Pick 5 affirmations and say them to yourself each morning to reinforce the beliefs each day. Then choose another set of 5 the next week. Or you can even just keep building an ongoing list and read them to yourself each morning. This practice starts the day in a way where you can feel more confident and empowered.
Starting something new is scary. Learning to believe in yourself can be a critical precursor to starting a new initiative. Why is it so important to learn to believe in yourself? How can someone work on gaining these skills? In this interview series, we are talking to business leaders, authors, writers, coaches, medical professionals, teachers, to share empowering insights about “How To Learn To Believe In Yourself.” As a part of this series we had the pleasure of interviewing Beth Gulotta.
Beth Gulotta is the owner and founder of NYC Therapeutic Wellness. She’s a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in the state of New York and practices in the heart of New York City. Beth received her Master of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Manhattan College and completed extensive training in an outpatient setting where she treated individuals facing a range of social, emotional, and behavioral issues. After working in two private practices, she opened her own, based on the idea of building a partnership between counselor and client.
Beth developed a passion for helping others through the therapeutic process after her own path of self-reflection and self-connection. After years of the listening to the “I should” and “I have to” messaging, she ended up pursuing finance and found herself living in a cubicle. It took a journey of exploration, complete with trial and error, for her to eventually pause and reflect on the “I want to” message, which led her to her calling. Beth works to help others change their inner dialogue and unveil the path that brings true fulfillment, whether it’s personally or professionally, or both.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Yes, of course! I grew up in Westchester County NY, am one of three children, and have an identical twin sister. We went to a very small school. My sister and I shared all the same friends and interests, we played on all the same sports teams and were in all the same classes. We were rarely referred to by our first names; instead, we were called the “Rye Neck (our school) twins.” I did not realize it at the time, but my own identity was lost in the identity of being a twin. And it was not until college when my sister transferred out to another school that I got to explore what my individual identity was.
I was a complete tomboy and played every sport under the sun! I love all the life lessons I learned from sports and being part of a team. My main sport was soccer, which I played year-round. I was recruited by many colleges to play but, at that point, I felt very burnt out by soccer and chose to play field hockey instead. Sharing this now, I realize that was the start of me leaning into my intuition by making a choice to carve a path based on what I wanted, not what was expected of me.
After college, I moved to Europe for a year. When I returned home, I worked in finance because that is “just what you did.” I realized quickly this was not for me and that started my journey to explore exactly what was meant for me. After three master degrees, many jobs, and long days and late nights working, I finally figured out my passion and my path. I sat in my first Mental Health Counseling class, and it hit me: “this is it!”
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
After I moved home from Europe, I got an entry level job in finance. Picture cubicles and blandness. It was a typical 9–5 and I felt robotic and trapped. I remember vividly being in the kitchen area on our floor and an older colleague repeatedly telling me, “Get out before it’s too late, before you have a family and responsibilities, and you are stuck.” That stayed with me. I knew I was not happy there and it was not for me, but I had NO clue what I wanted to do. Another thing that really weighed heavily on me was that I had only 2 weeks of vacation. Essentially 10 days out of the entire year (minus weekends) to do what I actually wanted to do, how I wanted to spend my time. I could not stomach that. But again, I had no idea what I would be happy doing. So, through doing, trying, learning, and failing, I began to learn what I didn’t want to do, which was a step toward figuring out what I did want to do. In the end, what inspired me to pursue my career was the desire to build a life where I could have more choice, one where freedom, flexibility, time off were plentiful. I was recognizing how I wanted to live my life, but it would take some time to figure out what that life would look like. But I knew prioritizing the how was an important part of getting there.
Also, and I did not connect this until recently, but my dad modeled entrepreneurship and being your own boss and making your own schedule by owning his own practice as a CPA.
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I am HUGE believer that mistakes are the biggest teachers. We are often so afraid to fail that we do not try the very things that will teach us, that will give us more information about ourselves and about what we want. I am not sure I would classify anything as a mistake because I have always learned something from every experience. I certainly had failures and dead ends. For example, shortly after I achieved a master’s degree in PR and Corporate Communications from NYU, I decided that career path was not for me! I have never done anything with that degree, not one hour of work or even one interview for a job in PR. What I learned is to keep trying, keep leaping, keep taking risks until you feel it! Until you have that moment that tells you in your core, “this is it!” I am constantly encouraging my clients to just try something, to explore it. Because even if it doesn’t work out, you are going to gain something, you are going to discover another piece of information to guide and inform the next step.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I just wrapped on a podcast called “Quiet the Clock” that I filmed and recorded. It has been a passion of mine for quite some time and I just pulled the trigger and did it! Born out of my own experience, as well as the stories of many of my clients and friends, it is about women navigating their thirties when they have not hit certain expected milestones (partnership and motherhood), who are now managing the pressures (external and internal) of all the “shoulds” and what the “right” path is. It is about women exploring the option of freezing their eggs or those who are already going through the process of freezing to preserve the option for motherhood later on. My hope is it will help women not feel so alone and isolated on a path that looks different than they thought it would. That it empowers women to celebrate their own journeys and not compare themselves to others or feel weighed down by others’ expectations of them or where they should be in life.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the core focus of our interview. This will be intuitive to you but it will be helpful to spell this out directly. Can you help explain a few reasons why it is so important to believe in yourself? Can you share a story or give some examples?
If you let fear lead, you will often find yourself on a path that is not fulfilling. It may feel safe and comfortable, but it will likely not be thrilling, exciting, or oozing passion. The saying is true, “Life begins on the other side of fear.” It is important to believe in yourself so you can face this fear head on. It is important to trust and know that you can navigate uncertainty and that you are resilient enough to withstand obstacles, because there will be obstacles. Fear, judgement, and self-doubt can be paralyzing emotions. They will leave you feeling stuck if you have not developed a strong trust in yourself and faith in your abilities to move through them. Confidence allows you to show up as your truest self, grounded in your values and your own self-worth. From this place, you can take on fear, you can take on risks that will allow you to build a life that you really love. And confidence allows you to get clear on who you want around you to share that life with. Without truly believing in yourself, you are vulnerable to allowing fear, judgement and self-doubt inform your decisions or lack thereof. For me, when I started my private practice, I had no clue what I was doing or what the steps were to set up a business or how to be a business owner. What I did know was that I am a damn good therapist, and I can figure things out. My trust and belief in myself to work through challenging things, things I had no clue about, is why I am where I am today. Without it, it is very likely I would still be working for someone else and playing it safe. Confidence gives you clarity. Clarity on who you are, what you stand for, what you want, and who you want around you.
What exactly does it mean to believe in yourself? Can I believe that I can be a great artist even though I’m not very talented? Can I believe I can be a gold medal Olympic even if I’m not athletic? Can you please explain what you mean?
Believing in yourself is having a strong and realistic sense of self. It means knowing your strengths and your limitations. It means being honest about who you are, being rooted in your values and living by those standards, having an unwavering sense of self uninfluenced by external pressures or need for external validation. Believing in yourself means knowing yourself! Getting clear on your identity, your values, what and who you enjoy. The things that you stand for, the abilities you have. Believing in yourself means trusting and having faith in yourself and what you are capable of doing or withstanding. Part of knowing yourself is being honest about your limitations and accepting those limitations without judgement or shame. If you are not a great artist, then it would be harmful to believe that you are. You may only be disappointed when that is not validated. You can believe in your creativity as a piece of who you are, and your desire to create can make you a great artist for yourself. Being aligned and true to who you are and what you value without creating a false sense of self is a genuine way to believe in yourself.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
I think we are all vulnerable to moments of self-doubt or imposter syndrome, and when those feelings come up, we can shy away from or avoid opportunities that we may really thrive in. When doing the podcast, I was so nervous and anxious! I was interviewing someone who is very successful and who I respect very much (I respect everyone that was on the podcast), but at the start of the interview, nerves held me back from bringing all of my expertise to the table and being relaxed in my truest self. Once we got rolling, my nerves settled and it was great, but if I had fully succumbed to those feelings, it might not have been a great interview. If there are moments that I do not feel like myself, I do not show up my most authentic confident self, and that does not allow people to see exactly who I am. I might not speak up as much or I don’t put my hand up or throw my hat in the ring for an opportunity. So, I try to be really aware of when this might creep in and ground myself in who I know I am and how much I believe in myself and my ability to add value or show up in a way that I am proud of.
**At what point did you realize that in order to get to the next level, it would be necessary to build up your belief in yourself? Can you share the story with us?
This is an interesting question! I have always believed in my ability to work hard, to put effort, time, and dedication into the things that were important to me. The experiences I had as a lifelong athlete built a lot of my character and desire to succeed. But filming the podcast required me to truly get grounded in my belief in myself because I was really out of my depth, and it was an entirely new situation for me. In these moments, you can really be vulnerable to imposter syndrome. I had to remind myself that I know what I am talking about and that I have value to add. Once I was able to talk through some of the doubts and get back in a space where I felt confident in myself, I was able to move through the anxiety and enjoy the experience.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Value work. Get clear on your values, what you stand for and believe in, and what you want to live by. Often, we doubt ourselves more when we are disconnecting or misaligned with our values. You can literally google a list of values and then select the ones that resonate with you, identify why, and create an idea of what it looks like to live by them daily.
2 . Honey Jar. My old supervisor told me this one and I love it. It’s a practice where you bring awareness to your successes and acknowledge things you do well, big or small. Write them down and put them in your honey jar.
3 . Therapy! Or some tool that can help you stay accountable to self-reflection. We often do not see ourselves clearly or have a hyper-critical voice that speaks to us consistently. Having a non-biased third party help you get an honest lens on yourself is extremely helpful. A therapist can help you identify and dismantle limiting beliefs and self-doubt so you can start to build a firm belief in yourself.
4 . Positive affirmation practice. Pick 5 affirmations and say them to yourself each morning to reinforce the beliefs each day. Then choose another set of 5 the next week. Or you can even just keep building an ongoing list and read them to yourself each morning. This practice starts the day in a way where you can feel more confident and empowered.
5 . Surround yourself with other people who believe in you! We all have hard moments or waiver in our belief in ourselves. It’s nice to have people around you that can remind you what a badass you are.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
Awareness is key. We must tune into ourselves and our messaging so we can then reframe and rewire. Sometimes we do not even notice how we talk to ourselves. I often stop clients in session to point out a negative or critical comment they made about themselves. They did not even realize what they just said! Our emotions, thoughts, and behaviors all inform each other, so we must get tuned in to what we are saying to ourselves because it will impact how we feel and how we act. So, first, awareness. There are many resources or thought logs one can use to help with this and track what you are saying to yourself, how you feel, and how you behave. Once you have awareness, then you can process things like: Whose voice is this? How was this narrative formed? What informs this thought? Is this thought true? Then you reframe and reinforce so that you rewire to more supportive, less critical thoughts.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Often people have a hard time defining the line between confidence and cocky. And I have had quite a few clients who confuse the two or the line is quite blurred. Because of this, they have been afraid to get too close to cocky (egotistical) that they stay far away from building self-confidence. Self-confidence does not look like you are an ego maniac.
**What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Explore why you are feeling that way and what is coming up for you that is causing you to feel like an imposter. Move beyond sitting in the feeling and start to unpack what is causing these feelings and thoughts in the first place. People often get stuck in the emotion and cannot move through to process the why part of it. If you are able to explore what is making you feel that way, ask yourself: Is this true? Is what I am saying to myself based in reality? What proof do I have that I am not capable or qualified in this moment? Then, from there, identify all the validating experiences that confirm you are in fact qualified. Imposter syndrome is typically rooted in irrational thinking you have to bring awareness to the thoughts and then reality to test them.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
That all adults (specifically parents or people considering parenting) have access to therapy to unlearn maladaptive patterns and to break cycles of generational trauma so we can all start raising better future generations. The future for our children is a bit frightening right now.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Jason and Brittney Aldean!
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Website is www.nyctherapeuticwellness.com
Instagram (business) and personal
Stayed tuned and look out for the Quiet the Clock podcast coming out the end of April!
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.