The Power of Believing in Yourself
Imagine that you have an imaginary friend (maybe you already do!). Let's call this friend "B". What would happen if B continually told you that you're not valuable, that you can't do something or don't have the capacities to achieve your dreams? What if B continually belittled you by questioning your talents, capacities and skills, or simply by constantly shaming you for no apparent reason? You might say, “I don’t want a friend like B!!!”… What if you couldn’t get rid of him?
Maybe at the beginning, when B starts with his ridiculous denigration, you'd tell him to back off and leave you alone. You’d tell him that you don't need a friend like him. But, out of the blue, B would come back over and over again hammering you with the same questioning and patronizing comments. Eventually, by sheer repetition, B's effect is so powerful in you that it starts undermining your self-worth and self-esteem so much that you even begin to doubt. You can’t be sure anymore if B is right or not. Very likely, there's come the day when you tell B that he might be right about some of the things he's been saying and that you really can't achieve your dreams... After a while, convinced by B, you finally and completely give up. You come to the conclusion that B has always been right and that you don't have the capacities to achieve your dreams and realize your potential.
B lives in us
In reality, B is not that imaginary at all. He is real, tangible, we listen to him, we believe him and we are influenced by him. But B doesn't live outside us. He is right within our minds and hearts. B is that little voice inside ourselves that, very often, could be preventing us from doing something because “we don't have the skills or talents”. B is a powerful influence, a driving force in or behavior and our capacity to either embrace the challenges of life, or succumb to them and give up. B can either help us to believe in ourselves, or undermine our self-confidence.
I recently had the opportunity to see my friend’s internal B in action. I believe she has the right talents and skills for a job I recommended her to apply. She was called to an interview and upon the questioning of the interviewing panel, she told them "I don't think I have the skills to do this job". She came to me and told me about what happened and I was flabbergasted by the fact that she dared to say something like that. We both knew that she indeed had the talents and the skills to perform the job very well, but something happened… And I have no doubt that my friend's internal B was sending her a mix of signals, emotions and messages that undermined her self-confidence, her capacity to “lean in” and truly present herself as a highly skilled and talented individual.
This is not only my friend’s story. It is mine and yours too. I’ve battled with B. And I can tell when he is being mean to me, because my mood changes and my happy spirit becomes sad and, perhaps, depressed. For some people it happens less often than for others, but if we don’t properly train B to encourage us, he might do what by nature he is trained to do: make us run or hide from our challenges, instead of embrace them and face them.
Changing B’s speech
B lives within us and that is why we have the unique and potent opportunity to train him. We are empowered to change B's speech to us and make him a positive driving force for us to go after our dreams. We don’t have to run or hide from our challenges anymore, or undermine our value in the journey for the quest to achieve our dreams. We can teach B to encourage us, to motivate us, to increase our confidence and help us get through the adversities of life. We can’t get rid of B, but we can change him. B is very malleable and flexible, and he is always willing to change. But he can’t do it by himself.
In order to change, B needs our full awareness and willingness to help him. He would be lost without our intentional desire to make him change. First, we need to acknowledge that we have a problem with B. We need to increase our awareness and understand the type of messages that B is sending us. If we don’t identify and become our aware of those messages, we would stay blind to B’s constant whispering and it effect in us.
Once we come to really know what B is telling us, we have to change the tune for a more positive one. We have to teach him the right words to say, and especially the time when we need to hear them. We want B telling us “you can do it” when our strengths are low and our self-confidence needs a boost. Let’s teach B to recognize the moments in our lives when the challenges and adversities are so overwhelming, that we might be on the verge to give up. We really, really need the positive B in those moments. Like any good friend, we want him to stop us, slap us in the face and tell us that it’s ok to fall and fail, and that if we do, we will stand up again and continue the journey. That is the good B!
Finally, we have to be very careful how we feed B with information from outside us. Someone who is constantly gossiping or talking badly about others, putting them down or doubting of their skills and talents to do or become something, is also sending messages to his or her own internal B to behave that way. As I said before, B is very malleable, but also gullible. And if what B listens from us is bad things about others, he will eventually use those same messages against us… So, don’t be part of gossiping and avoid talking badly about those around you. Become a positive friend for B as well.
Our internal friend B stands for Believe. And as Henry Ford said “whether you believe you can do something or not, you are right”. If we truly Believe that we can achieve our dreams and realize our potential, we will talk to ourselves into going after them, into trying, into letting the fear behind and into getting up when we fail. We certainly have to be aware of our limitations, but not as if they were obstacles to permanently prevent us from achieving something, but rather as wake-up calls about the things we need to learn and become better at. Train your internal Believe voice to make always encourage you to step up in the quest to realize your potential and become a better version of yourself.
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About the Author: Enrique Rubio is an Electronic Engineer and a Fulbright scholar with an Executive Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Syracuse University. Enrique is passionate about leadership, business and social entrepreneurship, curiosity, creativity and innovation. He is a blogger and podcaster, and also a competitive ultrarunner. Visit the blog: Innovation for Development and Podcast. Click here to follow Enrique on Twitter.
Disclaimer: opinions are my own and not the views of my past or current employer.