Redefine success. Is something only a success if it turns out well or is it a success simply by accepting the opportunity to try? Gaining a more flexible and open perspective on success can allow you to see more of your potential and increase belief in yourself.
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 Jordan Brown.
Jordan Brown is a licensed therapist and coach. In therapy, she specializes in helping young adult women navigate anxiety and self-worth, and in coaching, she focuses her work on helping millennial women overcome people pleasing. Both populations she works with often struggle with believing in themselves, and Jordan is passionate about helping them see their potential and believe in their worth.
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 with my mom in a suburban area just outside of Milwaukee, WI. I have fond memories of my childhood with time spent with my grandparents and other family members, hanging out with my friends, playing sports, and, in my early years, enjoying rides on my Little Tikes motorcycle in the driveway (now, I ride a real motorcycle!).
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
Throughout high school, I was sure that I wanted to pursue physical therapy as a career, and I started college in the doctoral physical therapy program. After a year in that program, I knew it wasn’t the right fit for me. My mom helped me recognize that psychology was the only class that I had really enjoyed until that point, and that prompted me to shift to studying psychology instead.
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?
Honestly, I can’t recall direct memories of mistakes made early in my career (although I’m sure there were many). The funniest mistake I made when first learning to ride a motorcycle was to have very little practice before I went to take my motorcycle license test. Prior to taking the test, the only experience I had resulted in me whiskey throttling the bike straight into the ground. Needless to say, I was highly unprepared when I arrived to take that license test. It was a little more discouraging than funny at the time, but soon, it became funny because what made me think that I could take a motorcycle license test after one, not so great, ride. So, I rescheduled my test and got a lot of practice before taking it again. I was a little nervous to go back to the same school where the instructors saw me struggle so much the first time, but I came back with much greater belief in my ability to ride. I learned that it’s okay to “fail,” to feel embarrassed, and to try again.
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 finished writing a book actually. I’ve always enjoyed writing, so I thought maybe I would write a book at some point, but I thought it might be a few years from now. The opportunity to write this book presented itself, and I’m so glad to have accepted it. Imposter syndrome showed up at times throughout the process, as it can with a new opportunity, and I did my own internal work to believe in my ability to write the book. I think sharing this experience can help people see that others struggle with believing in themselves at times too, I think we all do, but there are ways to work through that and it doesn’t need to stop you from opportunities, growth, achievements, and living to your potential.
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?
Believing in yourself is important because it allows you to create goals and stay focused and productive as you work towards achieving them. With belief in yourself, you’ll be more likely to set goals, because you don’t see yourself as a failure, and to grow as you work on those goals. When you doubt yourself, you’re more likely to turn down opportunities and stay within your comfort zone, which can “stunt” your growth in personal and professional ways. Because of this impact on goals and growth, not believing in yourself can also lead to feeling stagnant, which can contribute to feelings of stress, depression, and anxiety.
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 means that you believe you can do something and trust in your abilities. I believe that someone can believe they are a great artist even if they’re not especially talented because, although the final result may not be great in everyone’s eyes, they believe in their ability to create the art. In my opinion, believing in yourself is not directly related to the outcome. A positive outcome can certainly increase your belief in yourself, but truly believing in yourself comes from within and is about having faith in your capabilities regardless of the outcome.
Was there a time when you did not believe in yourself? How did this impact your choices?
When I first started working with therapy clients, I felt more unsure of myself and my abilities as a therapist. This is completely normal in a new position, and it’s very common among new therapists, but it affected my work nonetheless. Looking back now, I can see how I made different choices then because I lacked confidence in my therapy skills. For example, I might have had insights that may have been really helpful for a client to hear, but I would hold those insights back at times due to the doubts that come with being a new, less experienced therapist. I’d have thoughts like they (my client) won’t think that’s helpful anyways or I’m probably wrong about this. With growth and more confidence, I embrace being “off the mark” and share that with clients. I’ll prompt an insight with something like “I could be wrong about this” or “Let me know what you think about this,” and clients appreciate that transparency and openness.
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?
I realized I needed to build my belief in myself most significantly when I was offered the opportunity to write the book. I had to work through numerous stages of doubt to make the decision to write it. First, I questioned whether they really wanted me to write it, but then I had to ask myself why wouldn’t they want me. Then I wondered if I had the skills to write it. With that, I had to remind myself that writing has been a strength of mine and that I have so much more knowledge on the topic of the book than I was giving myself credit for. If I hadn’t built up my belief in myself, I may have turned down the chance to write the book, and I’m so glad that I accepted it instead.
What are your top 5 strategies that will help someone learn to believe in themselves? Please share a story or example for each.
1 . Practice positive self-talk. Making sure your thoughts are healthy and supportive of yourself will help you improve your belief in yourself. It can be as simple as changing thoughts from “I can’t” to “I can.” You may not believe the reframed, positive thoughts at first, so it’s important to stay consistent in challenging your negative self-talk.
2 . Be mindful of who you surround yourself with. When you are surrounded with others who believe in themselves and or help build you up, that can make a significant difference in how much you believe in yourself.
3 . Remember your strengths. We all have them, but for many people, it’s easier to see strengths in others and not in themselves. Try making a list of your strengths in your phone or a journal and look back at it often.
4 . Practice self-compassion. Acknowledging that most people have trouble believing in themselves at some point or another can be helpful. It can help you feel less alone and give you hope that not believing in yourself doesn’t have to be permanent, but rather a temporary state that you can find your way through.
5 . Redefine success. Is something only a success if it turns out well or is it a success simply by accepting the opportunity to try? Gaining a more flexible and open perspective on success can allow you to see more of your potential and increase belief in yourself.
Conversely, how can one stop the negative stream of self-criticism that often accompanies us as we try to grow?
You might use positive self-talk, positive affirmations, thought reframing, and or self-compassion to combat self-criticism. It might also help to remember that growth can be uncomfortable and challenging. The self-criticism you’re experiencing might be trying to keep you in your comfort zone to avoid feeling the discomfort of growth, but remember that you can face that discomfort and work through it to get to the other side.
Are there any misconceptions about self-confidence and believing in oneself that you would like to dispel?
Self-confidence and believing in yourself are things that you can work on and also things that you’ll continue needing to work on. They are not constant states of being, so even people who appear confident don’t feel confident all the time. When their confidence wavers, as everyone’s does, they need to continue using skills and techniques to help them increase their confidence and belief in themselves. On the other side, for people who lack confidence more often than not, they have the potential to build the skills of self-confidence and believing in themselves.
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling with imposter syndrome?
Use self-compassion and facts. Acknowledge that imposter syndrome is a common experience. There’s nothing wrong with you for feeling it, and it doesn’t mean that you don’t have the skills and ability you need. Once you acknowledge and validate your feelings, try to focus on the evidence that you do have the skills needed for the job, project, etc.
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 am a huge advocate for self-compassion, and I would love to inspire a self-compassion movement so that more and more people learn to be kind to themselves and enjoy all of the benefits that come with living a self-compassionate life.
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 🙂
Adam Sandler. I’ve heard stories of others meeting him and he sounds like a great person. Hilarious and humble.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Facebook: @therapywithjordan / @jordanbrowncoaching
Instagram: @humor.and.mentalhealth / @jordanbrowncoaching
Thank you for these really excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.