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On Self-Belief and Other Related Constructs

Business Power Concept. Strong Businessman

As the term implies, self-belief is a person’s faith or complete trust and confidence  in their  abilities and skills and value  as a human being. Consider it as a combination of self-confidence and self-worth.

Self-belief is an essential component in a person’s pursuit of success and happiness. If you don’t have it, don’t expect to achieve anything  for without self-belief a person will never succeed in any kind of endeavor. But too much of it is not good either. An exaggerated opinion of one’s own qualities and abilities is called self-conceit. The Greeks refer to it as hubris.

Self-belief is a concept not difficult to comprehend  yet not too many really know how having or not having it would affect their lives in general. Some may have chosen to disregard it not fully understanding the possible negative consequences for neglecting it.

If you won’t trust in your own abilities and skills… if you won’t believe that you are valuable, no else would.  If you want others to believe in you, you have to convince them first that you believe in yourself. And even if nobody believes in you but yourself, you are in a strong position in life.

The issue is not what other people say and think about what you can and can’t do and achieve but rather whether or not you believe in your own capabilities and worth as a person. The disbelief of people around you won’t move the needle of your success. It is your self-belief that would. People not believing in you won’t kill your dreams and ambitions, your self-doubt would. 

Self-doubt is by no means just a simple problem. It is a very serious one. A person is in serious trouble when they doubt themselves and when they think they are worthless. The failure of people to develop self-belief stems from them not understanding the nature of self-doubt. In a separate essay – “Self-doubt: The Unknown Sin” –  I discussed the said concept  extensively.

Self-belief   should serve as the starting point of all self-improvement activities.  Any personal growth and development program should start with the elimination  of self-doubt. Imagine self-doubt as old wineskins and all the attitudes, beliefs, and skills you need for self-improvement, altogether, like new wine. You should not pour the new wine to the old wineskins. The Lord Jesus Christ warned –  “And no one pours new wine into old wineskins, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins (Mark 2:22).”

There are several constructs that are construed to be the same or somewhat related to self-belief, namely self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-image. These concepts have been explored extensively and a vast body of literature has been created for each of them.  There are numerous articles available explaining how similar and different are they from each other. But if you examine the bottom lines of the said constructs, all of them  lead to the notion that people need to develop their faith or complete trust and confidence  in their abilities and skills and also to  value  themselves as human beings.

The primary objective of all activities recommended by experts  for the improvement of  self-concept, self-esteem , self-efficacy , and self-image is the development or strengthening of self-belief. If all ideas related to these constructs are to be synthesized into one single idea, very likely that that the term self-belief would be used.

This article does not intend to deal with specific details about these concepts but only their definitions  to see how they relate to self-belief.

Let’s take a look at self-concept first. As explained by McLeod (2008), self-concept is a general  term used to refer to “how people think about, evaluate, or perceive themselves. To be aware of oneself is to have a concept of oneself.”  Additionally, “self-concept is an overarching idea we have about who we are—physically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and in terms of any other aspects that make up who we are (Neill, 2005).”

Your self-concept is a collection of  your beliefs about yourself.To be aware of what beliefs you hold about yourself is instrumental in the development of self-belief. Your self-concept would help you identify what negative perceptions you hold about yourself. Self-belief doesn’t mean ignoring or sweeping under the rag what you consider as your weaknesses  but rather accepting them. But accept them only if after serious introspection you will find them to be true. What comes next after that is you exerting   conscious  efforts to address them. Self-concept enables you to identify what are your problems and deficiencies which need correction. The process of self-improvement includes not just finding and developing your strengths but also identifying your negative attributes and getting rid of them.

What about self-esteem? This concept refers to the extent to which we like, accept or approves of ourselves, or how much we value ourselves (McLeod, 2008).”  Harter (1986) added that “self-esteem is the evaluative and affective dimension of the self-concept, and is considered as equivalent to self-regard, self-estimation, and self-worth.”

Think of self-esteem as a self-appraisal that leads to an honest valuation of yourself. The more positive is your self-appraisal (or the stronger your self-belief is) the higher is your self-esteem.

A low self-esteem – a person’s failure to value themselves as a human being – leads to a variety of problems that can affect a person’s personal and professional pursuits, health, and relationships.

If we go back to the definition of self-belief at the beginning of this article, we can say that half of this construct is self-concept and the other half is self-esteem.  

Next is self-efficacy. Bandura (1994) defines  the term as people’s belief about their capabilities to produce designated  levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. Self-efficacy beliefs determine how people feel, think, motivate themselves, and behave.

The foregoing definition shows the thin line that separates self-belief from self-efficacy. That thin line may not even exist. 

“People with a strong sense of self-efficacy,”  as Bandura explained, “develop a deeper interest in the activities in which they participate, form a stronger sense of commitment to their interests and activities, recover quickly from setbacks and disappointments, and view challenging problems as tasks to be mastered.”

These exactly are what people with a strong self-belief (are and) do – they know what particular skills and capabilities they have, nurture and use them as leverage to achieve success;  they are not afraid to fail and when they do they bounce back; and they face and conquer challenges and difficulties.

Seemingly, self-belief is just another word for self-efficacy.

Now, let’s take a look at self-image. The Meriam-Webster English Dictionary defines the said construct  “as the way you think about yourself and your abilities or appearance.” That, too, is almost exactly how we define self-belief.

According to Dr. Maltz (1993), “Whether we realize it or not, each of us carries a mental blueprint or picture of ourselves. It may be vague  and ill-defined  to our conscious gaze. In fact , it may not be consciously recognizable at all. But it is there, complete down to the last detail. This self-image is our own  conception of the ‘sort of  person I am.’ It has been  built up from our own beliefs about ourselves. But most of these beliefs have been formed from our own past experiences, our successes and our failures, and the way  people have reacted to us.”

Bob Proctor once said that when you stand in front of a mirror you see a reflection of the physical you. But that’s not the real you. You also have a picture of yourself in your mind. That, according to him, is what Dr. Maltz postulated – that people have two images of themselves, the one that’s coming back from the mirror and the other one is their inner image.

The kind of inner image, that self-image  you hold constitute your self-belief. If you have a poor self-image, it  means you don’t have faith in your skills and capabilities and that you have a low self-worth.

 There are a plenty to learn form the literature and studies conducted on self-concept, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-image. Anybody serious in developing a strong self-belief should take a look at them. What I presented in this article about the constructs aforementioned barely scratched the surfaces of each of them.

Let me end with a quote from Alexander Dumas:

“A man who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.”

References:

Bandura, A. (1994). Self-efficacy. In V. S. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopedia of human behavior (Vol. 4, pp. 71-81). New York: Academic Press. (Reprinted in H. Friedman [Ed.], Encyclopedia of mental health. San Diego: Academic Press, 1998).

McLeod, S. A. (2008). Self concept. Simply Psychology. https://www.simplypsychology.org/ self-concept.html

Neill, J. (2005). Definitions of various self constructs: Self-esteem, self-efficacy, self-confidence & self-concept. Wilderdom. Retrieved from http://www.wilderdom.com/self/

Harter, S. (1986). Processes underlying the construction, maintenance and enhancement of the self-concept in children. In Suls, J. and Greenwald, A.G. (eds), Psychological Perspectives on the Self. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, vol. 3, pp. 137–181

Maltz, M. (1993). Psycho-Cybernatics. New York: Prentice Hall Press.

Cultivating A Positive Mindset

Mindset refers to the general attitudes of people and the way they think about things. It is what informs whatever decisions they make (or don’t make). It controls what they say and do. Their mindset is also the lens they use when evaluating the issues and events happening around them.

Mindset affects the way a person looks at things and issues. Let me share an experience as an illustration.

I once had a conversation with a colleague about salaries and working conditions. He bewailed the fact that a truck driver in his country earns more than what he is earning in a year as an expat teacher. After listening to his litany, I told him to pause for a while and dig deeper into his comparison and consider other factors like the number of required work hours and the physical demands for the job. When computing the number of hours, I reminded him that we as teachers are not actually working during winter and summer breaks but we get paid in full by the university as stipulated in our contracts. That’s a total of four months when we practically do almost nothing related to work but get paid. On the other hand, that truck driver needs to grind it out winter, spring, summer, and fall to earn every single penny he is earning.

He realized at the end that his pay per hour is actually higher than the truck driver and his working conditions are much better.

A positive mindset allows a person to have a broad perspective enabling them to see the bigger picture. That’s what my colleague failed to see – the bigger picture. Big-picture thinking is one of the components of what Dr. John Maxwell referred  to as “good thinking.” Dr. Maxwell explained that successful people reached the pinnacle of success because they cultivated “big-picture thinking.” We can choose to do the same.

Factors related to family, school, and environment are considered determinants of the kind of mindset that people possess. How such elements affect them as they grow older could be gleaned from the way they behave, think, and talk.

Mindset could be affected by the culture people have grown into and it could either be positive or negative. Studies done on mindset have established a strong correlation between mindset and achievement and happiness. Needless to say that people with a positive mindset are more successful and live a stress-free life. They have either a flourishing business or a rewarding career (or both) and their personal lives are amazing.

A positive mindset can be cultivated if anyone wants to. But it’s easier said than done. It would take a very strong commitment and determination for it to happen. It will entail hard work. The rewards people with a positive mindset are reaping are not being handed to them in a silver platter. Those are the fruits of the seeds of hard work they have sown.

Dr. Carol S. Dweck, a Stanford psychologist, made a comprehensive study of mindset. Dr. Dweck coined the words “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.” She explained that “In a fixed mindset students [people] believe that their abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. In a growth mindset, students [people] understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”

We need to make a choice between having a “fixed mindset” or a “growth mindset.”

Learning is a lifelong process. We should never stop acquiring the knowledge, skills, attitude, and values we need.

We never cease to be students. But which kind of student are we – the one with a fixed mindset or with a growth mindset?”


As explained by Dr. Dweck, because people with a “fixed mindset” believe that intelligence and other human traits are static,  they avoid challenges, give up easily, and see the exertion of extra efforts as fruitless and futile. Conversely, people with a “growth mindset” are convinced that human intelligence and other traits can be developed which would lead them to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, and see effort as the path to mastery. People with a “fixed mindset” ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others while those with a “growth mindset” learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others.


It’s time to evaluate which of the two mindsets you possess. Whether you change it or not is a decision only you can make.

I have been trying to cultivate a positive mindset. It is an ongoing process and I am happy with the results. How I wish I have started doing this when I was younger.

My journey to changing my mindset for the better was  not easy. It made me completely overhaul my way of thinking that was programmed by the environment I have grown into and the kind of education and experiences I had. It is equivalent to getting out of my comfort zone because I have to change the habits and routines that I got accustomed to. But it’s worth a try.

On Personal Growth & Development: A Collection of Essays

Per Dev

I gathered in this part of my website the essays I have written about personal growth and development.  I want to share the lessons and insights I learned from motivational speakers whose books (and videos on YouTube) have given me the blueprint on how best I could restructure my way of thinking so I could make better decisions in the different areas of my life.

I have been experiencing amazing changes in my life that I started regretting why didn’t I  dig into these personal development stuffs when I was younger. I have heard a lot about “positive thinking” and related  ideas before but I did not pay attention. But as the saying goes, “better late than never.”

I came to realize that “positive thinking” is but the first step in a person’s journey to a better self and a better life. It’s not the be-all-end-all of personal growth and development. But it all begins in setting a positive mindset. Positive actions should follow. People are in a better position to succeed when  they break free from limiting beliefs and debilitating attitudes.

My goal in writing these essays and have them put together in this corner of my website is to help promote awareness on personal growth and development. I am not (yet) an expert in this field. I just want to share the little things I have learned so far and to say that I am so happy with the results I am getting.

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Defining Happiness

Do NOT Expect

On Positive Thinking

Self-doubt: The 8th Deadly Sins

On Perspective

On Personal Accountability

Beyond Positive Thinking

Cultivating a Positive Mindset

Dissecting Positive Thinking

On Success

The Blame List

Where Has Positive Thinking Brought Me?

Our Fate And Destiny

On Self-Improvement

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