No, I didn't get the phrase muddled up; it is the cliché itself that is muddled. Seeing is not believing at all. Some things you see are not worth believing; you may see them but they are meaningless and false. In reverse, there are many things you will only get to see if you believe in them first. Believing comes first; seeing is a likely consequence.

I once declared to my congregation that if the doctors are right, I am not married! You see, my wife's parents were told by three separate doctors they would never have children. Similarly as for three of our matriarchs—Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel—the impossible happened; they gave birth despite negative expectations.

To a significant degree, our belief in the possibility of something determines its likelihood of happening. They say, if you believe you can or you believe you can't-–either way you are right! For if you believe something is impossible, it well nigh becomes impossible. Conversely, if you firmly believe something is possible, you stand every chance of succeeding.

Robert H. Goddard wrote, "It is difficult to say what is impossible, for the dream of yesterday is the hope of today and the reality of tomorrow." In fact, it is impossible to believe in the impossible-–because once you believe in it is no longer impossible. But if you believe something is impossible, it almost certainly is. Prayer is about asking for the seemingly impossible. Our history teaches us that anyone who does not believe in miracles is not a realist. So indeed, believing is seeing.

But do we discourage self-belief in others? Are we too quick to put down another's idea, or even our own idea? How often to we say, "Oh, that could never work"? With that attitude, it probably won’t! The evidence is overwhelming that if we believe in ourselves we are many times more likely to succeed. Similarly if we have faith in others, we are much more likely to help them to achieve.

When we declare something impossible, we are just saying it is beyond our imagination. But why discourage another person and risk holding him back because we lack belief? In reverse, if we show our belief in another, that boost could make the difference between success and failure.

So next time your child comes up with a brainstorm, or a colleague at work puts forward an outlandish suggestion, pause before throwing a wet blanket on the idea. Maybe your doubt is smothering their belief? And perhaps your belief in them could be the support that will make them go on to achieve that goal?

When someone prefaces their idea with, "I know this sounds crazy" or concludes their suggestion with a pessimistic, "It's probably a bad idea," challenge that comment. Perhaps it is not such a foolish proposal? I suggest you ask: "What makes you think it's a bad idea?" or "What's crazy about that suggestion?" Check that the negative remark was not merely an expression of his or her nervousness. Often you will find that such comments are purely self-doubt generated by a lack of confidence.

Maimonides writes that the highest form of charity is helping a person to get on his feet. Well, instilling in someone the courage to succeed is the highest form of getting someone on his or her feet. You are helping them with the biggest asset they could possibly have: their own self-belief. We are all concerned to help our children. Here is a simple but powerful tool–-show that you believe in them.