I’ve been talking a lot recently about owning our stories, and becoming the heroes we were always meant to be.
Yet for so many people who hear those as standalone lines it just seems ridiculous, like too big a stretch for people who, for all too long, have been told to play small, stay in their boxes and remember that the world doesn’t revolve around them.
So I’m here to tell you otherwise. I’m here to remind you that the fact we’ve been told all of those things – over and over and over again until we’ve come to not only believe them but internalise them so deeply we can’t possibly imagine an alternative viewpoint – doesn’t make them true.
Instead it means that maybe it would be easier for other people – those who currently have a lot of power and security and stand to gain a lot by convincing the rest of us that we’re small – if we just played by their rules and stayed in the boxes we’ve been assigned.
I know, I know, you probably didn’t come here for a political lecture or an anti-establishment rant. So I’ll backtrack a little and return to the point of this post; the reasons I know you can believe in yourself, and how you can go about remembering that for yourself.
What have you done?
A good few years ago now I was one of those people who just didn’t and couldn’t believe in herself.
I’d look in the mirror and see someone who looked different than I’d like; I’d consider the world around me and think about how many things I still wanted to achieve or experience that felt so damned far away from ever being possible.
Until the day I read a book (and gods, I wish I could remember which book!) which asked me to list the things I was proudest of in my life so far. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to write much... And yet without even thinking about it I filled a whole page.
The list ranged from the relationships I’d built with friends and family members to the half marathon I’d sort of jogged my way through, to the positive reputation I had in my office job back then right the way on to the fact I made (and still make!) damned good cookies.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that one page – which I tucked away on a book shelf and has grown considerably in the years since – was one of the biggest turning points when it came to the ways I viewed myself and my life.
Suddenly I realised how much I had to offer the world, and I knew that for certain because I recognised how much I already had to be proud of. And after all, if this woman who was once so unfit she couldn’t jog to her friend’s house across the road had been able to climb mountains for four days straight to get to Machu Picchu, then what the hell was I doing trying to limit her possibilities?!
And so what if I asked you the same thing? To pick up a piece of paper and note down all of your own achievements and things to be proud of – from the big to the small, the personal to the collective and everything in between. What would you find on that list of yours?
What do you do every day?
Often when I work with clients I ask them to take that idea of remembering their achievements one step further.
If they’re struggling to remember their own awesomeness and to believe in their power to change, I ask them to take five minutes out every night and make a list of everything they’ve done to be proud of in the day that’s been.
Sometimes those are big things; sometimes they’re the seemingly small things like getting out of bed when it would be just as easy to turn over and snuggle in, or taking that lunch break you need when your workload suggests it would be better just to sit at your desk.
We review those lists from time to time, recapping on their proudest achievements or on how it feels to look back over those lists at the end of each day, week and month.
The short answer, always, is that it feels amazing. And that I’m yet to meet a client who didn’t benefit from this exercise in terms of the ways they came to feel about themselves, and how they went on to change their lives as a result.
So while I’d never suggest you must or should do anything, I do invite you to give this a go if it feels right, and see where it takes you.
Remember the belief there already is in you
Have you ever had one of those days where you just couldn’t remember how to believe in yourself? You know the ones, where things just seem to get on top of you and no matter how hard you try it just feels like moving forward would be as hard as crawling though treacle.
Of course if those days are happening regularly then it’s always a good idea to reach out for support, but we all have those days from time to time.
And I don’t know about you, but whenever I’ve been the one in that mindset, I’ve always found that – no matter how hard it is to do – there’s one thing that never fails to make me feel better: a chat with a good friend.
The people who love us have a fantastic way of being able to cut through the bullshit of our fear and self-doubt, and instead remind us of the brilliance they see shining out of us.
Yes yes, maybe they’re a little biased because they love us, but they must have good reason to feel that way about us right?
So if you’re struggling to believe in yourself I’d remind you to think about the people who already do… Think about those people who love you, respect you, or even just treat you regularly with kindness; the friends, family members, colleagues and anyone else you’d add to that list.
Reach out to them if you’d like, and ask them to remind you of that brilliance, but if that feels unnecessary or too much then simply look at the list and remember just how many people already believe in you. Is it such a stretch to think that you could too?
Look at the people you believe in
If these things don’t seem possible to you then step back and look outside of your own life.
Out there in the big wide world I’m certain there are people who inspire you; people who you firmly believe could achieve anything they put their mind to… or people you see having the kind of luck that means amazing things just seem to happen out of nowhere.
Are those people really so different to you? Because while some may come from amazingly fortunate backgrounds, and while others may have the kind of superhuman natural abilities that make the rest of us wonder how they do it, others will be – and I stress this next point – very very much like you.
And what’s more, every single one of those people still has to pull their pants on one leg at a time, eat drink and sleep if they want to function and, undoubtedly, battle the fears and insecurities that pop up inside of their own heads regularly.
So look at the people you do believe in. Look at them and although them to inspire you; not because of how they’re different to you, but because of your similarities and the ways that their story can remind you how we – all of us – can do amazing things, even when that can be hard.
If that believe in yourself really feels like it’s at rock bottom and even taking these steps feels like too much for you – or if you’ve worked your way through everything above, know all the reasons to believe in yourself but now need some help in crafting those reasons into the kind of path that helps you move forwards in the way that’s right for you, then get in touch.
Check out Soul-Led Therapy, or drop me a line to find out more about the more standard Person-Centered Therapy sessions I offer too.
Or click here to find out about my upcoming online workshop Owning Your Story; a free session that’s all about guiding and supporting you to become the hero you really are, living the life that you were always meant to be.