A big part of what will enable you to live the life you truly want is going to come down to you and what you believe you are capable of. We often get in our own way of obtaining the things that we want. In this second blog on self-reliance I’m going to explore self-concept and self-belief.
Self-concept and why it can really get in the way
Our self-concept is what we think of ourselves. It’s our mental picture of who we think we are. Understanding what your current self-concept is like can give you a valuable insight into how you might be holding yourself back. Then you can start to challenge your outdated perception of yourself.
Some of us have a limited view of who we are, sticking to identifying ourselves by name, degree subject/job, relationship status, nationality, religion, family role, and physical appearance. A more developed perspective of who we are also includes things like our thoughts, moods, values, beliefs, emotions, mission, interests, and desires.
Dr Bruce A. Bracken developed a model of six specific domains in relation to how we build our self-concept:
Social – Our ability to interact with others
Competence – Our ability to meet our own needs
Affect – Our awareness of emotional states – our own and others
Physical – Our feelings about our looks, health, physical condition and appearance
Academic – Success or struggle at school/college/university
Family – How well we function within the family unit
Ask yourself what are your positive beliefs about yourself in these six areas? What are you good at?
How healthy is your current self-concept?
Our self-concept is our belief about ourselves, and a belief can be changed. We can change the way that we choose to see ourselves. Self-talk is the internal dialogue that continually runs through our minds. Stop and notice what your self-talk is like. If it’s negative like “I’m not good enough”, “I can’t do this”, or “You’re an idiot” then you can start changing those messages. Our thoughts become our actions, which then becomes the way that we live, which becomes our character and ultimately creates our whole experience of life.
Building a positive self-concept can help you to become a stronger person, you can rely on yourself more if you think well of yourself. Thinking about your self-concept more deeply, recognising what you’re good at in the six domains, and changing your self-talk could create such a shift in what you think of yourself that you will feel ready to take on new challenges and pursue the things you truly want.
Boosting your self-belief
Self-belief is having the self-confidence that your skills, abilities, judgement, behaviour and personality will enable you to be successful. For most of us our self-belief fluctuates. There will be triggers that give us belief in ourselves, and triggers that can quickly take that belief away.
Self-belief requires the acceptance that when we fail we will need to see the setback as an opportunity rather than a full stop. It relates very much to the self-trust referred to in my previous blog – you have to learn to trust that you will be able to handle any setback with an adaptive, growth mindset. But if self-belief is something you’re struggling with here are 6 tips to help you to boost it:
1) Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
The more that you do this the more you will develop faith in yourself to meet new challenges. Join a new group, meet new people or trying a new activity. Adopt a new behaviour such as approaching someone you don’t know or traveling somewhere on your own.
2) Look at what you have already accomplished
What challenges have you got through successfully already – starting university, moving to a different country, overcoming a setback? What strengths did you use? What approach did you take? What strategies did you use? You can dial into these if you need to, they are part of your existing resource.
3) Accept your imperfections
We all have flaws. Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on them and just embrace them. Where your attention goes your energy goes, and it’s usually wasted energy. Comparing ourselves to others can really hold us back. When you think about it, we’re all unique individuals, we are incomparable.
4) Recognise your strengths
Any flaws can be balanced out by strengths. I am not competitive but I have a lot of drive and determination which I can call upon instead. I am not a brilliant academic, but have a strong curiosity which leads me to successfully research subjects that I’m passionate about. Your self-belief will improve if you show yourself that you can deal with anything in a way that is true to you.
5) Use positive affirmations
Affirmations are long or short positive statements that you repeat until you believe them. If lack of confidence is holding you back you’d say “I am confident in all situations”. You can find 100s online but it’s more powerful to write your own. I record mine on my phone and play them over and over. Affirmations can change your experience of life because you are creating new beliefs.
6) Visualise yourself as you want to be
Use visualisation to build a better version of yourself. What is it you want to be more like? What does the new version of you look like? What does it feel like? What is different? Spending a few minutes every day visualising yourself as you want to be enables you to really see the version of yourself you want to become.
You are not what other people define you as. You can decide who you want to be.