When naysayers question your dreams, it can feel like a “me against the world” battle. As human beings, we are hardwired with a desire to fit in—to be supported by our peers—which is why a lack of it can feel like a life-or-death situation in our brains.
If you’ve experienced feeling like others don’t believe in you, you’re in good company. Many exceptional visionaries have endured criticism and rejection, and if other great dreamers and leaders have succeeded in spite of their doubters, then you can, too.
Start with these three strategies:
1. Question the story “no one believes.”
No one believes in me or my dreams. Is this really true? Can you know for certain that no one on this planet believes in you?
Sometimes the simplest way to overcome a problem is to question it—you may just realize it was never a real problem in the first place. Instead, it was a self-created belief. Broad generalizations like “no one” and “everyone” are common, but they’re rarely true.
To question the old story that “no one believes in me,” look for counter evidence: Did you ever have a teacher or mentor who took the time to help you? Maybe a friend or co-worker who supported you? Are there people you haven’t met who might rally behind you, given the opportunity to know you? Who believes in you that you’ve forgotten about?
You don’t need everyone, or even a majority of people, to believe in you. Just a few people committed to a cause is enough to create massive impact.
2. Decide and prove it to yourself.
Look in the mirror and say, I believe in you. How does it feel? If it doesn’t resonate with you or feels awkward, then the real issue might not be what others believe about you; the real issue might be what you believe about yourself.
Just telling someone to “believe in yourself” doesn’t automatically work. So how do you get someone to believe? While it can take deeper and more intensive work to let go of long-standing limiting beliefs, sometimes the solution is simple: Make a decision and back it up with evidence.
If you say to yourself, I’ve decided to believe in myself, it can have more powerful meaning than simply saying, I believe in myself, which could feel untrue. State both aloud and choose whichever one has a stronger effect for you.
The second part is where the magic happens. Become an investigator and uncover why you believe in yourself: What are your talents? What have you accomplished? When have you acted in spite of fear? Tally all the wins you’ve experienced in the past, no matter how small, and keep celebrating your victories. You’ll begin to support and reinforce your self-belief.
3. Develop the skills of influence.
Even if it were true that no one believes in you, there’s no reason that has to remain the case. People’s doubts aren’t always a reflection of you; sometimes it just means they aren’t convinced… yet. You haven’t shown them why they should believe in you.
So, how are you communicating your value to others? Are you?
One of the most powerful things you can do is take action. When the world recognizes that you believe in yourself, you prove to others, and to yourself, that you’re worthy of being supported.
While actions speak louder than words, words are still vital for convincing others. Some of the most important life skills you can learn are those of influence and persuasion, and one simple and effective way to gain the confidence of others is to share your big “why”: Why do you have the dreams you have? What is driving you? Why are you so committed to your passion?
When people feel your heart and commitment—not just through your words, but through your essence and actions, too—you can transfer the belief you have in yourself to others. It can potentially turn your most vocal doubters into your greatest supporters, and this creates a reinforcing cycle where their belief now feeds your belief.
And it all began by making a decision to believe in yourself when it felt like no one else did.