A lack of self-confidence is common. Low self-esteem can affect your motivation and can be damaging to your overall mental well-being and quality of life. But what is self-confidence, what causes a lack of self-confidence, and what can you do to increase self-confidence? Learn about healthy self-esteem and how to improve your sense of self-worth.
What is Self-Confidence?
Self-confidence is your belief in your abilities and worth, the confidence that you can handle tasks independently and cope with setbacks. To be confident, you are aware of personal strengths and weaknesses and can attribute successes to your qualities, not by coincidence; you are trusting your capabilities without losing sight of reality and overestimating yourself.
A healthy dose of self-confidence leads to a positive self-image, increasing opportunities for growth and self-development. Expressing opinions, showing initiative, and starting new things is easy. Acting confidently and calmly and preserving this, even in challenging situations. Self-confidence is therefore not only essential for your well-being; it also positively affects work performance. Therefore, maintaining self-confidence is a crucial skill for an ambitious professional.
Self-confidence develops throughout life, especially in childhood. In addition to your personality, your social environment is crucial in developing self-confidence. For example, someone raised in a protected environment may not have learned to have autonomy or form personal opinions. Bullying and recurrent criticism can also cause self-doubt and a decrease in self-esteem. When getting older, this can manifest in behavior or lack thereof. For example, it can lead to avoiding doing or saying something due to the fear of others' opinions. As a result, it is hard to acknowledge and recognize success, and there is no external validation from others, decreasing your self-confidence even more and resulting in a negative spiral.
Start Increasing Self-Confidence
It is perfectly normal to be insecure now and then. However, a continued lack of self-esteem can be a risk factor for health concerns such as depression or anxiety or lead to challenges in your personal or professional life. For change to happen, action needs to be taken. With the steps below, you can perform immediate, concrete exercises to become more confident.
1. Become Aware of Thoughts + Deconstruct
Self-criticism is one of the root causes of depression. Become more aware of the inner critical voice and be as understanding towards yourself as a good friend. Cognitive therapy teaches you to recognize unhelpful thoughts so you can change them. Practice is vital. For example, for the next seven days, think of a situation in which you felt insecure and answer the following questions:
- What was the situation? What happened? (Event)
- What did you do? (Behavior)
- What did you feel then? (Feeling)
- What did you think? (Thought)
2. Formulate Helpful Thoughts
When you lack self-confidence, you are likely to have unhelpful thoughts regularly. Examples of unhelpful thoughts are, “I can never do that, I am a failure, or I messed up situation X, everyone must think I am bad at my job.” These thoughts are not realistic and most definitely not increasing your self-esteem. Therefore, learning how to redirect these thoughts to have a more realistic view of reality and develop more self-confidence is essential.
Examples of helpful thoughts would be, “I did not handle situation X the best, but that is not a disaster, and I will probably do better next time, or This might not be my strong suit, but I have other qualities, or how could I get better at that?” When catching yourself with an unhelpful thought, try to replace it with helpful, more realistic thoughts.
3. Take on the Challenge
If you dread something or think you cannot do something, do not shy away from them and do it anyway. Positive expectations and setting realistic, achievable goals help ensure that what you will do is likely to succeed. If the bar is set too high for yourself, it will lead to disappointment. This experience teaches that you can do these things and will be able to do them again. The more practice, the easier it gets.
In addition, step out of your comfort zone regularly to try something new and challenging to gain new experiences, develop skills or gain insights. For example, take up a creative hobby, read more books, take a course, or do volunteer work. The more experience you gain in succeeding in challenges, the more confidence you build.
Reminder: Whatever you do or try for the first time, remember that it is expected that it might not go perfectly right away. It is okay to make mistakes now and then; making mistakes is the best way to learn.
4. Know Your Qualities and Accept Yourself
Everyone has personal talents, qualities, and character traits. Everyone is different, which is s a good thing. Clarify your qualities and successes by writing down what you are good at and the goals you have achieved. Also, write down the compliments that you receive. In addition, list the things you have accomplished in the past week instead of a to-do list. Again, focusing on the positives increases your self-confidence!
While many people can successfully address their self-esteem on their own, many need professional help to do so. Depending on your challenges with confidence, you may benefit from therapy or coaching with a professional working with self-esteem concerns.
Emerald Mental Health specializes in helping pilots and flight attendants via counseling and mental health coaching. Reach out for a free consultation through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.emeraldmentalhealth.com.