Two of the most common problems that people face throughout their lives are self-esteem and self-confidence. More precisely the lack of self-confidence and self-esteem
Thus, they act without thinking that they will succeed. The major problem is that they start thinking that they will not succeed and that they won’t know what they should do, and that will turn into a prophecy that will obviously be fulfilled. And on the next occasion, they will start off on the road with even less confidence, doubting that they could succeed.
The truth is, no one is born with a bad opinion about himself, but we have learned to have a bad opinion about ourselves throughout life. And maybe you got so used to these thoughts that you no longer realize how much they really hurt you.
Why I’m writing this article? Well, let me put this way: It is a guide to myself first of all. I used to have very, very little self-esteem and self-confidence… and because of this, I made terrible choices in my life… choices I’m still ashamed of. So, I started to figure out what was the root of all my problems and what should I do to solve them. Now as I’ve “quite” achieved these qualities, I will share with you all my thoughts about this. I’ll go down by writing the causes, the signs and the solutions to these two problems. So, if you think you might need some guidance in this aspect of your life, just take 10 minutes to read this article.
Okay, so, in order to understand this article as much as possible, I want to define, first of all, what self-esteem and what self-confidence means.
Self-esteem refers to how you feel about yourself overall; how much esteem, positive regard or self-love you have. When you have self-esteem, you know your value as a person, you know what you deserve and what you don’t. Also, you speak positive about yourself, you treat yourself with respect and care. Usually those with high self-esteem are more concerned with growth and development.
Self-confidence, on the other hand, is an attitude about your skills and abilities. It means you accept and trust yourself and have a sense of control in your life. You know your strengths and weakness well. You set realistic expectations and goals, communicate assertively, and can handle criticism.
Okay, so we figured out the differences between these two, now let’s see why it is important to have self-confidence and self-esteem?
(PS: Because these two qualities at some deeper point have the same roots and are highly linked to each other, I will use, down in this article, only one term for both of them: self-confidence, ‘cause this term is generally used to describe both of the problems)
One of the most important things for you to understand about self-confidence is that it is linked to almost every element involved in a happy and fulfilling life. I highlighted 7 key rewards of self-confidence below. Understanding these benefits is an important first step toward living your best life with confidence.
Greater self-worth: the more self-confidence you have, the more you value yourself and your capabilities, which means the more valuable you feel; this is what creates the effect of naturally holding your head up high, since you have higher self-esteem and are proud of who you are
More happiness and enjoyment: for all the reasons above, the more self-confident you are, the happier you are with yourself; as a result, the more you always enjoy life
Greater strength and capabilities: the more self-confident you are, the stronger and more powerful you feel; you also naturally grow stronger and more confident when encountering challenges, rather than feeling weakened, crippled, and defeated by them
Freedom from fear and anxiety: the more self-confident you become, the more you know that you can accept, handle, learn, gain, and benefit from any situation, circumstance, or outcome; in this way, you naturally replace fear and anxiety with greater confidence in yourself and your abilities
More peace of mind and less stress: freedom from self-doubt, fear, and anxiety naturally translates into greater peace of mind and a more stress-free life
More energy and motivation to act: the more confident you are that you can achieve things you want to achieve (like personal goals or dreams), the more motivated and energized you are to take action to achieve them
Greater success: in case it’s ever been a mystery to you why self-confident people are naturally more successful, now you can clearly understand why there is such a high correlation between self-confidence and success; each of the above benefits helps you achieve things you want to achieve faster and easier, which means you enjoy more success in life
High self-confidence vs Low self-confidence
So far, we have discussed self-confidence in a general way, but I think it would be useful to discuss some more concrete examples. Below is a list of behaviors, a list that, without pretending to be exhaustive, will help you better understand the difference between high and low self-confidence.
Signs that you have high self-confidence
- You move confidently through the world: you hold your head high, your shoulders straight, you look at people in the eyes and you walk safely. These are among the most visible signs that we are dealing with a self-confident person.
- You are not afraid to refuse things that do no good to you and situations or toxic people.
- In general, you have an optimistic and positive attitude towards life and the situations you go through (note: it is not necessary to be optimistic all the time, it is sufficient to have a tendency to see solutions rather than problems).
- You are able to see, both yourself and others, both qualities and defects and you are willing to accept them all.
- Negative experiences do not cause you to draw general (and negative) conclusions about life.
- You are able to express your thoughts, intentions and needs without fear, without fear of reprisals from others.
- You are capable of intimacy: when it comes to intimacy, I am not talking about sex, but about revealing your intimate thoughts, which makes you who you are. This is hard to do if you fear that by doing so you might be judged or ridiculed. Many people with low self-esteem regard relationships as their ultimate goal, but when they enter into a relationship, real intimacy is lacking because they do not feel comfortable enough with themselves and do not have enough self-confidence to show themselves the other as they are.
- You understand that you are responsible for the quality of your life: people with high self-esteem have a personality trait called “internal control location”, which means believing that you are able to influence and change your life course. The opposite is the external location of control, to believe that life is a lottery and, whatever happens, you have nothing to do with what is happening to you.
- You are not afraid to make mistakes: when you make a mistake, do not wait for days to blame yourself for it, do not lock yourself in the house with an ice cream box regretting what you have done. Look at the mistake as a lesson to be learned or even as an indicator of progress. You understand that to be wrong is human and you do not blame yourself for not being perfect. You can only reproach yourself when you make the same mistake several times, but even then, the reproach will not solve anything. Thomas Edison said: “I did not fail, I only discovered 10,000 variants that do not work”.
- You take calculated risks: you believe in your dreams and your ability to make your plans come to fruition. You are able to go ahead even in conditions of uncertainty, because you know that the alternative (stagnation) is worse and that people tend to regret more things they have not done than those they have done. The opposite is to be satisfied with what you have, because you are afraid to take the step towards change. You believe more in your own limits than in your possibilities.
- Offer sincerity and value it to others: people with low self-esteem use lies and deceit to protect themselves from consequences that they imagine they would face if they told the truth. Sincerity also contributes to the increase of congruence (see discussion of ideal self above).
- • Take care of your physical well-being: taking care of your body is a sign of high self-esteem, because the subject only cares if you think you are important enough to take care of yourself.
- Avoid self-destructive behaviors: people who like themselves generally avoid dangerous situations (addictions, impulsive behaviour, bad financial decisions, dangerous relationships, etc.) because they value their lives. Those with low self-esteem think they don’t care about anyone, let alone them.
- Do not tolerate being treated badly by others: consider that you have the right to be treated with respect and good will whatever may happen and do not be afraid to end an abusive or toxic relationship. People with low self-esteem usually believe that if they are treated badly, it is because of them, because they have done something to deserve it.
- Do not be afraid to expose your achievements: a person with high self-esteem and self-confidence does not feel compelled to hide his or her skills or talents without praising or constantly seeking attention from others.
Signs that you have low self-confidence
Besides the reverse of the indicators mentioned in the previous point (so as not to lengthen the list unnecessarily, if in high self-confidence I wrote that you are not afraid to make mistakes, here I will not write that you are afraid to make mistakes, because it is obvious), here are others signs that self-esteem is something you would need to work on:
- Focus on your weaknesses: nobody is perfect, but when you focus only on what you don’t know or can’t do, you waste your energy that could be better utilized by working on the weaknesses and improving them.
- You are overwhelmed with feelings of guilt, shame and fear. These emotions are among the most harmful feelings we feel, and if you have not learned how to deal with them properly, they can seriously affect your well-being.
- You think it’s all about luck: Whenever a good thing happens to you, you diminish your contribution to success by telling yourself that you were lucky, when the truth is that you probably worked hard to achieve what you set out to do.
- You make choices not according to what you really want, but according to what you think would impress others: you choose your clothes, faculty, home decor items, car, etc.. Depending on how you think others will react to their vision. You do this because you always compare yourself with others and you want to get the approval of others. What you get instead are clothes that do not represent you, a house where you do not feel comfortable, a car that does not fit your needs and a career that does not bring you any satisfaction. And, most of the time, you do not get the envy or admiration of others, as you wished. Dave Ramsey said of this behavior that “we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people who don’t even like us.”
- Avoid conflicts and say things just to please others, you are constantly concerned about not upsetting or bothering others. Rather, you remain locked up in the room all day, rather than having your eyes on someone you quarreled with.
- You sleep more as an adult than you slept when you were a child: low self-esteem has a number of physical effects, including chronic fatigue. Excessive sleep (over 9 hours a day, doubled or not during the day) can be both an indicator of depression and a tactic to avoid the problems you face.
- You tell lies about yourself, what you did or thought in a situation: People with low self-esteem often wear masks to get the approval of others and present themselves as who they are. If you are a woman, you cannot feel unclothed in the world. No one tells you that you shouldn’t get ready and present yourself in the best light whenever it’s necessary, but if the idea of leaving your home unclothed causes you nightmares, it means that makeup is actually a crutch for you. you help yourself to feel better about yourself. Your well-being should not depend so heavily on makeup.
- You have problems with making and maintaining decisions: whenever you feel even the slightest criticism from others, you tend to immediately re-evaluate your opinion, even when this is contrary to your principles. You’re afraid to even express your views in a discussion. Also, even after you make the decision, you tend to change your mind frequently because you are not sure that your decision is correct.
The causes of a low self-confidence
Factors that causes a low self-esteem are often difficult to pinpoint and, as a rule, we are talking about a constellation of factors, rarely a single cause. Below are a number of factors that may contribute to lowering your self-confidence:
Not knowing yourself, not feeling that you need to make a change in your life, not knowing what to do with your life and what direction to take. Being blind about your inner desires and being satisfied with a mediocre life, is the root of all these two problems.
2. An unfriendly entourage:
If you spend your time surrounded by people who do not respect your opinions and feelings, who press you to do things you do not want to do, or who involve you in activities that do not do you good, this may make you believe that there is something in it is wrong with you and the only way you can be liked by others is to do what they want and not listen to your own intuition, which affects the way you see yourself, your self-confidence and your well-being, especially if the surroundings involves you in dangerous behaviors.
Physical, emotional or sexual abuse usually produces feelings of shame and guilt. The abused person often believes that the abuse occurred because of his fault, because he was not worthy of the abuser’s respect, care or affection. He concluded that it is just an object that others can play with. We speak of a “brainwashing” performed through criticism or repeated abuse, and this conditioning begins to be dismantled only when the person abused in the past begins to question their own guilt for what happened.
4. Body image:
Body image plays an important role in building self-esteem. Young girls are the most affected segment of the population by unrealistic images presented by the media about what the ideal body should look like and what a woman should look like. Treating women as objects in the media inoculates to young people the idea that their bodies are made just for others to look at, to touch, to use. When they reach puberty and notice how their bodies have not changed in what the magazines have told them that it is the ideal body, they feel unattractive and useless. Boys are also affected by media messages related to body image, even if to a lesser extent than girls. A man’s body is less treated as an object in Western culture and more as a sign of masculinity. This is why young men may feel inferior if, for example, they do not have a sufficiently large muscle mass or if their height is below average.
5. Existential crisis.
The existential crisis is a time when we question the meaning of our lives. An opportune moment for such a crisis is the entry into adult life, when the person may feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and too small to survive in such a big world. Also, failure to perceive a purpose in life can greatly affect one’s self-esteem. I could add here that the lack of belief in God plays a huge role in the existential crisis.
6. Unrealistic goals.
Sometimes we expect too much from ourselves or try to fulfill the unrealistic expectations of others (family, friends, colleagues) from us. Setting unrealistic goals (for example, to be liked by everyone) inevitably leads to failure to reach those goals and, consequently, to feel that everything you do is a failure.
7. Lack of knowledge and experience:
When people are not well trained in any field, they tend to have little confidence. But it’s not only the knowledge that plays an important role, but also experience. I would say that the highest weight has experience, which is the most applicable method of learning. By gaining knowledge and experience, confidence will gradually change
Practical things to do in order to restore self-esteem and gain self-confidence
Self-esteem and self-confidence is an attitude and, as such, can be changed over time. This process is not a simple one and often involves leaving the comfort zone, adapting to the situation and confronting fear.
If you want to increase these two qualities, you will have to make the decision to become aware of what you are doing and to move from a state of passivity to one of action. But to know what you have to do, you need to know what you really want, beyond what others want from you and to take responsibility for your life. To do this you need to give up all the misconceptions you have about yourself.
Beside doing the reverse of the causes of a low self-confidence, here are some things you can do to regain your self-esteem and confidence:
Now, before getting to the list of tips that you could use to restore your self-confidence, I want to enumerate two, most important, things you have to possess: self-awareness and problem solving! These two qualities are the foundation of resolving any problem that we have. How could you resolve your self-confidence problem if you’re not aware that you have this problem? And how could you come with a solution to your problems if your mind is not capable of problem solving thinking? How could you take the responsibility for your actions if you’re always complaining about them? Therefore, before beginning to this list, make sure you possess these two qualities.
1. Reconcile with the past:
For some people, this process may need the help of psychotherapy, but you can take the first step alone. Reconciling with the past does not necessarily mean that you no longer suffer for what happened or don’t care about what happened. It means finding a way to move on despite the suffering, without what happened to define you.
Making mistakes is not a problem. To repeat them endlessly can become. This will make you put yourself in a position of inferiority compared to those around you even before you begin.
And when you start something considering yourself inferior, you will doubt your ability to succeed.
Honestly and objectively. What caused those mistakes? What exactly – specifically, specifically and precisely – did your behaviour generate everything?
And what could you do better next time? And at the first opportunity strive to do so.
2. Carefully choose the people you spend your time with:
You need to be among people who appreciate you for who you are, not for what they can get from you. Besides this, you have to have some friends to help you to pass this depression. You have to have at least one friend to be able to open yourself completely, to share with him your thoughts, feelings, your pain. Having a friend is very healing… Moreover, your friend will watch after you so you won’t make even bigger mistakes. Trust me, you’re very vulnerable when you are in depression and have low self-confidence.
3. Do something new every time:
Do something that is out of your character, go on a different road to work, go on a city break, work from a cafe instead of working from home or office. Changing a single behaviour in this way can present your things in a different light and motivate you to make even greater changes in your life.
4. Get a hobby:
We all have things we have long wanted to do, but we never find time for them. We can say that we do not have time or money for them but, in reality, we know that there are solutions to do them if we are determined on this. When you have low self-esteem, you find excuses for not doing things, but in the end, the reason you don’t do them is because you don’t feel you deserve to care about what you are passionate about.
5. Do something for others:
Numerous studies show that helping other people is positively correlated with a high level of positive emotions and a general psychological well-being. When you help someone, remember that you also receive a benefit from that act of kindness, not just the person you help. In fact, it may be even greater for you.
6. Get to know yourself: your flaws and your merits:
We often have aspects of which we are somewhat ashamed. It may be that we are overweight (obesity). Or the fact that we don’t know how to behave in certain situations and make jokes.
Or we don’t like how we look. Maybe we consider ourselves inferior to those around us, which we think looks much better.
We each have such details that make us feel uncomfortable. More or less. But usually we “pull” them after us, without stopping for a moment and ask ourselves:
• Why do I feel uncomfortable / inferior in such situations?
• How exactly do I feel?
• What – concrete and specific – generates these feelings for me?
• What exactly – again, concrete and specific – if it were different (and how is it), would this feeling no longer exist?
• What – you guessed, concrete and specific – should I change to be in another situation?
At the beginning, however, it starts with accepting these situations. And accepting that you could be different.
More specifically: you’re a bit obese. Then go out daily and walk for 15 minutes. In a week, do not walk anymore, but run 5 minutes easily. Another week runs 15 minutes. Then 30 minutes. Or pay a coach to make a concrete plan and follow you if you stick to it. Or…
At first, you start by recognizing that you have taken a lot of weight on board and do not like how you look. And then you try different solutions.
I think you got the idea. Anything can be changed. Anything can be improved. Start by recognizing that you have a problem.
Also, count your merits. Make a list of your positive qualities and your successes so far. By doing this you will notice that you are not so bankrupt!
7. Use motivational materials:
The way you motivate yourself and how well you keep your motivation is one of the basic elements of personal development. And it significantly influences how much you trust yourself and your actions. How much trust you have in the words you speak, how much confidence you approach others.
As a result, find good quality sources that will give you daily motivation. Especially if you have a low level of self-confidence.
How to do this:
Read inspirational books that can give you daily motivation. You can start with titles such as Alchemist by Paulo Coelho or The Story of the Fisherman Jonathan Livingston by Richard Bach.
If you need more titles just email me and I’ll give you a list.
8. Speak positive about yourself:
Pay more attention to the language you use – when you speak or think – about yourself.
Eliminate as quickly as expressions like “I am dumb” (uses for example “I am very clever that I did so” in the funny sense), “I am fat like a pig” (you can use for example “I am a little fat, I have to give up for a while on cakes “). It reminds me of a friend from Sibiu who considers himself “a little fluffy”.
It always hunts the patterns of negative thoughts. And replace them with others that have a positive intention.
9. Accept the fear of failure as normal thing, not like something bad:
Fear of failure aims to mobilize you for a challenge. To increase your energy level and attention in the face of something difficult. Or just an unknown situation.
It’s not a bad thing, it’s just a part of us. Part of you. It exists to mobilize you to take action and not to fail. And no, you won’t die if you face it. If you accept it as a normal part of you.
10. Adopt the behaviour patterns of self-confident people:
According to a study, the attitude and general posture influence the energy level and self-confidence. Eventually, by adopting the behaviour patterns of self-confident people, it will induce a state of self-confidence in your subconscious. And by repeating these patterns, you will greatly contribute to your general self-confidence. To learn the patterns of behaviour of self-confident people, I recommend the book “The Book of Tells: by Peter Colet”
But start with the simplest of them though: maintain a straight posture!
Follow your posture and form your habit of not walking bent, your shoulders bent, as if overwhelmed by the burden of your problems. Keep your back straight, look in front, head up.
How to put this into action: Correct yourself every time you find yourself bent. Over time it will become a posture that you will instinctively take.
11. Dress to look good:
It would be great if the self-confidence we took only from within us. In reality, however, what surrounds us significantly influences us from this point of view.
And a pleasant aspect influences the confidence we have in ourselves. What we see in the mirror changes the way we perceive ourselves. And the one in which the people around us perceive us.
I am not an expert in the field, but I recommend that you pay attention to details such as:
• the size of the clothes you wear (to be tailor-made, neither too large nor too tight for you),
• the type of clothes you wear (to suit the environment in which you spend your time and the events you attend),
• the colors you wear (be pleasant, harmonize with each other)
You can ask the advice of some friends you like how they dress. Or you can learn by yourself to dress appropriately.
To become better at what you do you need to increase your level of competence. Effectively know more about the field.
Whatever your occupation, there are certainly seminars where you can learn more about the field, online courses or workshops held by experts. There are sites and blogs where you can learn more for free. There are books, video products or audio books. For greater depth, there are certifications for virtually any field
Research has shown that exercise can significantly increase our self-esteem. There are many mechanisms by which exercise increases our evaluations of our self. First, in the short-term, exercise enhances our mood and puts our mind in a more positive state. Second, in the long-term, exercise makes us feel good about our physical self – our abilities and physique. Last, and in both the short and long-term, exercise provides us with a sense of accomplishment that boosts our confidence. For better results, try to make a realistic workout plan. Don’t go with 2 hours daily, but start with 30 minutes every second day. Another tip would be to do it with a friend to have better motivation!
14. Search and find an object of faith:
Actually this is one of the most important things, even though it’s at the end of the list… Having an object of faith, gives you that unexplained peace and a reason to move on. When it seems that no one understands you, or if you have lost everything, or if it seems that you have to reason to live and to move on, this is the only thing that could really make a change. It’s like a spring of fulfilment! It will make you understand you’re loved by God… and not only to understand this… but you’ll feel it as well. You’ll have a great community of people who share the same beliefs, and that will create a sense of unity.
Surprisingly, I observed that even if you have a wrong object of faith, it has the power to give you peace and a reason. Now, you have to find your object of faith, and make sure it’s the right one.
I don’t have the interest to try to make anyone change their religion or their gods, even though I’d like to recommend my object of faith which is Jesus Christ. Studying the religions over the centuries, studying apologetics, I figured out that it’s the right one. Not sure? Try it!
15. Do not give up and repeat:
As I said before, restoring self-esteem and gaining self-confidence is not a simple process… It takes a lot of determination to move towards this goal and also takes a lot of resilience because you’re gonna go through a lot of dissapointment, fear and uncertainties. Always have this question before your eyes: how bad I want to restore self-esteem? It’s not that hard. You have to look only at the benefits you’ll get after succeeding…
What else can I say… Go for it. Be strong, cause you have the power to do it!