Watching my son this year, I have witnessed the magic that happens when you want to believe something badly enough. It made me think about conversations I have with people. There are a lot people who lack belief in themselves and their abilities. People that feel that they have little or no confidence, to do the things that they want to be doing with their lives. So what does believing in Father Christmas or the tooth fairy, have to do with confidence and self belief? It is all about our perception of the world and our experiences.
Believe from your heart
I was worried that this might be the year that my son began to question Father Christmas. In a lot of life he is astute, inquisitive and logical. He sees through a lot of things (I remember at 3.5 years, him telling me the relatively believable Dinosaur at the Dinosaur Park wasn't real, it was a man dressed as a Dinosaur), so I feared we might have lost that beautiful childhood time. However, when it comes to the tooth fairy, Father Christmas and the family elf, he believes it all. Why? How?
He is not looking for any alternative explanations. He is leaving behind the logical part of his thinking. He is thinking, seeing and experiencing the magic through his heart. He really wants to believe it. That is what he is experiencing. When asking, whether the Father Christmas's at the different grotto's are real, he accepts the explanation that some of them are special elves, sent by Father Christmas to help him out. He doesn't argue it.
Are you a believer or a doubter?
'It was a fluke', 'It won't work for me', 'Nothing ever goes right for me', 'I wish I could do...', 'I'm not good enough', 'I dread doing that...', 'I can't speak in front of people'
Are any of these sounding familiar for you? I can guarantee that if we were in a room of people and asked this question and people answered truthfully, there would be lots of nods around the room. I am sure there are people in your social and work environments, that have self-doubting thoughts, and they are likely to be the people that you least suspect.
A lot of people find it easier to give the reasons why something won't work or why they can't do things, than to give the reasons why they can achieve the things they desire. Our thinking head can be our worst enemy, and loves to give us lots of self-doubting statements to float around our heads.
Why does the magic die?
Confidence is a complex issue, that is affected by lots of different things. Every person I speak with has a different experience of confidence and how they build it up and equally knock it down. How you perceive and make sense of the world is at the heart of it. Your perception influences the internal dialog you have with yourself.
Perception is a really key aspect. This is where you have a choice. You might be at a place where you believe that you don't have a choice, but there is always a choice. It is really easy to have developed a default setting of perceiving things through negative, self-doubting glasses. It becomes a habit. You remember the stuff that didn't go to plan, or that is just another example of why you can't do anything. Your internal chatter then adds these to the 'you suck' or 'you see' playlist that it plays you on repeat.
The great news is that you can choose to change this. It won't always be a quick fix, but with practice, and the desire to change, you can reset your default setting to a 'believer' mindset. In the same way, that children really want to believe in the tooth fairy, or Father Christmas etc and they see everything through that focus - the little things that happen are unequivocally accepted as having happened as a result of the magic. They do not allow the alternative 'aah but' thoughts to get any attention. This is why, when someone slips up in front of the children, they don't notice or accept the tentative explanation offered up. There desire and belief are not allowing them to see the slips. They choose to believe.
Ways to keep the magic alive for you
I would be lying if I said that I never have moments when I doubt myself and have a wobble. But, what I have are a number of strategies to enable me to challenge the doubter in me, with the believer in me.
Here are a few of my favourites that help to reset from a negative, self-doubting view point to a more balanced, positive view:
- Affirmations - positive, specific statements that will help challenge the negative, doubting, internal chatter.
- Gratitude practice - focusing on and appreciating the things that you are grateful for.
- Happy jar - a jar to put little notes in to remember the things that have made you happy, that you are celebrating.
- Sharing your wins - taking regular time to acknowledge the things that you have succeeded at.
A little note about the gratitude practice, happy jar, sharing your wins. These do not have to be big Wow moments. They can be regular, everyday occurrences.
You can choose whether you want to focus on the things that make you believe in yourself and your confidence, or whether you want to continue to focus on the negative things. Which do you want most?