There are some people who appear to be naturally confident -- as if confidence, or having a healthy sense of self-belief, is something you’re born with or that is bestowed upon you by the gods.
Like the Greek hero Achilles -- renowned for his courage and invincibility -- some people assume that self-belief is gifted only to a fortunate few.
However, this idea -- and the notion that Achilles lacked any flaws -- is simply false. (After all, an Achilles’ Heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength).
Self-belief is not the absence of vulnerability, nor is it a trait that we are born with -- it’s one we develop.
The truth is that everyone has the capacity to improve their self-belief.
Science tells us that people with a strong sense of self-belief are not only admired, but they inspire confidence in others.
However, this is a double-edged sword.
As you’ll soon learn, those who lack a sense of self-belief find it difficult to become successful.
On the other hand, those with a healthy sense of self-belief are better able to face their fears head-on.
They seek out opportunities, including those with a high risk of failure, as a means to develop resilience -- the ability to bounce back quickly from rejection and adversity.
They understand that no matter what obstacles may come their way, they possess the strength of character and fortitude to move past them.
In other words, self-belief gives you the power to conquer the world. The trick, as you’ll come to find, is that developing healthy self-belief means first conquering your own world.
Even if you’ve never considered yourself to be a person with a huge sense of self-belief, as long as you’ve got the desire to improve, this guide is for you.
The Science of Success is committed to seeking out and developing evidence-based growth strategies.
Our mission is to unleash human potential. We do this by helping you understand your mind and utilize an abundance of tools to aid in attaining your goals.
In developing this guide, we’ve asked the experts, consulted academic literature, and compiled data from highly reputable resources to offer you a rich and yet very accessible guide on how you can start cultivating healthy self-belief and living fearlessly.
As with many great pursuits, the best place to start is the beginning. But if you need help in a specific area, click below to hop to it!
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
What is Self-Belief?
“You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.” - Wayne Gretzky
Self-belief is the degree to which you think and feel your actions will achieve positive results. In other words, it’s your belief in yourself and your ability to succeed.
Think of self-belief as the roots of the tree. The more developed the roots are, the stronger the tree.
The more you work on increasing your self-belief (hence, strengthening your roots), the stronger your confidence in your ability to succeed will be.
But keep in mind, well-developed self-belief is not perfection. Nor is it predicated on your always being right.
Rather, self-belief is knowing that no matter how many shots you miss, eventually, one of your shots will go in.
In other words, eventually, if you continue to learn and grow, one of your attempts will result in a win.
Self-belief is a relationship of trust.
Like an innermost friend who gives you the courage to believe in yourself -- self belief is trusting in what you think is the best course of action for you.
Developing self-belief requires that you take ownership of your life and intentionally direct energy toward yourself and your abilities.
To have a healthy working relationship, you need to feel as though you can trust a business partner to carry out a specific task or have your company’s best interest in mind.
To have a healthy relationship with yourself, your dreams, and your goals, you need to have self-belief -- trusting yourself to go against the odds to manifest your potential.
Self-Belief vs. Self-Esteem vs. Self-Efficacy
It may come as a surprise, but self-belief is not the same as self-esteem.
And while both function to promote the common end goal of self-efficacy, self-belief differs from self-esteem in one important way.
Self-esteem is a personality trait that sums up a mixture of feelings about yourself.
When a person is concerned with building their self-esteem, the central focus is assessing their own individual worth (or worthiness).
A person with healthy self-esteem, for instance, may view themselves as a highly competent individual or display a positive outlook on life. Additional signs of healthy self-esteem can include:
An ability to say no, or set healthy boundaries
An ability to assess your own strengths
An ability to separate negative experiences from your overall outlook on life
An ability to express your needs
On the other hand, a person with unhealthy self-esteem may exhibit the following signs:
Lack of confidence
Feelings of shame, depression, or anxiety
Believing that others are better than you
Trouble with or an inability to accept positive feedback
Self-belief refers to the feeling that you can perform a given task successfully.
For example, you might have high self-esteem about yourself in general, but zero confidence in your ability to start your own business or pursue an advanced degree.
While self-esteem differs from self-belief, you cannot have healthy self-belief without healthy self-esteem. It’s like trying to go kayaking without an oar. Self-esteem is the kayak you need to travel on the water, but self-belief is the oar you need to accomplish the task of moving in a specific direction.
Without self-belief, you’ll float on the water, but you won’t travel very far.
The same is true for those who consider themselves individuals with high self-esteem who perform well within their comfort zones, but completely lack the confidence to pursue their dreams.
It’s imperative to develop healthy self-belief in order to create the life you want.
Science shows us that self-belief helps bring about more personal happiness. One reason for this is that growing self-belief is often evidence of a change of mindset, or more simply put, the development of a growth mindset (which we cover in greater detail in the sections to come).
For now, it's important to know that having healthy self-esteem is closely correlated with having healthy self-belief, and the belief that you control your outcomes in life.
When you believe in yourself and your abilities, you tend to act in accordance with your innermost desires, creativity, and inspiration rather than stagnating in your comfort zone.
The more you act in accordance with self-belief, creativity, and inquisitiveness rather than self-doubt, the more success you’re likely to experience in your life.
Of course, the more successful we are in achieving the things that are most important to us, the happier we become.
The main takeaway here is this: The better you feel about yourself (self-esteem), the easier it becomes to build the confidence required to attempt any given task (self-belief).
“Opportunities don't happen. You create them.” - Chris Grosser
What about self-efficacy? What is it and how does it differ from self-belief?
Self-efficacy and self-belief are very similar -- you could consider them first cousins. However, they differ from each other in one very important way.
Unlike self-esteem, which is a present-focused belief -- How am I feeling about myself right now? -- both self-belief and self-efficacy look to the future.
While self-belief is the measure of or degree to which you believe you can perform a given task successfully, -- for example, I believe in my ability to drive a car, or write a term paper, or organize my calendar -- self-efficacy reflects how strongly you believe you can influence your own future.
A person with a high sense of self-efficacy believes their abilities and successful attempts of tasks completed will inevitably chart out the course for what they hope to attain in the future. For example, a person with high self-efficacy may believe that if they continue to work hard at their job or make good choices with their finances, they increase the likelihood that they will earn that next promotion or build a life of financial freedom in the future.
In other words, self-efficacy is this sense that no matter what challenges may arise, you can (and will) rise to the occasion. You believe that you can leverage your abilities to create a better future.
“When your ‘why’ has heart, your ‘how’ gets legs.” - Jon Vroman
Self-efficacy gives your self-belief the legs it needs to achieve your dreams because it determines your capability to handle and navigate future situations.
You can think of self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-belief as three parts of a trinity -- in order to understand confidence, how to attain it, and how to leverage it in service of the life you want to live, you need to have a balance of each.
How Much Self-Belief is Enough?
In Greek mythology, Icarus and his father Daedalus attempt to escape Crete by wings fashioned out of wax and feathers.
Icarus’s father warns him not to fly too high nor too low: the sea’s dampness would clog his wings and the sun’s heat would melt them.
Icarus did not heed his father’s warning and instead chose to fly as high as he could, ascending toward the sun.
As a result, the sun melted his wings and Icarus tumbled out of the sky and drowned in the sea.
This myth -- which sparked the idiom “Don’t fly too close to the sun” -- is a classic lesson about what happens when we’re overconfident.
Having too much or too little self-belief can negatively impact your ability to succeed.
When you have too much self-belief, that is, self-belief that isn’t grounded in lived experience or genuine self-awareness, you can come off as cocky and stumble into unforeseen consequences or obstacles resulting from overestimating your own abilities.
You can fail to meet deadlines because you’ve underestimated the time and effort completing the work requires.
On the other hand, too little self-belief can prevent you from seizing opportunities -- in work, your social life, your personal development, etc.
The key is to strike a healthy balance between having too much or too little, arriving at a healthy sense of self-belief that’s just right -- that’s a reflection of your experience and leaves room for developing self-awareness.
When we project the right amount of self-belief, we not only convey our abilities (and limitations) with humility and grace, but we gain credibility, make a good lasting impression, and find healthy ways to deal with the challenges we face.
This of course is easier said than done.
In the sections to come, we reference self-belief experts who offer useful tips about how to discover and maintain the right balance between healthy self-belief and an over-inflated sense of confidence.
Why You Need Healthy Self-Belief
Self-belief is extremely important in almost every aspect of our lives.
In order to manifest our goals and become successful, it’s imperative that we cultivate healthy self-belief.
How Your Self-Belief Comes Off to Others
Your level of self-belief shows itself in many ways: how you speak, what you say, how you carry yourself, what you wear -- the list goes on and on.
For this reason, it’s important to distinguish between healthy self-belief and unhealthy self-belief, and the behaviors associated with different ends of the self-belief spectrum.
We’ve created a portrait of healthy self-belief behaviors and unhealthy self-belief behaviors for your review.
Action Item: See if you can recognize any of these behaviors in yourself or in others around you.
As you can deduce from these self-belief binaries, those who exhibit unhealthy self-belief can also be self-destructive.
Their behaviors often manifest themselves as negativity, which can be off putting to others, blocking everyone’s ability to cooperate and succeed.
On the other hand, people with healthy self-belief are generally more positive -- they believe in themselves and their abilities, and they endeavor to experience the richness of what their lives have the capacity to be.
Like most concepts in psychology, self-belief falls on a spectrum -- meaning no one embodies perfect self-belief in all areas of their lives, nor does anyone escape the trap of the occasional lack of self-belief when they need it most.
All of us fall somewhere in between. Whether a person tends toward overconfidence or underconfidence largely depends on where they are in their lives, relationships, and career trajectories.
The point here is to be aware of behaviors associated with healthy and unhealthy self-belief and develop a sense of self-awareness and self-honesty that will equip us with the tools needed to enhance our self-belief.
Cultivating a healthy self-belief not only inspires confidence, but it enables us to seek and harness opportunities in the future.
What Science Tells Us About Self-Belief: Here’s What You Need to Know
The Brain that Believes in Itself
Medievalists believed that mathematics was a form of higher-order thinking and the starting point to unlocking the mysteries of the universe. Likewise, self-belief is the starting point through which all other personal and professional endeavors are made possible. It’s the key to living fearlessly.
Self-belief is not only the spirit behind your ability to successfully accomplish your goals, but is a real biological phenomenon measurable through brain activity.
A new study published in the journal Neuron supports this by suggesting that there are regions of the brain that track one’s self-belief and may actually be the key to unlocking our greatest potential.
As we know, decision-making is a part of life. We are constantly evaluating our options and making decisions based on the information we have available.
The process we undergo to make such decisions says a lot about our level of self-belief.
Researchers at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging at University College London have pinpointed the specific areas of the brain that interact to compute both the value of the choices we have in front of us and our confidence in those choices, giving us the ability to know what we want.
Where does our brain show self-belief activity?
Prior studies have shown that a region at the front of the brain, the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, is important for working out the value of various options when we are making a decision.
Researchers say this study shows that the interaction between this area of the brain and a nearby area reflects participants’ ability to access and report their level of self-belief in their choices.
One question seeping through the academic literature, and of course what we want to know for ourselves, is Can we train our brains to improve our self-belief?
Neuroscientist Stacie Grossman Bloom thinks so. Bloom has dedicated her research to understanding how self-belief can be developed.
In a recent interview, Grossman Bloom shared that all of our personality traits, including self-belief, live in our brain.
She says, “Our brains are made up of specialized cells called neurons and those neurons communicate with each other via synapses, the connections between them. We are creating and adjusting our synaptic connections all the time. Every time we learn or experience something, those incidents and the choices we make shape us. Sometimes that learning becomes reinforced and it becomes ‘hard coded’ as part of who we are.”
Think of the brain as a large city, bustling with energy and electricity. The neurons are like cars and trucks traveling at various speeds, carrying passengers (or messages) safely across highways (or synapses).
Every time we learn something new, our brain (or city) develops new infrastructures or municipal improvements, such as buildings or parks, and creates new pathways by constructing viaducts, highways, and bridges, to streamline the movement of new thoughts throughout the city.
Why does this happen?
Because like the purposeful development of a city, our brains are driven by the need to create law, order, and efficiency.
Our brain not only governs our bodily functions, but also helps to manage the development of our mindset, including our self-belief and our ability to improve it.
When Grossman Bloom was asked what happens when we have a healthy self-belief, she responded, “We know from brain imaging studies that when we are thinking positively, we activate what we call ‘the value areas’ of the brain in regions including the … prefrontal cortex. When we feel confident, we engage circuits involved in reward and pleasure and we literally feel good. And not only do we feel good, but those around us feel good too. [Healthy self-belief] leads others to be more engaged with you, be it your troops, your patients, your clients, colleagues, kids, or friends.”
Self-belief is not some personality quirk resulting from esoteric origins. It’s truly a complex mental state that’s supported by multiple regions of the brain.
The good news for you is that if you want to increase your self-belief, you can do so.
Like any muscle in your body, you have to exercise the self-belief parts of your brain to help it grow and become more durable.
If you commit to this, science says your brain will take care of the rest.
How Healthy Self-Belief Plays a Role in Your Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychology, sought to understand the human condition in a way that was not explained by psychosis or neurosis.
In other words, Maslow wanted to understand what’s right with you, instead of what’s wrong with you.
He was curious about what positive mental health looked like and how to cultivate a positive sense of self.
In fact, Maslow’s the man who coined the term self-actualization.
In his book Motivation and Personality, he defines self-actualization in four parts:
A fuller knowledge of, and acceptance of, the person’s intrinsic nature
Ongoing actualization of potentials, capacities, and talents
An unceasing trend toward unity, integration, or synergy within a person
Fulfillment of a mission (a call, fate, destiny, or vocation)
In a nutshell, think of self-actualization as the actual becoming of what one has the potential to be. He says, “[a] musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately happy.”
In addition to all the proven benefits of self-esteem and self-belief, like friendship, wisdom, or love, self-actualization has intrinsic value. Maslow argued that it is good for its own sake and not simply for the sake of something else.
From defining self-actualization, Maslow shares on what’s needed to reach self-actualization.
So what are the pillars or foundation of self-actualization?
Maslow interviewed many study participants (including his patients), and found that before one could reach self-actualization, there was a hierarchy of needs that must be satisfied.
Maslow wanted to distinguish between our growth needs (those that lead to self-actualization) and our psychological and basic needs.
He indicates that:
Human beings are motivated by a hierarchy of needs.
Needs are organized in a hierarchy according to which more basic needs must be more or less met prior to higher needs.
The order in which needs must be met is not rigid but instead remains flexible and is based on external circumstances and individual differences.
Most behavior is multi-motivated, that is, simultaneously determined by our pursuit of more than one basic need.
In his research, Maslow found that when these needs aren't being met, we feel something is missing from our lives, leading us to experience tension and exhibit neurotic behavior.
Without a roof over our heads, for example, our need for security is threatened.
The same can be said about our need to develop our self-belief in order to self-actualize.
When we operate from a place of unhealthy self-belief, we are tacitly expressing a deficiency in our basic needs.
It’s like crawling before you walk -- we need to first believe in ourselves if we hope to actualize our potential and grow.
As we’ve mentioned before, one cannot expect to cultivate healthy self-belief without also having healthy self-esteem.
And without self-belief and self-esteem, Maslow theorized that a person won’t be able to self-actualize.
“If you plan on being anything less than you are capable of being, you will probably be unhappy all the days of your life.” - Abraham Maslow
Until we fulfill our basic needs, gratifying them dominates our attention.
However, once we meet them, we can shift more of our attention to growth needs (such as pursuing self-actualization).
Speaking of growth...
Self-Belief and the Importance of a Growth Mindset
Have you ever heard someone say, “I am who I am and I can’t change,” or “We’ve always done it this way,” or “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?
If so, this is an example of a person who thinks with a fixed mindset.
Science tells us that this mode of thinking is false.
Not only can we change, but more importantly, we can grow.
Developing a growth mindset is arguably one of the most crucial and key elements of building healthy self-belief.
One of her key learnings is that mindsets are largely divided into two camps: fixed mindsets and growth mindsets.
Dr. Dweck and her team of researchers conducted a study in which they attempted to see if a mindset could be taught.
They worked with over 168,000 students in an attempt to teach them to have growth mindsets.
For example, if a student got a failing grade on an assignment, instead of registering that attempt as a failure, they were challenged to see it as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement.
This helped the students rise above feeling discouraged and helpless to change their future outcomes.
Dr. Dweck and her colleagues found that participants who learned this growth mindset had a greater desire to challenge themselves and grow.
Understandably, this desire to grow often led them to do better in school, even after an instance of “failure.”
Dr. Dweck shares that when people are in a fixed mindset, they believe their basic abilities, talents, personal attributes, and personalities are fixed.
They are unable to grow and improve in areas where they are naturally weak and they are stuck where they are.
A person with a fixed mindset, for example, may value intelligence but believe that their intelligence “is what it is.”
This person believes that no matter what they do, they will only be able to learn so much and be so smart.
As such, when presented with opportunities to advance, a person with a fixed mindset may deny the chance, afraid of being exposed as “not smart enough.”
Alternatively, someone with a fixed mindset may pretend not to care or even self-sabotage to avoid facing their own failures or lack of proficiency in areas where they could actually improve.
Dr. Dweck describes a fixed mindset as a built-in fear-based system with a touch of arrogance.
People who have fixed mindsets might feel as though even though there’s a limit or a “cap” on what they can do, process, or accomplish; they also may experience an inflated sense of self-importance as compared to others who they perceive don’t measure up to them.
Dr. Dweck notes that neuroscience research shows that when people are in a fixed mindset, the part of their brain that processes errors is hardly active -- they are just turning away from the error as quickly as possible.
She explains that a fixed mindset is what prevents so many promising individuals from ever fulfilling their potential.
A fixed mindset leads to insecurity and a denigrated sense of self-belief.
Contrastingly, when a person has a growth mindset, they believe that while people differ in their talents, abilities, and personal qualities, that doesn’t mean that you cannot continue to grow and strengthen yourself in areas where you’re currently less than confident.
In other words, those with growth mindsets know everyone has the ability to develop.
The good news for those of us looking to manifest and grow our self-belief is that changing our mindsets is not only possible: It’s also not as difficult as you might think.
Dr. Dweck advises us to keep pushing our limits and expanding our knowledge.
She also recommends you receive lots of honest and candid feedback in addition to seeking mentoring from others.
When you have a growth mindset, you operate from a place where you strive to push out of your comfort zone, and if you make mistakes, that’s okay, you try as best you can to learn from them.
Dr. Dweck shares that if you see someone who’s excelling compared to you, you can begin developing your growth mindset (even through an experience of jealousy!) by asking how that person got there and What can they teach me?
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” - Carol S. Dweck
People who’ve cultivated growth mindsets naturally find opportunities to become smarter, to grow, and to maintain momentum around their learning processes.
While setbacks are never easy, no matter the mindset you’ve cultivated, a person with a growth mindset doesn’t register anything as either “inevitable” or “never.”
Rather, they recognize that a setback means “not yet,” and that setbacks are input we can learn from and use to ensure that we can adapt and come back stronger and more knowledgeable next time.
For those of you who are looking to change your fixed mindset or continuing to evolve in your growth mindset, there are a few easy steps you can take to get started!
Step One: Identify your fixed-mindset persona.
Dr. Dweck notes that there’s a person -- sort of like an inner voice -- who lives inside you and dissuades you from doing anything outside of your comfort zone.
You know the voice, the one that says, “What are you doing? You can’t do this! You are going to mess this up. You don’t have what it takes.”
First, Dr. Dweck says this person living inside of you is, ironically, not trying to harm you. Rather, their goal is to keep you safe.
That’s right. Your fixed mindset is actually trying to protect you -- or your ego -- to keep you from being hurt or disappointed.
When your ego feels threatened, it sounds the alarm, warning you not to quit your job and start a business or go back to school, or whatever the catalyst is that’s driving you out of the realm that you know and feel comfortable in.
The downside to this is that in its attempts to protect you, this voice encourages stagnation and creates false ideologies that can eventually give way to arrogance.
The voice, or persona, keeps you in a state that prevents your ability to grow optimally.
Dr. Dweck encourages you to identify your persona.
Step Two: Name your fixed-mindset persona.
Name it. Your persona can have a completely made up name, possibly it’s a riff off the name of a teacher you once had or a character from a book or a movie.
By giving your persona a name and knowing its story, it is easier for you to recognize it when it rears its head from behind the curtain.
Once we’ve identified and named our fixed mindsets, we can begin to combat them.
Step Three: Don’t ignore it.
That’s right. That voice in your head that tries to keep you in your comfort should not be ignored.
Instead, welcome it.
But wait, isn’t this an article about overcoming that voice and embracing growth even if it may be temporarily painful?
Of course it is!
And embracing that growth means acknowledging the fears, anxieties, and emotions that arise when you are faced with uncertainty.
Have a conversation with that part of yourself and engage it.
Say to that persona, “Okay Jesse, (that’s our persona’s name) I hear you, again, and I recognize that these feelings you’re presenting are real and there’s a reason for them... but let’s see what we can learn from this scenario and move on together. Can I count on you to collaborate?”
Dr. Dweck acknowledges that the idea of talking to yourself may seem silly, and it may be… a little. But it’s powerful in practice as you’ll soon learn
The bottom line is, we carry multiple selves or alter egos in various contexts.
You don’t build just one ego to serve you throughout your entire life; you create several to help you rise to perform in diverse contexts.
Dr. Dweck advises you to make friends with the personas associated with different self states and bring them on board with your growth mindset goals in mind.
She says when you feel anxious or threatened, it often means Jesse is there. Her advice: Listen to Jesse, acknowledge Jesse. However, once you’ve acknowledged Jesse and the reasons for the emotions you’re experiencing, treat them as input rather than justification for quitting.
“This is something I know for a fact: You have to work hardest for the things you love most.” - Carol S. Dweck
Cultivating Self-Belief Through Rejection Therapy
Imagine making a sales call and the person on the other end hangs up on you mid-sentence, or you make a pitch to your boss about how to improve operational efficiency and your request is denied, or you ask that extremely attractive and alluring person out on a date and they turn you down.
Rejection doesn’t feel great.
And some people spend their whole lives trying to avoid it.
The unfortunate part is that fear of rejection has killed more dreams and kept some people from living up to their greatest potential than any other substance or emotional state.
No matter where you fall on the self-belief spectrum, dealing with rejection can be painful and overcoming that fear can be a huge challenge.
What if we told you that rejection -- and your ability to navigate it and persevere in spite of it -- is absolutely essential for creating healthy self-belief?
That may come as a shock, but in order to overcome your fear of something you must be exposed to it. Rejection is no exception.
The same thing goes for a fear of public speaking, making sales calls, talking to members of the opposite sex, anything.
One of the best methods to overcome your fear of rejection is by leveraging the tenets of rejection therapy.
Like most of us, Jia Jiang had dreams -- specifically, he dreamed of becoming his own boss. However, Jia Jiang was terrified of rejection.
One day, he decided that he was done being afraid and opted to take rejection head-on.
He challenged himself to undergo 100 days of rejection.
He decided to be very intentional during this time and actually seek out opportunities to be rejected. He also filmed himself during the process and kept a video log.
One day, he asked a man to borrow $100. And quite naturally, the man asked him why, and when Jia Jiang couldn’t think of a response, the man rejected his requested.
Overwhelmed, scared, and embarrassed, Jia Jiang got out of there as soon as he could.
Later that night, when he revisited the footage, he saw that while he was riddled with fear, the man wasn’t fearful, nor menacing. In fact, he invited him to explain himself.
This was an eye-opening experience for Jiang.
He realized that most situations with high risk of rejection are not always life or death. While fear paints a grim picture in our minds, there truly exists a “yes” somewhere out there.
From that moment on, he decided that wouldn’t run. Instead, he would stay and see the process through.
In his book, Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection, Jia Jiang uncovered several important lessons on the value of rejection.
We’ve outlined 25 important lessons for you to review and consider.
We must rethink rejection.
Lesson (1): Rejection is human.
It usually involves two sides: the rejector (the person doing the rejecting) and rejectee (the person receiving the rejecting). Jia Jiang believes rejection often says more about the rejector than the rejectee.
A rejection should never be thought of as a universal truth.
Lesson (2): Rejection is an opinion.
Rejections are often heavily influenced by historical context, cultural differences, and psychological factors.
And as such, there is no universal rejection or acceptance.
Lesson (3): Rejection has a number.
In essence, rejection is a numbers game. If a rejectee goes through enough rejections, a “no” could turn into a “yes.”
We must learn how to take a “No.”
Lesson (4): Ask Why before Goodbye.
While it may be scary, Jia Jiang encourages us to sustain conversations even after rejection.
If you see an impending rejection on the horizon, asking “why” could reveal the underlying reason for rejection and present an opportunity to overcome the issue.
Lesson (5): It’s fine to retreat, but don’t run.
By retreating to a lessor request, you actually increase the chances of landing a “yes.”
Lesson (6): Avoid contention or argumentation.
Never argue. Instead, try to collaborate with the other person.
Lesson (7): If at first you don’t succeed, then Jia Jiang says to “switch up, but don’t give up.”
Step back and make the request to a different person, in a different environment, or under a different circumstance.
We should be sure to position ourselves for “Yes.”
Lesson (8): Give your “why.”
Jia Jiang says that by explaining your reason for a request, you will increase your chances of a possible acceptance. (Note: This will serve you in regard to any request you put out in your life).
Lesson (9): Start with “I.”
By starting with “I” the requestor has much more authentic control of the request.
For example, you can start your statement as such: “Hello. I am the sole proprietor of Kids Across the Globe Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to caring for homeless children from 0 to 18. I am raising fundraising to support our operations so that we may continue to carry forth our mission.”
Jia Jiang says never pretend to think the other person’s interested without genuinely knowing them.
Lesson (10): Acknowledge your doubts.
By admitting obvious and possible objections before the other person gets to them, you can increase trust levels between yourself and the other party.
Lesson (11): Plan to target your audience.
Jia Jiang says it’s important to choose a receptive audience who will enhance your chances of being accepted.
As the rejector, we must learn to give a “No.”
Lesson (12): Jia Jiang says when giving a no, we must first exercise patience and have respect.
It’s important to deliver the message with the right attitude. This will go a long way and help to soften the blow of a rejection.
We should never belittle the rejectee.
Lesson (13): Learn to be direct.
Don’t beat around the bush. If you’re rejecting a request, present the reason for the rejection.
It’s best to be direct and forward. Jia Jiang says to avoid long, convoluted explanations.
Lesson (14): Always Offer Alternatives
As we’ve discussed, rejection is hard -- for both the rejector and the rejectee. For some, rejection leads to discouragement. Jia Jiang encourages you to offer alternatives; simple concessions can make the other person a fan even in rejection.
We should always try to find an upside.
Lesson (15): Work on improving your motivation.
Rejection can be used as one of the strongest motivations to fuel someone’s fire for achievement. Jia Jiang says to use your rejection as a means to fuel your motivation and relentlessness.
Lesson (16): Focus on your Self-improvement.
If we look at a rejection from an objective standpoint -- removing emotional sentiments -- we can use it as an effective means to improve an idea or product.
Lesson (17): It’s important to monitor and consider your sense of “Worthiness.”
In this guide, we’ve discussed a lot about how self-esteem is tied into self-belief. Rejection, if left unchecked, can severely affect how we feel about ourselves, our confidence levels, and our sense of worthiness.
Lesson (18): However, rejection is also a form of character-building.
By seeking rejection in tough environments, Jia Jiang says you can build mental toughness to achieve greater goals.
We should always try to find meaning.
Lesson (19): Find empathy.
All rejections are shared by many. Overcoming a rejection allows us to have empathy and understanding for others.
Lesson (20): Find value.
Jia Jiang says that repeated rejections can serve as measuring stick for one’s resolve and belief. In other words, the value of rejection is that it tests your resiliency and helps desensitize you to the next rejection.
Lesson (21): Find a mission.
Jia Jiang says sometimes the most brutal rejections signal a new beginning and mission for the rejectee.
We should always try to find freedom.
Lesson (22): We have the freedom to ask.
We often deprive ourselves of the freedom to ask for what we want in fear of rejection and judgement.
Amazing things often happen if we only take the first step.
Lesson (23): We have the freedom to accept ourselves.
Our inner need for approval can force us to constantly look for acceptance from others.
The people we need acceptance from the most are ourselves.
We should always try to find our power.
Lesson (24): We should practice detachment from results.
Lesson (25): By focusing on controllable factors like our efforts and actions and detaching ourselves from uncontrollable outcomes, such as acceptance and rejection, we can achieve greater success in the long run.
If there’s one overarching point from all of this, it’s this -- you’re never going to cure your fear of rejection by running away from it. To overcome your fear of rejection, you must embrace it, desensitize yourself to it, and meet it head-on.
Rejection therapy desensitized Jia Jiang to fear of rejection. Experiencing rejection and working through it became a sort of game.
When he was rejected, he would be sure to stay engaged, make jokes, and negotiate, but more importantly, to have fun.
He would no longer freeze up and enter fight-or-flight mode when someone told him no.
In essence, rejection therapy taught Jia Jiang to live fearlessly.
Another added benefit of his100 Days of Rejection was learning how to implement what Jia Jiang calls “the graceful no.”
“Is your dream bigger than your rejections? If it is, maybe it's time to keep going, instead of giving up” - Jia Jiang, Rejection Proof: How I Beat Fear and Became Invincible Through 100 Days of Rejection
Some of us (well, most of us) aren’t comfortable saying no.
It’s always awkward when someone asks you to either do something or share something and you have to tell them you aren’t willing or able to do so.
However, no is perhaps the most important word in your vocabulary.
Jia Jiang observes that by embracing rejection, you’re better equipped not only to stomach being told no, but to actually say it for yourself. In his efforts to acclimate to being declined by others, he also found a graceful way to say no for himself.
One strategy? Offer alternatives -- give the other person a “yes” in some creative way.
By telling someone you cannot do A but would be happy to do B, you present alternatives as a win for the other party.
This can be incredibly powerful as it helps cushion the blow to another person’s ego while protecting your time and priorities.
In essence, rejection therapy is largely about challenging yourself to operate outside of your comfort zone. In Jia Jiang’s own words, “everything amazing and beautiful happens [when you’re operating] outside of your comfort zone.”
He goes on to say that learning to embrace rejection is not about yes or collecting “yesses”for sport.
It’s about exploring and creating something for yourself and, ultimately, for others.
So how does rejection therapy relate to the idea of self-belief?
Remember, self-belief is all about the degree to which you think and feel your actions will achieve positive results.
The number one impediment to incorporating healthy self-belief into your everyday life is fear.
Rejection therapy reduces your fear by habituating and desensitizing you to it.
Once the constraints of fear are removed, you’re better positioned not only to improve your self-belief, but to pursue your dreams and live your life fearlessly.
Action Item: For those of you who want to start living fearlessly and do some desensitizing around your fear of rejection, Jia Jiang advises that you start small. The next time you’re in public, give a stranger a high five, dance awkwardly in a public space, ask a beautiful stranger out on a date. As you start raking in the rejections, keep a note for yourself and make a game out of it.
And most importantly, have fun!
How You Can Develop Healthy Self-Belief with these 15 Action Items
Now that you have a better understanding of what it means to have healthy self-belief, how to distinguish between healthy self-belief and inadequate or overinflated self-belief, and what science has to say on the matter, it’s time to apply what you’ve learned.
Fortunately, all the hard work has been done for you.
You can rest easy knowing that we’ve analyzed our findings and compiled our results into 15 easy-to-digest action items you can start implementing right now.
We invite you to reflect on your own level of self-belief and adopt the action items that will serve your unique needs in terms of actualizing your self-belief potential.
Without further ado, here’s your to-do list for improving your self-belief and beginning to live fearlessly.
1. Visualize Yourself as You Want to Be
According to experts, visualization for the sake of cultivating self-belief involves seeing yourself in a state that you’re proud of.
Oftentimes, when we struggle with inadequate self-belief, we have a poor perception of ourselves.
Practice visualizing a fantastic version of yourself achieving your goals.
However, science has proven that visualizing the result is not enough.
Visualize yourself putting in the work, doing what needs to be done, and then overcoming every obstacle to ultimately enjoy the rewards!
2. Affirm Yourself
As reflective beings, we have a tendency to behave in accordance with our own self-image.
Research tells us that one trick to improving your self-belief is to change how you view yourself.
Affirmations are the perfect way to do this.
Affirmations are positive and uplifting statements that we can say to ourselves.
To get our brains to accept them, we must say them out loud.
Practice affirming your sense of self.
For example, if you’re unhappy with something about your body, instead of condemning or shaming, show compassion. Stand in front of a mirror and affirm yourself, “I have the most beautiful smile,” or “I may not be where I want to be but I’m taking the right steps and will get there eventually!”
3. Step Outside of Your Comfort Zone
“You must do the thing [everyday] you think you cannot do.” - Eleanor Roosevelt
As we mentioned above, Jia Jiang has become famous for recording his experience of “busting fear” by purposefully making crazy requests of people in order to experience 100 Days of Rejection.
Whether you arrange for your own 100 Days of Rejection or not, you can do something that scares you every day and process each experience in a way that allows you to gain confidence from it.
Whatever the outcome, you will see your self-belief soar.
4. Befriend Your Inner Critic
Some of the harshest comments that we get come from ourselves, via the voice of the inner critic.
If you struggle with low self-belief, there is a possibility that your inner critic has become overactive.
Dr. Carol Dweck teaches that the inner critic rises up to protect us, but that overprotection excuses stagnation.
Don’t shut your inner critic out. Instead, befriend it and give it a name.
When your inner critic emerges from the shadows, acknowledge it, dialogue with it, and make new agreements to embrace the risk and fear together.
5. Set Yourself Up to Win
In the hit American television show American Gods, Mr. Wednesday (spoiler alert: also known as Odin) says to the main character, “rigged games are the easiest to win.”
Our experts seem to agree!
Too many people are discouraged about their abilities because they set goals that are too difficult to achieve.
One way to overcome this is to start by setting small goals that you can win easily.
Create your own version of a rigged game where you give yourself opportunities for small wins.
Once you have built a stream of successes that makes you feel good about yourself, you can then move on to pursuing more challenging goals.
6. Care for Yourself
Healthy self-belief depends on a combination of good physical health, emotional health, and social health.
It is hard to feel good about yourself if you hate your physique or constantly have low energy.
Make time for quality exercise, eating, and sleep.
In addition, dress the way you want to feel.
You’ve heard the saying “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.”
There’s a reason why those who dress the part stand a better chance of achieving their goals.
That reason is called enclothed cognition.
In a nutshell, what we wear is an implicit, non-verbal way of expressing our unique personalities and ambitions.
Science says that you can build your self-belief by making the effort to look after your own needs, including your needs for self-expression and recognition.
7. Create Personal Boundaries
One of the gifts of desensitizing yourself to the fear of rejection and improving your self-belief is learning to say no.
In order to cultivate healthy self-belief, it’s imperative to teach others to respect your personal boundaries.
If necessary, take classes, such as those offered by Dr. Aziz Gazipura’s Confidence University, on how to be more assertive so you can learn to ask for what you want.
The more control you have over your own life and outlook, the greater your momentum will be for improving your self-belief.
8. Shift to a Growth Mindset
People with low self-esteem and unhealthy self-belief see others as better or more deserving than themselves.
This perception is false.
Instead of accepting this worldview, start taking steps to change your mindset.
Come to a place where you know that others are not implicitly more or less deserving than you, and explore the idea that all of your personality traits can either be improved upon or changed entirely.
9. When All Else Fails, Create a Great List
Life is full of challenges.
There are times when it's difficult to maintain healthy self-belief.
In those moments, our experts advise you to sit down and make one list of all the things in your life that you are thankful for and another of all the things you are proud of accomplishing.
Once your lists are complete, post them on your refrigerator door, the wall by your desk, or your bathroom mirror -- somewhere where you can easily be reminded of what an amazing life you have and all the evidence you’ve amassed for your ability to succeed.
In those moments where you feel your self-belief dwindling, take a look at those lists and let yourself be inspired all over again.
10. Rid Yourself Of Negativity
Sometimes, the people closest to us can discourage us the most.
Research calls on us to evaluate our inner circle. It's important to establish healthy boundaries and even consider taking a temporary break or separating entirely from the Debbie Downers and Negative Neds in our lives.
When you are working on improving your self-belief, it's important to surround yourself with positive motivators, mentors, and those who share in your goals.
You must be mindful of your environments, how they make you feel, and who’s contributing to the synergy (or mounting frustration) you’re experiencing on a regular basis.
If you find that your relationships or environments aren’t supporting you in caring for yourself, it’s time to get creative about solutions and making change
Of course, anyone who’s tried to break off an unhealthy relationship (personal or professional), knows this can be extremely challenging. To help you out, here are some tips on dealing with negative relationships.
11. Get Things Done
As we’ve discussed, healthy self-belief is enhanced by measurable accomplishment.
If you achieve small and big goals, you're going to feel much better about yourself.
Accomplishing goals begins with your day-to-day. What do you need to accomplish today and every day this week, month, or year to help you accomplish your goal?
If you accomplish the goals you set for every day, chances are you will begin meeting weekly and monthly goals, which brings you in range of your bi-annual and annual goals, whatever those may be.
Keep in mind that progress is incremental, and big changes do not happen overnight, but the little successes can provide you with surprising energy and motivation.
12. Monitor Your Progress
The best way to reach your goals, big or small, is to break them into smaller goals and to monitor your progress.
Whether you're trying to get promoted, get a better job, get into graduate school, change careers, eat healthier, or lose 10 pounds, the best way to know if you're making progress is to monitor it.
Try to quantify your accomplishments: the number of applications you're submitting to jobs or graduate schools, what you're eating and how much you're exercising, and so on. Write down whatever your goal or goals may be.
Actively monitoring your progress will help you stay on course, and you will build healthy self-belief as you see your achievements in real time.
13. Do the Right Thing
Most people who embody healthy self-belief live by a value system and make their decisions based on that value system -- even when it's hard and uncomfortable. Living by a value system may even involve immediate self-sacrifice in the interest of the greater good.
Your actions and your decisions define your character, and living in accordance with the character you want to embody furthers self-belief.
Dr. Michael Gervais has a scientifically proven way of helping people build self-belief through his Finding Your Best course.
He recommends that you cultivate a personal philosophy.
Gervais says, “Your personal philosophy serves as a compass to align your thoughts, words, and actions. It expresses your basic beliefs and values. Your personal philosophy guides every decision you make, influences the friends you choose, the love you find, the purchases you make, jobs you inhabit, where you live in the world, the way you feel about yourself, and the possibilities you hold for yourself.”
Floundering in a high-stakes moment of uncertainty? Ask yourself what the best version of yourself -- the one you’re still aspiring to be -- would do and do it.
14. Avoid Ruminating On What Others Think
There are going to be people who will tell you you cannot accomplish your goals.
Whether it is rejection from employers, schools, or just negative feedback from friends or family, people will try to tell you your goal is too big, that you're not ready, that you can't do it, that it's never been done before, etc. Do not put your belief in them.
Even if it may seem that the odds are stacked against you, there’s evidence everywhere that individual people are changing the world in big ways every day.
Part of improving your self-belief and self-efficacy is believing that you can improve, you can achieve.
If there’s something you want to do, set your mind to it, and see where doing it takes you!
Lastly, but certainly not least…
15. Do More Of What Makes You Happy
Whatever it is that you love doing in your spare time -- whether it’s getting outside and hiking or curling up with a blanket and a mystery novel -- our experts advise you to create a space for it and do more of it.
In order to be the best version of yourself, you must enrich your life with the things that recharge and inspire you.
Want More? Additional Resources on How to Improve Your Self-Belief
50 Books on Confidence and Self-Belief
Below you’ll find an unordered list of 50 books on confidence and self-belief to add to your library.
Action Item: Did you know about 24 percent of American adults haven't read a book in the last year? Challenge yourself to read at least 12 books -- that’s one book a month -- from this list, and become one of the most well-read persons on the topic of confidence and self-belief. If you read all 50 books, you’ll become a confidence and self-belief master who understands the pivotal points of leading experts.
Are you looking for an online course experience on confidence and self-belief?
Well, look no further. Dr. Aziz, formerly known as the Confidence Expert, has invested more than 15 years of rigorous study a practitioner experience to helping students from all over the world increase their confidence so they can live fearlessly.
He says, “Confidence is a skill that anyone can learn. It’s like a math formula. If you do the steps, you will gain confidence.”
He designed Confidence University -- a proven system to help you live life on your own terms -- tailored to your specific self-belief needs.
Take the next step in your personal and professional life by enrolling in his course today.