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How to Believe in Yourself

by Elise Wile

If you don't believe in yourself, it's unlikely anyone else will. Your success lies in your hands, and overcoming a lack of self-confidence is critical to making your dreams come true. You don't have to be born with a cocky, can-do attitude, however. You can learn to believe in yourself by consciously choosing to change the thoughts that undermine you.

Celebrate Your Prior Success

It's easy to sweep your accomplishments under the rug while you jealously admire your best friend's promotion and ability to make friends with even the most curmudgeonly person. When you celebrate your successes, though, you are reminded that you, too, have got it going on. Arrange your living space to display a few of the items that remind you of your accomplishments and the people you love, advises psychiatrist Neel Burton in the "Psychology Today" online article, "Building Confidence and Self-Esteem." Display the trophy you won at the annual chess tournament alongside a few photos of your friends and family. The everyday visual reminders are sure to give you a boost.

Set and Meet Attainable Goals

Burton recommends setting easily achievable challenges for yourself, such as learning how to cook a fancy dish or joining an exercise class. Meeting these small challenges can increase your belief in yourself. After all, if you can make the perfect chocolate souffle, who's to say you can't learn how to start your own business or gather the courage to ask your attractive neighbor out on a date? The sky is the limit -- you just have to build the staircase one step at a time.

Nix the Negative

Each negative thought you think reinforces a neural pathway that makes it easier to continue thinking thoughts that undermine your belief in yourself. To change this, you must create a positive pathway that is even stronger than the negative one that's already established, asserts San Francisco-based psychologist Sylvia Mills on her website, in the article "The Power of Positive Thinking." While it won't be easy, you can rewire your brain so you'll have more self confidence. Watch for negative thoughts such as, "I am so fat," and replace them with positive ones. Choosing to think about how great you are at cooking healthful meals will be much more effective. For an extra boost, say the positive thought out loud or write it down, suggests Mills.

Use Your Imagination

If you're having a difficult time believing that you can complete a half-marathon or get the job you'd like, use your imagination to visualize your success. Doing so will empower you because your brain is unable to distinguish the real from the imaginary, says mind-body scientist David Hamilton, Ph.D. in his article "5 Reasons Why You Should Visualize." Rather, the same brain region is activated when you imagine yourself getting the job as it will be when you actually make the trip down to human resources to sign off on the paperwork for your new position. If your brain has responded as if you've already met your goal, a lack of self-confidence can't stand in the way of achieving it.

About the Author

Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.

Photo Credits

  • Plush Studios/Bill Reitzel/Blend Images/Getty Images