This really isn’t intended to be some artificially-uplifting post about “believing in yourself”. It’s just something that I’ve been realizing and working through that I thought I’d share.

We often think that the good or bad choices we make in life are a reflection of who we are and that if we screw up, there’s something wrong with us.

I don’t buy it.

Or at least I don’t anymore.

It’s a pretty destructive belief because every time you mess something up, it reiterates that there’s something wrong with you.

Now, I’m NOT talking about the mistakes you make in the process of learning. Those are simply part of the journey of life and I talked about those in a recent blog post.

What I’m talking about are the big mistakes we make where we fail pretty badly. Those typically come in relationships or areas where we’ve been given a lot of responsibility.

You said something to someone you shouldn’t have. You got a strip torn off you by your boss for something you should’ve known better. Someone broke up with you. You drove home drunk, now don’t have a license, and your family thinks you’re an idiot.

All of these things can be potentially devastating and you need to point the finger at why they happened.

Sadly, a lot of people point the blame at everyone but themselves. That’s not helpful and you’re not going to change if you don’t take responsibility.

But what’s also not helpful is pointing the blame squarely on you as a person. That there’s something wrong with you.

Can I give you an alternative?

When you screw something up, it’s your belief about yourself that’s broken.

People who believe they have value, worth, and are healthy make choices that reflect those beliefs. They extend those beliefs onto other people and value them in the process.

People who believe they are incompetent, losers, or, on the opposite side, better than everyone else make choices that reflect those beliefs. They extend those beliefs to others – often the opposite of what they believe about themselves.

And then they start making choices based on that.

Healthy people have an accurate view of their abilities and are confident in them. They approach projects or relationships believing that they can do it, that the people around them are on equal footing, and typically do a great job.

Unhealthy people either believe too little or too much about themselves and then place people around them above or beneath them and make a giant mess of situations. They belittle, berate or they are so insecure in situations that they grossly overcompensate for it.

That’s not helpful.

But it’s not that there’s something intrinsically wrong with unhealthy people. I believe that they, as people, are just as good as the healthy people. But what they believe about themselves is broken.

So the next time you, or someone you see, is doing a destructive behaviour, don’t label yourself or the person – label the beliefs and speak something helpful into their lives.

Every positive piece of truth you speak into someone’s life will chip away a little at the wrong beliefs they have.

Sometimes that person’s life you need to speak into is your own.

It may sound hokey, but think about how we came to believe what we believe about ourselves. It’s all marketing messages we heard and let roll around in our heads long enough that we believed them.

The way to undo it is to start a new train of thought in our heads that we can begin to believe. Words are a powerful way to do that.

If we can transform the way we think about ourselves, we transform the actions we take.

There’s an old proverb that sums it up well, “As a man (or woman) thinks in his (her) heart, so is he (she).”

True humility is having a healthy, accurate view of yourself – it’s not thinking too little or too much of you.

Let’s work towards that.

photo credit: IMG_9162 via photopin (license)