“I am larger, better than I thought, I did not know I held so much goodness.” Walt Whitman
I’m curious about what it really means to believe in yourself. All of us are flawed – we know that – but I think we also have a flawed view of self-belief.
Genuine self-belief looks different to what most people imagine. It’s quiet and unassuming and has nothing to do with status or power or any outward measures of success. It’s not about needing to win or to dominate others. It is about having a deep sense of self-awareness and self-acceptance, it’s about living authentically and importantly, and it’s about feeling at peace with who you are.
What’s most fascinating is that self-belief is paradoxical in many ways.
Self-assured people are grounded and centred and they accept that life will bring some differences of opinion. They stay calm in the face of conflict, they’re willing to stand up for what they believe in and don’t take these differences personally. They’re curious about another person’s perspective and comfortable to disagree, but they’re also able to be vulnerable and to admit to some uncertainty.
At work, self-belief is about going after the role you want, not because you need a bigger pay cheque to make you feel valuable, but because you know it’s a role that will allow you to use your strengths. It means being willing to shine in that role and to play an active part in helping others shine too. It’s also about accepting your weaknesses without any sense of shame.
Self-belief is about valuing yourself enough to spend money on the things that make you genuinely happy, rather than needing to own luxury items because of the status they bring.
Importantly, being self-assured is not about comparing yourself to others or judging people for the choices they make, particularly when they differ from yours. There’s no sense of superiority in real self-belief – you want everyone to share in good fortune and you’re not caught up in your ego.
When you believe in yourself, you’re generous with praise and you can accept a compliment graciously. You’re open to negative feedback and not defensive, you’re comfortable to apologise when you make a mistake and you’re also courageous enough to move away from relationships that no longer support you.
Five tips for developing your sense of self-belief:
1. Get to know yourself well. Understand your strengths, accept your weaknesses and be clear about what you stand for.
2. Don’t take things personally. If people disagree with you, be curious about why rather than being prickly.
3. Stop comparing yourself. As Brené Brown says, “stay in your own lane”. Forget about what other people are doing. Stay focused on the things that matter to you.
4. Take care of yourself. Make the time to look after your health and make the most of your appearance, regardless of whether you’re at your ideal weight or fitness level.
5. Move away from relationships that deplete or drain you and make an effort to connect with people who inspire you.