When I talk about building self-belief, I often talk about building an ‘evidence bank’ and I realised recently that having a blog post dedicated to this (how to build one, when to use it etc.) could be super helpful.
The idea of an evidence bank is to hold onto the positive things people say to you or about you, and to refer back to it when you’re struggling with self-doubt or low confidence. I want to caveat this by saying we should never look externally for validation… BUT in the beginning stages, when we’re lacking self-worth, keeping note of the positives externally can help us start to believe in ourselves, internally.
I first used the concept when I was in recovery from anorexia. I hated myself in pretty much every way possible, but I was desperate to not feel this way anymore. So I bought myself a tiny notebook and wrote on the first page “compliment book”.
Every time someone gave me a compliment, I wrote it down here – whether it was some boy telling me he thought I was “fit” (the height of romance at age 16) or my friends and family telling me how proud of me they were, it went in the book.
When my eating disorder then tried to tell me I was worthless and that no one would ever like me as I was, I referred to my compliment book.
I could read through lovely things people had said about me and very slowly, it started to sink in. After a while, I didn’t need to refer to the book – I had it in my mind.
I was building my own sense of worth and arguing with the eating disorder got easy. I could tune it out. This along with therapy and support helped me eventually say good riddance to anorexia.
Since then I’ve used different forms of my ‘compliment book’ in different areas of my life. When I first started at the job I’m in now, I labelled an email folder “feedback” and filled it with positive feedback from colleagues and managers.
Now I’m trying to build a business of my own, I take screenshots of lovely emails and messages and keep them in a photo album called ‘evidence’ on my phone. Whenever I start to doubt myself and what I’m doing, I refer to my evidence. And it helps.
So, if you think this technique might help you – here are a few steps to help you build your own evidence bank.
Think about which area of your life this could work for
You may want to start with an all round ‘positive’ evidence bank and collect everything and anything. Or perhaps you could do with one for a specific part of your life. For example, when I was younger and in recovery, a lot of my evidence bank consisted of personal comments, about me as a person and how I looked.
Now, I don’t need that. Where I need the evidence is in my business, so that’s what I focus on. So I would recommend having a think about whether or not you need a bank for a specific area or a more general one.
Consider your format
There are lots of different ways to make an evidence bank, the best way is the one that feels easiest to you and most accessible. This could be a good old notebook and pen, an email folder or a photo-album full of screenshots like mine.
You may want to get more creative with your evidence bank. Maybe you could sketch your evidence or even create a mood board tearing out images and words from magazines that make you feel the way people have made you feel with what they’ve said.
Now it’s time to build that evidence. Become more aware of when people are saying something nice to you. Try to resist the urge to bat the compliment away or deflecting with another compliment back. Take it in, hold it. Add it to the bank.
Use it when that voice of self-doubt pipes up
When I first used an evidence bank, I used it to argue with the voice of an eating disorder. Now I use one to argue with my inner critic. Use yours to argue with whatever voice you have that tells you, you can’t. Use it to argue with any voice that says you’re not good enough. Use it to fight back and build your self-belief. It’s like a muscle, the more you use it – the stronger it gets.
I would love to say that having an evidence bank is all you need to overcome self-doubt and develop confidence, but let’s face it – we all know it isn’t that easy. It’s a journey and it takes time and many different tools to build self-belief, and even then – fear still comes up.
The aim is that over time, you get to a place where you’re better at responding to the fear and stop letting it hold you back from doing what you want to do. And as someone who’s gotten to that place – I promise it’s possible.
If you think you would benefit from support on building your self-belief, do take a look at my coaching page and see if the self-worth discovery package could be right for you. We’ll have three months together, working on self-awareness, self-belief and self-care to help you build confidence, belief and worth.
If you have an evidence bank already, I’d love to hear how you use it – let me know in the comments!
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