Know your strengths. We are all good at something, and it feels good to have victories! To boost up your confidence, participate in activities or projects where the odds of success are fairly high. Overtime you will feel ready to take on increasingly challenging projects.
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 Dr. Jessica Turner.
Dr. Jessica Turner is a board certified psychiatrist working in private practice. She completed her mental health training at Brown University where she gained expertise in treating depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions. Dr. Turner has a special interest in working with women and addressing their unique experiences.
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?
I grew up in the South, where I was an only child for 11 years. Later, my family grew and I now have 6 brothers!
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
As teen parents, my parents had every obstacle in front of them, and yet they persevered and set a great example for me. I was fortunate to grow up in a home where the idea of “hard work pays off” was fully embraced. Both of my parents put themselves through college, though it took many years to graduate due to needing to balance school, work and childcare. Their work ethic taught me to set goals and go for them! I always knew that I wanted to be a doctor, and I started working towards this goal at a young age. I am now a practicing physician in the field of psychiatry.
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?
Growing up, I was always more of an academic, but I thought joining a school athletic team would be a fun way to become more involved outside of the classroom. I was never a star athlete, and when I arrived to the try outs, I quickly realized that I was in over my head. The other girls were beyond experienced and prepared! Needless to say, I did NOT make the team. Though disappointed, I learned a valuable lesson about the importance of preparation. I later researched the skills needed to be successful, and I spent the next year practicing. The following year I made the team! Going forward I made sure to always fully prepare for my endeavors.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I’ve been practicing in the field of mental health for years; however I recently started my own private practice. I am so excited to continue working with people to better their lives.
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?
I’ve seen both personally and professionally that people who are afraid of taking risks, often don’t achieve their goals. You must believe in yourself, and give yourself a chance to achieve your dreams.
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?
A lot of believing in yourself comes down to self-confidence. You have to truly believe that you are capable of succeeding, but also be comfortable with the idea of failing. Failing is not always a bad thing. Not only is failing humbling, but it’s an opportunity for growth. My advice is that if you have a passion, you should certainly go for it! However, you want to also be cognizant of maximizing your own strengths and knowing your own realistic outcomes. Not everyone can win the gold medal so to speak. If your philosophy is doing something simply for the joy of doing it, you are unlikely to fail.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
In order to become a doctor, you have to first take a difficult entrance exam over the computer to gain acceptance to medical school. Though I worked hard to prepare for my test, the electricity unexpectedly went out while I was still using the computer! The power was restored about an hour later, but I let this disruption shake my confidence and did not perform as well as I had hoped. I experienced self doubt, but ultimately had to remind myself that sometimes things just happen. You have to be able to deal with what comes your way. I prepared for the exam again, and the next time I was not only academically ready, but mentally ready as well.
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?
Setting a goal and figuring out the steps needed to achieve your goal is only half the battle. You have to actually DO the steps; and that requires a little faith in yourself at times. As a mental health professional, I see people get stuck in this area all of the time. People are afraid to make changes, and are even more afraid to fail. In my practice, I’ve worked with people who would really like to change, but at first it can seem easier simply to stay the course. It takes a lot of work to break out of this habit.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Know your strengths. We are all good at something, and it feels good to have victories! To boost up your confidence, participate in activities or projects where the odds of success are fairly high. Overtime you will feel ready to take on increasingly challenging projects.
2 . Take chances and try new things. The more that you put yourself outside of your comfort zone, the more opportunity you have for success. Success often creates a domino effect for building self esteem. After one good thing happens, you are more likely to believe that another good thing is just around the corner.
3 . Prioritize your health. Feeling mentally and physically well will help you in facing life’s obstacles.
4 . Keep a list of accomplishments. When we are plagued with self doubt, we may tend to overlook or minimize our accomplishments. Document your accomplishments daily, no matter how small. Whenever you are experiencing self doubt, look at your journal for inspiration.
5 . Know when to ask for help. We all struggle sometimes, that’s part of the human experience. Lean on family and friends for support when you are feeling discouraged. If you are truly feeling stuck, you may consider reaching out to a mental health professional.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
I recommend people try and use an internal fact checker to question the validity of their negative self criticisms. When a negative thought pops into your head, ask yourself, “Where is the evidence that this thought is actually true?”. It’s also important to remember that thoughts are not facts. Just because you FEEL inadequate, does not mean you are.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
You can be confident, yet humble at the same time.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
I see this so often in my practice. I recommend if feeling like an imposter or a fraud, that you remember the internal fact checker that I mentioned earlier. Your expertise and your experience make you qualified in your field. No one is expecting you to know everything. If there’s something you don’t know, it’s simply an opportunity to learn more.
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.
I hope someday we might live in a world where mental health is not stigmatized. We are making progress, but still have a long way to go. Mental health plays a crucial aspect in the way we understand our world.
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 🙂
I would love to meet Barbara Corcoran. She overcame so many obstacles to become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country. She’s an example of hard work paying off.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow my blog at my website: www.jessicaturnermd.com
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.