We often consider a lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem an innate personality trait that we must live with. But poor self-esteem can cause severe damage, from not feeling able to speak up in a work meeting or at school to longer-term dangers such as self-sabotaging behaviours and relationship problems.
Recognising the signs of low self-esteem is the first step in improving self-confidence. Everyone has moments when they feel low, but if negative self-beliefs hold you back, it's time to take control and make some changes. Our daily habits and ways of thinking affect how we perceive ourselves, so it's vital to cultivate healthier behaviours and positive thoughts.
How we treat ourselves reflects our sense of self-worth and vice versa. So we can opt to create life-enhancing or life-degrading patterns of behaviour. When we get caught up in negative thought patterns and harmful behaviours, we feel ashamed and inadequate. When we cultivate healthy habits and positive thinking, we feel better and proud of ourselves.
Spotting bad habits and replacing them with helpful behaviours and positive thoughts can boost your self-esteem and help you feel better about yourself. Here are ten things that are bad for your confidence and some ideas on how to deal with them.
You are what you tell yourself you are. So if you listen to an "inner voice" that is constantly criticising and putting you down, you will believe that you are worthless and that you will never be good enough. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ways of looking at things, you can reduce depression, anxiety and stress. And your physical health may also improve.
If performance anxiety is holding you back at school or work, Bach Flower Mix 44 can support you in nurturing a more positive outlook and boost your self-esteem.
Comparing yourself with others can sometimes be positive, encouraging us to emulate their achievements. But it can also be toxic, damaging our self-confidence as we come to believe that our intelligence, our body, or our career is less valuable than that of another person. Research has shown that people feel happy and confident when they find out that they did well on a task, but if they learn that others did even better, their self-confidence decreases. So keep your focus on your life goals, and try not to dwell on what others are doing.
Do you find you constantly try to keep people happy by agreeing to things that you don't really want to do? Practice being more assertive and say no sometimes. It sounds counter-intuitive, but when you say "no" to something you don't want to do, you are really saying "yes" to yourself. You are also reinforcing your thoughts and staying true to who you are.
It can be frustrating if you end the day feeling like you've wasted time and achieved nothing. So writing a to-do list and ticking off items as you go can be very helpful and give you a sense of achievement.
Finishing tasks too early or not even starting them because you fear you won't succeed will damage your self-confidence. You are letting anxiety rule your life and will soon find yourself stuck in a rut, and the boundaries of your world will shrink. Every time you swerve something because you're afraid of failing or looking stupid, it reinforces your belief that you are a failure. So whether it's an interview for your dream job or a social occasion that you're worried about, don't miss opportunities because of fear of failure. Instead, take a deep breath and go for it!
When you mistreat others, you will drive them away and may find that you are surrounded only by others with low self-esteem. And if you treat other people badly, you will feel bad about yourself, and your sense of self-worth will decrease. But, on the other hand, when you treat other people with respect, consideration and kindness, your self-confidence will blossom.
Always feeling like you're the victim disempowers you. It's not always true when you tell yourself that you're put upon and that others take advantage of you. But when you believe this myth, you have no incentive to try to change things. Stop blaming others for everything that happens and take control, replacing negative beliefs with positive ways of thinking.
Using or abusing alcohol, drugs, or food to help us cope with feeling sad or anxious may seem to be a quick fix, but these addictive behaviours only mask the real problem. Everyone goes through periods when they feel sad and blue, and we must teach ourselves to handle these challenges. We learn that the worst of times will eventually pass and that we have the resilience to deal with emotional upsets.
A very sedentary lifestyle is bad for your mental and physical health. So when you're feeling low, don't stream yet another episode of your favourite box set; instead, get physical. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to go to the gym. Go out for a walk, clean the house, or mow the lawn. Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your self-esteem and lift your mood.
The internet is a blessing but can also be addictive! Spending too much time on social media can mean you are constantly comparing your life and accomplishments to the seemingly perfect lives of other people. Remember that nobody is perfect, and people mostly post a carefully edited version of their lives.
Improving your confidence needs work, but you have the power to do it. Don't keep ruminating on past mistakes and failures - instead, treat yourself as you would treat a friend, and practise self-forgiveness. None of us can be perfect, but we can all change if we want to!
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