A lack of confidence can hold you down, but changing your mindset can help you to reach your full potential, reports life coach Steve Chamberlain

It’s that time of year where you start to think about what you’d love to achieve, whether that be weight-loss, improved health and fitness, or any other area of your life. Whatever your goal there is one factor that will make all the difference to your success or failure, and that’s self-belief.

For many of us, self-belief is experienced as an elusive concept; something that goes up or down depending upon who you are with, the challenges you’re facing, or the stage of life you’re at. In some areas, such as work or parenting, your self-belief may be high, while in others it could feel much lower. You may be unsure which factors have impacted upon your differing levels of self-belief, and therefore feel uncertain how to maintain or improve it going forwards. The good news is that self-belief is something that you have control over, and the benefits of understanding how to do so can be profound.

The power of belief

First, it’s important to understand what self-belief is and why we can experience it as being low in any given moment. Self-belief, as the name suggests, is quite simply the beliefs that you hold about yourself. What do you believe you are capable of? Do you believe you can handle challenges and bounce back from mistakes? Do you believe that you can always improve, given time and dedication? There is also another crucial element to self-belief; what do you believe about your world, about the situations and challenges that will arise in your life? It is in the interplay between your beliefs about yourself and your environment that your self-belief is carved.

What you believe, then, is crucial, but you never chose your beliefs. There was never a day in school when you selected beliefs that you knew would serve you, leaving behind those that wouldn’t. In fact, most of us are unconscious or unaware of the beliefs that drive our behaviour. Even more importantly, many of the beliefs we hold about ourselves and our world don’t fulfil two simple but crucial criteria; are they 100% true and helpful?

From past to present

If you happened to grow up in a home where achievement and winning was everything and failure wasn’t acceptable, then it’s likely that you will have picked up beliefs such as ‘I need to be the best’ and ‘People will judge me for my mistakes.’ Your parents may have had a positive intent, wanting the best for you, but the unfortunate side effect can be a set of unconscious beliefs that will impact upon every area of your life going forward. Situations where you can’t guarantee success, or where others will judge your performance, will likely lead to increased stress as you move into adulthood. Viewed through the lens of these beliefs, the world can feel like a challenging place, and your self-belief could plummet when things don’t go your way. Applied to the arena of health and fitness, you may experience exercise to be highly competitive, where you constantly find yourself comparing your efforts to others in your gym or fitness class. Dieting may also turn into a form of competition, both with yourself and others, and a heavy sense of failure may follow even minor lapses. It’s crucial then to build a mindset that makes genuine self-belief possible, and there are three steps to doing so:

Reset your mindset

Simple strategies to boost self-confidence

Step one: Identify potential limiting beliefs

What do you currently believe about yourself and your world that isn’t serving you. When is it that your self-belief plummets, and what beliefs are making that your reality? For example, do you believe that you always have to look perfect; that everyone has to like you; that it’s not OK to make mistakes; or that you have no willpower?

Step two: Test these beliefs

For each belief identified in step one, check if they are 100% true and helpful. To pass this first test, the belief would need to stand up in a court of law so, ‘I have no willpower,’ would need to be true in every situation, always. There could never be an exception, a single instance in which this wasn’t borne out. Then check to see if it is helpful; does it help you to achieve both your desired outcome and the sense of internal calm and focus that you’re looking for? You may be surprised just how many of your beliefs don’t stand up to one or both of these tests. Those that pass are true and helpful and can be kept, those that don’t can be brought into step three.

Step three: Rework your limiting beliefs

The beliefs that failed step two are precisely the ones that will hold you back from building self-belief and achieving your goals. Therefore, rework them until they become 100 per cent true and helpful. You’re not going for false affirmations here, such as ‘I have incredible willpower’, which tend to be untrue with the intention of being helpful, and therefore don’t drive lasting change. Instead, you are aiming for genuine reflections of reality with a strong positive intent. For example, ‘Until now willpower has been a challenge for me. However, there have been occasions when I have been able to exercise it, so I know it’s possible for me to cultivate. From this moment on I commit to learning what motivates me and to applying myself until this becomes a genuine strength.’ This new belief is true, helpful, motivating, and opens up the possibility of a different future reality.

Step four: Feel empowered

Self-belief, then, is actually yours to choose. Nobody else gets to do so. Therefore regardless of whether people in your past have told you that you’re not good enough, or anything else that may have limited your self-concept, you get to choose whether you buy into this. Similarly, past mistakes or failures no longer have any power over you. You simply view this as valuable data that informs what works for you and what doesn’t. Then use this to inform different choices going forwards to make a lasting change. Consciously carving out your mindset makes this possible. The result is a sense of empowerment and focus that will enable you to achieve all of your goals in 2019 and beyond.

More information

Steve Chamberlain delivers life-changing coaching. You can find out more about his work at www.stevechamberlain.co.uk and, if you’re interested in finding out more about his Skype and phone coaching work, please email hello@stevechamberlain.co.uk.