On self belief

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

One of the things I’ve been thinking about this year is self-belief. I was wondering where I could get my hands on some, because if I ever had any I must have misplaced it. I’ve always done the best I can borrowing other people’s belief in me but that only goes so far and I came to the conclusion that it was another one of those things that you really have to do for yourself.

So at some point in January I did the modern thing and Googled “where can I get some self belief.” I did not find much that I considered helpful. Dressing better is not the solution for me, nor is walking faster and I have to say I can’t manage mantras. I have tried, but I usually disagree with the mantra and so refuse to repeat it.

It goes something like this.

In every day and in every day I am getting better and better. In every day and in every way … like nuts I am! I’m coming down with a cold and I’ll spend the next few days getting worse. How is that relevant to my journey? Try again.

In some ways I am getting worse but in others I’m possibly getting better, with a small setback before lunch and then improving slowly after. In other things I am remaining the much the same which may or may not be a good thing. All that is guaranteed is that there will probably be some change, in some ways, most days, assuming things progress as expected.

Hmm. That seems to have turned into a weather forecast. Maybe I’d better try a new affirmation.

I love myself exactly as I am. I love myself exactly as I am. I … No. I don’t. That’s simply not true. If I was totally happy “exactly as I am” I wouldn’t be doing this work on myself and using affirmations in the first place. What a load of rubbish. Surely anyone who’s trying to use these mantras is doing it for the same reason; that they don’t want to be exactly as they are? That’s it. I’m not doing any more affirmations.

Actually it seems I’m not the only one who finds this stuff irrelevant. According to Canadian research, discussed here on the BBC news website, if you have low self-esteem, repeating positive statements is bad for your happiness. I have to say that makes perfect sense to me – I cannot see how repeating things you don’t believe is supposed to help anyone.

I’ve wandered off my point, which was that I didn’t find anything particularly useful or new to me by interrogating the internet in search for some self belief. I felt that if I had some self belief already and was just wanting to polish it up a bit then some of the websites would be useful, but as I didn’t, they weren’t. I have had similar problems on my quest to learn relaxation and my quest to learn to cope with change.*

So I set my quest for self belief onto a back-burner. Weeks passed, as weeks do, and I thought about other things, blogged about other things. And slowly I came to this conclusion:

Self belief happens while you’re doing other things.  It doesn’t like to be fussed over or forced, you can’t buy the seeds and plant it, it but it will self-sow on its own. You won’t notice the first shoots, but once your mind is free enough of weeds, it will grow slowly in the spaces you have made for it. You don’t need the positive mantras but if you are (consciously or subconsciously) using any negative ones they’ll stunt it, so get rid of them and just wait for the seasons to pass. When you need your self belief some will be ready for harvest. If life means you have to take a lot at once it may take time to replenish, but as long as you give it space in your garden, it will quietly grow.

Image: Sujin Jetkasettakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net


*Of particular note was the Change-management workshop my employer sent me on. The afternoon session was being billed as techniques for coping with change, but it turned out there was actually only one technique offered: think of a time you coped well with change and repeat what you did then. What??! I’m on this course precisely because I don’t cope well with change and have never coped well, and don’t know how to cope well in the future! How is this supposed to help me?! Useless.

2 thoughts on “On self belief

  1. Julie Rudd says:

    I tried “7 out of 10 is good enough” on the recommendation of a professional who should have known better. It turned into “7 out of 10 is good enough. No it isn’t.”

  2. Liz at Libro says:

    This reminds me of when I was having hypnotherapy for my medical phobia. Hypnotherapist kept saying “today is good, but not as good as tomorrow will be” and I found that really negative for some reason and made him say “today is good and tomorrow will be even better”. Of course, he then had to catch himself and say the “right” thing, which leads to a little catch on the tape I have of the session, slightly spoiling the trance!

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