If you look at your life, there’s probably a lot of things that you believe in. We believe in religions, philosophies, myths and legends, and we even believe other people like our parents and our childhood idols.
It feels good to believe in things – it gives our life purpose knowing that there are things that we would defend and stand up for.
So why is it so hard to believe in ourselves? Why is it that we’re so prone to self-doubt and unrealistics fears even though deep down we possess the confidence to take action and get things done?
The fact that we even have to wrestle with this question is a bit unnerving, because believing in yourself is an entry-level requirement for changing your life for the better.
Without this trait, you might as well erase your goals and live a life of quiet desperation. The problem with belief is that it takes time to foster even though we want it to happen right away.
We don’t believe new things without new evidence. In order for you to start believing in yourself, you need to start giving your brain some clear-cut evidence that challenges your current sense of self.
In this article we’ll discuss how to cultivate a self-image that’s positive and confident so that you can attack whatever life throws at you with supreme belief in yourself.
How Do You Start To Believe In Yourself?
Our brains are always forming new beliefs about who we are. Your current worldview and personality are both products of your current beliefs. Those beliefs weren’t predetermined at birth, they were generated through experience.
Like it or not, you learned to become the person you are now. You’ve ingrained certain beliefs and truths because experience has taught you to see things a certain way.
But at some point you have to ask yourself the question – are these beliefs hurting me or helping me?
Are your beliefs moving your life forward or keeping you stuck? If the latter is the case, it’s time to unlearn those beliefs and replace them with new ones.
Believing in yourself starts with realizing that you can untangle old beliefs and form new ones due to a concept called neuroplasticity.
Our neural pathways and instilled behavior patterns are not fixed. They can be easily changed as long as we start giving our brain new evidence.
And how do we start giving our brain new evidence? We start taking some new actions.
The Power of Believing In Yourself
Everything in life is easier when you start believing in yourself.
If you don’t really believe that you can do something, you’re not going to give full effort. And when you don’t give full effort, your chances of succeeding plummet – no matter what you’re trying to accomplish.
Your business won’t get off the ground if you don’t think you have what it takes to be an entrepreneur. If you accept the fact that you were born socially awkward and there’s nothing you can do to change it, then your social skills will never improve.
If you look at the people who make an impact on the world, the one thing that they all have in common is unshakeable belief in their abilities.
Steve Jobs was fired from the company he started in 1985. However, he never lost faith in himself or his vision. After a little over a decade away from the company, he was rehired in 1997 and went on to invent products like the Macbook, the iPhone, and the iPad.
J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected by 12 publishers. Despite those rejections, she was finally able to publish that first book and went on to publish six more after that. Today, she’s the ninth best-selling fiction author as the Harry Potter series has sold over 500 million copies.
Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” After being fired, he tried to form his own animation company but had to dissolve it shortly after because he couldn’t pay rent and was reportedly surviving on dog food. 59 Academy Awards later, and Disney is considered one of the greatest animators ever.
What these true motivational stories teach us is that failure is not final, and that belief can be an overwhelming force that allows you to come out of setbacks better than ever.
If you were in Rowling’s shoes, do you think you would have kept trying after hearing the 5th, 6th, or 7th no? If you were Steve Jobs, do you think you’d have the fortitude to pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your work for 12 years so that the company you started hires you back?
If not, that’s okay. You don’t have to get to that level yet. Keep your focus on improving yourself and taking baby steps towards the life you want.
Let’s get into five practical strategies that will help you start believing in yourself and your ability to achieve your goals.
5 Tips to Start Believing In Yourself
If you adopt these five philosophies into your life, you’ll be well on your way to developing the self-confidence that will take you wherever you want to go.
As we break down these strategies, I’ll also include a few examples from my own life just to highlight the ways that I’ve fostered self-belief in my own life.
#1: Venture Outside Your Comfort Zone
Expanding your comfort zone is one of the most effective ways to start believing in yourself.
To illustrate this point, let’s just take a look at what’s going on when you’re faced with a decision that involves staying or leaving your comfort zone.
First off, you have to understand that your brain hates the unknown. That’s why you’re naturally steered towards the same breakfast, the same coffee shop, the same friends, and the same daily habits every single day.
Your brain wants you to feel safe and secure. And what’s more safe and secure than your familiar behavioral patterns?
But it’s deeper than that, because here’s what your brain is really telling you when you’re about to do something scary:
“I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you can handle the fear/discomfort/pain/stress associated with this making this decision.”
When most of us hear this story echoing in our brain, we take it as truth. We accept this characterization of ourselves and repeatedly choose the path of least resistance.
This small error repeated over time is how we start losing faith in our abilities.
The best way to attack this belief is to voluntarily expose yourself to fear and discomfort. The more you prove to yourself that you can handle the unknown, the more open you will be to potentially life-changing opportunities.
Come up with a list of comfort zone challenges and do one thing that scares you every day. As you get comfortable with the uncomfortable, you’ll get a huge boost of self-esteem that will carry over into other areas of your life.
#2: Focus On Small Wins
When we vow to change some aspect of who we are, we often shoot ourselves in the foot by taking the complete overhaul approach to change.
We hate the number we see on the scale, so we promise ourselves that we will start walking for an hour per day. We can’t get over writer’s block, so we set a daily target of writing three hours per day.
These are the types of ambitious targets that almost never come to fruition.
Belief is not something that you can acquire by flipping a switch. Shifting your beliefs and reinventing your life requires consistently giving your brain evidence that you’re a different kind of person.
The keyword there is “consistently.” You’ve gotta show up every day if you want to start changing your identity.
Small wins offer the perfect solution for fundamentally changing who you are. If you’re skeptical about the power of tiny habits, let me briefly tell you a story from my own life.
For years, social anxiety was my biggest demon. Getting invited to a social gathering where I didn’t already know people felt like a death sentence. I would have rather had my dentist pull my teeth out one by one than approach a girl that I was attracted to.
For several years, my social anxiety was a significant roadblock in my attempts to create my own happiness.. Each day that I didn’t take action to fix it further cemented the belief that I was powerless against it.
One day, I decided to take a different approach to change. In the past, when I had tried to fix my social anxiety, I’d commit to radical habits like talking to 5 strangers per day.
No one could fault me for being ambitious, but apparently ambition was the one thing stopping me from getting unstuck.
That’s why the small habit I committed to was simply walking out the door every day. As long as that happened, the day was a win.
And for about a week, that’s all I did. I’d go on a leisurely stroll outside without saying a word to anybody.Eventually, I mustered up the courage to start saying hello to people and giving out compliments.
That progressed into having conversations regularly, which further transitioned into having engaging conversations with girls that I was attracted to.
Little by little, my social anxiety slowly started diminishing. And even though it will always linger in the back of my mind, it no longer stops me from doing what I want to do.
So when thinking about your biggest goals, get humble. Think about the small win that you can achieve every day that will represent progress towards that goal. It’s these seemingly insignificant actions that have the power to completely transform who you are.
Showing up every day, even in small ways, will start to tip the scales in your favor and convince your brain that you’re a different person.
Identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back in your life and commit to one tiny daily habit that can work to shatter that limiting belief.
#3: Think About How Far You’ve Come
If you are feeling down and out, then you can actually use your past to get out of a funk and get motivated again.
We’ve all had times in our lives where it felt like the world was crumbling down around us.
But guess what? You’re still here alive and breathing. You’ve made it through every single one of those situations even if you barely got through it by the skin of your teeth.
Even if it feels like your back is against the wall, the reason you’re still here is because you’re strong enough to handle whatever life throws at you.
The fact that you’re still here is living proof of that. Every day that you get up is an opportunity to fight and challenge yourself to be better.
So always be aware of the fact that you’ve had enough courage and fortitude to make it this far, which means you can keep going.
#4: Surround Yourself With Positive People
Believing in yourself isn’t just about you, it’s also about the people around you.
Misery loves company. People who are angry and depressed about their current situations tend to latch onto people who share the same worldview because it makes them feel like they’re not alone.
Can you recognize any of these people in your life right now? Are there certain people you know that always seem to be complaining instead of taking control of their problems?
Those are the kind of people you want to avoid like the plague. They’re anchors who will project their own insecurities onto you and drag you down with them.
If your circle doesn’t motivate you and inspire you to become better, you need to find a new circle.
When picking and choosing who you spend your time with, remember you’re genetically wired for acceptance. In other words, you will naturally alter your own personality to match the norm of the group.
So choose this group wisely.
Starting today, decrease the amount of time you spend with one person who is bringing negative energy into your life.
To offset this, start spending more time with someone that you admire who brings a positive outlook to life.
#5: Commit To A Major Change In Your Life
When it comes to learning how to start believing in yourself, sometimes you’ve just gotta throw yourself into the fire and see what happens.
If you’re considering making a major change in your life like switching careers, or moving to a different city, then lack of self-belief is certainty something you’ll have to contend with.
When you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll avoid risky situations because you won’t feel 100% confident in your ability to thrive under pressure. Here’s the deal – you’re never going to be 100% certain when it comes to making major life decisions.
Whether it’s proposing to the man/woman of your dreams, taking a trip to Europe for a few months, or ending a long-time relationship – you have no idea what’s going to happen.
You can weigh the pros and cons and imagine alternate futures all you want, there’s no crystal ball that will tell you how things are going to turn out.
When I dropped out of college at the age of 19 to start a marketing agency, there were a million unknowns that ran through my mind
- What if the business flopped?
- Would my parents ever forgive me for leaving college?
- Would my friends/family think I’m a loser for dropping out?
- What if I was left with no money to support myself?
What’s interesting is the day that I made the decision, most of these thoughts fell silent. Instead of placing so much emphasis on future pitfalls, my brain’s focus immediately shifted to survival mode.
It was like a weight had been lifted off and it was telling me: “Okay, you made the decision and you can’t change it. Now what are you going to actually do to avoid all of those potential outcomes?”
Did dropping out to start a marketing agency work out? Well, not on paper, but it’s led me to where I am today.
Throughout the journey, I realized I had an intense passion for personal development which is why I started this blog in the first place. I moved back to Chicago and landed a sales job immediately due to some connections that I had made while running the agency.
In other words, my “failure” has simply turned into the next chapter of my life.
What you need to realize about making big decisions is that you’re never going to have certainty.
That feeling of total belief and faith that it’s all going to work out will only hit you once you start making progress and figuring out what you’re capable of.
So if you’re facing a major life decision and aren’t sure of yourself, your best course of action is throw yourself into the fire and see if you come out the other side.
Final Thoughts On How To Start Believing In Yourself
It’s not easy to start believing in yourself especially when you’re experiencing setback after setback.
But no matter where you find yourself right now, the only thing that matters is that you’re still standing. If you’re still standing, it means you can still step slowly towards your desired future.
In movies, we watch characters have these bullshit epiphany moments and become completely different people in under thirty minutes. Unfortunately, we live in the real world where change takes place at a snail’s pace.
Learning how to believe in yourself is a process that takes several months, even years sometimes. However, with enough consistency you can start to rewire who you are and become a completely different person.
All we have to do is have the courage to start small and step consistently.