By Mary Joye – MA, LMHC, Claudia Stanley – LCSW 

How To Believe in Yourself

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”

~ E.E. Cummings

Argue for your limitations and sure enough they are yours Richard Bach Quote
Mary Joye

Self-belief requires you to evolve individually. 

Self-fulfilling prophecies mean that what we think, is what our life’s trajectory will likely follow. This operates in the positive or negative. 

We all doubt ourselves at times and should constantly monitor any inner critic. 

This critic is usually a “voice” that comes from negative input from others. It may also be an inward call to stir you to change. You must silence an inner critic that attempts to reduce your self-belief. 

Conversely, listen intently to any inner “voice” that may sound like a critic but is really a motivational speaker or director. You’ll know this by how you feel about yourself when you hear the “voice”. 

If you feel defeated and hopeless, it is a critic you must ignore or challenge. If you feel activated and enthusiastic about change, it is not an inner critic but a call to self-belief. 

While earning my undergraduate Fine Arts degree in Theatre, we were taught in method acting, that if we believe we are the character and become it from the inside out the audience will, too. Many actors don’t read reviews of their work because they don’t want it to influence their self-belief. 

When you believe in yourself, others will, too. If they don’t, it will not affect your self-respect.

The McMillan Dictionary defines respect as “feeling of admiration that you have for someone because of their personal qualities, their achievements, or their status, and that you show by treating them in a polite and kind way.”

Who do you respect or admire? How do you treat them? Do you respect yourself in this way? If not, you can reset self-respect.

1. Make a list of things you like or love about yourself. 

Be deeply introspective. Answer honestly. Challenge your thoughts if you have been negative about yourself. 

2. Core values are paramount. 

Are you living according to your values? If not, make changes to be congruent. Self-respect is not perfectionism but a process of personal progress. 

3. Treat yourself and others with dignity and diplomacy. 

We project negative feelings about ourselves. Mirror neurons communicate subtle but powerful signals. If you lack self-respect, it may be mirrored back to you. As you gain self-respect, you get it from others. 

4. Set boundaries firmly but kindly. 

Demanding others to treat you well is a sign of low self-esteem. Many times, a lack of self-respect is rooted in how we allow others to treat us. Forgive yourself if you have done this and move on from those who have hurt you. Distance from those who treat you poorly will enrich self-respect.

5. Connect with others who make you feel good about yourself. 

Help others to feel good about themselves. Reciprocal relationships are essential for self-respect.

6. Reduce judging and grudging. 

Invisible gavels toward yourself or others creates contempt. Holding grudges are heavy. As you decrease judging and grudging, self-respect increases. 

7. Set intentions, visualize them and take action. 

Decide to be the best version of yourself every day. See yourself in a position of self-respect in every area of your life. Do something, in any increment toward it.

Mary Joye, MA, LMHC – www.winterhavencounseling.com

Claudia Stanley

Who are you?

How would you introduce yourself if someone asked, “who are you?” Would you reply with, “I’m an attorney and work at…” Or would you reply with, “I’m Susan. I am kind, caring, pretty spontaneous. Oh, and I’m an attorney because I love helping others win battles.” 

Most of the time we respond with the first. Why? 

Well, as a society we are so driven to focus on our careers and successes, that we forget to tune into ourselves and develop a sense of self-worth and identity. 

We are more likely to focus on our accomplishments, which can at times, feel like a never ending battle. 

This can then lead to a lack of self-confidence and appreciation for what we can bring to the table. 

When I was asked to write a column on “how to believe in yourself” I had a rather hard time coming up with a theme or idea. 

Then it hit me. We are more than likely going to have a hard time believing in ourselves, if we don’t even know who we are as a person. 

The more that we begin to connect and explore our beliefs and our values, the more that we begin to gain confidence because we feel secure in our choices and who we are as a person.

So where should we start? Start with your beliefs. 

Maybe just pick one for the sake of time (we know you’re busy). For example, I am only deserving if everyone in the office thinks my pitch went perfectly. Okay, so this is a belief. 

A perfectionism belief. A pretty unrealistic belief. 

  • Where did this come from? 
  • Did someone at a young age only praise you if you only received 100’s on all your exams? 
  • Did someone only tell you you’re beautiful when you felt your makeup was “on point.”?
  • Did you only get satisfaction when you ran 8 miles instead of 6? 

Sit with your core beliefs. 

See how you see the world and yourself with these pair of shades. Now, see how you feel about yourself if you try on a new pair. Challenge and reframe that belief. You are deserving, period. 

Then we have our values. 

You can start with I value (blank). It’s important to me that (blank). (Blank) drives my passion. I find joy in (blank). I become annoyed when (blank). Sit there and explore some values. If you google “values” a lot of things come up. You can even highlight the ones that stand out, and elaborate on why this creates meaning in your life.

I think starting with our beliefs and values, can do a lot of good work. 

I believe that as we become familiar with our vulnerabilities, our imperfections, our strengths and our passions, we can then begin to  align ourselves and develop a secure sense of self-worth and begin to believe in ourselves.

Claudia Stanley, LCSW – www.fwhcounseling.com

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