How do you believe in yourself?
Try practicing the four sentences above.
Believing in yourself doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing-you-do-or-you-don't ordeal. Belief can occur on a continuum. It can be a process of development, a process of unfolding.
Stage 1: I can do it.
Start by whispering the words I can do it OR I'm willing to do it. I love throwing the words I'm willing to in front of any belief I want to adopt, but I'm not fully on board with yet. If I'm willing doesn't work for you then try I think I can do it. The key is to massage your mind from the territory of not-gonna-happen to the realm of possibility.
I love taking daily walks. A couple of months ago, I noticed that I reached the same street 15 minutes into my walk. Almost every time. I looked ahead and realized that I was three (long) blocks away from a main road. I felt this desire emerge from my gut. That desire articulated itself into an idea: I wonder if I can reach that street down there in the same amount of time it takes me to get here.
I immediately psyched myself out with thoughts like:
Well, that means I'd have to run or jog and I'm not a runner.
I hate that long distance running stuff.
Though I am a dancer, dance educator, former fitness instructor, and all-around fitness enthusiast, running/jogging for long stretches is a whole 'nother beast. In the past I couldn't stand the piercing lactic acid in my shins nor the continual boob bounce.
Yet the desire grew. I couldn't ignore it. So with each subsequent daily walk I mentally calculated how many blocks I would have to jog or run to reach my desired destination in 15 minutes.
Well, I could alternate jogs with walks.
I don't have to jog or run the whole way.
I can make this more enjoyable. I can add skipping and galloping.
My doubt and disbelief turned into I think I can do this the more I thought about doing it.
Stage 2: I'm doing it.
There comes a point when can must turn into will. Possibility turns into decision. Decision does not mean action must follow immediately. You can still work your way into actually doing. But you're a step closer because you made the decision to do it. Pay attention to the energy rush you may feel when you tell yourself that you're doing it. Even if you don't do it that red hot moment.
As I kept thinking about this desire to reach that particular street in 15 minutes, I began telling myself I'm doing it days before I ever attempted the trip. Then one day a few weeks ago, I started doing it. I made the trip palatable by alternating jogs, brisk walks, slower walks, skipping, and galloping until I reached that main street in under 15 minutes.
Stage 3: I did it.
What once was a source of disbelief is now a reality. You can unequivocally say that you've done the thing. It's a fact. Feel that burgeoning confidence. Delight in the accomplishment.
Now next time the idea emerges to do the thing again you may hear a voice inside say, "But, but, but, can we? I don't know." Just simply answer, "Well, I've already done this."
Feel the certainty of that statement settle in. Watch the doubter hush the fug up.
Damn, it felt good to have made it to that street in under 15 minutes knowing how far outside my comfort zone I had to go in order to make it happen. Little did I know this was the beginning of a shift in my identity. And I didn't stop there. Since I had time to spare, I challenged myself to see if I could make it back home in another 15 minutes. I was breathing heavily and feeling the lactic acid. But the desire was still strong. So I alternated my way back with jogging, brisk walks, skips, and gallops. I made it to my block so quickly that I chose to do an extra venture around the block before heading back inside. Wow.
Stage 4: I'll do it again.
Stage 3 and 4 go together beautifully. You've done it; therefore, you'll do it again. If that feels off for you, then replace "will" with "can". I can do it again. I didn't include the "can" in the above graphic because I'm all about cutting to the chase in this post. Either works. As long as you keep moving forward.
Next time you get the idea to do that thing, expect the fear to arise. No biggie. You'll do this again. Fall into the arms of the expanded confidence developed in stage 3. You're doing this again. Period. And then have your feet follow your mind.
My daily outings can no longer be classified as just walks. Who knew this would be a thing for me. I have easily traveled a block past that initial target street and made it back home within 30 minutes, sometimes under. My tolerance for jogging and running have skyrocketed to the point where I enjoy it. I'm even going to get another pair of running shoes. What?! Who is this person?
It's me. Told you my identity shifted.
These are my stages of belief. What other stages have you experienced? What other stages would you add to this post?
Would you like to discover what else you can achieve when you strengthen your belief in yourself? I’ve got you covered with tools, strategies, and mindshifts in my book Feel Good Kick Ass Confidence: Using Your Body to Rock Your Life.
My name's Valerie and I'm a Certified Life Coach with a background in teaching dance as well as facilitating diversity, equity, and inclusion professional development conversations and workshops.