Believing in yourself is not always easy, especially when the circumstances are hard.
Hence we asked 16 experts, “how to believe in yourself more?”
See their top insights below.
Elizabeth Cush, LCPC
Business Owner | Podcaster | Therapist, Progression Counseling
Believing in yourself is really hard if you’re always beating yourself up about the mistakes you’ve made, your behavior, how you look, or how you’re feeling.
The practice of self-compassion — where you offer yourself the same compassion you might give others when they’re struggling — is one of the most effective tools for increasing positive feelings towards self.
According to researcher Dr. Kristin Neff a self-compassion practice consists of three elements — self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
Take a minute to listen to how you talk to yourself
Are you harsh and critical of your mistakes, of your behavior? Are you always judging yourself?
Now, imagine what you’d say to a friend in the same situation and try offering those words of comfort to yourself. Try placing your hand on your heart and saying to yourself, “I’m so sorry you’re having a hard time right now.”
Being compassionate instead of self-critical and physical touch can ease some of your discomforts at the moment.
In those difficult moments, it’s important to remind yourself that everyone struggles from time to time
So when you’re feeling bad about yourself or the situation that you’re in try to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone struggles and it’s hard.
You can say to yourself, “I feel __________ (you fill in the blank) right now, and I’m struggling with this. But I know I’m not alone, everyone struggles from time-to-time and this will pass.”
Then try tuning into or be mindful of how your distress shows up
Maybe your stomach hurts, or your headaches, or maybe your chest feels tight. Notice those physical feelings without judgment.
You can even place your hand wherever you’re feeling the discomfort and imagine that you’re breathing into it and the edges of the pain are softening or blurring.
Many of us weren’t taught how to be self-compassionate so it can be hard or uncomfortable at first.
If saying kind, comforting words to yourself feels impossible then begin by imagining that it’s someone you trust and love or a beloved pet offering you compassion at that moment.
Creating a positive relationship with yourself and becoming your own best friend reinforces that you can believe in and take care of yourself!
Dr. Henry Cloud
Psychologist | Leadership Expert | Author, Boundaries
Own your own faults and weaknesses
You’re able to make your own way in life and reap the benefits of blessings when you own your own faults and weaknesses. Here’s a brief list of things for which you can begin to take responsibility:
#1 Your own unhappiness. Begin to take ownership of whatever pain or discomfort you experience. Then take steps to ask for help for you to find relief.
#2 Specific issues. Determine the root cause of your problem. Is it a relationship disconnect, a faith journey, a job issue, or a habit that won’t go away.
#3 Needed resources. You must lead the way in finding the resources you need to solve your problem. Get help, support, comfort, and advice. Search until you find people who have answers and can give you encouragement.
#4 Weaknesses and obstacles. Identify the areas in which you don’t have the strength you need to meet the challenge, and then begin to develop those areas.
#5 Accountability. Submit yourself to a few people who will keep you on task with your project of resolving your struggle or meeting your goal.
#6 Support team. Seek out friends who are full of compassion and comfort but who will not let you shrink your responsibility for taking the next step in resolving your issues. (And avoid, like the plague, people who will keep you stuck by helping you feel like a victim!)
#7 One day at a time. Address issues of today rather than obsessing about yesterday or hoping for rescue tomorrow. People who take charge of their lives know how to live in the present.
#8 Finally, resist the temptation to take all the blame for everything. Your struggle is not for you to bear alone. Neither your shoulders nor mine are wide enough to carry it all. The good news is, when we take ownership, life works better.
Gallup Certified Strengths Coach | Co-founder, Strengths University
Figure out what your talents are
Everyone has talents. Those talents color how we see and operate in the world.
Unfortunately, most people don’t know what their talents are or how to maximize them. Some people are never told they’re good at anything and as a result have no idea what they can offer to the world.
When you don’t know your talents, you don’t understand the power you really have to more successful, productive, and engaged.
Our decisions and behaviors are heavily impacted by our talents. Once you figure out what your talents are, you suddenly have the insight to better understand why you act the way you do and how you relate to others.
This means you now have the knowledge to better utilize your talents, make better decisions, and approach others in a new way.
Those things in your life that make you feel “stuck” are often caused when we misuse our talents or haven’t invested in them to make them stronger. In other words, our talents can become strengths but only when we start to understand and nurture them.
There are many ways to go about figuring out what your talents are. You can start reflecting on the five clues to talent:
- Yearning – What do you yearn to do? If you could spend your time doing anything, what would it be?
- Satisfaction – What activities make you think “I can’t wait to do that again?” What are the things you’re doing when you truly enjoy yourself?
- Rapid learning – What have you done well that you didn’t really need anyone to explain to you? What things are you naturally good at doing?
- Glimpses of Excellence – What are you known for doing well? What do other people compliment you on?
- Total Performance Excellence – What are you doing when time just seems to disappear? Another way to describe it is being in flow.
Know there is nothing and no one who will come in and “save you”
There is no magic formula, no magic sprinkle dust. There is YOU…the problem, yet you are also the solution. The catch is you cannot solve any problem from your normal way of thinking that created the problem.
You have to arrive at the understanding that NOT ONE circumstance will leave your daily experience until you have had enough of it; until you believe you are well; until you believe you are worthy and capable of more; until you forgive yourself for “past mistakes”; until love and service are a priority in your life. That’s it.
You have to interject hope where there was despair, faith where there was fear, love where there was anger and service where there was always taking without giving back.
Life is beautiful because throughout the journey of your life you are born into love, lose sight of this love and eventually reconnect with this love. Amidst the re-connection, you begin to grow, to understand, to know that love is simply the only answer.
Love is all there is, you have but to welcome it into your experience. “If nobody has done it (within your world), maybe it IS for you to do.”
This is a place where you can begin to live on purpose by letting your most pressing ideas pass through you into the world, by continuously taking another step even when you are weary, and knowing without needing external validation that you are taking inspired action to bring about the highest good, not just for yourself, but for everyone involved.
These combined efforts with show you time and time again you are capable of much more than you thought possible.
Business Coach, Dave Labowitz
Adopt a growth rather than a fixed mindset
Adopting a growth mindset, as explained by Carol Dweck in her book “Mindset“, is a great foundation for believing in yourself.
A growth mindset helps you realize you will grow smarter, stronger, and wiser through experience; these characteristics are not fixed.
This allows failures to become learning experiences rather than self-defining experiences. In fact, you will quickly learn that challenging failures offer larger opportunities for growth than easy successes.
A growth mindset leads you to gratitude rather than resentment for these experiences.
This leaves you looking forward to opportunities to apply your new learnings rather than backward, focusing on your failures.
In contrast, a fixed mindset can lead to past experience dictating a self-image that seems unchangeable, normally some derivative of “I failed at X, therefore I am not good enough,” which obviously undermines your ability to believe in yourself.
Take pride in your scars
We all carry physical, emotional, and spiritual scars. You can either hide these things in shame or choose to show them to the world with vulnerability.
The more you hide, the more shame you accumulate and it’s tremendously difficult to believe in yourself with the monkey of shame on your back.
When you show your scars to the world, the light of day burns the shame away. You’ll learn to view your scars as adversities you’ve overcome rather than burdens to bear.
Each can be seen with pride; you lived through it and you’re still standing! Surviving adversity creates self-belief.
You’ll also find, as you share the truth of your scars with others, they enable you to connect with and help people who experienced similar challenges. Not only do they make you a survivor, they give you a tremendous power to serve.
This may be a bit woo-woo for some, but if you view yourself as a soul having a human experience, rather than a human being with a soul, it makes it difficult not to believe in yourself.
Is there any point in judging a soul? Isn’t each beautiful, unique, and worthy of love?
The human experiences your soul has as it moves through life are just your soul’s spiritual curriculum.
These things happen the way they do in service to your soul; they happen for you, not to you. Seek to find the lesson in each experience, regardless of whether it’s pleasurable or painful.
When you realize your experiences in no way define you, there’s nothing left to undermine your belief in yourself and you’re free to enjoy your journey without self-judgment.
Amanda J. Ponzar
Chief Communications Officer, Community Health Charities
It’s important to know yourself to believe in yourself.
Taking the time to reflect on what you do well and also asking people close to you, such as family, friends, coworkers, etc. to tell you what they like about you can help you see potential in yourself. Sometimes others see what we can’t see.
I also believe that being part of a faith community can help you see the value in yourself, that you are loved and have a higher purpose, even when life can get you down.
Avoiding toxic people and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people is also important, as is taking time for your mental and physical health so you can be in the best state of mind.
This includes getting a good night’s sleep, drinking water, exercising (even just walking), journaling, keeping a thankful/gratitude list, de-stressing, meditation or prayer, volunteering, etc.
Volunteering helps you feel happier, but also builds community, helps someone else and gives you an opportunity to develop new skills.
Learning new skills is key to believing in yourself too.
Commit yourself to personal development. Set small goals and accomplish them – joining a club, learning a language, taking a course, reading books on a topic you’re interested in, etc. so you feel more confident.
Practice makes perfect, and it takes a lot of practice and learning to become really good at something.
Career Consultant | Director, Fresh Passion Institute
The rivalry in our workplaces today is becoming smoldering, hence the competition today is even more red-hot.
The sad reality is that many people shrink in face of competition, they wish there were no adjectives as better and best. They wish “good” was just okay for everyone so they can comfortably believe they are not bad after all!
One of the most guaranteed ways to believe in yourself from my top experience is building voluminous confidence in your personal brand.
It is about psychologically migrating from the generic zone into a class of ambitious and branded achievers always delivering exponential results in their workplaces. Those people who believe in themselves for the uncommon solutions they can deliver.
Today the sea of motivational talk littering everywhere will make you believe you can easily generate self-confidence internally.
Most times such end up fantastical, living in a personally engineered mirage. The truth remains that the strongest self-confidence is generated eternally from the adulation of the audience.
SELF CONFIDENCE IS A SON OF RESULTS, the glittering results which are readily visible and prompt when needed.
Read related article: The 30 Best Books on Confidence and Self-Esteem
Your personal brand, when developed strongly, will fortify you with confidence from the outside, from the public admiration of the exceeding results your personal brand consistently delivers.
When you build a personal brand renowned for beating expectations, your internal confidence gets fuelled from the commendations you receive.
All in all, I strongly believe you can’t believe more in yourself when there are over a billion copies of you duplicated over the world in reckless genericness.
I strongly know the best way to believe more in yourself in to build a personal brand that gluttonously relishes fresh solutions. that is intellectually distinct, that is an embodiment of your rarity and your dissatisfaction with commonness. It is when you know everyone knows you are special.
Co-Creator, Art & Alchemy
Take note of all the solid, successful, loving, and productive experiences you’ve had.
They don’t have to be ‘big’ in nature. Things that seem minuscule can be added to your list. Washing dishes and not leaving food on them. Crossing the street. Completing a crossword puzzle.
This is an exercise in appreciation. What you focus on grows.
Acknowledge your ability to succeed.
Even appreciate the things that didn’t go quite the way you planned. When you do this, you chisel away the power of your internal saboteur, whose job is to see and create failure.
The more you practice seeing yourself in a positive light, the more you will believe in yourself.
Creative Director, The London School of Make-Up
Believing in yourself means noticing your worth as much as others do, by focusing on your positive achievements, instead of becoming consumed by your negative ones.
At the end of each day, note down one thing you have achieved, no matter how big or small. This method of self-assurance actually engages your brain and allows you to recognize what you have accomplished each day that you can look back at and be proud of.
The important thing you’re in need of is confidence, so what better way of instilling confidence than listing your accomplishments down for you to reflect on?
You could detail the workload you were praised for by your manager at work, or the university essay you finished three days in advance when you first told yourself you “couldn’t do it”.
Jerry Haffey Jr.
President of Business Development, Ambrosia Treatment Center
Don’t let fear hold you back
More than anything else, fear is the key element that holds people back from achieving their goals. If you face your fears, then you establish belief in yourself and empower yourself to take action when necessary.
When you’re confronted with fear, think back to all your past successes. You were probably scared when facing those obstacles too. But, you did those things, and your current situation is really no different.
Being scared of change or growth is natural, but the truly successful people in life are the ones that don’t let their fear hold them back. Don’t let your biggest obstacle be you.
Digital Marketing Specialist, Utah Addiction Centers
There have been times in my life where I wondered how in the world I was going feel fulfilled and happy.
I hated myself. I hated my weaknesses, my faults, and who I was as a person. These hate thoughts pounded me and even made me had a few thoughts about how it would feel to end my life.
So how did I get past it? I think it was a combination of things.
I first had to recognize my strengths and focus on those instead of my weaknesses.
Sometimes I had to make “a list” of my strengths (and sometimes it took me FOREVER). I had to ask others to help me identify my strengths as well. But once I had a list I focused on those strengths and told myself that I was a good person.
I also decided to accept the past but to not look back.
I felt ashamed of my failures. But every day is a new day, and I decided that I was going to think about what I could control NOW (in the moment). When I realized I had control over some things (such as my reaction, my attitude, etc) I felt more empowered.
The last thing that helped was finding ways to serve and use my talents to help others.
I was able to find a job that I like that helps customers and clients. I also have looked to opportunities to get to know neighbors and family and help them out. I’ve been given responsibilities and tasks and that shows me that people believe in me. When people believe in me, I believe in myself.
So from my experience, I say when you don’t believe in yourself, look outward to help others, look inward to see your strengths, and look forward and not back.
It took a lot of self-belief to make this transition and the best tips could give is “just do it!”
Positive thinking mixed with action is the best way to find out what you are really capable of. As you fail fast you also learn, find your feet and take more action which all helps to build self-esteem and self-belief as you pick yourself up and move onto the next opportunity until you find that win.
I always tell myself that my value doesn’t decrease because of someone else’s inability to see it.
One of the most impactful things I have found made me strong was confronting situations that make me uncomfortable. The more I face them the easier they become and the more secure I become also.
Musician | Author
I actually believed in myself when there wasn’t any reason to when I wasn’t any good and couldn’t do all the things I wanted to do.
I had to pretend I was this genius waiting to happen. That delusion pulled me along until, after 30 years, I started to be able to do those things.
Is it bad to delude yourself into thinking you’re great? It depends on what the delusion does for you. If it leads you to action in the direction of your dream, and you can drop the delusion when it’s no longer necessary, then it’s fine.
If you have people who believe in you, and who challenge you to action, teachers, friends, colleagues, then you don’t need to believe in yourself. Just trust them. Then do what they tell you.
If you’re alone, if you can’t get anyone to read your book or listen to your music or watch you play your instrument, then you have to find a way to survive until you can get to those people, until you can make such a big noise that they have to read it, listen to it, watch you.
If delusion is your survival tactic, use it.
The only danger with delusion is that you can use it to shut out learning experiences, to delude yourself not that you could be great, but that you’re great already.
So be deluded on purpose, with eyes open, and be ready to let it go when the time comes. One day you’ll be you, and the delusion will keep you from moving forward instead of propelling you. Remember why you believed in yourself in the first place.
Owner and CEO, Natalie Ihde
There is one question deeper that needs to be asked before answering “how to believe in yourself more,” and that is…why don’t you believe in yourself?
See, as children, we already believe in ourselves. Tell any child, age 7 or younger, that they’re good at something, or that they’re awesome or kind and most of their responses are going to be, “I know.”
Children believe they can do anything until they’re told they can’t. And if we grow up being told we aren’t enough in some respect.
And if we fall into relationships as adults where we’re convinced we’re not enough, that is what perpetuates the feeling of not believing in yourself.
Realizing where the thought started isn’t a way to place blame.
As an adult, it doesn’t matter who said it or when or why, but it does matter that we acknowledge it happened and it was something that molded us into the person we are today. It was something that molded us into the person who knows we ARE worth more and that we need to figure out how to convince ourselves of that.
So, the original question of how to believe in yourself more. I recommend two things:
The first is journaling. It doesn’t have to be anything formal, it can be some computer paper that you put into a binder or folder, or it can be an actual journal.
Whatever feels good to you. Once you have it, write down all the things you’ve accomplished. Start with today, this week, this month, this year, the last five years, and go back as far as you can remember.
Detail every challenge you’ve overcome, every success you’ve ever had, every time you’ve ever thought, “Damn, I impressed myself on that!”
A page or so a day is fine and there doesn’t even have to be a style to the writing. It can be as simple as a stream of consciousness that you write down as you remember all the amazing things you’ve done throughout your life.
The second is coming up with a positive phrase to say to yourself when you find yourself a negative self-worth.
Another way to describe this is to change your story. This isn’t to say be happy all the time and everything will fix itself.
But when we have those thoughts creep into our heads that say “You’re going to be the laughing stock of this meeting,” as an example, we need to reply to that voice in a strong positive tone (whether it’s in our heads or actually out loud) and say something that is the opposite, “That’s not true, I am going to ROCK this meeting because I’ve worked hard.”
When we don’t believe in ourselves we have this story in our heads that we’re not good at something or a lot of things. But when we actively take part in changing our own story, whether it’s through coming up with a positive phrase or journaling all the things in life that we have succeeded in, we are telling ourselves we ARE worth it.
And that’s how you can start the process of believing in yourself more.
Managing Partner, Traverse Bay Farms
Increasing your belief in yourself is simple.
All you need to do is remember something amazing you did when you were a kid.
It doesn’t matter what it was. Maybe it was your Little League Baseball team winning the championship. Or, maybe it was baking the most amazing chocolate cake with your grandmother. Everyone in your neighborhood loved the cake so much you still remember serving it to family, friends, and neighbors.
Or, maybe you drew the most amazing artwork in your 3rd-grade art class and your art teacher still has it up on the wall of the classroom.
It doesn’t matter what it was, but it was something that you even were amazed at yourself for doing it at such a young age.
The reason you want to remember and reflect upon what you did when you were younger is because nobody can take that experience away from you.
If you did such an amazing thing when you where a kid, you can do much more now that you’re an adult.
Travel Blogger, Chasing Avenues
For me, what has helped the most is remembering that by not believing in myself and going after my dreams, I am actually doing a disservice to society.
Here is the thing, the longer I hold on to something that is potentially helpful, the more doubts come into my head.
The more I “research,” the more I effectively compare myself to others and craft my answers, or advice, or plan around what others have done. The more I think about things, the more I don’t do them.
So I have to remember that there is someone like me, that thinks about things the way I do, sitting across the screen – so I need to let myself go, and let go of all of these things that are cluttering my path, to truly help others as well.
Thinking about others, instead of myself, makes me believe in myself and what I have to say more than anything else.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is it hard to believe in yourself?
• Past experiences: Negative experiences or failures in the past can create self-doubt, making it difficult for you to trust your own abilities. It’s important to remember that everyone faces setbacks, and it’s through overcoming them that we grow and learn.
• Social comparison: Comparing yourself to others can lead to feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt. Keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different, and it’s better to focus on your own progress and achievements.
• Fear of failure: The fear of failing can prevent you from believing in yourself and taking risks. Remember that failure is a natural part of life and an opportunity to learn and grow.
• Limiting beliefs: Unconscious beliefs about your capabilities and worthiness can hold you back from believing in yourself. Recognizing and challenging these beliefs can help you develop a more positive self-image.
• Lack of support: If you don’t have a strong support system, it can be harder to believe in yourself. Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people who believe in you and your abilities.
Can self-belief be learned or is it an innate trait?
Self-belief is not an innate trait but rather a skill that can be learned and developed over time. Like any other skill, it requires practice, persistence, and patience.
Developing self-belief begins with:
• Acknowledging and understanding your thoughts and emotions
• Recognizing your strengths and accomplishments
• Learning to manage self-doubt
• Surrounding yourself with supportive people
• Seeking guidance from mentors or coaches
• Engaging in personal development activities
How long does it take to develop self-belief?
The time it takes to develop self-belief varies greatly from person to person, depending on individual experiences, circumstances, and the effort put into building this skill. There is no specific timeline or deadline, but the process can be accelerated by adopting certain practices and habits such as:
• Setting realistic goals
• Practicing self-compassion
• Embracing positive affirmation
• Celebrating your achievements
• Surrounding yourself with support
How can I maintain a strong belief in myself during difficult times?
Maintaining a strong belief in yourself during difficult times is crucial for personal growth and resilience. Here are some strategies to help you foster self-belief:
• Practice self-compassion: Understand that everyone faces challenges, and feeling overwhelmed is okay. Treat yourself kindly, as you would a dear friend, and avoid harsh self-criticism.
• Set realistic expectations: Recognize your current situation and set achievable goals. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks and celebrate your progress.
• Build on your strengths: Identify your natural abilities and focus on areas where you excel. This will help boost your confidence and reinforce the belief that you are capable.
• Surround yourself with positivity: Connect with supportive people who uplift and encourage you. Their faith in you can help strengthen your self-belief.
• Practice positive affirmations: Create empowering statements that focus on your strengths and achievements. Repeat them daily to rewire your thought patterns and build self-belief.
• Embrace failure as a learning opportunity: When things don’t go as planned, learn from the experience and adapt. This will help you build resilience and maintain a strong belief in your ability to overcome obstacles.
Can too much self-belief be harmful?
While self-belief is essential for personal growth, an excessive amount can be harmful. Here’s why:
• Overconfidence: Excessive self-belief can lead to overconfidence, causing you to underestimate challenges and take unnecessary risks. This may result in setbacks and failure to reach your goals.
• Ignoring feedback: A strong belief in yourself is important, but remaining open to feedback is crucial. Overconfidence may cause you to dismiss valuable input from others, limiting your growth potential.
• Strained relationships: Excessive self-belief can come across as arrogance, which can strain relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. It’s essential to balance confidence with humility and empathy.
• Reduced motivation: Overestimating your abilities may lead to complacency, diminishing the drive to improve and grow. It’s crucial to maintain a growth mindset and recognize that there’s always room for improvement.
How can I help others believe in themselves more?
• Encourage and support: Be a source of encouragement and support for others, providing positive reinforcement and acknowledging their achievements. This can help them build self-confidence and believe in their abilities.
• Help set realistic goals: Help others set achievable and realistic goals, breaking them down into smaller steps. This will allow them to see progress and build their self-belief.
• Be a good listener: Sometimes, people just need someone to listen to their thoughts, fears, and concerns. By being a good listener, you can help them process their feelings and develop a more positive outlook.
• Teach resilience: Help others learn how to bounce back from setbacks and failures by sharing strategies for resilience, such as practicing self-compassion, learning from mistakes, and focusing on their strengths.
• Challenge limiting beliefs: Encourage others to identify and challenge any limiting beliefs they may have about themselves. Help them develop a growth mindset and see obstacles as opportunities for growth.
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