Learning how to believe in yourself is one of the most important lessons in life. Master this skill and you’ll find immense strength, self-confidence, and resilience. You’ll be able to persist through the difficult times and soar during the best. Believing in yourself brings freedom and opportunity into your life.
There’s a shortage of people in the world who believe in themselves, and there’s a terrible price to pay. What geniuses have we lost, what innovations have never materialized, and what progress has been delayed because of rampant self-doubt? What wonders could you have achieved in your life, had you believed all your life that you are capable—and worthy—of your dreams?
Humans are amazing creatures: ingenious, curious, loving. And I think that by learning how to believe in yourself, you are making the world a better place. Chase your dreams with confidence! I also believe that it’s the single, most impactful change you can make in your life today.
The truth is there’s so much potential that languishes because we’re trapped thinking the worst about ourselves, afraid to try and fail. We convince ourselves that we are just fine—it’s everything else that needs to change. We lie to ourselves constantly because we would rather stick with what’s familiar, in a tiny comfort zone, than put in the effort to change ourselves and our beliefs.
It’s a scary prospect, change is always scary. But it’s worth it. By forfeiting responsibly, we find ourselves helpless in the throes of life, lacking any sense of control. This easily leads to resentment and suffering, something we’re unfortunately too quick to share with others.
Make the Choice to Believe In Yourself
Making the choice to believe in yourself in an important beginning. After all, you can’t get anywhere without it. The impacts of believing in yourself are immediate, but require continuous effort because old habits die hard. If you’ve been living with doubt and insecurity for years, it may take a while to learn how to believe in yourself completely. So stay vigilant as these negative thoughts will try to creep back in if you’re not careful.
Recognize that this is a life choice; it’s a way of thinking and being. That means you have to be prepared to choose this every day, even when you feel like giving up. Consistency is key, but luckily this choice is one that feels much better than the alternative. Learning how to believe in yourself is a process and sometimes, like life, it’ll be easier than others.
Many things influence our self-image—the people around us, our environment, our history, and especially the words we use to describe our life story. Given all the negative feedback and the constant pressures to be perfect, it’s easy to see why we question ourselves so much. Rest assured though, learning how to believe in yourself is worth the time and effort!
How To Believe In Yourself
While I think that self-belief comes naturally to children, as we grow older we’re taught to be embarrassed for our mistakes, that we need to be or act a certain way to fit in, and that our body, age, weight, hair color, teeth, skin color, eye shape, or even shoe size is not good enough. With all these messages bombarding us, no wonder we lack confidence.
Learning how to believe in yourself is life-changing, and it’s a necessary step towards great accomplishments. Find the self-confidence to pursue your dreams and live true to yourself, realize the purpose in your life. Treat every day like it’s a golden path inviting you on a fantastic journey.
By learning how to believe in yourself you’re developing a newfound source of strength and optimism that no one can take away. It means empowering yourself and preparing for the darkest times. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll be miserable, caught in a downward spiral wondering how to escape. Doubt will gnaw away at your self-esteem and leave you an empty shell.
So every day, choose to believe in yourself. Think about how wonderful it is you have this choice!
Key Practices for Learning How to Believe In Yourself
Thinking back on my experience, it occurred to me that there were three practices I adopted to transform my life, which I’ve summed up right here.
While I think these are the most important steps you can take, I don’t believe these are the only steps you can take. In fact, I’m 100% behind you trying to find more ways to believe in yourself!
As always, I believe in a personalized approach and doing what works best for you. So to learn how to believe in yourself, proceed to find the best practices that help you succeed.
1. Love Yourself Unconditionally
In my experience, this is the basic foundation when it comes to learning how to believe in yourself. You have to want yourself to succeed. If you want yourself to succeed, you have to like yourself first.
When I was a teenager, I used to apologize for myself all the time because I was so insecure. Then someone asked me, “Why do you think other people will like you if you don’t like yourself?”
The question shocked me; I had no good reply. Thinking about it, I realized it IS ridiculous to expect other people to like you if you don’t like yourself. Unfortunately, many people struggle with self-love. I’m going to hazard a guess that if you’re wondering how to believe in yourself, there’s a high chance you don’t like yourself as much as you should.
In this day and age, there’s a lot of external pressure to be perfect. Every day we’re inundated with messages that there’s a problem with ourselves and that we need to buy something to fix it. This breeds insecurity and fear.
You need to be skinnier, younger, and more beautiful. Crooked teeth are unsightly and those deposits of fat on your body are hideous. Money, fame, and the number of friends are the signs of success—and you probably don’t have enough of them. Likes are currency and photo apps galore to edit your appearance so that profile pictures have flawless skin. No wonder more people are getting plastic surgery so they look better on fish-eyed camera lenses.
With all these messages and external pressure, how do you love yourself?
There’s a simple trick to get you started. Look in the mirror, look yourself in the eyes and say, “I like myself.”
The first step is just that simple.
Changing your thoughts is the first step in learning how to believe in yourself. Don’t be surprised if it feels like your brain gets scrunched up by doing this! We have fixed patterns of belief, and we’re used to thinking them. Going out of our way to think and something different feels weird at first. Addressing your fundamental beliefs is an important step in changing your life.
Keep doing it. Keep looking in the mirror and saying those simple words until you realize that you actually do like yourself.
The next step is to start listing off as many things as you can that you like about yourself. About your body, about your personality, about your life. “I love my hands because I draw silly pictures. I love my smile because I can show my friends and family how much fun it is to be together. I love how I bake special cakes for people on their birthdays.”
Drawing your attention to these little things is really important. Too often do we overlook these little bits of ourselves. Instead of noticing all these wonderful things, we get stuck on our mistakes and how we wish we were.
Replace self-criticism with encouragement
Negative self-talk hurts you. If you think something like, “I’m so stupid, I’ll never get anything right,” then of course you’ll have no self-confidence. If you mess up, that’s okay. Look at the effort you’re putting in. Try thanking yourself for all the hard work and noticing that even if things weren’t perfect—you did a good job. Self-encouragement is a great way to build yourself up.
It’s important to point out that loving yourself doesn’t mean thinking you’re perfect or that you’re the greatest most important thing on the planet. Far from it. This leads to narcissistic thinking, which despite what it appears, is not self-confidence. As Dr. Somov puts it, “Contrary to the common misperception, narcissists aren’t arrogant even if they act arrogant. They simply don’t feel good about themselves.”
When you aim to love yourself unconditionally, that means loving your whole self—including the imperfections. It means acknowledging that you still have room to improve. That means treating yourself kindly when making a mistake and loving yourself for trying anyways.
Don’t just love yourself when it’s easy, when you’re right, or when you’ve just succeeded. Loving yourself when you’re down in the dumps, when you’re a big, fat mess is arguably more important. Because when we’re at our lowest, we need all the love and support we can get—that means from yourself, too. So treat yourself how you wish others would treat you.
Your Effort Is Important
Like any healthy relationship, it’s important to spend time on and make effort with your self. Otherwise, it’ll deteriorate and fall apart. You’ll forget your good points and how much you actually love yourself!
Even on my bad days, I still forget. I get overwhelmed: I didn’t write enough, I didn’t clean up my room, I spent too long procrastinating, I’m not making the progress I wish I was. Because of how easy it is to get overwhelmed, I have to make a conscious effort to reflect on myself—sometimes that means writing down a list of things I love about myself. Sometimes it means talking to myself in the mirror. Regardless of what method you try, try to be consistent.
Amazingly, there’s been recent research on how loving-kindness and compassion affect the brain. There was one study when people with no training were taught by compassion meditation by Tibetan monks. In only two weeks, there were noticeable changes in the participants on fMRI scans. This goes to show that, “people can develop skills that promote happiness and compassion.”
This research is fascinating and exciting. It shows that even in a short amount of time, there’s a noticeable change in our emotional states. Cultivating compassion and loving-kindness are worthy pursuits. As a Vipassana meditator myself, this is something that inspires me. And I believe that in learning to love ourselves unconditionally, we’ll be better able to love those around us as well.
2. Spend time appreciating your existence
After loving yourself, the next important step is loving your life. Sometimes, it can be tricky to feel like there’s anything good in your life. No one has a perfect life, and when we’re going through difficult times, it’s can be hard to see any good. Trust me—it’s there, you just have to find it. This is an important skill to have when it comes to learning how to believe in yourself.
There are patterns to our behavior, ways we speak and act that shape how we perceive the world. The color or shape of a plate can change the taste of our food. If something like the flavor of food is so subjective, then just think about how powerful your mind is. By focusing on the bad, well, you’re making your life worse.
In fact, it’s much easier for us to remember negative experiences than positive ones. That’s largely to do with survival—it pays to remember where the lions live so you can avoid them. Unfortunately for us modern-day humans, that largely translates into remembering fights, traffic, and rude sales associates. We get stuck on these negative experiences and forget the good ones.
Your nature doesn’t have to control you, just the opposite! It just means you need to make effort to remember the good times. The solution is simple: spend more time enjoying the pleasant times to form these memories. Really. Just take the time to stop and smell the flowers.
What’s nice in your life?
If you’re in a hard spot, then enjoying the good times may be particularly difficult. The trick is not to focus on your entire life but on tiny parts of it. Find something you enjoy, and really spend time enjoying the moment.
No more taking things for granted. When you pour your coffee first thing in the morning, take time to enjoy it. Appreciate the scent, feel mug radiating heat, and when you take a sip take time to savor the flavor.
In the same way that you focus on loving parts of yourself—things you do—do the same with your life. Treasure the smallest moments, the brief seconds or minutes that bring a smile to your face. The times when you feel good.
You deserve to feel good. So bathe in the sunshine when it hits your bare skin; appreciate the patter of rain on the windows; delight in the breeze that ruffles your hair. When you notice these moments—where you feel connected to the world around you—take the time to exclaim, this is wonderful.
These moments happen countless times in a day, and how often do you really, deeply appreciate that your life is only made of moments? Laughing with friends over pancakes, snuggling up with a good book and hot chocolate, going on a leisurely walk with your dog through the park. Learn to love the mundane, the ordinary. Take the time to meditate on the joys of the present—no matter how small—and you will enrich your life.
The Importance of the ordinary
Research shows that as we age, people place more importance on ordinary experiences. Keep in mind that the ordinary IS our life. Of course our extraordinary, wonderful experiences are among our most cherished memories! But the majority of our life is normal, every-day experiences. And these experiences matter, too.
Learn to enjoy as many parts of every day as you possibly can. Seek out happiness. Where you focus your attention matters. Like a magnifying glass, you’re capable of discovering the miraculous details or, if you fixate on the negative emotions, burning out the joy of your daily existence.
It’s a pleasant practice to sprinkle throughout your day. By spending time dwelling in these bright spots, you’re not only making pleasant memories but also finding bursts of happiness throughout your day. This has gotten me through the hardest times, I only had to stop and look at what was going on around me.
Your behaviors are patterns that you’re capable of changing. The more you practice, the more you notice—either the pain or the joy—the easier this action becomes. So make the effort to appreciate the nice moments and small successes. By changing the smallest bits of that pattern, you’ll discover a miraculous change.
3. Push yourself to improve a little every single day
Push yourself to improve. This key is actually very important in learning how to believe in yourself, though it’s not immediately apparent.
In learning how to love yourself unconditionally, that means accepting yourself as you are now. However, it’s also important to keep in mind how you want to be in the future because you aren’t a static being. You’re always changing, depending on a variety of internal and external factors: friends, environment, moods, food, health.
That’s why you need to focus on what’s important to you and work towards the life you want to live. And the best way of getting there is by working towards it, at least a little bit, every single day. This is in part because there are often so many areas of our lives that we want to improve, that there’s just not enough time in the day. So breaking it down into itty-bitty steps is one of the best ways to get there.
Think of where you are now as a starting point. If you don’t aim to improve there’s no telling where you’ll end up. If, for example, you want to eat healthier, then today make a small motion to eat healthier. That could mean eating a smaller portion or choosing to snack on pickles instead of chips. And as you incorporate this into your life, you can then slowly increase your healthy habits with minimal resistance.
Level Up Through Daily Experience
Achieving your goals, being good at things, and making progress towards your dreams are all important factors when it comes to learning how to believe yourself. This is a lifestyle choice, one you want to have years and decades from now, and succeeding at what’s important to you solidifies your beliefs.
The fact is, you don’t need herculean feats to reinvent your life. You need time and effort. Often these opportunities are simple tasks. As you complete one, it leads to the next one, and your skill increases. Life is like a video game where you have to kill a lot of monsters to reach the bosses.
There are countless opportunities to improve throughout the day, and these are great places to start. Because if you try to force yourself into a difficult life without preparation, you’re inviting disappointment. Your actions have a strong effect on your ability to believe in yourself.
Success is achieved by having an actual path to get there. If you want to be a famous singer, and believe you can do it, but you never make the time and effort to practice, then you’ll let yourself down. There’s very little chance that you’ll make it as a singer if you can’t hit the notes. That’s why your actions need to match your beliefs. Both pieces feed into each other.
The Power of Asking 'what'
Instead of trying to be perfect all the time, or saying, I’m hopeless it’s just too late to change, think about what you want and ask yourself, “What can I do today to get closer to my goal?”
This simple question increases resilience and self-awareness. Having a plan of action prevents you from ruminating—which is dwelling on the negatives in your life and is closely linked to depression. When you get stuck, thinking of all your mistakes and feeling terrible, then you go to a dark place. It helps you a lot more to realize your mistake and ask, “What can I do to get better?” Find the answer, and work towards it.
By asking this question you’re empowering yourself. By taking action and moving forward, you’re building self-confidence. When you achieve goals, you’re doing something exciting that feels good and builds a positive self-image. This question is especially important because no matter how much you believe in yourself, no matter how skilled you are, you’re always going to face setbacks and disappointments.
Learning from your disappoints—and learning how to move on from them—is going to do wonders for your self-confidence. Overcoming challenges, while unpleasant, builds character. As you improve and make progress towards your goals, you’ll deepen your belief that you can do it.