Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy. But with sound self-confidence you can succeed.” – Norman Vincent Peale

The power of self-talk

Self-motivation is probably the most important component of self-confidence. I have found that other people, or other external factors, can only motivate me for a short time. They can only take me to a certain point, which is certainly not far enough. Self-motivation generates personal energy that helps us to take action. We need to realise how important it is to motivate ourselves each day to grow in confidence. It is only up to me to motivate myself on a continuous basis to achieve my personal goals. 

If we lack motivation, we are ‘up the creek without a paddle’, so to speak, and we will never achieve what we set ourselves to achieve in life. The secret to self-motivation that can unlock all of our potential, lies in our effective use of self-talk. 

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” – Jordan Belfort 

The above quote summarises the impact of self-talk in the context of achieving our goals. The reality is that: As I think, I am. As I talk to myself, I will be. If our self-talk is not constructive, powerful and uplifting, then we are in trouble. Our self-talk then becomes a lethal time-bomb, and we start to convince ourselves of negative things – like the future is bleak or that we are not good enough to achieve our goals. Talk about self-destruction! Destroying ourselves, rather than building ourselves up to become better, more content, successful, and therefore able to contribute more to our family and to society, is, in my book, the definition of insanity.

If we ever realise that our self-talk is starting to spiral into negativity, then we need to do a quick reality check and ask ourselves if the negative thing that we are telling ourselves is the real truth or just our truth.

Our truth is our version of how things are, which is not always an accurate account of reality. Our truth is our perception, which is often a lie that we tell ourselves. Why do we do this? I can’t give you the answer, but I can tell you that each one of us requires constant, positive attention to keep us on track and sufficiently robust to face the challenges that life throws at us. We are planted on Earth for a specific reason, but without being watered, nourished and fed, we die psychologically. In the same way, without water, a planted tree will take strain and eventually die. 

“Positive self-talk is the key to any successful person. If you can change the voice in your mind, you can do anything!” – Jaanu Dhingreja 

Our present thoughts determine our future – as does our ability to successfully use self-talk to our advantage. In every single moment in life, we have a permanent mentor with us, called “Self”. Let’s mentor ourselves to think of success, to apply profitable self-talk, and to reap the rewards from achieving our personal goals.

Only your best friend can improve your self-confidence

“If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.” – Jane Travis 

I have experienced enough in my life to know that when all is said and done, you only have you. If we are not our own best friend when it comes to boosting our self-confidence by what we tell ourselves, then we have a problem – a serious problem. Building a healthy self-esteem is the foundation of successful self-leadership. Since self-motivation and self-esteem go together, we need to believe that, when necessary, we can rely on ourselves. Our success in life is made easier with the help of others, but ultimately it is us who make the decisions and commit to not giving up on our dreams and goals. 

“No amount of self-improvement can make up for any lack of self-acceptance.”  – Robert Holden 

We can’t grow our self-confidence if we don’t accept who we are, and if we can’t love ourselves. We all make mistakes and have weaknesses, but I can’t love and accept myself if I don’t accept my faults as they are now, with the view that I am working with and on myself every day to improve these areas. If we love ourselves and accept the fact that we are all works in progress, then we have created the launchpad to further improve our self-confidence.


“I am good enough.”

“Too many people overvalue what they are ‘not’ and undervalue what they ‘are’.”       – Malcolm Forbes 

For many years, before I got serious about making a success of my self-leadership story, I entertained feelings of not being good enough. I had this persistent need for recognition from others, and for them to tell me that I had done well. I can speculate about the root cause(s) of this, but I can’t really put my finger on it. That is how I felt… Period. If this resonates with you, find peace in the fact that you are not alone when you experience these toxic negative feelings – but what you do with these emotions is most important. If you don’t deal with them, they will keep on dealing with you, until they eventually start to control or rule you. Nobody should tolerate this type of feeling. We all are worthy. When we experience contaminated thoughts and feelings of inadequacy, we often think that we are unique in this regard, but we are not. This does not justify such an experience though. Only you can determine your worth and value. You are in control, you are the master of your fate, and you are the captain of your soul…

“Respect yourself and others will respect you.” – Confucius

The acid test of self-confidence

The Dalai Lama wrote that with the realisation of our own potential, and self-confidence in our ability, we can build a better world. This aligns with the way I feel. Still, I have always asked myself: “What is the acid test of having enough self-confidence? When will I know that I am confident enough in myself and in my own abilities?”

I don’t think that there is a simple answer here, but I do think that part of the answer includes: When you are comfortable to speak in front of people you don’t know; when you are no longer intimidated by what people say about you; when you can handle criticism without dwelling on it for too long; when you are willing to take calculated risks and back yourself; when you can stand up for injustice, and when people laugh at you for making a mistake and you are able to laugh at yourself even louder than they do. If you can do all of these things, you have probably reached a point where your self-confidence has become one of your biggest assets that will bring you ample returns in your life.


Written by:

Hekkie van der Westhuizen, PhD

“If you are interested in the topic of Self-Leadership, please buy my exciting new Self-Leadership book, which launched on 13 October 2021”

Author Dr. Hekkie van der Westhuizen shares practical self-leadership tips, tools and interventions in the form of stepping stones that will assist you along the journey to becoming the best possible version of yourself.


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