"Believe in yourself and the rest will fall into place."
This simple statement of self-belief can seem out of reach for many people. They have spent years telling themselves that they are not worth it or that they are a failure. Possibly there has been someone significant in their life that has re-enforced that belief: a parent who had expectations that could not be lived up to, or a partner who uses it as a method of control. The problem is that, if someone says often enough that you are worthless, especially if that person is significant in your life, it can become what is believed and that precious self-worth begins to be questioned.
This false belief that is built-up starts to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Perhaps even subconsciously looking for evidence to back up this belief. All of the mistakes made are remembered and catalogued, rather than celebrating successes. Often there is a crisis, perhaps a death, a separation or just an overwhelming feeling that this cannot continue. At this point, the person’s world can collapse as they begin to question who they are and why society would want them around.
If you recognise some of this in yourself, then perhaps you want to change it and there are simple steps that you can take to improve things. While this is a process that you could undertake on your own sometimes it can be easier with a friend you trust or a counsellor. They can offer support and provide perspective to help bring about the changes that you want to make.
One of the most vital elements to learn is to take control of self-talk. That voice in the head that is critical and reminds us of our mistakes. Challenge it; was this really stupid or just a simple mistake? Are you really stupid, or are you judging to a much higher standard than others would be? Can mistakes be made, or must actions be right and perfect first time every time? Challenge that voice that has such high expectations.
Steve Callahan found himself adrift for 76 days in the Atlantic after his yacht sank. Despite many mishaps including him puncturing his life raft on several occasions, he says he got through the ordeal with a simple mantra, “I am doing the best that I can, that’s all anyone can ask of me”.
Start to build a vision of who you want to be. Perhaps this will be retrospective of past dreams, or perhaps it will be hopes, however unrealistic you think they may be, for the future. Sometimes this will involve trying new things. This can be where your counsellor can be invaluable, listening and offering perspective.
A diary or a journal can help especially if you use it to concentrate on your achievements. One client I knew had become depressed about her weight. She used a diary to record the positive things in her life. Starting with walking around the block, as time went on she increased the time and in being able to look back began to walk and then run further. Her whole self-belief had changed and she valued the fact that she looked after herself. Her proudest moment was completing her first marathon.
In conclusion, if you begin to believe in yourself then good things can start to happen and you can start to relish your experiences (good and bad). I can think of no better words to leave you with than those of Eleanor Roosevelt: Set a high price on yourself for you will find that no-one will raise it.
Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.
About Graeme Orr
Graeme is a counsellor and author living and working on the south side of Glasgow. In his practice he sees a number of clients with emotional, anxiety and self-esteem that have relevance to us all. His articles are based on that experience and are offered as an opportunity to identify with, or to challenge you to make changes in your life.