Mental health 101: The power of self-belief

Mental health 101: the power of self belief We all view ourselves in a certain way.

Myupchar February 10, 2020 12:50:31 IST
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Mental health 101: The power of self-belief

We all view ourselves in a certain way. We may base this idea of ourselves on our educational and professional qualifications or our families. Our idea of self may also be influenced by how we see ourselves in comparison with others.

While our sense of self can be healthy, allowing both critical and compassionate introspection, with lots of people this is simply not the case. The way we view ourselves can be harmful and limiting: people can convince themselves that they are not good enough, not smart enough to live the life they have always dreamed of.

Mental health 101 The power of selfbelief

Representative image. Reuters

It happens to the best of us. At the peak of the popularity of the Harry Potter movies, Emma Watson (who played Hermione Granger) came out with the surprising announcement that she struggled with imposter syndrome. That she felt she did not deserve the success she had gotten.

It is indeed hard for many of us, especially women, to feel like they deserve the accolades and good things that come to them. This can only change from within. Here's how to get started:

1. Act as if

Understand that personalities are fluid and ever-changing. Think about it: you were a different person as a child, a different person as a college freshman and a different person on the job. It doesn’t have to be that stark either: every day you interact with all kinds of people, your managers, your equals, your subordinates, people on the street, friends and family. In every single interaction, you’re a different person, or at least that person views you differently or prompts you to behave differently.

This is quite empowering and can be used in situations where you are not comfortable. For example, if you think you are socially anxious, suspend that belief for a while and pretend to be a good socializer. Try introducing yourself to more people at a party and act the part of a good socialiser - if it helps, model your behaviour on someone you think is socially outgoing. This technique is called "acting as if" - it may show you sides of your personality that you didn’t know existed and may help you push personal boundaries.

2. Write down your shortcomings

Perhaps a less daunting step could be as simple as writing down what you feel your shortcomings are. Then think of instances in your life when these shortcomings actually manifested. You may find that they are more imposing in your head than in reality and are simply holding you back.

There is a lot to be gained if you can free yourself from the clutch of self-doubt and other people’s opinion of you. Defeating self-doubt will allow you to live a fuller and more fulfilling life. This means that you will see your limitations but not let them limit you like before because you’ll have the belief to overcome them.

3. Live a life of few regrets

Giving in to self-doubt is one of the biggest regrets people have on their deathbed, according to Bronnie Ware, a nurse who takes palliative care of end-of-life patients in New South Wales, Australia. In her book, Top Five Regrets of the Dying, Ware wrote that the most common regret was: “I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” She goes on to explain that people regret the choices they made that held them back and kept them in their comfort zone. They made these choices because they thought they weren’t up to the challenge but in hindsight, they saw them as lost opportunities that could have led to more fulfilling lives. They wished that they had placed more trust in themselves.

Benefits of self-belief

Here are some ways that greater self-belief will change your life for the better:

1. You will be less hesitant to follow your dreams: You will trust your instinct and back your talents and not undermine yourself. When you are surer of yourself, you are more likely to invest in yourself as well.

2. You will be more motivated and committed: A burst of confidence and sense of direction can have a great impact on your output. If you are more honest with yourself about what you want to do, you are more likely to follow through with it.

3. The disappointments won’t be as bad: If you do decide to take the leap and put yourself out there, you will face many obstacles. But if your self-belief remains intact, you will be better equipped to face them.

The world is full of stories of those who doubted themselves and rose against the odds to make an indelible mark on the world. There’s no reason you can't do the same.

This is the second article in our series on Mental Health 101. Read the first article, How to Say No, here.

Also read our article on Psychosis: Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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