By lizjones, Oct 10 2017 01:30AM
I’ve noticed a few things in my world lately that made me reflect on self-confidence and self-esteem. What are they? Are they important? I came to the conclusion that they are important but tricky things to master. To have too much or too little of either can be problematic. And even distinguishing between them is not always easy; the internet tells me that self-esteem can be described as confidence in one’s own worth whereas self-confidence is more about feeling secure in one’s abilities. So similar but different and both important.
Being overly self-confident or having too much self-esteem is perhaps more a problem for others than the individual concerned. But a lack of self-esteem or low self-confidence can be a serious problem. They can manifest as passive behaviour or aggressive and defensive behaviour. They can lead to a reduced ability to meet true potential and can lead to a vicious circle where lack of belief manifests as lack of competence and reinforces the lack of trust. Luckily there are some simple things we can all do to help improve this situation.
Think positive – focus on the good
Human nature leads us to seek confirmation of our own opinions. It is normal for us to pay attention to information that agrees with us and to dismiss or not even notice anything that may alter our view. When someone feels unhappy or lacks confidence they often focus on anything bad happening around them or mistakes they make. The tiniest thing can be used as evidence of lack of ability or worth. To combat this try taking notice of the things you’ve done well or pleasant things that have happened to you. Set yourself the challenge of noticing and writing down 5 positive things each day relating to the specific area you wish to change. These can be as simple as someone smiling and saying hello, holding a door open or complementing your jumper. It can be easier said than done to make a change but practice makes perfect.
Challenge yourself – gently!
If we want to be better at something we have to practice it. Sometimes the very idea of doing something can be terrifying. So we avoid it. And then we don’t get any better. Instead try setting yourself a small, realistic challenge and attempting it when you are feeling at your most courageous (not when you are tired and hungry). For example, if you want to be better at speaking to strangers try chatting briefly to the shop assistant next time you are at the till. Simply asking them if they have long left on their shift or discussing the weather can brighten their day and help you realise that it is ok to talk to unfamiliar people. Once you have mastered this you can set a more challenging target – perhaps starting a conversation at a party or a networking event. Chances are the other person will be pleased to chat. The important thing is to recognise that you did achieve your goal. You can do it. And remembering you can do it will give you more confidence next time.
Allow yourself to be inspired
Sometimes we become so engrossed in day to day living that we forget to look up. This can be a good thing – being comfortable in our routine can give us a sense of peace and allow us to rest. If it goes on too long though it can sap energy and lead to negativity. Sometimes we need to take notice of the world more or overcome challenges to recognise how able we are and to give ourselves purpose. If you feel you are stuck in a rut and need to break out you don’t need to make grand dramatic gestures – but you can if you want to. Try reading an article or book that you find inspiring, take up a hobby or prioritise spending some time with people who make you feel happy and loved.
Positive thinking and positive behaviours such as these can make a huge difference to your own self-esteem and self-confidence as well as those around you. We are all amazing in our own way so remember how intelligent, funny, beautiful and brave you are. You can do it!