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Musings on my life as a coach, mother, wife, friend and HR professional with an NLP spin...

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!

By lizjones, Sep 26 2017 02:30PM

This month has seen a significant milestone reached for our family as our daughter started school for the very first time. In many ways it’s really no big deal. She has been at nursery since she was very young and loves the activities related to that – painting and crafting, phonics, counting, playing with other children – so it’s really just dropping her off at a different place. But it’s also a very exciting time for us since it marks the end of a long period of unsettledness. We have recently moved back to the UK after living overseas for 3 years. We had a fantastic, life-changing experience but it was a very transient time since our friends and colleagues were also expats and so came and went. The planning for our return to the UK (in time to start school) began around 10 months ago and has involved a great deal of packing, unpacking, losing things, finding things, house-hunting, researching...

But now we have moved into our new home and the little one has started at the school she should remain at for the next 7 years. Friendships are being formed with families living in the same village, most of whom are likely to remain there for the foreseeable future. Local clubs are being joined and our routines are forming. It’s a very different way of life for us and we are enthusiastic to see where it takes us. It’s a time of stability and permanence for us.

For me specifically, the start of school also has an additional benefit: less ‘mummy guilt’. I have always considered myself to be a working mum. Even in those times when I didn’t actually have a job I felt like an ‘unemployed mum’ rather than a ‘stay at home mum’. On a logical level I know this is the best thing for me and my family. Every family is different but I know my daughter has benefited greatly from the care of child development experts at nursery rather than solely being with me – it’s just not my forte. Other mums (and dads) do a fantastic job caring for their offspring rather than taking on employment outside the home but that’s not me. But knowing this doesn’t stop the guilt of not spending enough time with her or the jealousy of those mums who appear to be perfect mummies crafting and baking, joyfully caring for their offspring themselves. On those days when she cried when I dropped her off (even though she refused to leave when I went back for her). And those occasions when I didn’t see her for a whole day because she was in bed when I left and back in bed when I got home (even though she spent the whole day being spoiled by grandparents). And those times when she went to bed later than ideal because we were spending a little time together after work/nursery before bed…

But now she is at school. And she has to go every day. I’m not making her go. It’s not my decision. The guilt won’t disappear completely – I’ll still feel bad about breakfast club, after school club, holiday club… but it is a significant relief. For me the start of school wasn’t a tearful affair, rueing her growing up too fast. It’s an exciting time. An opportunity for her to begin building her own life, making her own choices of friendships and hobbies. And for me to allow myself to be enthusiastic about my career without feeling like a terrible mother. Because ultimately the guilt was something I gave myself and it’s down to me to choose to banish it. Some will say I should have made this decision sooner. And they are probably right. But sometimes the right decision needs the right time too.

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