How to Believe in Yourself: 10 Tips in the Process

“You can have all the tools in the world but if you don’t genuinely believe in yourself, it’s useless.” – Ken Jeong

Do you still know how to believe in yourself, especially when the tough gets going?

Let’s pretend that you’d like to learn how to play the guitar.

And that you’re only 12 years old.

You start looking for and watching videos of your favorite rock, or jazz, or classical, guitarists. You start imitating them. You get dumbfounded by their skills, and there will be days you’ll just put your earphones on and daydream you were them, song after song—for minutes, if not for hours.

Then one day you finally say, “Screw it, I’m going to be a guitarist!” You then find yourself looking for new friends, preferring those who have similar taste in music as yours, and convince them it’d be so cool if you formed your own band.


You start playing at local events.

But then, you don’t have a guitar of your own yet. So you borrow one—from the cool guys who have the heart to lend it—they just might lend it to a delicate kid.

And you play anyway.

But you feel irked and embarrassed whenever you hear those awful notes you make. Damn, there are a lot of great guitarists here, you think. You just shrug it off in any case, and think that this will simply pass and that having thin skin won’t cut it in this industry.

Fast forward to five years later, you’re still a guitar player, although you’ve had a bunch of different bandmates by now. Most of the bands you’ve become a member of have won in competitions. You’ve even had the chance to work with other bands to make a compilation record.

green behind guitarist

You have it, you know it. But what’s keeping you?

But—after all these years—you still think you’re not good enough, in spite of the fact that you can play those songs you’ve only been listening to when you were 12, that you’ve already made a bit of name for yourself, and that next week you’ll be performing at this grand gig, with people waiting for your band—for you—to play.

Okay, let’s stop there for a minute.

Is this post supposed to be for aspiring guitarists only?

Heck. No.

But have you ever felt a similar anxiety and lack of self-belief, when you thought your energy and the perfect time for making your dreams happen have already passed?

Maybe you wanted to become a writer, or an engineer, or an astronaut. No matter what it is, you can most probably recall memories of having that dream and pursuing it.

You remember going through all the difficulties, and embarrassment, for following what your heart only desired; the frustrations, when you wondered whether all of those things even meant something.

Now let’s look at the other side.

Unfortunately, you forget that at least once in your life, during the prime of those “starting out” times, you’ve made small achievements, small wins. You forget that a long time ago, you might’ve only made some decisions that have taken you further away from your life’s true path. You had to let go of some things, because like everybody else, you simply had to survive.

And because of that, you’ve stopped believing in yourself.

Yes, it’s hard to believe in yourself when, you know, it simply is.

But you know what? Let’s talk about some paradigm shift here. The world every person lives in has a story in it. You may be trying to exercise all the willpower you’ve got, but sometimes, your environment can just easily stomp that down.

Imagine wanting to become a rock star while growing in a very academic family, who cringe at the sight of a radio and are not interested in anything but school. Would you ever believe you could do it, in such a situation? I would, but perhaps I’d have to leave the house, and look for those who’d “support” and “understand” me. But oh, wait … I’m just 12. I guess I’d just have to think about it later.

No matter where you are, or what you’ve become, below are tips you could use to believe in yourself … again.

1. Life shouldn’t be so easy.

If it were, what will you learn? Unless perhaps you’re a genius … but even then, who doesn’t need to solve life problems, which usually yield long-term effects?

If you open your eyes (more), you’ll see that there’s always an opportunity to challenge yourself. Imagine how you’d feel whenever you get to figure out things on your own.

I believe this is partly where habits come from. Whenever I hear the word “habits,” I immediately stereotype them as bad habits. In other words, good habits are hard to develop. So, habit-forming becomes a challenge—and an opportunity. Consequently, habits should be formed with a growth mindset—that is, if you don’t believe you can’t break bad habits, and make new ones, then you simply won’t.

seedling on handsThese challenges, which are in most cases inevitable, won’t come to you in vain. You’ll make mistakes, but just like having a growth mindset, believing you’ll learn from these mistakes increases the chances that you indeed will.

Challenging yourself, with the right attitude, is a great way to believe in yourself.

2. Cherish and use the skills you already have … even if there’s just one.

No one else has the same skill set as yours—it’s true.

Start with those skills. They can be your channel to work you’d love to be doing from now on. When you do get the opportunity, use them boldly.

Learn to overcome Impostor Syndrome, that is, when you call yourself a fraud, even if there’s evidence that you’re apparently not.

Try to focus on what you can do. Skills tend to branch out anyway. Perhaps you’re just being impatient; good things take time.

It’s just fascinating that sometimes we forget what we already have because we’re overwhelmed by those we don’t have yet—which we’ll end up learning down the road, anyway.

You may think that you’re less than the people around you, that they’re better than you. But you know what, you don’t know their stories. Much more, they don’t know yours. Just mind your own business. If their business is to mind yours, then it’s not you who has the problem.

Honing your skills may take time, but they’ll develop—uniquely—in you.

Improving your skill set should help you strengthen your self-belief; your skills are something you should be proud of in a heartbeat.

3. “Begin with the end in mind.”

Note: Credit is given where credit is due. I’m borrowing this “habit” from Stephen R. Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned from the classic.

Your goals can be broken down into smaller steps—always … but perhaps you already know that.

Imagine this: your funeral service. (I don’t mean to be real creepy here, but I think this is always a meaningful exercise.)

What would you like the people to be saying during the eulogy?

Do you want to become a great parent? Do you want to donate to charity? Do you want to travel the world … or to change it? Do you want to become a kick-ass guitarist?

Thinking about “the end” can snap you out of feeling down and low. Just don’t daydream too much; daydreams could become fantasies, and fantasies have the potential to negatively impact how you live in the present.

If you keep your big goals in mind, you continue to discover what your life’s purpose really looks like, the things you really enjoy doing. Every time you take a step further, you will believe that you can do it, that you can make progress, after all.

4. Truth: There is unconditional self-acceptance.

In this article on Psychology Today, self-acceptance is noted to come before self-esteem. In other words, you can’t have a high self-esteem if you haven’t accepted yourself first—unconditionally.

No matter what you’ve done in the past, learn to move on anyway, without attaching, or even equating, yourself to your past mistakes and failures.

This goes to show that you can’t truly believe in yourself without unconditional self-acceptance.

happy girlIf you don’t believe in yourself, perhaps there’s something in you that you simply reject or don’t like. Addressing those issues entails learning to embrace them, and the truth. Sometimes simple recognition of them will take you a long way. Acknowledging your issues means you are aware of them, and most probably want to fix them, no matter how long it may take.

So, you don’t believe in yourself? You may just find the root of it all by simply accepting who you are.

5. 100% negativity does not exist!

I’ve learned this to be so true. In some cases, bad vibes even change into pretty good ones.

Is everybody around you simply a creature full of nothing but negativity? No. There are a few who are exactly the opposite.

Are your problems nonstop? Yes, but that’s beside the point. Problems ain’t negative if you build your character up through them.

Do you encounter countless obstacles to your wildest dreams? If you’re continuously laying the stepping stones, then you are a work in progress—it’s only a matter of time.

stepping stonesIf you allow the so-called negativity to take over you, then you know what happens—you’ll stop believing in yourself in no time. Working to look for the positive in life—and to do something about it—is pretty much all there is. And you taking charge of yourself in search for that light will improve that self-belief. Even other people will notice it, and won’t help it.

It’s looking at the other side of the coin. If there’s a bad, there’s a good. The term “no hope” simply does not exist. You will always find something great. Look forward to it, celebrate it.

6. Your body is just as important as your mind and soul.

So, take care of it. The sooner you start, the better.

Choose the food you eat.

Have some form of exercise. Even for just 30 minutes a day. Even if it’s just walking. Get your heart beat a bit faster. Sweat.

Take rests. Regularly get enough sleep.

Meditate. Take yourself to a quiet place, clear your mind, improve your focus.

Feel better by taking care of yourself. After all, you need it. Your physical body is what executes, and its health goes hand in hand with your mental health.

With so many things in your hands, taking care of your body this way could be difficult, as most of the time, physical health is simply at an “okay” or “so-so” state, without the real urgency to take care of it. But this is something that if not maintained in the early stages of life, may yield problems in a far future, usually by surprise.

7. Serve and connect with other people.

Volunteer work is work without payment.

Here’s what I think about it: Anything you do—without payment—that allows you to interact with people, and that you’d choose over something you’d really rather do—is volunteer work. This doesn’t even have to be involved with some huge organization—this is great, don’t get me wrong; I believe there’s no greater thing in the world than helping others—without asking for something in return.

I just think volunteer work can be done in smaller ways, which could fit into the regular schedule.

If you don’t have such “huge” organizations in your community, think of the people you already have in your life.

Do you go to church? Is there a chance you could join a group who loves conserving nature? Could you give something away for the less fortunate people? Do you feel like a friend would need your time once a week?

It doesn’t matter much who you interact with. As long as you give your time, sometimes money, especially to those who you think are important to you—it is volunteer work.

Volunteer work increases self-confidence. It feels good to know that you have sacrificed a part of you just to help others out. Even if you won’t get recognized from doing so (which isn’t how it’s supposed to be, anyway), you will improve your self-belief.

thinking toddler

Where will I be on Friday?

We are wired to be social; we are social beings. Some theories say that our brain is the center of our social self. That’s why amidst our busyness at work, our brain automatically thinks about other people, about how we’d go about the outside world and socialize—instead of the brain going, you know … completely blank, and resting.

So when you feel down about yourself again, go out and meet people. Start with those you know, those who’d need your time, those who’d need you.

Being selfless is, in a way, selfish—it’s good for you after all!

8. Change your “comparing” paradigm to “being inspired” paradigm.

Doing this is like switching off an old, flickering light bulb and switching on a brand-new, brighter one, so you could see things better—clearer.

It’s easy to be inspired by those popular people: those great people we read in books, those we see all over the internet, those who’ve established the clichés.

Do you, however, have a friend, workmate or neighbor who looks like he’s “doing better” than you? “Why can’t I be like him?”

For some reason, people love to compare—they compare two other people, or themselves with others. It doesn’t have to be that way. Common practice isn’t always right, eh?

Comparing yourself with others isn’t right.

What’s the point, really? You compare yourself with someone “better,” or even “worse,” then what do you get? If you know of a really good reason, I’d like to hear about it in the comments. You compare and you magnify what’s supposed to be wrong about you, and feel bad about yourself, and then lose heart because you think there’s been nothing all along in the first place. Imagine swimming your way against that strong current of pathetic speculation—it is exhausting.

light bulbWhat you’d want to do instead, is seek inspiration from people you look up to and admire. Hang out with them. Pick their brains. Ask questions, even if they’re “dumb” questions. Be inspired, then be curious. Always be curious.

The world becomes completely different if you experience that change.

Ditch the useless comparing attitude, and when you’re inspired, you’ll believe you can do it, too.

9. Whether from the inside or out, know yourself.

Generally, scientific observations get down like this … Scientists measure an initial parameter, the one that’s being observed. They alter the whole system through some external agent, then after the change occurs, they go back to the same parameter and measure it again. Of course the parameter also changes. The scientists then study or guess the whys and hows of the change.

You may not be a scientist, but that could be a fairly efficient way to learn about yourself.

Think why, just a few minutes ago, you were feeling bubbly, then the feeling suddenly dropped below zero to sheer irritation. Why are you having a headache when everything seemed fine this morning? Just why don’t you like to be around people at this moment?

Take mental notes, or better, write them down in a journal, and state your reasons. You may only be overlooking the little things that actually make the difference. Like mentioned earlier, avoid comparing yourself with others. You are unique—there’s no one in the world who behaves just like you—even if you strongly think otherwise.

Now that you’re being aware of yourself, try to learn about yourself from the outside. How? By reading books, by going to seminars, by asking people—only those you trust—what they think of you. You could know about yourself more by using authoritative resources.

eyes on book

He must be doing it right.

I enjoy reading personal development and psychology books. From them I learn a lot about human behavior I had no idea about for many, many years. I’d always recommend reading books. Through books we can connect with the greatest minds—whether fiction or nonfiction—not being bound by space and time.

You have the opportunity to know yourself. To know what makes you happy. To know about success. To know about getting what you want. Most of the time, it’s just a matter of either being willing to know yourself, or dumping that precious chance.

10. You will fail—don’t stop!

Moving forward isn’t always easy, but … keep moving forward, anyway.

There will be times when you’d rather go to sleep instead of going to work, wondering whether everything you do even matters. You’d rather take a rest, when “rest” becomes an excuse, not a necessity anymore. You’d rather do nothing. It’s just another day, you’d think.

Because you will fail along the way.

But you know what, you will encounter the same failures—little failures—down the road, anyway—whether you make a stop right now or not. So why not just keep going in any case, learn and reach your own success faster?

Don’t be lazy! True achievers don’t stop even after they’ve reached the top. This whole thing, this life, is a process. Imagine … if you’ve lost weight and attained the picture-perfect shape you’ve been working for for a long time, will you simply give in, again, to your overeating habits? If you’ve learned how to deal with difficult people, will you take a yearlong break from demonstrating that skill? After you’ve mastered a hobby you truly love, say playing that guitar, will you simply stop?

Things continue moving on in a process. To maintain a level of proficiency at something, or even to raise the bar a bit, you have to continue doing it. Otherwise, you may find yourself going back to square one, starting all over again.

Take risks. Don’t be afraid to take more risks, especially if you’re already achieving more. Most of the time, taking risks pushes you for greater rewards.

Perhaps you’re just in an episode of “failure” right now. Perhaps you think this is it, this is the end. Let me tell you a piece of advice that most people do not follow: Don’t stop. Some may have reached their success in a relatively shorter time, others in a longer time. But just the same, they didn’t stop.

You’ll learn a lot by simply showing up, by not giving up. That should build your belief in yourself, even if you’ve lost it sometime ago.

Think About It

Believing in yourself is a choice, even when it seems it’s some supernatural phenomenon that happens only to a selected few. Even when you’re convinced it’s impossible. Even if you’ve never heard about it before.

Let these tips help you. Recognize that you are able, that you can do it—you may not do how others would—but you can—in your own ways, in your own terms.

So, have you been feeling down lately? Try these tips, and you should see some changes very soon!

Speak Your Mind

What do you do when you think you’ve already given your best but still don’t see the results you want? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Please share this if you found this helpful!


  1. Nelu Mbingu

    Hello Ethan!

    I like that you quoted “The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People” in this article. It is one of the best books I’ve ever read!

    And yes, I think imagining the end can really help you believe in yourself more. They say that our brains can sometimes not tell the difference between what we imagine and reality. And so imagining the end, will help you feel like that person on the other side, the one competent and strong enough to achieve those goals. So you will be able to believe in yourself.

    Thanks for sharing!


    • Ethan Bridges

      Hey Nelu,

      “They say that our brains can sometimes not tell the difference between what we imagine and reality.”

      Amazing, right?

      This is one of the reasons I started to treat my thoughts as the real deal, every time. Because in the past I sort of underestimated what my thoughts could actually do … more like “thoughts aren’t the real world” kind of thing.

      I believe being able to see “the end”–being able to identify what you truly want–is already a huge accomplishment. It may be a small step, but could be followed by great–even though complex and unimaginable–things. Believing in oneself is indeed a process.

      Thanks, Nelu!

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