Do you believe in…. you?
When you undertake a new, challenging task, do you feel that you’ll accomplish it, or are you overwhelmed with doubts and questions?
Self belief is a very important part of everything we do, whether we realize it or not. Our self confidence can be seen in the way we walk, communicate, work and play.
I recently watched a video about the importance of self confidence and was presented a very thought-provoking scenario from Jaret Grossman, summarized as follows:
Imagine that you open your eyes and you’re in a hospital. The doctor tells you that you’ve been in a coma for a number of days. You then realize that you can’t recall your past, you don’t even remember who you are…
Now, how would you conduct yourself if the doctor informs you that you’re an elite Navy Seal and that they want you back as soon as possible? How do you think it would affect your rehabilitation and overcoming that challenge? How would you carry yourself differently?
What if the doctor tells you that you’re a pianist? Or how about a renowned actor? If you believed that you were a very accomplished and talented actor – it would dictate the way you spoke, carried yourself and acted in front of the camera.
This scenario interests me because we’re not discussing making a physical change in your life, simply modifying what you believe. Even more interesting is that we are in control of this process, we decide what we believe – we are in control of how we see ourselves.
Believe in Yourself.
There’s a famous saying – fake it until you make it.
This saying encourages that you outwardly show confidence in a new situation, conducting yourself in a manner that a successful, experienced person would, until that outward confidence is internalized. This saying can apply to the first day on a new job, writing your first book, or walking into a networking event when you don’t know anybody…
In this situation, arriving to the event, you may feel anxious and uncertain, but instead of letting that take over – in which case you may end up standing in the corner with your hands in your pockets, speaking with nobody – you flip a switch to exude confidence. You imagine this is your 1,000th event and you “know” that by the end of the night you’ll have made a few very valuable contacts.
Each interaction now has a purpose. You’re an expert here, and each person you speak with is better-off for it. You change from a feeling of: I’m sorry to bother you but can I please have a moment of your precious time – to – my time is very valuable and I’m choosing to spend it with you. This subtle change is reflected in your tone of speech, your strength of gaze and body posture. People can sense desperation and anxiety just as they can sense confidence and ease.
“To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will.” – Sugar Ray Robinson
Ok, ok, so that’s probably enough imagining for today. I just wanted to take us outside of our bodies for a moment, imagining how a self confident version of ourselves looks very different than a self conscious version. It starts in our mind and reflects outwardly in a million subtle manners.
Everyone has their moments of doubt, even the most successful people, but the difference is they leave that space quickly. Other people decide to dwell on these insecurities and doubts, and they end up living there. Most of us are probably some combination of these two extremes.
Let’s work to be the most self-believing version of ourselves that we can.
If we want to be successful, and have other people believe in us, then it makes sense that we need to be the first to believe. Why would I expect you to believe in me, if I can’t even find that belief in myself?
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” – Muhammad Ali
There is science behind what I’m saying. One case that illustrates how important self belief is: girls in mathematics / science. While the origin of the problem can be debated, the fact is many girls aren’t as confident with math / science as they are with other subjects, or in compariston to boys, and this is unfortunately represented in test scores:
Girls “lack self-confidence” in their ability to solve mathematics and science problems and achieve worse results than they otherwise would, despite outperforming boys overall, according to an international study of gender equality in schools by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
[…]British boys outperformed girls in science exercises by 20 percentage points – but the gap disappeared when the performances were adjusted for levels of self-confidence. In other words: girls who said they were good at science performed as well as boys with the same attitude, while girls and boys lacking in self-confidence achieved results that were similar to each other.– From The Guardian.
In the study, it concluded that girls worry more about the difficulty of their math classes (girls 56% vs. boys 39%), were more nervous while doing math problems (girls 33% vs. boys 20%) and were more worried about receiving poor grades in math courses (girls 66% vs. boys 49%).
Ok, so now that we’ve decided that self belief is important, and can tangibly impact our lives, what can we d0?
One of the first steps is to Compliment Yourself. Many of us use an internal voice that isn’t very kind. We may tell ourselves “there’s no way I can do this, I’m going to fail” whereas if we saw a friend in that same situation, we’d be more likely to say “you can do it! keep going!”
One strategy to help improve your self-language, interestingly, can be to talk to yourself in the 2nd or 3rd person during difficult moments. A number of successful athletes and entertainers sometimes refer to themselves in the 3rd person, creating a small disconnect from the situation, allowing a more objective view.
Psychologist Ethan Kross, of the University of Michigan, studied this difference in self speech. He placed volunteers in a difficult situation (5 minutes to prepare a speech), instructing some to speak strictly with “I” and the other group with “you” or using their name:
Kross says that people who used “I” had a mental monologue that sounded something like, ” ‘Oh, my god, how am I going do this? I can’t prepare a speech in five minutes without notes. It takes days for me to prepare a speech!’ ”
People who used their own names, on the other hand, were more likely to give themselves support and advice, saying things like, “Ethan, you can do this. You’ve given a ton of speeches before.” These people sounded more rational, and less emotional — perhaps because they were able to get some distance from themselves.[…]
Being an “outsider” in this way has real benefits: […] with some distance, it’s a lot easier to be kinder to that ‘other’ person. – From NPR.org
The fact is many of us are too hard on ourselves, and that this can diminish self belief and confidence. So when those negative thoughts come up, let’s squash them like a bug and replace them with positive thoughts.
Another factor is to remember to Be Patient with Yourself. Understand that we all make mistakes and that it’s ok. It’s time for us all to realize that we’re powerful, special and unique…. we need to believe it!
Tell yourself you’re amazing and believe it. Fixate on your successes more than your failures… Celebrate Small Victories.
You can do this. I believe in you… now you just need to believe in yourself!
“If you believe you can make a difference, then you will make a difference. Believe in yourself, your family and your community and you will win.” – Lindsay Fox
So there you have it: a bit of imagination and science today.
Do you believe in yourself? Do you believe you can reach your dreams?
How could an increased sense of self belief help you achieve your goals?
Is your inner voice critical or uplifting?
Please share your experiences in the comments below.
Believe in Yourself.