Over the years, as a therapist and also as a writer, I have heard many people say how they don’t have self-confidence, how they don’t believe in themselves, how their self-esteem is low. Working on believing in yourself is a lifelong process for us all. Everyone has moments of uncertainty, of fear, or anxiousness about whether they will be ‘good enough.’
Some of us might have a harder time than others. This is often is because of what we have been through in our lives, because we have had experiences where we are made to feel bad about ourselves, because there are people who literally tell us we are no good, etc.
I read a tweet the other day that sums up the stickiness people often feel when they don’t believe in themselves. The gist of the tweet was this: “I started overthinking again… thinking I will never measure up, but… why am I so afraid? Why I don’t take that leap? Why am I frozen here on the ledge?”
We must practice believing in ourselves. Often we freeze when we have to take a step we may be afraid of failing at. But, unless we take the risk, we will never know if we do in fact “measure up.” You are the only one here who is meant to do what you are meant to do. You are the only one who can do it, so essentially, you are competing against yourself. You have to take the first step and then the second step. And believing in yourself will make it easier and each step you will grow stronger.
Often we don’t feel good in ourselves or there is a body part we don’t like or just overall we feel negative about who we are. If we can change that feeling, we will feel happier. But, how can we get there? I am going to suggest our imagination. Our beautiful imaginations. We can imagine anything we want and that is the wonderful thing about imagination and writing. We can imagine what we want and we can write it AND we can hopefully change our feelings for the better!
Exercise 1: Imagine that you are a confident person and that you feel great in yourself. If there is something in particular that you don’t like or feel good about yourself right now, imagine it being different. We’re keeping this positive!
Part 1. Write a scene with yourself in it (in the third person- using your own name) and write how you feel about yourself. Turn any negative thoughts you have about yourself or difficult feelings you have about yourself into positive ones. Name a couple of strengths of your own. Say why you feel what you feel. If you can’t think of you being in a scene from your real life (in your house, at work, at the park down the street, at a restaurant), you can imagine yourself in a location. Depending on what you want to write, it may not matter where. It could be by a river, in a field, at a school, in an ice cream parlor, at a gas station, etc. Just write yourself in that scene. You might even imagine a place where you feel anxious or insecure and imagine yourself feeling confident there and write that. The important part is the writing yourself in a positive light, changing any negative feelings about yourself into positives.
Part 2. Next, I want you to read what you wrote aloud. How does it feel to hear yourself speak these positive things about you. How does it feel to have words about you be positive? Write down how it feels.
Part 3. Now, re-write what you wrote in third person putting it into first person. So it reads “I am…”
How does it feel to write about yourself in first person? Read it aloud. Write down how it feels to write about yourself in a positive way and to hear you say positive things about yourself.
So, we’ve been talking about changing the things we feel negative about ourselves into positives, but that may or may not mean that we need to change ourselves. It may simply mean we need to change how we think about ourselves, to believe in ourselves, to feel strong in ourselves.
Write answering these questions:
- What does it mean to completely love yourself for who you are? What does that look like in your life?
- Can you love the parts of you that you consider to be flaws? Can you love the parts of you that you feel need changed (whether they do or not)? Can you love all the parts of you because they are parts of you?
3. Think of three things about you that you consider to be “flaws” or “not quite as lovable. Turn each one around to give it a positive spin, a loving, compassionate spin. Write these positive ones down.
Example: If you think: I’m too hyper and talkative. You might write: I am enthusiastic about life and have a lot of energy for it. or I am a very social person.
Example: If you think: I am overweight and I need to lose weight. This may be something to work toward, or maybe it isn’t, but here this is not about that decision. This here is about loving you no matter what. So you might change your thought into: I am strong in my body. My body does a lot to carry me through this world.
Work on writing as often as you can, if not daily. Work to write a positive you.
For the skeptics and for those who want a magic wand:
If you are like, why do I need to write about myself in a positive way or imagining a new self and writing about the new me is silly…Don’t worry and don’t give up. Looking at yourself is hard. Writing yourself is also hard. Try to see it as an honoring of you. If you would like a magic wand to just make you feel better or stronger, I also get that, but things take time. Your pen can be that magic wand, keep going, write, write, write!
Remember: believing in yourself is not a one time thing. You have to believe in yourself today and tomorrow and over and over again.
See you next Monday!