many actually will, and you will have another reason to celebrate getting a new connection.

Believing in yourself starts with defining what stops you and eliminating the influence of people who enforce limiting beliefs on you. By finding examples that what you want is possible, making small steps and celebrating your successes, however small they are, you will inevitably start believing that you can and will do better. And then, sky is the limit!