Self-doubt is one of the causes of failure in people’s lives. Many people are unsure of themselves, and often need the belief of others to pull through. “Believe in yourself” is easier said than done – generally, when the rubber meets the road, people struggle with it.
You would think that money, success, or fame would stop people from doubting themselves, but this is not quite the case. Many successful people and leaders are insecure and crippled by self-doubt. My point is: there is a huge significant need for belief support. Often, we need someone to believe in us for success to happen. So, what does belief in people do for them? Here are three benefits.
It Gives Unusual Courage: I have seen this work in my coaching practice. My clients do not doubt that I strongly believe in them – I communicate it. Consequently, they get the boost to achieve phenomenal results. I have witnessed the unusual courage that people get when they are certain that someone truly believes in them – it’s magical. Self-belief is one thing, but another’s belief gives you extra strength to keep going.
In life, it is important to believe in yourself, but equally vital when someone believes in you and is willing to give you a chance. How many teams now suffer because the leader did not believe in the team members? How many children now live dysfunctional lives because their primary caregivers didn’t express belief in them? Our lives are interconnected, and self-belief alone isn’t enough. Unusual courage grows when someone (or group) truly sees you, believes in you, and is willing to bet on you.
It Restores Self-Esteem: Self-doubt means that you don’t believe you are enough in certain areas – your self-worth is under siege. Here, someone who believes in you would help you to see yourself differently, and gradually, you would move from “I am not enough” to “I am good enough”. When you believe in people, you help to heal inner wounds that made them think less of themselves. It restores and reaffirms their self-worth.
It Inspires Growth: True belief in people gives them clarity of purpose, which in turn, creates the desire for continuous growth and improvement. In this case, people become excited about the next level and take steps to achieve it. The fact that they know that you are rooting for them gives strength to move forward. Belief in people gives them the emotional anchor and stability required for sustainable success in life.
Source: The power of believing in people
Before you say anything, you need to know that I live on the top floor of my building and there’s no access to the roof,” Jack said, then gave me a “gotcha” smile, as if to test me on what I was going to say. At that point, I asked Jack what prior psychiatrists had said. He told me that they had said such things as “That sounds frustrating,” “Perhaps that’s part of your condition that I’d like to help you with” and “That may be something we can treat and make better.”
I then thought to myself, do I want to help him? Or do I want to continue to offer him a sympathetic, compassionate and yet clinical reality check, which it seemed the other psychiatrists had offered? Yet, here he was with me. I decided on the former and looked him in his challenging eyes and replied, “Jack,” to which he responded, “Yes?” I then calmly said, “I believe you.”
He paused for a moment, stopped smiling and began to cry, then sob almost like a feral cat. I thought to myself, “Great, you just unleashed a flood of paranoid delusions.” I waited patiently, believing he would eventually finish, which he did after five minutes. When he stopped, I asked him, “What was that about, Jack?” He gathered himself, and with completely bloodshot eyes and a different smile said, “It does sound frickin’ crazy!”
I then smiled in recognition of his realizing this, and we went on to have a productive psychotherapeutic relationship. What had happened? Daniel Goleman, who’s credited with identifying and explaining the importance of emotional intelligence, as well as others, identified three types or levels of empathy: cognitive, emotional and compassionate. Cognitive empathy can be described as “knowing how the other person feels and what they might be thinking.”
Having emotional empathy is “when you feel physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious.” Finally, compassionate empathy is when “we not only understand a person’s predicament and feel with them, but are spontaneously moved to help.” I believe that I exhibited validational empathy with Jack, which went beyond the other three levels by telling him that I believed him.
You may think that I was taking a chance by doing that — not to mention being dishonest if another part of me had heard Jack refute his own belief disguised as a challenge prior to my response. I thought that as well. And I’m not suggesting or advocating that any of you state untruths in an effort to connect with people who say things that you don’t believe.
Nevertheless, the fact remains that telling Jack I believed him appeared to be a level of empathy that got through to him, causing him to feel less alone in his paranoid delusion and to get a sense of relief because of that. This, in turn, enabled him to self-identify and accept that he was being delusional.
Therefore, I’ll leave it to you whether there might be occasions when you’re at a standstill with another person and any of the conventional levels of empathy — cognitive, emotional or compassionate — might not be effective. If that’s the case, could using validational empathy be an instance of the end justifying the means — of breaking through to that person?
One approach that you might be comfortable with is called mediated catharsis, by which you don’t exactly tell the person you believe what they’re saying. Instead, you align with it and exaggerate it for empathic emphasis, saying something like, “If I were you, I’d be really upset and it would make me nuts. What do you think you should do about it?” When you do that, they feel you’re not judging or disagreeing with them but instead are validating what they’re feeling — without telling them whether you believe them or not — and then moving them toward solutions.
Here’s a taste of it. If I were you, reading this article, I might be saying to myself, “Yeah, many times when I’ve tried to be empathic, it didn’t work. So, I’ve stopped trying. But I need to do something because the situation with a person is getting worse. Oh, well, maybe validating what they’re going through in the way you suggested might work.” Why not give it a try?
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