What Does Believing In Yourself Even Mean?
Believing in yourself has two core components.
The first is a solid belief in your inherent value as a human being; it’s the deep-down understanding that you are someone with gifts to offer the world and who recognizes that you mattered important the moment you were born. This is self-worth.
The second is confidence. Merriam-Webster defines confidence as a feeling or consciousness of one’s power or reliance on one’s circumstances, and also as the quality or state of being certain. I look at confidence as the willingness to step up and be seen and heard, even in the face of uncertainty, even when you’re frightened to do so.
A lot of people would like to possess confidence without having to go through that fear step. Sorry folks, it doesn’t work that way, but there are things you can do to tame the fear monster so going up against your fears doesn’t seem like such a daunting task. We’ll talk about that here a little later.
“Self-approval and self-acceptance in the now are the main keys to positive changes in every area of our lives.” – Louise L. Hay
The Myth that Trips Us Up
There’s a myth going around that I think is very damaging, and it’s this: there’s such a thing as being 100% confident in yourself 100% of the time. I believe that the only people who can do this are egotistical lunkheads and narcissists, and what they’re projecting is arrogance, not confidence.
Isn’t it a relief to know that virtually no healthy people are 100% confident all the time?
I recently watched an interview that Oprah conducted with Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowlings. J.K. recounted that at the time she was beginning her first Harry Potter book, the first of a series that would one day earn her more than a billion dollars, she didn’t have much faith in herself at all.
J.K.’s confidence was shot. Her sense of self-worth was non-existent. She was broke. She was depressed. She said she’d hit her rock bottom. The one thing she believed in, though, was the work she was doing with Harry Potter. She knew it had value. She knew she was put on this earth to do that work. Her confidence and a strong belief in that one thing carried her to a life that would soon be amazing beyond her comprehension.
“The past has no power over us. It doesn’t matter how long we have had a negative pattern. The point of power is in the present moment. What a wonderful thing to realize! We can begin to be free in this moment!” – Louise L. Hay
What I love about J.K.’s story is that even the tiniest seed of confidence and self-worth can carry us to a life more beautiful than what we even imagine right now.
J.K’s. experience teaches us that it doesn’t matter how low your sense of self-worth is right now and it doesn’t matter if you’re not feeling confident. What matters is that you don’t give up on yourself. What matters is that you find that one thing to believe in … then you’ll find the next … and the next. What matters is that you have the courage to listen intently to and act on the guidance deep within your soul that is leading you to what you want.
You Are Important. You Matter. You Can’t Change That.
When you think of important people, do you count yourself among them?
I want to share a sweet little story of my father and his (at the time only) granddaughter. My dad suffered from a severe case of low self-worth. It led to some extremely damaging behavior in his life, in fact, it led to a life far less fulfilling and happy than he deserved, but that’s not the point of this story.
At the time, my dad was in his early 60s, though the wear on his face and body made him look like a man in his mid-70s. Dad used to take my then 5-year-old niece, his granddaughter, on walks around the block. On those walks, he taught her to shout “I am important” from the top of her lungs. I swear to you, I am not stealing this line from that famous line in The Help … my dad did this back in the early 80s, and that book wasn’t published until 2009.
There’s not a whole lot most people remember from when they were five years old, but I assure you my niece remembers those walks and that message.
The Important Message Many of Us Missed Out on In Our Childhood
Looking back, I can see that while my dad had a life-long struggle with his self-confidence and sense self-worth, he wanted to make sure the generations that came after him did not share the same struggle. He knew that even at the tender age of five his granddaughter needed to hear the message that she was important. He knew that if she understood this concept, her entire life would be far different than his. Of all the gifts he ever gave his grandchildren, this was by far the most precious.
When you were growing up, did you have someone who told you were important? Many of us didn’t. Many of us heard just the opposite. Many of us heard that it was arrogant to think of yourself as important. Many of us were taught to hide our light instead of allowing it to shine, and we are still carrying that belief around with us today.
Further, many of us were taught it was not okay to be ourselves. If we had any hope of receiving love and positive attention, we needed to adapt our behaviors to what others wanted from us. If you were an approval junky like me, that meant valuing others’ opinions above your own, a trait I took into adulthood. It’s so easy to look back with clarity on how we fell into this low self-worth and self-confidence cycle. It’s a little more complicated to get unstuck.
Why Are You Reading This Today?
There’s a common thread that everyone who reads this page shares: we all understand we have a confidence problem and we all know that our sense of self-worth is on shaky ground. You are not alone in this struggle. Wouldn’t you like to find a way to take this heavy burden that affects virtually every area of your life off your shoulders once and for all? Great, let’s get started.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you no doubt have experienced a time in your life when it felt like the floor just dropped out beneath you. What you thought was right wasn’t. What you thought would last didn’t. Those who you thought you could trust turned out to be untrustworthy. What you thought you understood suddenly became unclear.
Life throws curve ball after curve ball at you, and so you may be wondering how I could defend the statement “You CAN trust your life.” Here’s why: life is change. You can depend on that. Life is growth. You can grow from joy, and you can learn from pain. You can learn from the gentle messages that come your way, or you can grow from the bricks that hit you upside the head when you’re not paying attention to what matters.
Right now your awareness of your sense of low self-worth and wavering confidence is your call to change. To learn. To grow. To understand life a little better.
The good news is that you’re ready to take a big leap forward in your life … an important leap that will forever change the way you see yourself. I can think of no better teachers to help guide you along the way than Louise Hay and Cheryl Richardson. Louise Hay is the beloved author and founder of Hay House Publishing. Cheryl Richardson is a noted expert in the field of extreme self-care. Together, they created a program called You Can Trust Your Life, and it’s a foundational work in developing a greater sense of self-love and self-acceptance … which are keys to boosting your confidence.
In You Can Trust Your Life, Louise and Cheryl walk you through powerful exercises that teach you how to heal your relationship with yourself (and others), how to embrace your inner awesomeness, and how to get back on track when feelings of self-doubt pop up.
You have been walking through your life stuck in a self-critical dialogue that has been ravaging your sense of self-worth. No wonder you struggle to believe in yourself. As Louise Hay says, “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”
Developing a Confident Outer Voice Begins By Developing a Self-Affirming Inner Voice
Imagine a stream of water that over time has dug a very deep crevasse where water flows unrestricted. The channel is deep and redirecting it would take time and effort.
That’s kind of how your mind works. You’ve spent a lot of time criticizing yourself, doubting your worth and hiding for fear others would judge you mercilessly if you were to reveal your authentic voice.
You’ve listened to thought after thought that warned you it was dangerous to step up and be seen and heard. You’ve given into fear time and time again. It’s a deep crevasse, and in all likelihood, you won’t be able to change the “flow” of your thoughts and beliefs overnight.
Yet, it is possible to change. It is possible to have the sense of high self-worth and confidence you want.
When you take the time and energy to practice a whole new way of viewing yourself, you can “reroute” the flow of the thoughts … creating an even deeper and more substantial pathway that supports you with thoughts of confidence, self-acceptance, self-love, and self-assurance. You can raise your vibration. You can raise the quality of your life and go after those dreams you used to be afraid to pursue.
So how do you begin this practice of a healthy, self-supportive inner dialogue?
* You spend a lot of time deliberately hearing and watching messages that reinforce your self-worth and demonstrate fundamentals of self-confidence.
* You practice monitoring your internal dialogue, noticing unhelpful thoughts and immediately exchanging them for self-supporting thoughts.
* And, you turn to the experts for help.
Tools for Changing Negative Thought Channels
You’ve made a great step today by reading this article, but your work has only just begun.
First, I suggest you explore a few posts that we’ve written here at Believe and Create, including, When You Start Believing in Yourself, You’ll Be Unstoppable and Taking Off Your Masks: An Outrageous Act of Self-Love.
Next, I recommend you check out a few programs by Pema Chödrön. The first is called Living with Vulnerability. When you don’t believe in yourself, you often end up trapped in harsh self-judgment instead of embracing gentle self-acceptance. You become either unwilling or unable to express your vulnerability. It is our vulnerability that makes us better able to connect more authentically and more lovingly with others, which is why I love this program by Pema. Brené Brown also has a highly acclaimed program called The Power of Vulnerability that is also worth adding to your reading/listening list.
I also recommend Pema’s work, Unconditional Confidence. In this audio program, Pema shares how to find your courage, especially in times of challenge and change.
I’ve relied on Pema Chödrön’s work to help me in many areas of my life, which I talk about at length in the post What to Do When You Feel Stuck in Your Life. If you’re sensing that you’re stuck, take a few minutes and check it out.
The Keys to Self-Acceptance
Ultimately, learning to believe in yourself requires you to start looking at yourself through the lens of unconditional self-acceptance. Take a minute now to read our post, The Ultimate Truth About Unconditional Self-Acceptance.
Another short read that we’ve put together is When You Truly Accept Yourself, Your Life Just Works Better, which helps you explore the many reasons why it’s time to embrace self-acceptance. It also includes an insightful exercise for becoming a more self-accepting person.
Finally, check out Cheri Huber’s Do-It-Yourself Course, Unconditional Self-Acceptance. Cheri shows you how to release the conditioned messages that keep you from attaining your personal and professional goals. This six-hour, self-directed retreat reveals Cheri’s Five Steps of Acceptance and includes several powerful guided imagery sessions that will help you erase your old self-deprecating thoughts and replace them with a self-affirming self-image.
Be Confident. Be Brave. Believe in Yourself!
Some people will read this article and think, “I really should do something to improve my confidence and self-worth,” but they won’t do anything beyond reading this here today.
Right now you may already be feeling better knowing that you’re not alone and realizing that your issues came about from circumstances stemming back to childhood, where you had little control over what you learned and were taught to believe.
While that’s true, remember that knowing where the issues began and taking the step into confidence is easier said than done. Remember the water analogy and the deep crevasses? Today you’ve begun your work on rechanneling your thoughts, but there’s a lot more work to do. Do not be disheartened. It takes time and practice … and a little more help from online mentors and experts wouldn’t hurt, either.
Step up and claim the life you deserve. Step up and face your fears, it’s the ONLY path to greater confidence. Know this and bring it into our heart forevermore: you ARE important. You matter.
One Last Thought: You and ONLY You Get to Define Yourself.
I’m leaving you today with a riveting TEDx talk from Lizzie Velasquez. If you’ve never heard of Lizzie, you may be surprised at what you’re about to see. Lizzie was born with a rare disease that makes it impossible for her body to create fat. As a result, she has a host of medical complications that impact her appearance. One day, Lizzie discovered a YouTube video that featured her. The video had four million views and thousands of detestable comments naming her the “World’s Ugliest Woman.”
Being a strong woman despite all she’s been through, Lizzie decided to put her story out into the world through a TEDx talk. I think you agree that telling her story before the world in this manner took bravery, confidence, and a high sense of self-worth.
In her TEDx talk, Lizzie reminds you that only YOU can define yourself. You get to decide who you are. It’s up to you to believe in yourself. In all likelihood, what Lizzie has gone through will put your view of yourself and your life challenges in a whole different light. If after all she’s gone through, she can exude this degree of self-worth and self-confidence, you can, too. Enjoy her talk.