(Haha love this image, it's from here)
I traveled down to Slough in London last week to speak at Baylis Court School for their PSHE day. It was a very busy, kind of manic day, but Mrs Nanalal (Hi Mrs Nanalal!) did a fantastic job to manage the timings, and so five 1 hour talks went smoothly, energetically, and fantastically!!! At the end of each talk I had students come up to me to give me a hug, say thank you, and to ahhhhhhhh over those glittery medals of mine. Now I'm saying this to make myself sound really awesome and great!! (or generally having a big head). I am not saying this because in the subsequent discussions with the students it came across that a lot of them had a low sense of self belief, but hearing my words on self belief and achieving success has helped them start to realise that they can go after their dreams. It is gratifying to know that my words can have this effect, that my story and illustrate that we all have potential, but I started to wonder, what exactly is it that I am saying that young people are picking up on?
So I thought about it and thought about it and thought about it some more. The particular moment that seemed to resonate was when I referred to that nasty little voice that you get in the back of your head that says "you can't do this," "that will never happen," "are you joking?" You know that voice right? I think we all get it, but when I spoke about this voice so many of the students nodded, agreeing that yes, that nasty little voice does stop them believing they can have the results that they want.
So, how did I start to chip away at the negative for them and plant a seed of positivity?
Well, self belief is essentially tied to ones self esteem - when you have good self esteem you believe that you are deserving of success and achievement and so your self belief flies sky high and the sky really is the limit in what you can accomplish.
Now having a disability a lot of people would assume that my self esteem would be pretty low, but when I proved otherwise to the students, it started to become apparent that good self esteem can be part temperament, but also heavily based on your experiences through life. I've always had a fairly positive temperament, but I also had parents who nurtured my self esteem and helped it grow into the self belief that I have now.
A lot of students said that their parents supported them, but they would be reserved and tentative when the students would profess big dreams. There was one particular girl who has a dream to be a singer, she loves singing, she breathes singing, but whilst her parents supported her in ever other endeavor, they were weary of the the singing, so she believed already that it was a pointless dream.
So I tried to change their thinking, tried to illustrate that with positive thought you can set seemingly crazy goals and actually take the first step on the journey to achieving it. In doing so I addressed what drives the negative thoughts, and it is usually your weaknesses that grow the negativity. But if you recognise your weaknesses and let them go and focus on your strengths, then you start to see that you are good at stuff and therefore those negative thoughts are really a bit silly ... really ... right?
Just say I'm right and we can move on!
So you start to focus on the positive and the negatives - whilst not disappearing immediately - start to fade into the background.
Also, start to spend more time with positive peeps! That's not to say you should ditch your negative ones, cause everyone needs love, but be aware that other people can be a huge influence on your mood and how you see yourself, so surround yourself with the positive and you'll crowd out the negative.
Perhaps most importantly though is to create a super vision of yourself, and embrace it now!! When I was thirteen, painfully shy, and easily embarrassed being the centre of attention, I envisioned myself as an all conquering Paralympic swimmer with the confidence to get out there as swim fast . . . I saw this in my mind everyday, I practiced being this everyday in training, and then I became what I envisioned.
I told all those students all of this. And now I'm telling you guys.
Because to be honest, I think we are all so full of rockin' potential that we all should believe in our super stardom!
I believe in myself, do you believe in yourself?
Let me know in the comments what you do to help you believe in yourself ...
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright