Tag Archives: self belief

Dealing with dread

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Image: Courtesy of: https://pixabay.com/en/users/MasimbaTinasheMadondo-1388843/

Dealing with dread

There are many times when I feel dread. Often, it emerges prior to the expectation of something unfamiliar. When there is a fear of the unknown, dealing with dread effectively can be a huge asset in life. The feeling of dread often arrives unannounced, feeling like a knot in my stomach or a feeling of fear and anxiety. Dealing with dread can help you to feel braver and approach life more than avoiding situations that you fear. ‘Approach behaviour’ leads to greater resilience and confidence.

Identify the thoughts

Invariably, a feeling of dread comes from the thoughts we have. These thoughts will be negative in nature. Thoughts such as, “I am not going to cope” or “I won’t enjoy myself” will lead to feelings of dread.

Change the story

Once you have identified the thoughts, get in the habit of challenging them. Thoughts aren’t facts – you can choose to tell yourself a different story. Instead of thinking, “I am not going to cope”, you could choose to think, “I will find a way to manage whatever comes my way. I have managed something similar to this in the past”. This will automatically life the feeling of dread.

What we think determines our quality of life. Choose your thoughts wisely.

Cultivate optimism

It serves no purpose to worry unnecessarily about the future. Wherever possible, assume a position of positive expectancy and you find this difficult to do, at least try to be as neutral and objective as possible about the future. People often assume that worrying about the future will keep them safe but this is a fallacy. All worry does is keep your ‘mental torture’ going.

Create goals

Instead of unnecessary worrying, create SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Goals create a structure to work towards and inject purpose into our lives. Goals can help to alleviate dread as they help us maintain direction in life. A clear sense of where we are going and what we would like to achieve can effectively limit dread in our daily lives.

Believe in yourself

Self belief can neutralise dread. When we have faith in our ability to cope, we feel more capable. Believe that you can overcome difficulties in life. You will surely have had to deal with challenges in the past. Use these past triumphs to strengthen your belief in yourself. Talk to yourself positively and remind yourself of your strengths regularly.

Life is more about perception than about the actual events we experience. We can reframe things and change the story in our minds and make anything in life seem less scary. It takes practise but it’s well worth it.

Mandy X


How to increase self belief


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How to increase self belief

If you want to know how to increase self belief – listen up. This may be the most important information you’ll ever read. I have accomplished so much more in my life by working on my self belief. It’s a constant effort and I have to work on it daily but the results are worth it. Here are my top tips on how to become your own number one fan:

Understand that if you don’t believe in yourself, very few other people will. When you give off confidence and self acceptance, others don’t tend to question this. In fact, they will be more drawn to you. Confident people make others feel safe and they act as magnets socially. People like confidence. They won’t question your right to be so confident – they will just see someone who really seems to like themselves and that’s immensely attractive.

There are many things in life that can decrease our self belief and that is why it is a repetitive effort to keep the self belief alive. Social media, like Facebook and Instagram don’t help self belief at all. The more we think we are missing out and don’t have much as others, the more unhappy we become and the less self belief we have. Beware the perils of spending too much time on social media. If you do – remember that a lot of what you see is exaggerated and isn’t reality. Others put on a ‘show’ but real life is seldom as glamorous as they’d like you to believe.

Practise gratitude

Instead of focusing on what you don’t have, make sure you look at what is good in your life. There are always things to be grateful for but the way the world is structured leads us to constantly compare. Making comparisons inevitably leads to a sense of deprivation and feelings of inadequacy. Stop doing it! Be appreciative of what you do have and what works well for you. Focus on this regularly and if necessary – make a list that you can read regularly of all the things you love and appreciate in yourself and your life.

Validate yourself

We all like external validation. When others tell us we look great or that we have done a good job, it’s very satisfying. The trick is to NEVER rely on this external validation as a way to increase self belief. Make sure that you give yourself validation. Regularly talk to yourself in a positive and empowering manner. Tell yourself that you are wonderful and amazing. Focus often on all your fantastic characteristics – are you funny, kind, patient? Remind yourself of all your good qualities. Clients often (mistakenly) tell me that they think this is arrogance. Arrogance is thinking you are better than others. Confidence is liking and accepting yourself and making the best of you.

Maximise strengths, minimise weaknesses

No one is perfect and we can’t be good at everything. Get to know yourself well and know what you are good at. Work to increase your strengths and use them in your life. There is not point in doing something that exposes all your weaknesses and none of your strengths. Play to your strengths and remind yourself of all the good things you have achieved in your life. What have your successes been?

Positive attitude to failure

Never see yourself as a failure. Perhaps something you have done didn’t work out but always separate actions from yourself as a person – they are two different things. Define failure – to me, failure is completely giving up. Someone who tries and fails one hundred times is not a failure – they are a learner of life.

Keep the faith

There have been seriously dark times for me when I have felt rejected and feel I have failed at life. Times of extreme loneliness when I felt that I was worthless. This is normal and you can’t possibly feel 100% confident all of the time. What you need to do though during the dark times of self doubt is sit tight and keep the faith. Remind yourself that you are still the same amazing person and although you don’t quite feel connected to that confident part of you – it’s still there.

Life will move on and your light will shine again. Never stop believing in yourself even when you feel the world has. Remember that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Choose your thoughts carefully and be kind to yourself.

Practise self compassion

Always always be kind to yourself. That means – no critical self talk. Be caring towards yourself as you would someone you loved dearly. Imagine yourself as that cute little 5 year old child – how would you talk to your 5 year old self? You would cuddle them and tell them things will improve. You would encourage them and tell them they are brilliant.

Create goals

Make sure you have some goals, something to work towards. When we have goals in place it creates structure and purpose in our lives and helps boost us psychologically. Put together a list of goals for yourself that are:

Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Measurable and time bound (SMART goals)

When you have self belief you are far more likely to be successful. Your thinking will spur you on. Research has proven time and time again that when we are positive and focus on our strengths and nurture our self belief, we get more done. Believing is half the battle!

Mandy X




You CAN do it


you can do it


You CAN do it

Self doubt plagues us all and it can keep us from achieving great things. It whittles away our opportunities and removes our courage. Thing is – if you BELIEVE that you can do something, you have already won half the battle. Too many of us live fearful lives and don’t take up the challenge.

I have been in a 6 year legal battle with my son’s father to get him to pay his fair share of child maintenance. To his credit, he has always paid something but it was a fraction of what he should have been contributing. I knew this and decided to fight.

There were dark times and days when money was so tight that I worried that my son and I would end up homeless but I can happily say that last week I won an important court battle. The judges agreed with me completely and my ex has been ordered to pay the maximum amount possible in terms of child maintenance.

This means he will owe quite a lot in arrears and I can finally start to breathe a little easier. There were many times when I felt like giving up, when I felt let down by the justice system and seethed with anger at what my ex was doing. Somehow though, the need to fairness kept me going and it has paid off. I also wanted to do this for my son.

I want to say to all of you out there who are reading this and who feel lost and dejected – you CAN do it. One good thing about change is that it is constant – if you feel down in the dumps, it will pass.Keep the faith and never give up on yourself and the fight for what is right.

Mandy X

Protect your self belief


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Protect your self belief

  • No negative self talk
  • Remember no one is perfect
  • Don’t put others on a pedestal, no one is better than you
  • Your opinions and ideas count – express them
  • Be assertive, not passive or aggressive. Being assertive means honouring yourself
  • Never put yourself down especially in front of others
  • Maintain clear boundaries and don’t let anyone treat you with disrespect
  • Everyone deserves a second chance but after two wrongs – they’re out.
  • Play to your strengths and don’t be shy to talk about what you’re good at. Self confidence doesn’t mean you think you are better than others, it just means you are proud of yourself
  • Limit time with toxic people. Find time for those that inspire you

Mandy X


How to keep hope alive


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How to keep hope alive

  1. Dismiss ‘catastrophising’ thoughts

Thinking about the worst possible scenario is the quickest way to feel distressed. When we feel insecure or unsure, our thoughts can often work against us. We begin to think the worst will happen and become irrational in our appraisal of reality. Catastrophising is unhelpful and not based in reality so learn to let these thoughts go. Don’t focus on them, acknowledge their presence but see them merely as thoughts passing through – not facts nor real predictions.

2. Focus on what is possible

Remind yourself of your strengths and how you have handled tricky or challenging situations in the past. Empower yourself by focusing on how resourceful you have been and look for areas in your life where you can take control and make a difference. Know the difference between what you can and can’t control. Focusing on what you can’t control can lend to losing hope.

3. Nurture your self belief/self identity

When life seems unsure or unstable, it helps to feel you can count on yourself. Work on establishing a strong sense of identity and self acceptance. The stronger your core is, the more resilient you will be when life throws you a curve ball. Try using positive affirmations such as “I will deal with whatever comes my way” or “everything is unfolding as it’s meant to”. Read these statements often. Self belief can be the buffer that helps you to cope with extra stress in life.

Trust yourself, like yourself and believe that you have the resources within in you to deal with rejection, failure, insecurity and so on.

4. Think like an optimist

Life is bound to seem hopeless if you think like a pessimist and focus on everything that is wrong. Avoid the news now and then if you find your thinking is becoming too pessimistic.

Make an effort to do fun things that lift your spirits ans spend time with people that are positive and inspire you.

5. Take action

The more you do, the luckier you get. Not all things you try will be successful but even when the outcome isn’t what you wanted, you will learn that you cope better then you thought you would. Taking action galvanizes us to think differently and challenge our thinking. Too much time without action leads to too much thinking. Too much thinking can lead to pessimistic thinking – sometimes you just have to ‘bite the bullet’ and get on with it. It’s all about balance.

Never lose hope. It is the one attitude that can get us through tough times. Believe that you deserve good things and that life can be filled with many highs, not just lows.

Mandy X

The power of belief


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The power of belief

  1. 1.
    an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.
    “his belief in extraterrestrial life
  2. 2.
    trust, faith, or confidence in (someone or something).
    “a belief in democratic politics”
    If you fully understood the power of belief, you would do your best to never believe another negative thought about yourself or your capabilities. Often, what we believe to be true or to be possible for ourselves becomes our reality. If we don’t believe something is possible for us, we tend to dismiss any opportunities that might presents themselves that contradict our limiting belief system. For example, if we don’t believe that we are attractive enough, we may ignore any opportunities to go out on a date with someone we perceive to be ‘out of our league’. We tell ourselves statements in line with our limited beliefs. We aren’t good enough, we would be rejected or we would just look foolish. The result is that the belief grows stronger because we don’t test out whether what we believe is reasonable and realistic. Of course, there are a few other factors that influence outcomes such as fearful thinking and so on, but our beliefs form the foundation of what can be possible for us in this life. This is the power of belief.
    Research has shown repeatedly that our beliefs affect everything from our financial status to our health. Did you know that if you see stress as a positive experience (see it as your body being ready to take on a challenge rather than something that is toxic for your body), you a less likely to be affected by the negative effects of stress? (Watch the TED talk by Kelly McGonigal on “How to make stress your friend”).
    Here is another example of the power of belief: There was a story of a man wrongly diagnosed with cancer. He ended up dying and when they performed an autopsy, the coroner found that he had no cancer at all. In fact he had been wrongly diagnosed and never ever had cancer but because he believed he had cancer, he died early. This story is anecdotal but it does not surprise me in the least.
    Beliefs set the stage for what you feel you can accomplish and thanks to the psychological phenomenon of “confirmation bias”, we tend to only notice those things that are in line with our beliefs.
    Do your best to believe the best about yourself. Tell yourself how amazing you are. This is not be confused with thinking you are better than others.
    I regularly ask my clients to name 10 things they really like about themselves. Most clients tend to struggle with this exercise. Some manage to come up with 2 or 3 ideas but then start to squirm in their chair and look uncomfortable. They usually mutter something about how it’s not right to be arrogant. Self love and acceptance are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT to arrogance. If you aren’t your number one fan, who will be?
    So, believe that good things are possible for you. See yourself in the best possible light with regular positive self talk. Sure we all mess up and make mistakes but instead of saying “I’m such an idiot and I never get it right”…how about something more along these lines…”I am human and make mistakes like everyone else”.
    It’s time to take a long hard look at what you believe. Beliefs can be adapted and adjusted. The unconscious mind accepts your beliefs as true. There is no ‘internal truth judge’ double guessing and verifying the beliefs you feed yourself. Think of your beliefs as a mental diet. Positive beliefs are like the vegetables and fruit and negative beliefs are like the typical unhealthy calorific junk food.
    I know which mental diet I’m choosing…
    Mandy X

It’s your life


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It’s your life

We all care far too much about what other people think of us. I would like to think that after all my years of training and working as a mental health professional that I would be a lot better at following my own inner wisdom. I do however still catch myself worrying about what other people think. It seems that it is an inevitable part of life but it is not something that we cannot challenge and learn to minimise in our lives. When I catch myself altering my behaviour and not doing what I want to do because of what others might think, it leads to self-doubt and indecisiveness. I also see it in my clients-many of whom experience incredible stress and anxiety due to the forceful opinions of family and friends.

What tends to happen is that we feel judged, and family members especially, who know us well, tend to be especially effective at belittling us and making us feel “less than”. Family members can be adept at knowing our insecurities and playing upon these fears.

The trick to counteracting the judgements of others is to learn how to care less and to build a strong inner core for yourself. This entails possessing a strong identity, having clear goals and purpose and above all accepting yourself for who you are. The more we believe in ourselves and like ourselves the less likely we are to be persuaded by others. Humans are social creatures and it is normal and natural to seek advice and support from other people. It is when the influence of other people diminishes us that it is unhealthy. Learn to identify when this is happening-figure out who the toxic people are in your life. Often when we have been in the company of toxic people, we come away feeling exhausted, confused and drained.

Here are some tips on feeling stronger within yourself. This can help you to live a life more in line with your own values and priorities-remember that it’s your life. You are the one that has to live it every day, you know yourself better than anybody else does (even if they pretend to know you better than you know yourself) and you owe it to yourself to live the life that you want, not the life that others want for you.

1) Look at the source

Whenever you’re criticised or judged by someone else, make sure that you study the person making the comments. Are they perfect? Do they have their lives completely together? Are they happy? In all likelihood you will find that they are just as flawed as the rest of us. One thing that they will probably be very good at is judging others as well as foisting their opinions on others. Critical people often use deflection or projection as a way to focus attention away from themselves. Some people believe that attack is the best form of defence.

One of my favourite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. Remember this quote it will come in handy.

2) Trust your instincts

we all have in the wisdom and sadly as we become adults this powerful in a resource becomes diluted. This is due to social conditioning, the pressure to conform, the pressure to please and needs to feel loved and accepted by others. We are taught as children to change our behaviour in order to be socially acceptable. Part of this process involves knocking down our inner desires and replacing them with ones that others deem more acceptable. This process knocks our confidence and promotes low self-esteem, lack of self belief and a load of self-doubt. Part of developing yourself as a strong and connected human involves reconnecting with your essential self. Your essential self is the person that you were naturally meant to become. Your social self is the adult that you grow to become that fits in and plays by the rules. Naturally we all have to abide by certain rules of the world would be chaos at this process can damage the delicate ones amongst us who begin to lose their own sense of identity. Make a list of the things that you enjoyed doing as child, the things that you are good at and are still good at. Notice your natural inclinations-do you enjoy company would you prefer being alone? Do you value money, people, peace and quiet…? Reconnecting with your true self is an integral part of building your confidence. This will lead you to feeling stronger about where you are going and what you want to do with your life even in the face of critical family members and friends.

3) Nurture your self belief

Remember that no one has all the answers. Your ideas and opinions about the board are just as valid as anyone else’s. Focus on all the times in your life that you have surprised yourself in a positive way. I was not very good at maths at school and came to believe that I was just useless when it came to numbers. Then in my early years of working I had to attend an airline fares course with the mathematical equations were incredibly complex. I had no one to help me as I was staying in a hotel away from home and decided that it was completely up to me to pass this course I spent every night in the hotel reading and going back over the day’s work. At the end of the course, I ended up with one of the highest scores in class. I was absolutely amazed. All that time I had spent with the self-limiting belief that I was useless at maths was not entirely correct. Self belief is a dynamic concept as it cannot always be at 100%. But we can constantly work at challenging our negative thoughts about ourselves. Who says that your way isn’t the right way? Where is it written that you are doing things wrong? Then to live your life with conviction and even if you make mistakes along the way, at least you are trying and hopefully learning from your mistakes.

4) Stop being a people pleaser

We all have it in us to want to please others. When that need to please others comes before our own self-worth it is unhealthy. It is the facts that you will never be able to please everybody so you may as well start learning to please yourself. There will always be two groups out there, no matter what you do. There will be those that support you and those that disagree with you. Accept it and get on with your life. The more you try to please others the more you send yourself a message that you are not worthy on some levels. That message can be different for each of us. Learn to identify why you want to please someone else. Are you doing it for the sheer joy of it are you doing its two-game validation or approval? Doing it for the sheer joy healthy, doing it for approval can lead you into problems.

5) Create goals and have purpose in life

When we have an idea of where we’re going and what we want in life, especially when those goals are as specific as possible (SMART goals) it can help us stay on course in the face of criticism and disapproval. When we have set goals for ourselves on meaningful and in line with our values, we have a sense of purpose to carry us through even when the going gets tough.

No one has the right to tell you how to live your life and you need to regularly remind yourself that you often know what is best for you. Have faith in your ideas and beliefs. Be assertive in the face of criticism. Being passive (your needs are more important than mine), as in not responding at all to toxic people will eat away at your self-esteem. Being aggressive (my needs are more important than yours) will cause unnecessary stress and conflict in your life. Get the balance right by adopting a “win-win” attitude. This approach looks at how both parties can get their needs met. Sometimes however, when toxicity levels are high, the best way forward is to limit your time with these people or possibly avoid them altogether.

No one wants to look back on their life and feel it was wasted. Use your time well by being true to yourself. Know where you want to be and who you are. It is good to get advice and to connect with others-we all need this must be wary of the toxic ones around you have their own agenda. Take your power back and own your life.

Mandy X


Where’s my magic wand?


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Where’s my magic wand?

Working as a counsellor can be tough. You are constantly reminded of the negatives in life because you are often listening to how people are struggling through and the challenges they face. It often makes me wish I had a magic wand and that I could just fix everything! Of course, I can’t and so I have to settle for teaching clients the necessary skills to be less stressed and to deal with their unhelpful thoughts and behaviours instead.

I’ve learned that we all have our issues to deal with and no one escapes from life’s challenges. How you navigate them depends on how you perceive what is happening to you. Do you believe that it’s the end of the world and that life is over as you know it or do you tell yourself that somehow, some way you will find a way around things. You may be down but you’re not out…

The next best thing to a magic wand is a big dollop of self belief. Believe that you can overcome adversity and you are more likely to succeed than if you see yourself as a weak failure.

Sometimes, when we don’t believe in ourselves enough, we seek reassurance and we second guess our decisions – this all leads to a lack of confidence. Be self reliant at times and believe in your own ability to find a  way through. Sometimes quietude brings formidable strength.

Believe that you have your own magic wand that you can bring out when you need to. That you can work your spells and your magic to turn a bad situation into something better, or at least into something more bearable…

I have seen how many clients lack this self belief but it is amazing how many of them have this amazing inner wisdom that they just don’t use often enough. The less they use it the less they trust themselves and then well meaning friends and relatives (who often only know parts of the story) begin to give well meaning advice which often sends clients off in the wrong direction.

Only you know yourself and often you are the best one to assess the situation – trust yourself more and keep that magic wand handy for the serious troubles. You really have more capability than you give yourself credit for…

Mandy X