Learning to Believe in Ourselves
posted: Feb. 17, 2023.
The importance of believing in ourselves and our ability to create and bring about change in our lives seems to be self-explanatory. After all, if we do not believe we can, we will absolutely prove ourselves to be right. However, it is important to note that believing in ourselves is not an on/off switch. It is not that either you do or do not believe in yourself. It is more of a gradient, and our work is to turn up the volume on our trust in our capabilities and talents.
Being a gay therapist and working, among others, with gay men and same sex-couples, I have learned a very important thing. Whether we belong to a minority group or not, we mustn’t allow anyone else define us, but ourselves. This is where the belief in ourselves truly matters. In my Los Angeles couples therapy clinic I often work with my clients on learning to believe in our ability to create the life and the relationship we desire. Believing that we can have what we want, even if it means learning new tools and skills, is fundamental to couples therapy success.
Psychologists point out 3 core junction points to look at while talking about believing in ourselves. These are our, well, - beliefs, or thoughts we think about ourselves and our ability to affect the world around us; there are our emotions that are tied into these beliefs and of course, there are the past, present and future actions that may support or dispel our limiting beliefs.
Let's talk about our thoughts and feelings first. Whenever we hear that self-doubting, critical voice in our head, listen in and identify who this voice reminds us of? Is it one of our parents? Our ex? Or perhaps another significant person in our lives that left us with the baggage of self-doubt. Once you identify both the Debbie Doubter voice and the source of it in your past experiences, I invite you to name it with a humorous funny name and call it out every time it decides to speak out of turn. Learn to pinpoint when this is the part of you that is talking in your head and put its input in the due place.
Additional powerful way to boost our belief in ourselves is to surround ourselves with people who do, while distancing ourselves from people who do not believe in us. Our circle is the very oven in which we are baking our life's work. I invite you to create a circle of warm supportive loving people who will create nurturing supportive relationships with you and help you learn to have the same nurturing supportive relationship with yourself.
And finally, since the proof is always in the pudding, the key and final component of our journey into believing in ourselves is action. Here we talk about actions you have taken in the past, are taking now, and potentially will take in the future. Past actions are a great starting point to examine our accomplishments and our strengths, as well as our failures and shortcomings. List all your accomplishments, big and small. There is going to be a long list of these since you lived life and did stuff in the process. Learning to read early, being good in sports, winning a game, being there to help your parents, doing online therapy to improve your wellbeing, always remembering the birthdays of people you love, making a large donation to gay men’s chorus, doing something of your bucket list, having an incredible date, learning to play an instrument, taking your partner to couples retreat to supercharge your relationship etc - we have successes and accomplishments all the time, Spend some time making a long list of your accomplishments.
Based on this list, I invite you to examine your own strengths - what are the things you are great at, as well as your weaknesses - we all suck in some things and that's ok. Be honest and fair. This is about objective evaluation. Leave the feelings out of it for now.
Now think of your desired accomplishments. Break them down into smaller more manageable parts, create steps for you to make. Notice which steps are likely to be easy and which ones would require some help from coaches, professionals, and friends. Now we are at the final stage of building self-confidence and self-belief. We are going to apply ourselves to create the things we desire in our life. You must take action to prove yourself that you got what it takes. All of the work prior to this moment was in service of you making the leap, taking the needed first step toward your goal, leaving the doubting voice behind and stepping into the "can-do" new you.