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You Are Better Than You Think You Are

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You should trust him. After all, he's Superman.

"Gohan, let it go... It is not a sin to fight for the right cause. There are those who words alone will not reach. Cell is such a being. I know how you feel, Gohan. You are gentle. You do not like to hurt. I know because I too have learnt these feelings. But it is because you cherish life that you must protect it... Please, drop your restraints. Protect the life I loved. You have the strength, my scanners sensed it. Just... [smiles] let it go."
Android 16, his last words, Dragon Ball Z

Sometimes a character (usually the protagonist) feels like he is worthless, and does not belong somewhere they value and is fit only to be a villain, no matter how much the idea frightens him.

Eventually, their friends or mentors learn what is troubling him and comfort him saying something along the lines of, "Don't be so hard on yourself. You are better than you think you are, and we are going to prove it."

When that challenger proves it with irrefutable evidence, the hero ends up feeling much better with the knowledge that someone he deeply respects believes in him more than he did himself.

The Power of Friendship and Power of Trust may come into play. Sometimes, though, you'll need a Magic Feather or maybe a Motivational Lie to pull it off. A character may come to this realization after facing a situation that tests What You Are in the Dark.

Similarly, a Naïve Newcomer and Cowardly Lion may have a sager character explain that fear is not proof that they are cowards; only the Fearless Fool really feels no fear. This trope may be used as a form of Interrupted Suicide.

For the opposite, see Heel Realization or Then Let Me Be Evil, though these alternatives may be reversed by helping the victim over their guilt to facilitate a Heel–Face Turn. When a character has to be constantly reminded of this, they usually suffer from Heroic Self-Deprecation. Compare You Are Not Alone, Life-Saving Encouragement, Rousing Speech.

See Don't Say Such Stupid Things! for a rougher version, and for the inverse, see "The Reason You Suck" Speech (which is usually directed at a Small Name, Big Ego). This is also a sort-of inversion of the Declaration of Personal Independence, in which the character assures others that they are strong. May overlap with Reformation Acknowledgement.

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  • In this Dove ad, a forensic sketch artist for the FBI asks a series of women to describe themselves while he sketches them. Then, with the women never having seen the sketch, they leave and the sketch artist asks another person to describe the same woman. Both sketches are placed side by side and put on display. Cue images of the women looking amazed at how much more attractive the second sketch makes them look. Tagline: "You are more beautiful than you think."

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who:
    • "The Chimes at Midnight" rests its climax on one of these. The villain of the piece is a sentient time loop generated from the suicide of Edith Thompson, a scullery maid who served the Doctor's companion, Charley. Edith had a very poor life of being told she was "nothing and no one" by her employers and considered Charley her only friend, so when Charley died in an airship crash, Edith killed herself - only the Doctor saved Charley from said crash, creating the paradox. Charley manages to vanquish the villain by convincing the time-locked Edith that she is important and will be remembered, preventing the suicide from ever happening.
    • The Master, of all characters, gets such a moment in "The Good Master", where he encounters the so-called Heart of Arcking, a powerful telephatic creature. The Heart reads his mind, and tells him that — in spite of himself — there is still some good buried deep within in him. This being the Master, who prides himself on being a Card-Carrying Evil Overlord, the idea triggers a minor existential crisis in him, and he denies it verhemently.

    Comic Books 
  • Brightest Day: Dove tells Boston Brand (the now alive Deadman) this after he deflects her questions about his past life with claims that he wasn't anyone special.
  • This is what Buzzard tells The Goon in the issue Buzzard first appears:
    Buzzard: You are better than you think you are.
  • I Kill Giants has the central message that "We're stronger than we think".
  • The Mighty Thor
    • Journey into Mystery (Gillen) has the following exchange between Thor and the mostly-innocent, mostly-amnesiac child incarnation of Loki that came into existence after the old Loki's death during Siege:
    Thor: You are not as wicked as they think.
    Loki: I'd have to try terribly hard to be that terrible.
    • During the time when Thor was unworthy of his hammer after Nick Fury whispered a secret to him, Beta Ray Bill was the first person he shared that secret with; "Gorr was right", referring to the belief of Gorr the God Butcher that all gods were unworthy of worship and would always fail the mortals. Despite this, Bill encouraged Thor to consider that he was better than the other gods as he kept fighting for what was right even without his hammer, suggesting that his friend define himself as Thor rather than as a god.
  • Justice Society of America did a scene similar to the one from All-Star Superman. When the Superman from Kingdom Come ends up in the main DCU, he tries to leave the Justice Society's headquarters. The Society believes Superman is trying to escape, even throwing off Starman's gravity powers, when in reality he can hear a suicidal teenager about to kill herself. He's not able to stop the girl from jumping off the building, but he does catch her in his arms and tells her it does no good to give up.
  • This from the Mega Man (Archie Comics) comics, in a shoutout to The Megas:
    Dr. Light: I made you in my image. I built your heart and gave you eyes. I gave you power and a sense of justice beyond any compare... I gave you hands, a child's face... Heh... Robot hair. But this burden, the burning in your heart, I did not put there.
  • The Powerpuff Girls #20, "Bow Jest" (DC run) has Blossom's psyche and confidence shattered when she loses her hair bow. Mojo steals it, thinking it possesses some type of power if losing it can turn Blossom into a sobbing mess. Suddenly, Bubbles (of all people) clocks Mojo, slams the bow back on Blossom's head, and dresses her down:
    Bubbles: It's just a stupid bow! You're still a Powerpuff Girl whether you have it or not!
  • Marvel has an unusual example in the Red Skull's origin story. Depending on your point of view, the trope is either played totally straight or very darkly subverted. As a young man, before he joined the Nazis, the Skull was a miserable loner who had failed at everything he tried and felt completely worthless, to the point of considering suicide. But then he met Hitler, who saw in him a "man of worth" and persuaded him that the new Germany he was building needed men like him. It was the great turning point in his life.
  • Saga manages to pull it off in one word:
    Sophie: I am all dirty on the inside because I did bad things with...
    Lying Cat: LYING
    (Sophie hugs Lying Cat)
  • Spider-Man:
    • Here's an interesting take on it: After Doctor Octopus severely injured the Black Cat, Spider-Man gives the villain the beating of his life. Doc Ock loses his confidence as a result, becoming a cowardly shell of his former self, unable to fight, with a bad case of arachnophobia. Eventually, Octopus tries to kill his foe indirectly, sabotaging a nuclear reactor — which would kill everyone in New York, unfortunately. But after his out-of-control tentacles let him defeat the hero — by accident — Spidey convinces him to shut the reactor down so that there'd be witnesses to know of his "great triumph". And it works. Ock gains his confidence back, thinking he is letting the hero live with the humiliation by sparing him. (To Spider-Man, pride isn't an issue when the whole city is at stake.)
    • Years later, Doc Ock would do the reverse to Spidey in Superior Spider-Man. Earlier, he had convinced the remains of Peter's "spirit" that he was unsuited to be Spider-Man for endangering a child. Sometime later, thanks to the Goblin King, Ock encountered that same child and was ready to abandon her before the spirit came roaring back, forcing Otto to save her, telling him that when there's trouble, you don't plan, you just do the thing you think is right. Otto comes to realize that the real Superior Spider-Man really was Peter Parker because, while Otto was an arrogant man who overcompensated for his failings, Peter was a man who sabotaged himself because he never felt worthy of the greatness he could have deserved. He then erases his memories and personality from Peter's mind, giving him control once more and asking him to save the woman he fell in love with.
  • Superman:
    • All-Star Superman has Kal-El express this sentiment to a suicidal teenager.
    • At the climax of Superman: Brainiac, Supergirl is given the speech by her cousin:
      Superman: I'll handle him. You need to do something else. Brainiac's fired some kind of weapon at the Sun. Kara. Whatever is heading towards the Sun, you need to stop it. If it gets there, it's going to trigger a supernova. And that fire will engulf the Earth.
      Supergirl: I-I'm not fast enough.
      Superman: Yes, you are.
      Supergirl: I can't do it.
      Superman: Yes, you can.
      Supergirl: I'm scared.
      Superman: It's okay to be scared.
    • At the beginning of the The Final Days of Superman storyline, Superman asks her to take over when he's gone.
      Superman: You can do this. You're so much stronger than you give yourself credit for. Sure, our family shield can be a target. But it's also a badge of honor that I know you wear proudly each and every day.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, when Guy Gardner is trying to talk Kara into leaving the Red Lantern Corps, she argues that she can't stop being a Red Lantern, and she doesn't belong anywhere else. Guy replies she can find her way because she's stronger than them and stronger than she thinks.
      Supergirl: But even if I do go... the Ring... I can't take it off. I'm a Red forever. Without you and the others, how will I — What am I supposed to do?
      Guy: You'll find your way. You're strong, Kara. You didn't choose this life, but I've seen enough in our time together to know that you can make something of it. You're better than all of us.
    • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): Darkseid kidnaps and brainwashes Kara to become his servant. After being rescued Kara fears that her brain-washed, evil self is her real self. His cousin insists he knows that she's a good person.
      Supergirl: Honestly...? I'm... torn. I remember what Darkseid turned me into —
      Superman: ... We've been over this, Kara. Darkseid lives for manipulation. He has magics at his disposal. Hypnotists. Scientists whose only function is to break your spirit. Ask Barda if you want to hear the horror stories she and Scott suffered through. Darkseid IS evil.
      Supergirl: But... Did he influence me... or bring out a darkness that is already there?
      Superman: I already know that answer.
    • In DCU Infinite Holiday Special issue #1, Supergirl must reunite a little girl with her father. Though the man is a jerkass drunk who doesn't want to see his daughter because he doesn't want her to realize her father is a screw-up. Supergirl convinces him maybe he can fix things, but only if he tries.
      Supergirl: You know the cliché, Fred. Everyone does. "When you're about to die, your life flashes in front of your eyes." But I've been there, and it's crap... isn't it? You see something, though. You see the holes... the missing bits. And all of the things that would have made your life complete, if you had one more year... a day... a second. I don't know what you saw, Fred, but considering you were in free fall for a solid minute, I bet it was an eyeful. Maybe you are a screw-up. A loser. A drunk. But maybe, the piece you're missing... can make you something better. But only if you go to her, and try. Merry Christmas, Fred. Hope it's a good one.
    • In Injustice 2 issue #26, Damian thinks he's become nothing but a soldier following orders of his madman of a grandfather. Kara disagrees.
      Damian: Kara. I'm... not a good person.
      Kara: Nonsense.
      Damian: You don't know me. You don't know—
      Kara: Your grandfather wants to kill millions. Your father is the Batman— evil incarnate as I understand it. Your mother?
      Damian: She's an assassin.
      Kara: Of course she is. Damian. Your family sounds like pure evil. But I've known you for less than a day, and in that time I've already seen you willing to sacrifice your life for a stranger. You don't have to go back to them.
    • In Supergirl (2005) #34, after reading Cat Grant's slander, Kara wonders if that woman may be right and she is worthy of the S-shield. Superman's reply is automatic:
      Supergirl: Is she right, Kal? Am I "a tarted-up teenager in a short skirt and cape with some to prove"? Am I "not worthy of the legacy of Superman"?
      Superman: I think you're more than worthy.
    • In Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot, a Ret-Gone Supergirl reminds Deadman that he doesn't need the glory of superheroing — he does it because it's the right thing to do.
      Kara: You're only human. You are still human, Boston. Don't be ashamed in it; rejoice in it. Because it means your spirit — as flawed or selfish as our spirits can sometimes be — is still alive.
    • In The Killers of Krypton, Kara tries to talk her mindless clones out of fighting her by stating they can overcome their programming and fight their rage and pain. Unfortunately, it does not work.
      Supergirl: All of you, wait! If there is any true part of me within you, let it hear me! Fight your rage. Fight your pain. This is not who you— who we— are. There is always a way out. There is hope. I want to help you! Will you let me?
  • Teen Titans has Kid Devil, who tried desperately to be a good superhero but always felt like the weakest link of the team because of a string of losses. It came to a head when Clock King kidnapped and brainwashed him into fighting in a teenage superhero bloodsport and almost killing someone. Miss Martian managed to snap him out of it by reminding him of his dream to be a hero and what a sweet, earnest person he truly is.
  • The Transformers (IDW)'s comic has the noble Wing from Spotlight: Drift try to teach this to the Decepticon Deadlock. It eventually worked, and Deadlock became Drift.
    • A later issue has Optimus himself suffering doubt about whether he deserved the Matrix, due to a particularly nasty "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Megatron. After two issues of agnonising, he talks with Ratchet about this. Ratchet just smiles and says that if Optimus had wanted to know so badly, he could've asked him.
    • In an issue of Transformers: More than Meets the Eye, Cyclonus tells Swerve, in no uncertain terms, that he's kind of a dick.note  However, he then notes that when it was discovered that he was locked in a self-imposed Lotus-Eater Machine, everyone came looking for him, so he must be doing something right, even if that something is as simple as "he knows where the keys to the bar are kept".
    • During The Transformers: Dark Cybertron Orion Pax has denounced the name Optimus Prime because he believes he is just one more link in a chain of Primes that have become increasingly corrupt. Rodimus explains to him that his desire to be a Prime was not about the title, but that he wanted to be Optimus, because no matter what the past Primes did and that he was better than them. This gave him the confidence to reclaim his name and become Optimus Prime once again and defeat Nemesis Prime.
  • Wonder Woman uses this quite often, and it is exceptionally effective because of her nature as a truth seer. Not only does she easily get most normal criminals to turn themselves in just by talking to them she's also reformed several super-villains just by letting them know their worries are not foolish but are unfounded and they are loved and special. This is part of why her rogues gallery is less known; people don't often stay in it too long.
  • Interactions between Nightcrawler and Wolverine in X-Men and Wolverine had this nuance. At one point, Nightcrawler told the manageress of a bar "the only thing that is hard is Logan's skeleton and claws, the rest is an honorable man ..." Logan is there.

    Films — Animation 
  • A Bug's Life: Flik's "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Hopper doubles as this trope to his colony, and how the ants are not as weak and low-class as Hopper proclaims. In fact, it's because the ants are so much stronger that the grasshoppers depend on them for food in the first place.
    • Earlier in the film, Flik suffers a Heroic BSoD on the circus wagon when he's banished from the colony for having lied about the circus bugs being warrior bugs, lamenting that the fake bird that he and the colony worked together to build was doomed to fail, as was he. Manny's the first to speak up.
      Manny: "You listen to me, my boy. I've made a living out of being a failure, and you, sir, are NOT a failure!"
    • Manny's initial speech doesn't work, and Flik remains deep in his funk. Then, Dot arrives and informs Flik that Hopper plans on squishing the Queen. When she realizes Flik has lost his motivation, she brings him a pebble and tells him to, "Pretend it's a seed, okay?". It works.
  • Coco: After learning that he is Miguel's great-great-grandfather and not Ernesto, who poisoned him and caused his family to think he abandoned them for selfish goals, Hector decries he's a sorry excuse for a great-great-grandpa. Miguel responds that Hector is a total upgrade from when he thought he was related to a murderer. When that doesn't work, he says this and it snaps Hector out of his depression.
    My whole life, there's been something that made me different... and I never knew where it came from. But now I know. It comes from you. I'm proud we're family!
  • Encanto: Mirabel displays this trope on several occasions:
    • During "What Else Can I Do?" when Isabel breaks out of her "perfect daughter" persona, Mirabel's line, "All I know are the blossoms you grow, but it's awesome to see how you rise," leads to the sisters' true reconciliation.
    • After Abuela's Heel Realization moment, Mirabel is there to assure her:
      "We were saved because of you. We were given a miracle because of you. We are a family because of you. And nothing could ever be broken that we can't fix together."
    • In "All of You", Mirabel flat out declares this trope to the whole family:
      "But the stars don't shine, they burn
      And the constellations shift.
      I think it's time you learned
      You are more than just your gift."
    • Mirabel gives a minor one to Bruno before his vision.
      "I don't think you make bad things happen. Sometimes family weirdos just get a bad rap. You can do this."
  • Frozen:
    • When Elsa is about to kill one of the soldiers (who just tried to kill her), Prince Hans uses this to call her out and stop her from stepping over the Moral Event Horizon.
      Prince Hans: Don't be the monster they fear you are.
    • Also her sister Anna tries to convince her that she actually can control her powers and end the winter. At the end of the film, this happens to be true and Anna says "I knew you could do it."
    • "Frozen Heart" at the beginning of the film says as much as well: "This icy force both foul and fair / Has a frozen heart worth mining."
  • How to Train Your Dragon:
    • Astrid says this in a roundabout way to Hiccup when she explains why she asked her Armor-Piercing Question, "Because I want to remember what you say, RIGHT NOW." Translated: "Because you are a powerful Viking warrior of legend in your own way, and what you say now is likely going to be the stuff of a great saga."
    • And:
      Hiccup: 300 years and I'm the first Viking who wouldn't kill a dragon!
      Astrid: ...First to RIDE one, though.
  • In The Incredibles, Violet, who had been kicking herself over not being able to make a force field big enough to protect them when they were on the plane, gets one from Helen which in turn, seems to help her to try find her confidence.
    Violet: Mom, what happened on the plane. I'm sorry. I wanted to help. When you asked me to... I'm sorry.
    Helen: Shhhh... It isn't your fault. It wasn't fair for me to suddenly ask so much of you. But things are different now, and doubt is a luxury we can't afford anymore, sweetie. You have more power than you realize. Don't think, and don't worry. If the time comes, you'll know what to do. It's in your blood.
  • Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus has Gaz give one of these speeches when Dib is despairing after they're locked up in Moo-Ping 10, albeit in her own tough way:
    Gaz: You're my brother, man. I only torment you because I know you can handle it. I've done way worse than throwing you in a space prison. This is nothing. Get up!
  • Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius: After Jimmy and the kids get captured and thrown in a dungeon by King Goobot, Jimmy suffers a Heroic BSoD upon realizing it's his fault the Yolkians made contact with Earth. To get him to help them escape, Cindy tries to cheer him up in her own way and spills some of her own insecurities in the process.
  • Kung Fu Panda, when Shifu realizes the way to train Po, he all but says "You have had the potential all along and you will become better than you think you are."
  • In The Lion King (1994), Simba is reminded by the ghost of his late father that "you are more than what you have become."
  • In Luck (2022), Sam goes through a Heroic BSoD when her attempt at sending only good luck to the Human World caused the bad luck pump to explode, which sent only bad luck to the Randomizer, caused it to shut down, and took away Hazel's guaranteed chance to get adopted. Bob manages to get Sam out of it with this kind of speech. He tells her that even though she has bad luck, she's a good person because she's selfless, wants good things for others, and that Hazel is the luckiest girl in the world because she has Sam as her friend.
  • In Moana, Moana delivers one of these to Maui after he explains the story of how his parents abandoned him as a baby, and he feels like he'd be worthless without his powers. She encourages him by saying that the gods must've seen something about Maui himself that was worthwhile, and this marks a turning point in their relationship.
    • She does it again in the climax, with Te Ka\Te Fiti:
  • In Monsters University, Mike realizes that he cannot overcome his shortcomings, that is, his lack of natural Scarer talent, despite his lifelong love and desire for Scaring. Sulley has this to say.
    Sulley: Mike, you're not scary, not even a little bit, but you are fearless.
  • When Mulan returns home after running away to join the Army, she first meets her father and gives her father the sword of the Hun Leader Shan-Yu and the Crest of the Emperor as gifts to honor the family. His reaction:
    Fa Zhou: (throws the gifts aside and hugs her) The greatest gift and honor is having you for a daughter.
  • My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games: Despite successfully earning everybody's trust back in the previous film, Sunset Shimmer needs to be reassured several times by her friends of her worth. Rarity even says "what we needed to defeat [the Sirens] was you" when Sunset undergoes some Heroic Self-Deprecation. It works, since Sunset channels The Power of Friendship through Human Twilight's amulet to enter a Golden Super Mode as Daydream Shimmer to combat Superpowered Evil Side Midnight Sparkle.
  • At the end of The Peanuts Movie, Charlie Brown thinks that The Little Red-Haired Girl chose him as their summer pen pal out of pity because he's "an insecure, wishy-washy failure". Linus tells him that he should consider the possibility that he's a good person and people like him. When he finally talks to her about it, she tells him it wasn't out of pity and that's not what he is at all. She wanted to be his pen pal because he's a good, honest, kind, brave person, citing all the things she's seen him do over the school year such as doing their book report by himself while she was away taking care of her grandmother, helping Sally salvage her act at the talent show, and confessing to everyone about his state exam getting mixed up with Peppermint Patty's.
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin: "Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
  • The song "Through Heaven's Eyes" from The Prince of Egypt is one long version of this, sung by Jethro to Moses to knock him out of his depression.
  • The main theme and message in Puss in Boots involving the three central characters.
  • In Rugrats Go Wild!, Tommy receives reassurance from the other kids after they get stuck in a cave:
    Tommy: Angelica was right. I am just a backyard baby with a diapie full of dreams.
    Susie: No, you're not. Tommy, you took us through the drainforest all by yourself!
    Kimi: And led us up the side of the mountain.
    Lil: And you founded Nigel Strawberry.
    Chuckie: And you saved me from the giant kitty cat.
    Phil: Oh, you got lots more than dreams in your diapie, Tommy.
    (the kids stare awkwardly at Phil, who shrugs with confusion)
  • A fair chunk of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse consists of people telling this to Miles Morales. After his uncle's death, and his father's heartfelt speech about the "spark" he sees in Miles, he starts listening.
  • While not outright stated, the sense of this trope is there in Tangled, when Flynn Rider tells Rapunzel why he changed his name from Eugene Fitzherbert: He was a lonely kid in an orphanage, and wanted to be a cool Loveable Rogue thief, like his favorite character. Rapunzel tells him she likes his real name better, and she is implied to be the first person who liked him for himself.
    • He repays her by cutting her hair, ruining its rejuvenating magic and freeing her of it.
  • In Toy Story, Buzz realizing that yes, he is a toy, not a space ranger, sends him into a Heroic BSoD. He doesn't even care when Sid straps large firework to his back. However, Woody explaining that Andy loves him because Buzz is a toy- a cool toy, with lots of awesome features.
  • In Toy Story 4, Woody comforts a heartbroken Gabby Gabby after she was rejected by Harmony, by telling her that there are plenty of children out there who would want to have and cherish a doll like her. And when she expresses nervousness about getting adopted by the lost girl, Woody gently encourages her by telling her the exact same words she told him before he willingly sacrificed his voicebox to repair her, "This is the most noble thing a toy can do."
  • In Treasure Planet, Silver gives an awesome one of these to Jim. John Musker based it on a particularly strong pep talk from his high school football coach that ended with both of them in tears.
  • In Turning Red, when Mei returns to the spirit world after performing the panda ritual on Ming, she meets her mother as a little girl, crying over the fact that she scarred her mother in a violent rage because she felt that she could never be perfect enough for her. Realizing that they're not so different, Mei comforts her and tells her that she's perfect enough before walking her back to her family's embrace.
    Mei: I know it feels that way, like, all the time. But... it isn't true.
  • Wreck-It Ralph: When Ralph is thrown into the Fungeon with Fix-It Felix, he tells Felix that he tried running away and being a good guy by going to Hero's Duty and taking the medal; Ralph asks Felix to fix Vanellope's cart, which he agrees to do. Later on, when the Cy-Bug has turned into an invasive swarm, Ralph punches the Mentos mints into the diet cola fountain, telling himself "I'm bad, and that's good! I will never be good, and that's not bad! There's no-one I'd rather be... than me." Ralph ends up becoming a hero to Vanellope, the other Sugar Rush racers and inhabitants by saving their game, with the Nicelanders treating him with more respect and consideration, and he even helps out unemployed video game characters to make special cameo guest appearances in Niceland.
    Ralph: If that little kid likes me, how bad can I be?
  • Zootopia: When Nick tells Judy he became a shifty and untrustworthy fox because that's what society expects him to be and there's no point in trying to be anything else, Judy tells him she can see he's much more than that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, when Spider-Man rescues bullied geek Max Dillon at the beginning, Max is amazed and asks why the hero would bother saving a nobody like him. Spider-Man replies that he's not a nobody, he's a somebody. Unfortunately, Max is a stalker, and this furthers his obsession with Spider-Man, having deluded himself into thinking he's Spider-Man's best friend.
  • The Dark Knight Rises: When Batman gives Selina the Bat-Pod so she can open a tunnel out of the city and help people escape, she says she'll open the tunnel, but she's leaving Gotham for good and going on her own.
    Batman: There's more to you than that.
    Selina: (voice breaking) Sorry to keep letting you down.
    • Of course, this does inspire her to come back and save his life.
  • Demon Knight: One character tries to refuse a Take Up My Sword moment because she thinks she's not the right kind of person for it. The other character asks her if the Big Bad, a powerful demon, tried to tempt her with a Deal with the Devil. She admits he tried. The other character points out she's exactly the right kind of person for the job, since she had the strength of character to refuse the deal.
  • The effects are subverted in Dinner for Schmucks. When Tim finally explains to Barry that the dinner's trophy is actually to be awarded to the most pathetic person there, Barry mistakes his You Are Better Than You Think You Are speech as telling him he's failed at being the biggest loser and thus winning the contest.
  • Everything Everywhere All at Once: This is how Evelyn is ultimately able to befriend Deirdre, the IRS auditor who'd been giving her grief the entire movie. When Evelyn has a breakdown and seems to completely blow her chances at saving her business and her marriage, Deirdre is surprisingly understanding, since she also did some crazy things when her marriage fell apart. She then tries to comfort Evelyn by sardonically noting that, "Unlovable bitches like us make the world go 'round." Evelyn, taken aback, rejects this notion.
    Evelyn: You are not unlovable. There is always something to love. Even in a stupid, stupid universe where we have hot dogs for fingers, we get very good with our feet!
  • Greedy: After discovering that Uncle Joe was flat broke, Danny regrets having stooped to his cousins' level for an old man's money. Robin, who left Danny for this reason, consoles him by reminding him of how he felt genuine concern for Joe when he claimed to be losing his mind. Danny retorts that Joe was putting on an act that anyone would have fallen for. She then asks him:
    Robin: Even your cousins?
  • The 2004 Hellboy movie had an exchange between the newcomer to the team, John Myers, and The Empath Abe Sapien:
    Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm: In medieval stories, there is often a young knight who is inexperienced, but pure of heart.
    John Myers: Oh, come on. I am not pure of heart.
    Abe Sapien: (scanning him with his hand) Yes, you are.
  • It's a Wonderful Life had this as its central premise, to the point that the plot is often referenced by other works in its entirety.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, the "Samwise the Brave" scene includes Frodo reassuring Sam that he is an important part of the story.
    Sam: I wonder if anyone will ever say, "Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!" "Yes, that's one of my favorite stories. Frodo was really courageous, wasn't he, Dad?" "Yes, m'boy, the most famousest of hobbits, and that's saying a lot."
    Frodo (laughs): Why, you've left out one of the chief characters — Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam. Frodo wouldn't have gotten far without Sam.
    Sam: Now, Mr. Frodo. You shouldn't make fun. I was being serious.
    Frodo: So was I.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In The Avengers, Tony Stark tells Bruce Banner that he is not a monster, he can control the Hulk better than he thinks, the Hulk is not necessarily a curse, but a gift as well, and that Bruce can use him for good. He turns out to be right, as the Hulk not only follows Captain America's orders and provides crucial manpower in the final battle, but remembers Tony and consciously saves his life during the climax.
    • Thor: Ragnarok:
      • Thor puts this into his Kirk Summation aimed at Loki, telling him that his constant betrayals have made him predictable and that he could be so much more than just the God of Mischief. This leads Loki to a Heel–Face Turn when he encounters Korg and his revolutionaries who are about to escape on a ship. He joins the group as their leader and turns the ship towards Asgard to save its survivors.
      • Later, when Thor is losing badly against Hela, he has a Dead Person Conversation with his father Odin. When Thor tearfully says, "I'm not as strong as you!" Odin retorts, "No, you're stronger." This helps Thor get a Heroic Second Wind.
    • In Avengers: Endgame, when Thor hits his lowest Despair Event Horizon from failing to save his citizens from Thanos including Loki and Heimdall and not stopping Thanos when he had the chance, leading to half of his remaining subjects and the world dying from the snap, Thor gets a much-needed pep talk from his mother belonging to an Alternate Timeline.
      Thor: His head was over there... His body over there... What was the point? I was too late. I was just standing there. Some idiot with an axe.
      Frigga: You are no idiot. You're here, aren't you? Seeking counsel from the wisest person in Asgard. [...] Idiot? No. A failure? Absolutely. [...] You do know what that makes you? Just like everyone else.
    • In Spider-Man: No Way Home, when the other Spider-Men relate previous adventures like fighting Venom and Thanos, Webb Spider-Man can't offer anyone more impressive than Rhino and calls himself lame. However, Raimi Spider-Man reassures him that he isn't and to have more confidence in himself. Webb Spider-Man later pays it forward, reassuring the Alternate Timeline version of his Electro that he isn't a nobody when he laments being Brought Down to Normal.
  • In The Mask, Peggy gives a speech of this variety to Stanley. And despite it immediately leading to her Face–Heel Turn reveal, and it was very likely that she was lying through her teeth the entire time, in the end... She was right.
    Peggy: Look, I don't know what's happening to you, Stanley... but I do know this; that letter that you sent my column? That was from a guy with more guts... and more heart, than any of the creeps that I've met in this city. Whatever that mask is... you don't need it. You, Stanley Ipkiss, are already all you'll ever need to be.
  • The Muppet Movie: Kermit attempts to convince this of Doc Hopper. It fails.
  • There's a lovely moment in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, just after her fiance's embarrassing baptism, where the main character worries that "Any second now, he's gonna say, 'Yeah, you're so not worth this,'" Only for her brother to pipe in, "Yeah you are."
  • Oh, God!: First movie, from God Himself;
    God: if you find it hard to believe in Me, maybe it would help you to know that I believe in you. Think about it.
  • In Pixels, Violet tells Sam that with his brain, he shouldn't be installing hardware - he should be making it.
  • In Raising Arizona, Nathan Arizona gives a speech of this kind to Ed and Hi when they declare that they're planning to split up because they're immature and unrealistic people who are bad for each other.
  • Say Anything...: When Lloyd has gone into a tailspin after Diane breaks up with him, Corey does this for Lloyd:
    D.C.: Lloyd, why do you have to be like this?
    Lloyd: Because I'm a guy. I have pride.
    Corey: No, you're not a guy.
    Lloyd: I am.
    Corey: No, the world is full of guys. Be a man. Don't be a guy.
  • In The Smurfs, Papa Smurf delivers this type of speech to Brainy Smurf to help convince him that he's up to the task of deciphering the spell that can get the Smurfs back home.
  • Somebody I Used to Know: Ally eventually realizes that she joins her ex's wedding party because she dislikes the person she became. Her mother tells her that her pure passion has always gotten her places, and she just has to find that spark again.
  • Some Guy Who Kills People: Ken's coworker and old classmate Irv constantly tells him that he shouldn't be working the same menial job Irv has (with Irv calling himself a loser) and his breakdown isn't his fault.
  • In Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard attempts to use speeches of this message to persuade Shinzon.
  • Star Wars:
    • At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke turns to the Emperor and states "I am a Jedi, like my father before me." You'd better believe Vader heard that.
    • The Force Awakens: Han Solo tries to impart the same to his son, Kylo Ren. This time it doesn't work, and the former Ben Solo gives himself fully to the Dark Side by striking down his father.
    • In The Last Jedi, Yoda's Force Ghost appears to the now-reclusive Luke, assuring him he is always an honorable Jedi.
    • In The Rise of Skywalker, Luke's Force Ghost appears to Rey in the middle of her HeroicBSOD, comforting her in the face of her Unpleasant Parent Reveal by pointing out that he and Leia both knew Rey's grandfather was Emperor Palpatine, and yet they both decided to train Rey as a Jedi. The reason Luke gave was that Rey has a kind heart, which her grandfather lacked.
    Luke: Some things are stronger than blood.
  • After Kirk Lazarus had a breakdown in Tropic Thunder, new actor, Kevin Sandusky managed to boost his self-esteem.
    Kevin: You are Kirk Lazarus. You are the whole reason I went into acting in the first place. I memorized every monologue that you had ever been in while I was in theater school.
    Kirk: Really?
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, after all the trouble caused by Eddie trying to protect Roger, which ultimately cost Delores her job at the bar, he tries to apologize to her and tells her to find herself a good man. She just looks him dead in the eye and says, "But I already have a good man."
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: First Class: It has a repeated line where Charles urges Erik to "be the better man" and work for more than just revenge. Erik interprets this somewhat differently than Xavier intended.
      Charles: There is so much more to you than you know. Not just pain and anger. There is good, too. I felt it. When you can access all of that, you will possess a power no one can match. Not even me.
    • Deadpool (2016): Colossus keeps handing out speeches to this effect almost every time he speaks to Deadpool throughout the movie, but Deadpool is having none of it.
    • While not in those exact words, the spirit of the trope comes up twice in Logan:
      • The first time Charles chides Logan when he swears in front of Laura. When Logan points out that she had just slaughtered several heavily-armed soldiers so should be able to handle a few curse words, Charles retorts that she can learn to be better than that.
      Logan: Better than me?
      Charles: Actually, yes!
      • The second time is Logan's dying message to Laura. He tells her "Don't be what they made you," implying she can be a better person than the cold killer Transigen wanted her to be.

    Game Shows 
  • Played for Laughs in Series 5 of Taskmaster, when they are tasked with recording "the most incredible footage" with a camera stuck to their head. Nish simply completes a sudoku puzzle quickly, and does it incorrectly. Rather than yell or mock it, Greg takes him aside and gives him a pep talk to hammer home just how bad of an attempt it honestly was.
    Greg: What is this? Is this self-sabotage? Do you want this or no?
    Nish: I just thought it would be great—
    Greg:You're doing well in this one!
    Nish: Yeah, but I thought it'd be really impressive if I did a whole Sudoku—
    Greg: Yeah, but we checked it: you weren't even doing the Sudoku properly. Just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, really have a go at the show. You're not a bad guy, Nish.

  • A common theme through the Ciaphas Cain books is that of Cain engaging in tremendous amounts of Self-Deprecation. Amberley Vail, the editor of his memoirs and longtime friend, lover, and confidant, frequently comments in the footnotes that he is a far better person than he gives himself credit for. It reaches its peak when in one book, Cain is pained to realize he can no longer remember the names or faces of some of the long-dead soldiers he fought with near the beginning of his career. Amberley notes that his guilt over not remembering them says quite a lot about Cain's true character all by itself.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, Kirbie urges this on Alex, to get him to leave Cloak.
  • Croak: Lex comes to the town of Croak after a two-year run of absolutely no one treating her with respect. Her uncle suggesting to her that she's not as bad as people think nearly brings her to tears, because she'd been doubting that.
  • Invoked in Terry Pratchett's Snuff. Vimes is constantly watching himself because he thinks that if he loses control of the darkness inside him, he will become as bad as the villains he chases. His butler Willikins tells the latest villain that Vimes is, in fact, "a choirboy" — unfortunately for the villain, Willikins is not.
  • Often said by Michael and the other Knights of the Cross to The Dresden Files lead Harry Dresden. Dresden thinks of himself as more of an antihero, but his friends all know that he is a good man. Actually, Dresden is a bit of an Anti-Hero— when it really comes down to it he can be fairly extreme if someone important to him is at stake. (This is evidenced in Changes, where Dresden was more than willing to use the Darkhallow or become one of the Denarians if Mab hadn't been willing to help him save his daughter. Although picking her was morally grey at best, it was still the option with the most acceptable outcome, and he did go through with killing Susan.) However, Harry is still a better man than he thinks, and he isn't about to turn into a mustache-twirling villain any second.
    • Likewise, Harry spends a good part of Ghost Story trying to convince a Street Urchin that he's more than he thinks it is. He hasn't been back in the series since then, so it's hard to say how well he took Harry's words to heart. Interestingly, the boy has a number of similarities with Harry at that age.
  • The mantra of Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, the iconic reference book for mothers afraid of accidentally killing their infants, is "You know more than you think you do."
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: When she was pregnant, Georgia didn't think she could have a career and raise a child by herself. But Sid was willing to believe in her, and his encouragement helped her self-confidence and allowed her to believe in herself again.
  • Towards the end of Galaxy of Fear, Zak Arranda has been feeling more and more overshadowed by his studious, Force-Sensitive sister Tash, feeling like he's The Load these days. On Dagobah, Yoda gives him a meat flower and has him solve something himself to help teach him that he isn't.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The character arc of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the end, Dumbledore learns that Harry felt unworthy of the House of Gryffindor, in part because of his ability to communicate with snakes and because he asked to be placed there, rather than letting himself be chosen. Dumbledore tells Harry that character is shown through one's choices and asks him to examine the sword he used to slay the Basilisk. When he sees it is Godric Gryffindor's sword, Harry has all the proof he needs that he truly belongs in that house.
    • Near the end of the series in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry returns the favor when he meets Dumbledore again in a place between life and death. When Dumbledore bitterly states that his search for the Deathly Hallows in his bid to become a Master of Death meant that he was ultimately similar to Voldemort, Harry quickly refutes the claim. He mentions that at least Dumbledore didn't consider using Horcruxes. Dumbledore is able to draw a small measure of comfort from that.
    • Harry constantly tells Ron this, due to Ron's massive inferiority complexes about his Quidditch skills, his perceived status as the family's Unfavorite, his concerns that Hermione loves Harry more than him, and that he will always live in the shadow of his far cooler best friend. This really comes out in Deathly Hallows, when Ron destroys a Horcrux, as it tries to make him believe all of the aforementioned things.
      Harry: You've sort of made up for it tonight. Getting the sword. Finishing off the Horcrux. Saving my life.
      Ron: That makes me sound a lot cooler than I was.
      Harry: Stuff like that always sounds cooler than it really was. I've been trying to tell you that for years.
    • Also happens throughout the series with Neville. When Dumbledore called him brave for standing up to his friends at the end of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and in books five and seven, Neville begins to really come into his own as a wizard and realise that, despite the troubles he has doing magic, he's not a bad wizard or a coward at all. Even the Sorting Hat knew this and placed him in Gryffindor instead of the less popular Hufflepuff like he wanted.
  • Subtle example in the Myth Adventures books. Skeeve takes a D-Hopper to escape to another dimension from Klah, asking for the setting for Klah and Deva. He says that he's running, and Masha responds: "You asked for both settings. You only need one to run."
  • Nevermoor: Morrigan was born cursed, leading to everyone treating her like she's a curse on them, and on some level, she believes it, too—understanding on a logical level that it's not her fault, but long since having internalized everyone's view of her. When Jupiter takes her on as his apprentice and finds out, he's righteously furious on her behalf, and makes a point of telling her that her existence is not a curse on anyone, least of all him.
  • In the Henry James novel The Portrait of a Lady Ralph tries to convince Isabelle of this.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's The Sharing Knife, Fawn's family, which has consistently undervalued her, asks Dag "But why ever would you want to marry Fawn in the first place?" Dag's answer, which sums up what we've come to know about the character through the story thus far, is also an awesome moment:
    For the courage of her heart, which I saw face down the greatest horrors I know without breaking. For the high and hungry intelligence of her mind, which never stops asking questions, nor thinking about the answers. For the spark of her spirit, which could teach bonfires how to burn. That's three. Enough for going on with.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Davos Seaworth is elevated to the lofty rank of Hand of the King, against his own objections. When he later confides to Maester Pylos his fears that he will fail in his duties and that the King's Hand should be some great knight or lord, Pylos assures him that one of the greatest Hands had been the son of a lowly blacksmith, and offers to help him overcome his shortcomings.
  • Spy School: Ben does this to Alexander at the climax of the second book, when he's fallen into a depression, and they need him to help rescue Erica and Cyrus. He tells Alexander that yes, he is a bad spy, but he couldn't have become a Living Legend without some skills, and right now they need him to inspire the others.
  • In the Dale Brown book A Time for Patriots, Ken Phoenix is told that he should stop beating himself up over the violence and deaths caused by Right Wing Militia Fanatics.
  • In Victoria, protagonist John Rumford comforts his old friend and fellow Marine, Gunny Matthews, when the latter feels worthless for giving in and claiming conversion to Islam in order to survive captivity by the radical Islamic terrorists, rather than becoming a martyr. Since Matthews is a very serious Christian, he has very high moral standards for honesty, and becomes despondent having violated them; but Rumford manages to reach through to him and convince him that God still loves him—and that his fellow fighters still need him.
  • Warrior Cats: As Yellowfang is dying, she says that she fears StarClan will judge her due to having kits despite being a medicine cat and feels she deserves it, and that she doesn't deserve to have a cat like Fireheart as her adopted son. Fireheart reminds her of all of the good things she did and how good of a cat she is, but she dies before he can finish speaking.
  • The Wheel of Time:
  • In Why We Took the Car, Maik breaks down and tells Tschick just how boring he actually is and how he sees himself. Tschick responds by telling Maik how much of a great person he is and that the week they spent together was the best of his life, which was something Maik probably really needed to hear.
  • In Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive), when two bands of deserters are bearing down on her caravan, Shallan Davar — a shipwrecked minor noble girl dressed in rags — rides up to one of the bands and convinces them to defend them instead of robbing them, despite having absolutely nothing to offer but her word.
    Shallan: What would you do, Vathah, to erase the past? Would you protect instead of kill, if you had the choice? Would you rescue instead of rob if you could do it over again? Good people are dying as we speak here. You can stop it.
    Vathah: We can't change the past.
    Shallan: I can change your future.
    Vathah: We are wanted men.
    Shallan: Yes, I came here wanting men. Hoping to find men. You are offered the chance to be soldiers again. Come with me. I will see to it you have new lives. Those lives start by saving instead of killing.
    • Shallan herself is on the receiving end in Oathbringer. Shallan believes herself to be a monster because of the people she directly and indirectly killed, and Wit reassures her that she is not a monster and that he believes the world is better with her in it. And later in the same scene, when she tries to prove that everything she does is pointless because of her failings, and upon her indirectly proving that to be untrue, Wit tells her that it is okay to live.
    Wit: If you do not trust yourself, can you trust me? For in you, I see a woman more wonderful than any of the lies. I promise you, that woman is worth protecting. You are worth protecting.
  • In The Witchlands, Evraine and Leopold try to tell Aeduen this on different occasions, as he considers himself to be little more than a human-shaped weapon. Unfortunately, Aeduen isn't exactly willing to listen.

  • Billy Joel's "You're Only Human (Second Wind)". The music video is even more explicit.
  • David Bowie's "Rock and Roll Suicide", perhaps surprisingly given the title:
    Oh, no, love, you're not alone!
    You're watching yourself, but you're too unfair!
    You've got your head all tangled up, but if I could only make you care!
    Oh, no, love, you're not alone!
    No matter what or who you've been,
    No matter when or where you've failed...
  • Invisible by Disciple.
    You wish you were someone else
    Every night you fall to pieces
    Knowing you can't save yourself
    I can see you, I can hear you
    There's a place where the broken go
    There's a room full of second chances
    You're not stranded on your own
    You're not invisible
  • "Firework" by Katy Perry
  • "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilera
  • Another "Beautiful", by Eminem
    And to the rest of the world:
    God gave you shoes to fit you, so put 'em on and wear 'em
    Be yourself, man
    Be proud of who you are
    Even if it sounds corny
    Don't ever let anyone tell you you ain't beautiful
  • Eminem to Dr. Dre in "I Need A Doctor" by the latter
    Can't make a decision, you keep questionin' yourself
    Second-guessin' and it's almost like you're beggin' for my help
    Like I'm your leader, you're supposed to fuckin' be my mentor
    I can endure no more, I demand you remember who you are!!
  • "Who Says" by Selena Gomez
  • "F**kin' Perfect" by P!nk
    Pretty, pretty please
    Don't you ever, ever feel
    Like you're less than fuckin' perfect
    Pretty, pretty please
    If you ever, ever feel
    Like you're nothing
    You are perfect, to me
  • "I'll Be Your Mirror" by the Velvet Underground.
    I find it hard to believe you don't know
    The beauty that you are
    But if you don't, let me be your eyes
    A hand in your darkness so you won't be afraid

    When you think the night has seen your mind
    That inside you're twisted and unkind
    Let me stand to show that you are blind
    Please put down your hands, 'cause I see you
    I'll be your mirror
  • "Low Self-Opinion" by Henry Rollins:
    If you could see the you that I see
    When I see you seeing me
    You'd see yourself so differently
    Believe me
  • "Kill Your Heroes" by AWOLNATION
    Well, I met an old man dying on a train
    No more destination, no more pain
    Well, he said one thing, before I graduate
    Never let your fear decide your fate.
  • "You're Worth More Than Gold" by Brit Nicole.
  • "Carry You" by VNV Nation
    Truth defined by your adversities will defend you,
    As your powers and all your energies conspire to carry you.
  • "Beautiful Freak" by Eels, in which somebody is comforted for being not like the others, yet that makes him/her great.
    Some people think you have a problem
    But that problem lies only with them
    Just 'cause you are not like the others
    And that is why I love you, beautiful freak
  • "Super Trouper" by ABBA is about urging a friend to stop settling for the easy things in life and stop being afraid to take risks, and start living up to his or her potential.
  • "Every Little Thing" by The Beatles, from Beatles for Sale.
  • "Jojo", a moving tribute by Jacques Brel about his best friend Jojo who died of cancer. He tells him what a great friend he was and adds the iconic message:
    Six feet below the ground, Jojo, you are not dead
    six feet below the ground: I adore you still.
    • Brel would die of the same illness only one year later.
  • "Simply The Best" by Tina Turner about a partner she considers superlative to all the others.
  • What Are You Waiting For? by Disturbed is pulling double duty as this and a Self-Empowerment Anthem.
    Don't let them undermine
    Your dreams can never be stolen
    Don't leave them stagnant, rotting on the vine
    Say goodbye to anyone who tries
    To bleed you dry, you will show them
    You're blessed with an unlimited supply

    Leave nothing left behind

    So what you waiting for, tell me what you're waiting for?
    Don't stand by and deny it
    So what you waiting for, tell me what you're waiting for?
    Break new ground and defy it
    Don't let the world outside
    Leave you cornered and alone
    So what you waiting for, tell me what you waiting for
    Let them all be reminded
  • "Porcelain" by Marianas Trench
    You thought by now you'd have it figured out
    You can't erase the way it pulls when seasons change
    It hurts sometimes to find where you begin
    You are perfect porcelain

    The slow and simple melody
    Of tears you cannot keep from me
    It's alright if you don't know what you need
  • Parts of "By Your Side" by Sade.
  • "Priceless" by KING & COUNTRY, a song directed at women who, for one reason or another, feel unworthy of love. Towards the end, it adds in no matter who you are, no matter what your past, you are a priceless and irreplaceable thing of beauty because you are you.
    I see you dressed in white, every wrong made right
    I see a rose in bloom at the sight of you
  • Danny Don't You Know by Ninja Sex Party is largely about lead singer Danny Sexbang providing a motivational speech to his younger self, and has lines implying that he is not alone in his feelings of inadequacy. The music video is dedicated to "all the nerds of the world."
    Danny don't you know that we're all rad as fuck on the inside?!
  • This is such a deeply ingrained and recurring theme throughout the works of Andrew W.K. that it's actively difficult to single out just one example. Andrew really does want nothing more than to inspire you to be the best that you can be.
  • Lorde's album Melodrama features the song "Liability", where she sings about how she's too much for everyone and feels like a burden. Later in the album, "Liability (Reprise)", parts of "Liability" are sung and the end of the song includes this incredibly heartwarming lyric:
    But you're not what you thought you were.
  • Styx's "Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)":
    You're fooling yourself if you don't believe it
    You're kidding yourself if you don't believe it
    Get up, get back on your feet
    You're the one they can't beat and you know it
    Come on, let's see what you've got
    Just take your best shot and don't blow it
  • Mariah Carey's "Hero":
    And then a hero comes along,
    With the strength to carry on,
    And you cast your fears aside,
    'Cause you know you can survive,
    So when you feel like hope is gone,
    Look inside you and be strong,
    And you'll finally see the truth,
    That a hero lies in you.
  • "You Are The Moon" by The Hush Sound can be interpreted as this.
  • "King" by Lauren Aquilina practically embodies this trope. It's basically about talking someone out of a Heroic BSoD by telling them things aren't as bad as they think and they're much stronger than they believe.
    You've got it all
    You've lost your mind in the sound
    There's so much more
    You can reclaim your crown
    You're in control
    Rid of the monsters inside your head
    Put all your faults to bed
    You can be king again

    Myths & Religion 
  • In one story in Norse Mythology, Thor, along with Loki and Thor's servant Pjálfi, are challenged to several contests by the giant lord Utgard-Loki. Pjálfi competes against one of Utgard-Loki's men in a footrace, but only makes it halfway before his opponent finishes. Loki competes in an eating contest where he and his opponent have to start at opposing ends of a long trough full of meat and eat their way to the center, but while Loki reaches the center at the same time as his opponent, his opponent eats the bones and trough as well, so Loki loses. Thor himself has to drain a drinking mug, lift a cat, and wrestle an old woman, but he is only able to slightly lower the capacity of the cup, only manages to lift the cat's paw, and cannot defeat the old woman. Having been humbled, Thor and his companions are treated as honored guests, but the next morning, before they leave, Utgard-Loki tells Thor that while he had wanted to utterly humiliate him, he had actually done much better than he had thought. (The giant lord had used illusions in each contest to fool them; Pjálfi had been racing against the personification of Thought, and Loki had been competing against Fire; the cup that Thor tried to drink from was actually the sea, the cat was actually the Midgard Serpent, and the old woman was Old Age personified. Utgard-Loki admits that the fact that Thor and his companions did as well as they did scare the hell out of him and his court.)
  • In Christianity, Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son likens this to a son who leaves home with his inheritance prior to his father's death and squanders half the family fortune. When he hits rock bottom, he returns and begs for his father's forgiveness. His father is so overjoyed just to have the wayward son back home, he throws a massive welcome home party.
  • Judaism believes that anyone has the potential to be as righteous as Moses or as evil as Haman. The entire idea of teshuva revolves around the notion that one can always make an effort to overcome their negative traits and become better people. Furthermore, the Torah considers the willful refusal to overcome one's negative personality traits to be the only possible reason God may ever have not to forgive someone for their transgressions.

  • In Interstitial: Actual Play, Edith tries to invoke this in the hopes that Tagdegx, Gadget's Nobody, will believe in their own existence.
    Edith: Being alive? Existing? That's a gift and a half right here. You should fucking own it! I know that it's hard. I know that a lot of people have told you you shouldn't, but goddammit—live!
  • In Wolf 359, Minkowski encourages Hera to save Eiffel from asphyxiating in "Let's Kill Hilbert":
    Hera: Have you been listening? I-
    Minkowski: Can. You are the smartest person I have ever met, Hera. Focus that intelligence, and save our moron.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Exalted, there is a particular Social Charm for the Solar Exalted that acts as a literal gameplay effect of this trope: You Can Be More, allowing a Solar to mend the broken spirits of those around them. With sufficient power behind it, the Charm can even literally cause a mortal to be more by making them become a Heroic Mortal and greatly increasing their own chances to Exalt.
  • Princess: The Hopeful: Graces can regain Wisps by convincing people to act on their positive impulses. This can be anything from Spitting It Out to a crush to kicking a drug habit.

  • Anyone Can Whistle:
    Hapgood: I can't stop being crazy. But that's my own affair.
    Fay: No, it isn't. You're the hope of the world.
    Hapgood: I don't think you can possibly repeat that sentence without laughing.
    Fay: You're the hope of the world. You and all the crazy people like you.
    Hapgood: From the first moment, you've been trying to put me on a white horse. Now stop it!
  • In the final stretch of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the 2013 stage musical), Charlie worries that he can't take over the titular factory from Willy Wonka because he has no experience in being a chocolatier. Wonka explains in the song "A Little Me" that Charlie may be inexperienced in that now, but that means he's capable of learning and becoming a unique talent in the process; moreover, he's "not just any careless child", but a bright, imaginative, kind, unspoiled, and disciplined one, "So aren't you glad upon review/That Charlie Bucket I chose you!"
  • This is the essential crux of the "Starlight Sequence" song in the musical Starlight Express, where the Starlight Express, a godlike entity worshipped by the anthropomorphic representations of the trains in a child's train set, shows up to tell the main character that he can win the race that all the trains are competing in if he just believes in himself.
  • William Finn's song "You're Even Better Than You Think You Are" from Make Me A Song, is an autobiographical story about people saying this to him when he was first starting out writing bad musicals, so he persevered into writing good musicals.

  • In BIONICLE, in an endeavor to ensure the success of his plans for the island city of Metru Nui, Makuta Teridax studied the stars to learn the names of the Metru Nui Matoran who were destined to become Toa. To thwart this, Teridax planted the names of six different Matoran into the mind of Toa Lhikan, the six most stubborn and strong-willed Matoran the Makuta could think of. Lhikan granted his Toa power to these Matoran, turning them into Toa Metru. During the Visorak saga, these Toa find a record of Teridax's efforts, along with evidence that proves that the Matoran who located the Great Disks were the ones truly destined to become Toa, causing no small amount of grief for them. Later on, whilst on the run from Teridax, Toa Metru Vakama re-encounters the Karzahni. Knowing that Vakama cannot best Teridax while bogged down with self-doubt, Karzahni reveals the real truth to the Toa: That Vakama and the others truly were destined to become Toa, that Mata Nui had altered the stars to trick Teridax whilst planting the names of the true destined Matoran into the Makuta's mind. Furthermore, a mysterious third party planted evidence to support Mata Nui's ruse, and it was a member of this organization that told Karzahni everything.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the fourth case of Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Edgeworth does this to an amnesiac Kay who thinks she killed someone and just doesn't remember.
    • He also did so with his adoptive sister Franziska at the end of Justice For All, as she is about to quit being a prosecutor because she doesn't believe she can change for the better the way that Edgeworth did, which is something that Edgeworth refuses to agree with.
  • In the final trial of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Hajime is faced with a seemingly unwinnable dilemma: either shut down the virtual reality him and his friends are in, destroying the Junko AI that's been behind everything at the cost of returning to their old selves and deleting his own existence, or picking the Graduate option, allowing them all to escape the system with their memories intact but allowing the AI to take over the bodies of their comatose friends and once again wreak havoc on the world. Faced with this, he caves, unable to choose. That's when he's met by Chiaki, who snaps him out of his funk and encourages him to have confidence in himself. That he has to do this for the sake of no one but himself. Not to sacrifice himself for the greater good, but to create his own future after being dragged around and manipulated by everyone else for so long, one where he and his friends manage to escape and survive. Those turn out to be the exact words he needs.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend: After Yuuya makes several self-deriding comments about himself (if you choose to meet with him at the Shrine in Holiday Star), Hiyoko more or less says this to him word for word.
    "I think you're a better person than you think you are, Yuuya! Sakuya and the doctor are always chewing you out, but you shouldn't let that get you down. Just do your thing and be yourself."

    Web Animation 
  • In the Season 7 episode of Arby 'n' the Chief entitled "Greenlit", there's this exchange between Master Chief and a Hallucination of Cortana.
    CHIEF: u has 2 b a ghosts / u cant b a figment newton of my imaginations / look — as much as i hated 2 admit it — ur sort of smarter than i am / k? / so how can u knew shit that i doesnt, and thot about stuff on ur own, and get all pissy @ me if ur in my brains? / i doesnt get it / u could only knew whatever things i knew or sumthing, rite?
    CORTANA: Maybe, somewhere deep within your mind, you're a lot smarter and have a much clearer understanding of right from wrong than you think.
  • The Most Epic Story Ever Told in All of Human History: When Captain Epic is feeling down about himself, Epic Robot Guy informs him that he was inspired to become a better person because of Captain Epic's dedication to doing good. This promptly revitalizes Captain Epic's spirit.
  • Foamy, the normally Jerkass squirrel in Neurotically Yours, gives Germaine a second chance at life with a reset button, basically telling her that he thinks she can do a lot better than how she is right now and can change her life.
  • RWBY:
    • In "A Much Needed Talk," Blake, believing that she betrayed her family by leaving them to follow the White Fang's new leader, no longer considers herself worthy of their love. Her father tells her that her eventually leaving and setting herself back onto the right path proves she is a far stronger person than most people ever manage.
    • In Volume 9, this is the lesson Ruby ends up learning as she ultimately realizes that she doesn't need to be a perfect Huntress, but just be herself.
  • The nameless, reclining nude person in the memetically weird claymation short "Hi Stranger" (NSFW if your workplace doesn't like nudity, otherwise pretty wholesome, but weird) tells the viewer this toward the end. It's actually quite touching, all things considered.
    Unnamed Character: I've been thinking about you a lot, lately. I see you trying to do so many things at once. Worrying about a decision you made or worried that you said the wrong thing to someone. You're so hard on yourself. But you're wonderful, and worthy of being loved. You really are. You just have to let yourself believe it. Well, I know you're really busy and probably have to go. But I'm glad I got to see you for a minute. I love you.

  • El Goonish Shive:
    • Grace is a genius, but when things go wrong, she always blames herself, and she thinks she's stupid. She also moped about "whether she deserves this power" and refused to shapeshift after the fight. Until one of her siblings told her in no uncertain terms both to grow back a fluffy tail and where to stick such concerns.
    • A very young alternate universe Tedd felt that he was "no good," and not just at kickball. When Ellen woke up from dreaming about that universe, almost the first thing she did was ring the doorbell, hug this universe's Tedd and tell him he's "plenty good," and abruptly leaving without any explanation.
    • Elliot worries that he's "a bad guy" because he gets angry sometimes and he used to be a Bully Hunter, so maybe he just likes violence. Ashley sometimes thinks she's "trash" for writing ironic-revenge transformation stories, and is worried what she might do now she knows this is actually possible. Their first argument is based around telling each other "No, you're a good person."
  • In Freefall, because Florence is a carnivore, and Sam is a scavenger, Florence thinks that the captain sneaking to steal her food is low-ranking, and she needs to apply this trope.
    • Florence has been trying to help the robots of planet Jean achieve independence and avoid being mass-mindwiped by a brutal safeguard program. She begins to have second thoughts upon meeting Dr. Bowman, who created the robots' neural architecture, and learning that he is a high-functioning sociopath with impulse control problems (by virtue of being an uplifted chimpanzee). She knows, of course, that Bowman also created her neural architecture, and he points out that if HER first thought was for the safety of humans, the robots would probably react similarly to the idea that their safeguards can be broken.
  • Girl Genius: Agatha accidentally gives Gil such a piece of inspiration when she asks him what kind of power-hungry dictator he's going to be if he hasn't built himself an arsenal of death rays. While she fumes about their current unarmed state Gil wonders quietly in response that he's apparently on track to become a better kinder one than he'd thought.
  • Grey is...: Black thinks of himself as weak and not able to help other people, White who admires Blacks emotional strength disagrees and says something to this effect
  • Homestuck:
    • Dave is on the receiving end of this after he finds his Bro's corpse, concluding that he's done nothing heroic and that his closest friend is better than he is, while Terezi tries to convince him that he is actually a heroic badass and not just an alligator swindler. Of course, the trial for characters of the Knight class — like Dave — usually involves self-esteem in some way. Terezi, despite being a Seer instead of a Knight, gets a turn in the trope crosshairs when she's having a self-esteem crisis about her alternate universe counterpart being so popular and radical, and Karkat of all people tells her that she doesn't need to put on a ridiculously over-the-top act to be likeable and that when she withdraws she's just hiding someone who's already beautiful.
    • When Dirk is feeling down on himself after finding out what an asshole his alternate universe counterpart was, Dave tells him that he doesn't seem like a bad person and that he shouldn't beat himself up over the things his other self did.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!: When Galatea is facing the possibility of prison time for her actions in "The Island And the Idol" story arc, she tearfully asks Bob why she's even alive, if everyone always treats her as some walking bad example to be shunned. Her sister Molly answers her that Galatea is the most passionate and alive person she knows, and that her willingness to go out and try things is an inspiration to Molly... and that her family loves her.
  • In these two consecutive Megatokyo strips, Piro finally gets some sense talked into him.
  • My Deepest Secret: Sophie gets told this twice, from Camie as a high schooler and from Emma in university. In an unusual take on this trope, outside events foil the first one and make Sophie bitter. By the time Emma says it, it turns Sophie against her.
  • When a major Wham Episode of Rain hit a little too close to home for some people, the author wrote an apology on her DeviantArt journal, assuring the readers that Rain will make it through this.
    Same goes for you, Rain Beaus. You are stronger than you may realize. Don't let anyone hold anything over you. And if you think you're alone, remember that we're ALL friends here. Myself and 2,000+ other people watching this page want to see you and everyone else here live positively in the way you want to.
  • Shadow Girls: Becka has to be told this after hesitating to Save the Villain. Which, given that said villain tried to have her raped as a prank roughly a week before (maybe) trying to unmake the universe, says quite a bit.
  • Shortpacked!: Amber thinks she's useless, 'til Robin and Ethan both play a role in turning her around.
  • In Tales of the Questor, Quentyn shamefully flees the successful conclusion of his first case thinking that he blundered through it and succeeded only through dumb luck. However, just before he takes off, the local sheriff asks what he is doing and the young Racoonan confesses. At that, the Sheriff firmly tells Quentyn that he is not stupid nor a failure, but a hero who showed admirable guile, skill, and courage to save the day. As Quentyn's mood lifts, the Sheriff gives him his hat noting wryly that the young Questor's career has had an excellent start. Repeated after a heroic charge and in this case, the one doing the reassuring is an angel or close to it.
  • Zebra Girl: Becky, one of the vampires who turned on Zandra, is undergoing Stages of Monster Grief and wishing she was dead. Zandra notes how some of the other vampires follow her and tells her she's stronger than she thinks she is.

    Web Original 
  • On Not Always Right, a heavily-pregnant young woman is harassed for being so at such a young age. She replies that younger women than her have been better mothers than she can, so she has arranged for her child to be adopted. A bystander buys her a muffin and apple juice, and reassures her: "You are doing the best thing for your daughter, and you are the best mother I know".
  • In the ASMR Video series Sweet as Honey, the video "Why Are You so Hard on Yourself?" sees Honey taking the role of the listener's big sister, telling them not to beat themselves up over mistakes, that they're not perfect, and that they're wonderful in spite of a few mistakes.
  • Takotsubo: The story of a superhero is a pretty upfront tagline: Cord Cai is a Chinese-American gangster, who's normally a villain. His backstory is a metric ton of shit: His parents are in prison, he was frequently gay-bashed (which is worse since he's bisexual, not gay), and joined a street gang in high school to cope. While he and his fiance Roland are trying to go clean, Roland gets shot in a carjacking. The Police Are Useless, so Cord tracks the carjacker down and shoots him because he feels like it's his only choice. The author's notes state that this is his long journey back from the Despair Event Horizon to acknowledge that he's a superhero.
  • That Guy with the Glasses:
    • Done in a subtle way in Kickassia when Ma-Ti is trying to get The Nostalgia Critic to stop being a douchebag. He tells him that he's strong and loyal, but Critic's still on his "a president has no friends" kick.
    • Film Brain tries very hard to get the Critic to believe this in To Boldly Flee, but by then the Critic is just too depressed to listen. Not even a "you've evolved beyond my writing" speech from Doug Walker helped. Finally dying did though.
    • More downbeat in the review of Christmas with the Kranks, as Critic talks about people changing sometimes not always for the best, and you'll/he'll fuck up, but don't hate yourself too much.
  • In Episode 44 of Welcome to Night Vale, Dana, or her double, talks about meeting their future self, and expresses disappointment at having to wait until they get older before becoming important. Cecil's response?
    "You have always been important. You have always been something. Age just reveals the facts that always were. Experience uncovers the you that always was."
  • The Weather: In the last sketch of "Spooky Fog", Alan spends the whole time insulting himself for being, according to himself, stupid, smelly, ugly, and generally misfortune. The caller, playing his reflection, works to convince him that he's better than that, and makes it clear that, at the very least, they don't hate him.
  • In Worm, Tattletale and Skitter try to convince Panacea of this, unsuccessfully.
  • Done in the most Brennan Lee Mulligan way possible near the end of the first season of Dimension 20 where the school guidance councillor delivers this message to Adaine by way of a tortured metaphor regarding a homeless man with warts on his genitals and fellatio. She does eventually get the message.

    Real Life 
  • You. Oh sure, you faced all of yesterday just to get to today, and tomorrow probably won't be any better. And all you have to do is browse TV Tropes at 3 AM. But you're here because you want to know and learn and share. And aren't those things worthwhile too?
  • As noted in the laconic version of this trope, the statement "you are better than you think you are" is backed up with an explanation or motivation why the person making this speech believes this (something which isn't reflected in the Superman picture atop this page and some entries). To borrow the example with the disabled person, this motivation would come in pointing out that while they might never walk again (in case of wheelchair-bound people), they have gotten amazing victories in chess, are very talented in singing, drawing, writing inspirational speeches, or what-have-you. They can't walk, but they're not worthless. Without this sort of motivation, "yes you can" or "you are better than you think you are" falls flat and can come over insulting or condescending. Or give the impulse to look at the first entry of this page's Real Life examples and ask "why?".
    • But it's also important to remember, as some forget, that a person with a disability is (generally) capable of things that people don't realize they're capable of - that sometimes the person themselves doesn't realize they could do. There are countless examples of people with disabilities breaking through barriers, starting with the Special Olympics and including a Down's Syndrome woman graduating from college, an Autistic teenager writing a book about her experiences, and a kid born without arms growing up to become a motivational speaker. Having a disability usually doesn't mean you can't leave a mark on the world and definitely doesn't mean you're worthless.
  • People often start physical training and the like vastly underestimating their own abilities, especially if their lifestyle doesn't really involve strenuous work. A part of the trainer's job isn't just building them up physically, but showing their client just how strong they are when they're pushed.
  • Herb Brooks's speech to his US hockey team right before the famed "Miracle on Ice" game, when the amateur squad beat the four-time defending champs from the USSR in the 1980 Olympic semifinals, arguably the greatest sports upset ever:
    One game; if we played them ten times, they might win nine. But not this game, not tonight. Tonight, we skate with them. Tonight we stay with them, and we shut them down because we can. Tonight, we are the greatest hockey team in the world.
  • In psychology, "impostor syndrome" is a feeling where talent outstrips confidence. The so-called "impostor" is somebody who's actually pretty good at what they do but believes that they aren't really that good. When faced with proof of their success, they protest that it was a fluke, that they got lucky, or even insist that it wasn't them. This causes people who could do better to not seek promotions, pay raises, etc. because they believe that they aren't deserving of such things. In extreme cases, they live in fear that someone will realize they've been "faking it" and fire/leave/abandon them. These kinds of fears are almost never true and can hold people back from achieving their full potential. A big part of getting through impostor syndrome is being told and shown that "you're better than you think you are" repeatedly, both through concrete proof of accomplishment and positive reinforcement.
    • Children are not immune to impostor syndrome, especially if they've been raised with abusive discipline and punishment. While the conventional wisdom is that kids create an Imaginary Friend to blame misbehavior on, children have also been known to ascribe good deeds, successes, and achievements to such non-existent companions.
    • Neil Gaiman famously tells the story of meeting another Neil at a convention for people who had done assorted awesome stuff. Neil was feeling like quite the impostor when the other Neil mentioned that he felt like an impostor since he never really did anything special. Gaiman was shocked because he looked up to Neil #2, the first human being to set foot on the Moon. Neil Armstrong downplayed his achievement as no big deal.

Alternative Title(s): You Are Better Than You Think


Jack and Rusty

In the episode, "Army", Jack explains to Rusty that he has issues paying attention and remembering things, referencing to his ADHD. In response, Rusty tells him he's good at playing the titular game, which boosts Jack's confidence.

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5 (7 votes)

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Main / YouAreBetterThanYouThinkYouAre

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