Fostering More Self-Belief

Do you have something that you really want to do or try but your confidence is holding you back? 

Go for that job, sign up for that course, take up a new hobby or go on that date …?

I think most of us can think of a time in our lives when our lack of self-belief stood in the way of our progress.  It is a recurring theme in coaching, and I am sometimes surprised how often self-doubt shows up, even in the clients that appear the most outwardly confident.

So, what can you do to start improving your mind-set and working towards the life you want?

Here are some of the areas that I would usually focus on with clients:

1. Self-talk: How often do you stop to listen to what you’re saying to yourself? Frequently when we tune into our self-talk, we realise that it isn’t really that nice.  We tell ourselves that we’re not good enough or that we can’t do something.  Often these self-limiting beliefs have no basis in reality and are based on experiences, education, childhood, fear or some other faulty logic.

If you’ve ever experienced “Imposter Syndrome”, this is generally a result of self-limiting beliefs.  This is where you applied for a job, you got it as you had all the necessary skills and education yet still on the first day you are sitting there thinking “I don’t know what I’m doing” or “I’m going to get found out”.

Other times, we subconsciously set out to prove our self-limiting beliefs true and self-sabotage. This is where we don’t believe we can do something so we nearly set ourselves up for failure and it therefore becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The key to overcoming all of this is to 1.) start paying attention to these negative thought patterns, 2.) stop and question them and 3.) look at facts to the contrary.  By doing this, you can turn your self-limiting beliefs into empowering beliefs, e.g., “I’m not good enough” can become “I’m more than capable”.

2. “Success banking”: list as many achievements or things you are proud of. I ask clients to try think of ten initially and usually at around five they will draw a blank.  I then ask them then to consider that they don’t have to be recent or only focused on one area of their lives.  Think of accomplishments from any area of your life at any stage – no matter how insignificant it might seem now; at the time it was a big deal!  I would also think of your “awesome fails”, i.e., try to reframe the things that went wrong or didn’t turn out as planned but you survived, lived to tell the tale and hopefully learned some lessons along the way.  These more difficult experiences are the things that make you resilient.  Looking at a varied list of great things you’ve done or hard things you’ve gotten through usually results in an instant boost.  We are all so busy moving from one thing to the next that we don’t always take stock of all the positives to date.

Once you have this initial list, I normally suggest that:

  • you keep adding to it, even with small weekly “wins”
  • when you find yourself in another situation where you are doubting yourself, you can take it out and tell yourself “I got this”.

3. Getting out of your comfort zone: someone asked me recently why they should bother getting out of their comfort zone. This person is by no means lazy and has done lots of different things in their life but I think the phrase to them sounds a bit daredevil-esque and is off-putting.

However I’m not talking about bungee jumping or skydiving.  It can be small changes or situations where you feel slightly (but not very) uncomfortable to start with and then you can move towards bigger goals.  For example, if you want to build up to do a presentation in work but are terrified of public speaking, try find some small opportunities to speak in front of a group without the pressure, e.g., at a weekly team meeting or in situations outside work.

The reality is you don’t HAVE to take on new challenges or expose yourself to new situations but the more you do, you’ll find that you become better at adapting, facing setbacks and ultimately becoming more confident and resilient when taking on the unknown in the future.

The key is not to let fear hold you back as when you overcome something that you are afraid of, it builds your self-belief and you will then be asking yourself “what else can I do?!”

4. Comparisons: how many of us compare ourselves to celebs or other influencers on social media or reality TV?  Or do you subconsciously compete with colleagues or friends?  If we keep comparing ourselves to others, we will only feel worse.  The only person you should be comparing yourself to is “you today” versus “you yesterday/last week”.

What will make you feel better is noticing those small changes or “wins” that you are making that are moving you towards your goals and “banking” them as successes.  Focusing on that will lift you and give you internal validation which is much more valuable than external.

5. Daily “boosters”: this is different for different people but it is great to find an activity that de-stresses, calms and grounds you and commit to it regularly. It can be some sort of exercise or anything that focuses on the breath such as meditation or yoga.  Or it can be anything creative or musical….anything really as long as it is something that brings you up.

If you’re struggling with self-belief, a coach can help work through all of this with you.

Have a great week.  Elaine x

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