Mind

Gemma McCaw's 7 tips to believing in yourself

If you don't have high expectations for yourself, it's likely that you won't go as far as you possibly can. If this sounds like you, it's time to change your mindset.

By Gemma McCaw

Have you ever lacked belief in yourself or felt others didn't believe in you? If so, the chances are that these thoughts determined whether you were successful or not.

The 'Pygmalion' effect is a phenomenon where higher expectations can lead to an increase in performance. Studies have shown that people tend to rise to the level of others' expectations of them and it explains the concept of self-fulfilling prophecies.

So if you don't expect much from the people around you, it's likely you won't inspire them to perform to their very best capabilities. And the same goes for you – if you don't have high expectations for yourself, it's likely that you won't go as far as you possibly can.

Think positive

Positive emotions are the power behind accomplishing our goals. The emotion behind a thought is a powerful tool, so spend some time thinking about the feelings that are meaningful to you and your ambitions.

Tell other people you can do it

It is imperative that we start believing in others and have them believe they can too, with the right support. If our kids or loved ones want to achieve something, let them believe it. The key to this is being genuine and consistent.

Adopt a growth mindset

In order to not let self-limiting beliefs get the better of you, make sure you adopt a growth mindset. New skills can be learned any time in your life – you don't have a fixed skill set; your mind is always growing. If you have trouble nailing a task, remind yourself that you can't achieve it yet. The power of "yet" is important. Keep telling yourself, "I can learn anything I want to. When others succeed, I am inspired. I welcome the challenges that come my way."

Practise compassion

Compassion is much more than a feeling – it's an action and in order to be more compassionate to others, we must show kindness, be caring and have a willingness to help. You can show this verbally with a kind word, or non-verbally with a hug or by squeezing someone's hand to show that you care.

Aim high

The 'Pygmalion' effect can be an absolute game changer. The research shows we can improve motivation, work ethic and affirmation for ourselves and others if we are aware of this self-fulfilling prophecy.

Knowing that higher expectations can lead to better outcomes has a huge impact on our relationships, both at work and at home.

Set high expectations for others

Let those people you work with, lead or manage know that you have high expectations for their achievements. Higher expectations will result in better performance. It is important you communicate this, and always value their input and feedback too.

Practice mindfulness

Practising mindfulness can teach you to manage your thoughts and bring your awareness to the present moment. This way, you can see things as they actually are, not as you think they are. It can be as simple as pausing to notice your breath. The key to mindfulness is compassion – your mind will wander at times and it is important to let this happen without judgment.

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The Pygmalion effect was first confirmed in studies that looked at the relationships between teachers and students. If a teacher believed a student was gifted or smart, the teacher would act in ways that encouraged the student to live up to that assessment. If the teacher believed a student was difficult or challenged, they wouldn't receive as much support and wouldn't perform as well.

It's a great lesson for all of us – let the people around you know you expect great things from them and more often than not, you'll find they perform well. This applies to friends, lovers, spouses and family members, as well as teammates and colleagues.