Self belief is something I have struggled with throughout my life. I have never believed that I was as good as everyone else. Always felt that I had to prove myself more than others. Always needed a certificate to tell me I was capable of doing something new.
It took my many years to realise that some skills can’t be taught and some skills we come pre-loaded with. No-one taught me how to be a teacher. yes I spent 4 years doing a degree so that I had the qualification I needed , but I was born with the ability to teach. Teaching is such an intrinsic part of who I am that I can’t not teach. When I spend time with children I can’t help guiding their experiences so that they learn something new. Even when I spend time with adults I love passing on knowledge I have gleaned from something I have read or heard that might be of interest.
I thought everyone could teach. I genuinely did. Then I went on some training courses when I started learning holistic therapies and realised that not everyone can teach!
I sat through a three day course where having been given a beautifully printed workbook the “teacher” hopped from page 52 to page 3 then page 87 and back to page 12, while writing in virtually illegible writing up the edges of a flip chart and talking in a monotonous voice.
At that point I had an epiphany!
Teaching is one of my superpowers.
This person was clearly making a good living delivering training and yet they were disorganised, there was no flow to the sessions and even as a sympathetic and interested student I was bored and knew I wasn’t taking as much information in as I wanted to. This person was teaching adults. In a classroom full of children or teenagers they would have been eaten alive.
For years I had allowed my inner voice to prevent me from taking chances, from putting myself out there and taking on new challenges because my inner critic would shout: “Who do you think you are? Do you really think you could do that? Other people can do that but you can’t”
Since that day I have acknowledged that my ability to impart wisdom is a gift, and probably my most valuable skill. I allow myself to say out loud that I am a teacher and a good teacher, for years I saw this as a job description, but it is so much more than that.
I have also realised that it isn’t my only super power. I have loads!
Do I always radiate self belief? No.
Do I sometimes allow self doubt to flood my body and paralyse me? Occasionally, but not very often these days.
Am I making progress every day? Oh yes!
Every single day I try to make myself do something I think I can’t do. Whether it is digging the garden when I know I’m tired or saying yes to a business opportunity that scares me, I make myself do it and prove to myself that I can.
The Yes Woman!
Do you remember Danny Wallace’s project (and subsequent book and film) “The Yes Man”. “Wallace vowed to say yes to every offer, invitation, challenge, and chance” (credit: Amazon.co.uk). This one change totally transformed his life. I may not be in a position to say yes to every opportunity, I have my family to consider, but I decided a few years ago that I would say yes to every business offer that came my way and work out how to make it happen after. It has brought so many amazing opportunities into my life.
Like so many things, self belief is something that only you can change.
It isn’t easy and there certainly isn’t a quick fix.
“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those you set upon yourself.”
What can you do to improve your self belief?
Use your Superpowers
My superpowers are teaching, learning, caring and overcoming adversity. These are just the first few that popped into my head, I know now that I have many more. Sit and think about what your superpowers are, make a list of all your gifts. If you genuinely can’t think of any, ask someone you trust, they will tell you in a heartbeat.
Use power poses
Power poses have been proven to make you act and feel more confident. Standing with your shoulders back and your head high automatically makes you feel more confident.
See yourself looking and feeling confident in your minds eye. Close your eyes, picture a situation that you find intimidating and see yourself looking happy, calm and confident. Keep using the same visualisation until you believe that it can be no other way.
Do one thing that scares you every day?
It doesn’t have to be something big. It might be that you don’t like using the phone and you make yourself ring the dentist. You might not like being in busy places and decide to go to a shopping centre. Perhaps you are scared of driving in unfamiliar areas, make yourself take a trip somewhere new. Whatever it is for you, just do something little every day. Flex your self confidence muscles.
Challenge your inner voice
We all have an inner critic who tells us we can’t do things, and makes us doubt our ability. However much that inner critic thinks it is helping us, it is often holding us back. Evolution taught us to be wary of situations that have caused us to be scared or anxious as a way of keeping us safe, most of the things we are scared of now are not physically dangerous though so we need to find ways to shut that inner voice up. The quickest way I have found is to question what the voice is saying; Is this true? Is it definitely true? How do I know? Can I prove it? Really challenge your inner voice and make it prove itself.
Read about others who have built their self belief
There is no better teacher than someone who has experienced what you are going through. The reason I teach relaxation and mindfulness is because I suffered from crippling anxiety in my late teens and early twenties then went on to suffer from depression when I started teaching. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through without strategies and support. By learning about other people who have overcome the challenges you face it enables you to learn from them and also reminds you that it is possible. A quick search on Amazon will bring up lots of self belief books, choose one that looks appealing.
Be kind to yourself
It is so important not to beat yourself up for feeling self doubt because that isn’t helpful. Challenge yourself and reward yourself for taking baby steps in the right direction. If you don’t achieve your target, take a deep breath and decide to do it tomorrow. Make time to relax and look after yourself. If you aren’t getting enough rest you can’t function at the level you need to to make real progress.
The most important thing to remember is that nothing is permanent. Nothing. You can change anything if you decide you want to. Making that choice is the hardest part, if you are reading this, you’ve already taken that step.