Having low confidence/self-esteem is something many people struggle with, especially in this social media era. Feeling as if you are not good enough, caring too much about what others think, discrediting and/or minimizing compliments you receive are just a few ways low confidence manifests itself. Building your confidence isn't impossible. It does require practice and in some cases, guidance from others. Below are a few tips I often share with my clients to help them build their confidence.
1) Create an Accomplishment List - if you struggle to remember your positive qualities, then it is time to create a list of positive feedback you receive. Whether it is about your grades, your cooking, sense of style, personality, career, etc., listing your current and past accomplishments can help lift your spirits. This list is meant to keep handy. So, when you are feeling unworthy or "down" about yourself, review it and remind yourself how great you are doing.
2) Pay Attention and Interact - nowadays we are so connected and involved with our devices that taking a moment to explore our surroundings is often considered a luxury. If you believe, even for one second, that no one is interested in you, I challenge you to take a moment to disconnect from your device, remove your earbuds and observe your environment. The purpose of this challenge is to get you to take notice of the things around you and the connections that are currently being made (i.e. other people smiling, people saying hello, strangers helping strangers, etc.). Yes, that sounds like something out of a movie, but it is happening. It is through connection with others that we often feel good about ourselves. Have you ever noticed the difference you feel after coming back from hanging out with friends vs. "hanging out" online? If not, start paying attention and add hanging out with family & friends part of this challenge.
3) Increase Positivity, Decrease Negativity - building your confidence takes practice and insight. Knowing what you like and dislike, sticking to your truth regardless of what others may think are key ingredients to building your confidence. Eating well, developing good sleep habits and surrounding yourself with positive people are all crucial to this equation too. People who support who you are and are willing to help support your true self can work wonders. Surrounding yourself with negative people/things, on the other hand, may make you feel like an outcast and/or unworthy; Attributes that can ultimately hinder your confidence and self-esteem. So, minimize how much you surround yourself with negativity and focus on being around things that put a smile on your face.
These three tips are by no means end all, be all of building confidence but they can be a great place to start. The road to building your confidence is not easy and sometimes there are some road blocks, but, it is possible. Good luck!
Many of my clients often ask, "What can I do to reduce my anxiety?" While my response often varies depending on an individual's specific situation, there are three core recommendations I often suggest that can help almost anyone.
1) Identify the Source of Your Stress - understanding who and/or what is causing your stress is the first step to reducing your anxiety. If you are able to identify what is causing your worry/anxiety, the next step is to ask yourself, "Is there anything I can do to change it?" Answering such a question can give you an opportunity to evaluate your situation and clarify any choices, if any, you may have.
2) Learn How To Manage - If you can reduce your anxiety, knowing how you can change it and taking action is important. Whether you are in the process of changing it or even if you are unable to make any changes, learning how to manage the anxiety is vital to maintaining your ability to continue functioning. Engaging in activities you find relaxing or finding an outlet for your worry may help release the negative emotions/symptoms associated with your situation. For some, going to the gym, knitting, watching a comedy, meditation, or simply a nice hot shower are a few of the activities they engage in so as to distract their mind and focus their thoughts on something enjoyable.
3). Try, Try and Try Again - learning what coping strategies are best for you is a trial and error process. What works best for one person, may not work well for you. I often encourage individuals to try various techniques until they find something that helps them relax. Of course, it is critical to first rule out any medical explanations for symptoms you may be experiencing like headaches, digestion issues, heart palpitations, etc. Also, if you are finding it difficult to reduce your anxiety on your own, it is important to understand the role therapy can play in helping you. In some cases, therapy can simply help individuals understand why they are stressed, while for others it is a form of guidance that helps clarify what options are available.
Self-esteem is defined by the Oxford Dictionary of Psychology as "one's attitude towards oneself or one's opinion or evaluation of oneself, which may be positive, neutral, or negative." Low self-esteem, in particular, is characterized by self-doubt, relationship insecurities, lack of confidence, sensitivity to criticism, and difficulty making decisions.
Individuals with low self-esteem tend to have a negative attitude, anxiety, unhealthy relationships, and/or have a tendency to self-sabotage good things in their life. Friendships, family interactions and one's career can all be affected by low self-esteem especially if he/she believes, "I'm not good enough," "I’ll never amount to anything," “I suck at everything,” "I'm not worthy."
Such beliefs can cloud a person's judgment and affect the way he/she perceives situations around them. For example, being passed up for a promotion may be interpreted as not "being good enough" when in fact the individual may have not taken the steps necessary to show interest or initiative. Having low self-esteem is not the end all, be all as there are ways to overcome this type of thinking. Below are a few suggestions on how you can begin improving your feelings of low self-esteem:
Acknowledge Your Positive Qualities - we all have positive attributes but recognizing them and owning them can be hard to do, especially if we have a tendency to focus on our negative traits. In order to counteract negative thinking, you may find making a list of your talents, skills and feel-good experiences to be helpful. Listing any compliments you have received regarding your personality, work, etc., can be beneficial as well. Composing such a list and referring to it when you feel you are doubting yourself can help to challenge these negative beliefs.
Surround Yourself With Positive People - being around people who are positive and supportive can help you build your confidence, improve your personal and professional relationships and reduce feelings associated with self-doubt. By interacting with positive, supportive family, friends and colleagues, you are more than likely to be challenged to think differently and engage in activities you may have otherwise avoided. Being around supportive people can also help to provide you with motivation to achieve successes you initially thought to be impossible.
Consider Therapy - in some cases, engaging is the above tasks is not enough to overcome low self-esteem, especially if the belief is deeply ingrained because of past traumatic experiences. Getting help from a mental health professional can help you understand the root of the problem, how certain factors in your life may be contributing to your low self-esteem and explore ways you can overcome your negative thoughts.