It has become a bit of a phrase of the century: ‘Believe in yourself.’ The phrase will be familiar to anyone interested in self-help, coaching or popular psychology. It’s worth looking in a little bit of depth at what those three words might usefully mean.
When we believe in something or someone, we give them an essential value. It is not only that we acknowledge their existence, but that we respect their worth. To believe in yourself is to respect your own value. A key aspect of depression is difficulty in feeling one’s own value, especially if we have been criticised by others.
TRUST YOU CAN ACHIEVE
When we believe in something or someone, we also have faith that they can complete tasks. Every time I switch the kettle or the toaster on, I am showing faith in their ability to make me hot water or toast. To believe in yourself is to trust yourself to complete tasks. Another aspect of depression is difficulty believing one can complete tasks, especially if we have suffered a sense of failure in the past.
RESPECT YOUR OWN SOCIAL AGENCY
When we believe in our ‘self’, we are understanding that we exist positively in the social world. To understand this is to give ourselves ‘human rights’, to realise that we are allowed our own choices, character, privacy and activities. Yet another aspect of depression can be a sense that we have no right to exist socially. This can result from a socially difficult past, from our own character, or from a chemical imbalance.
EXPRESS LIFE YOUR WAY
When we believe in ourselves, we are able to use words, gestures, actions, art and all sorts of communications to express life in our own unique way. We aren’t just trying to fit into other people’s rules. A further aspect of depression is tiredness at having to play by other people’s rules all the time. This can be through fear, or through lack of motivation.
Just for today, try to live by the following four phrases of encouragement:
- I have an essential value as a person
- I trust that I will complete some good tasks today
- I have a right to make my own choices, to show my own character, to have my own privacy when I need it, and to select my own activities
- I will not be afraid to communicate life in my own unique way
Even if we have a past which didn’t encourage us, we can start to encourage ourselves today.