Why you lack self-belief

It’s unlikely that there is one answer to this question about why you lack self-belief. Doing some exploration work on yourself will lead you to a number of what I call FIBs – fears, illusions and baggage – that could be part of the answer. But let’s take a look at one meaty bit of baggage that definitely squashes your self-belief – let’s explore the limiting effect of hanging on to old labels.

I love this quote –

Labels are for canned peaches, not for people. Danielle Krysa

Believing that being yourself won’t limit you is not as easy as it sounds. Every barrier to owning that belief has to be forensically explored — and ‘labelling’ is one of these barriers.

Let’s take a brief look at the uninvited and self-stuck labels and how we can spot the limiting effects — so we are motivated to rip them off!

The labels we are given by others

How many times did you get labelled as you were growing up?

I am not saying your parents, friends and teachers were being deliberately unhelpful — they were just being human.

You will have used labeling to make a quick explanation of someone. You still do. You are human.

For example:

  • She’s the arty one
  • He’s the sporty one
  • She’s always been a trier
  • He is the genius of the class
  • An extrovert through and through
  • A shy soul
  • You don’t want to cross her!
  • You will struggle to beat him!

Some are more subtle than others — but you get the gist.

We all do it. Grouping people with labels makes things easier to manage in a confusing world.

The problem with labelling people?

Personality is not a fixed thing.?

You have heard the nature v nurture debate.

Professor Brian Little argues that you are born with a ‘biogentic self’ — you have personality traits from the moment you are conceived.

But — you can adopt ‘free traits’. This is when you ‘act out of character’.

Someone with the ‘introvert’ label/biogenetic self, might be motivated to be more extrovert in order to pursue something that matters to them.

Susan Cain warns that this free trait strategy can be ‘effective when used judiciously’ but ‘disastrous if overdone.’

But think beyond the nature v nurture and free- trait stuff — and look at the limiting nature of fixed labels.

Throughout history there have been attempts to measure personality.

Personality tests are not the answer to the question ‘who am I?’

Working on self-belief

Have you have ever taken a personality profile test thingy?

Maybe it was the ‘Myers-Briggs’ one?

This personality profile tool was conceived in the 1920s and was designed to bring the work of Carl Yung to the masses. It has since ‘taken on a life of its own’.

Is it helpful to label yourself for life based on those letters or colours that have been magically revealed to you?


You risk being sucked into the illusion of your fixed personality and run the risk of limiting your comfort-zone-stretchers and growth-enhancing-curiosity.

You accept the label and without consciously realising it — you think and act accordingly.

But it is not just others who stick those labels on you — you do it to yourself.

Labels you stick on yourself

You don’t need others to label you when you are so skilled at doing it to yourself!


“I have never been any good at public speaking”.

“I am useless at sales.”

“I am not a business-y type.”

You might be saying — ‘but it is true!’

But every time you send that message to your brain and the world — you embed it and make it hard work to change it — or even question it.

Maybe you just haven’t explored ways of public speaking, selling or being in business — ways that feel aligned to you.

Exploring is at the core of these 3 label-removing, self-belief growing actions

3 steps to increase your self-belief

  1. Reverse engineer. The stuff that frustrates you about yourself — what is going on? Unpack — and detect the influence of old labels.
  2. Question your definitions. ‘Business-y’ or ‘Sales-y’ — who says? Are you blindly going along with out-dated definitions? Are you taking on definitions given to you by society or ‘guru’s — and ignoring your own values?
  3. Put some new labels on! They don’t have to stay on — but give them a go. Get curious and step out of your comfort-zone. Learn!

We started with a can of peaches – so let’s end with a quote from the wonderful Alice in Wonderland – to remind you of the daftness of hanging onto imposed or self-imposed labels! We evolve!

“I knew who I was this morning, but I’ve changed a few times since then.” Lewis Carroll

I have a YouTube Channel with videos on this topic and other communication and confidence tips and I post regularly on LinkedIn.