I concluded my article last month with a quotation from Billy Connelly, “There is no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes”, well during the month of June, in my part of Normandy, we have been put to the test and certainly have had to find the appropriate clothes to deal with the unpredictable weather; now at last we can strive confidently towards the summer we would like to enjoy; perhaps even an Indian summer, who knows?
An acceptance of the uncertainty that exists in all aspects of life is essential for a healthy self-confidence. Contrary to popular belief, nobody is born with self-confidence. Confidence is a state, a mindset that with the right behaviours and thought processes can be developed over time. Confidence and self-esteem are the essential building blocks to individuals being able to be, do and have what they want in life.
Low self-confidence and/or poor self-esteem can restrict any of us from fulfilling our true potential. I see as one of the most powerful functions of my coaching and life coaching practice, enabling people to understand how their mind works so that they can develop greater self-confidence in themselves and their ability to live the life they truly deserve.
Self-confidence comes from a belief in yourself and your ability to cope regardless of the outcome.
Self-esteem is not the same as self-confidence and to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem it is important to recognise the subtle difference between the two. Whilst both are linked they are not the same thing.
Self-esteem can be defined as a person’s overall appraisal of their own worth, therefore, self-esteem is a person’s sense of self-worth based on how they perceive themselves.
The negative thoughts that occupy our minds are the real cause of our self-defeating emotions.
There can be a tendency to evaluate our personal qualities in black and white. This type of thinking forms the basis for perfectionism, causes us to fear any mistake or imperfection because we will then have to deem ourselves useless or worthless.
We can over-generalise and conclude that one thing that happened to us on an occasion will occur over and over again, usually when the event that occurred was negative or unpleasant, or pick out a negative detail in any situation and dwell on it exclusively, creating a perception that the whole situation is negative.
We human beings have an incredible capacity to transform neutral or even positive experiences into negative ones. For example, when someone comments on how nice we look, we tell ourselves that they did not really mean it or point out all our flaws. We arbitrarily think the worst even if it is not justified by the facts of the situation. We blow things out of proportion or shrink them too much.
We take our emotions as evidence of the truth, for example “I feel stupid therefore I must be stupid”. This is misleading because our feelings reflect our thoughts and beliefs which can often be distorted.
We assume the blame for an event even when there is no basis for doing so, we conclude that what happened was our fault or reflects a supposed inadequacy.
Almost all negative emotional reactions inflict their damage only as a result of low self-esteem. A poor self-image can lead to a trivial mistake being interpreted as a colossal problem. Often our self-esteem is dependent on approval and/or success. We only measure ourselves by the way others look at us and by what we have achieved. A perfectionist drive for achievement and approval is self-defeating and unrealistic.
“No one can make us feel inferior without our consent – never give that consent” Eleanor Roosevelt.
Change your beliefs and you will change your world. So many people’s lives are governed by their self-limiting beliefs and negative thought patterns.
It is important to understand that it is our thoughts and attitudes – not external events – that create our feelings. We can learn to change the way we think, feel, and behave in the here and now.
This simple but for some – revolutionary – principal can help us change our lives.
Please send in any questions you have regarding confidence and self-esteem. These will be answered in this column next month. The subject of next month’s article will be Assertive communication.