By Mary Joye – MA, LMHC, Claudia Stanley – LCSW, Renae Cerquitella – Behavioral Health and Relationship Coach
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.”
~ E.E. Cummings
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 “a 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
Think of a time when you have felt your very best.
Maybe it was the time you finished a run and beat your personal best, or when you practiced and practiced then nailed a difficult presentation at work. Perhaps it was when a longtime friend told you how your words encouraged them and impacted the trajectory of their life.
You know the times I’m talking about. In those moments, you feel proud and maybe walk a little taller for a couple of days. For a while, you don’t need reminders of how amazing you are.
How about those other times?
The other end of the feel-good spectrum; you know these times, too. You struggle, are filled with self-doubt and feel like everything you touch is falling apart. It may be hard to believe, but during this low time you are the same amazing person that you were when you felt fabulous.
“Who” you are and your character remains intact even during the hardest of times.
However, accessing your amazing-self is difficult when all you want to do is engage in nasty and malicious self-talk, wallow in self-pity, and find a dark place to hide.
I want to help you with these “other times” by sharing with you something that has proven helpful to me and many of my clients.
I call it creating a self-belief savings account and this is how it works:
- Start this exercise when you are happy and super full of yourself! Why then? Because you have self-belief to spare and should capture all the feel-good you can.
- Create a display or folder in a public space that you can see easily. Make sure the display or folder is big enough to continue adding to.
- Gather nice things people say about you or that you believe about yourself during happy times. Include compliments, feedback, and praise in the form of cards, emails and notes.
- Place the positive content on the display. Be as creative and artistic as you like or simply use handwritten or printed content. Add to the display as often as you like.
It may take some time after you create the display or folder before you need it. But when you do, it will be ready for you to use it.
Keep these tips in mind when you need to withdraw from your self-belief savings:
- Read displayed contents out loud. It is almost impossible to think horrible thoughts about yourself as you read out loud and listen to yourself.
- Focus on the value you provide or have provided to others. This is important because no matter how bad you feel in the moment, what you have contributed can’t be diluted. Your service, care and generosity is still intact, so don’t even try to pick it apart.
- Notice the content that stands out the most. What are common themes, about you and your character, that remain no matter the circumstance? Read that content out loud several times.
- Pick one or two things on your display and write about them in your journal. Focus on the value of your service, helping, and positive outcomes. When you focus on the good of the service you’ve provided, it is more difficult to incorporate self-defeating thoughts and talk because service is never about self.
Creating a self-belief savings account may sound like a whimsical thing to do, but I assure you, it can serve you in a very powerful way.
By creating an environment of support for your future self, you are creating a safe space through self-care.
Share this idea, as it is a great project for families or colleagues to do together. When displaying content with family or colleagues, focus on posting about others and not yourself.
With groups, writing content about each other encourages positive feedback and provides an opportunity for motivation and inspiration. What amazing thing did you see another person do? Write it and post it. Notice how great you make another person feel and how happy it makes you.
If you run out content for yourself or for others, start creating and adding positive affirmations to the display.
Positive affirmations have the same rate of return as positive content in the self-belief savings account.
Renae Cerquitella, Behavioral Health and Relationship Coach – www.okchypno.com
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