How To Build Self Confidence ...by Stan Hyman, PhD, LCSW
Loss of confidence may not mean that you have a chronic case of low self-esteem. Having a low self-esteem problem means that you do not feel good about yourself or your accomplishments. People with chronic low self-esteem generally feel pretty bad about themselves almost all the time.
Suffering from low self confidence is a mindset that one can fall victim to from time to time. It is different from a chronic or lifelong state of mind that may be caused by depression.
You may not be predisposed to feeling depressed but begin to feel a loss of confidence, courage or self reliance because of extraordinary pressures. The external stresses of forces you cannot control begin to take a toll on your internal coping apparatus and you start to break down.
This process can be subtle, taking its time to seep into the fabric of your well being, slowly poisoning your spirit and wearing you down. The slow deterioration of your confidence, the faith you had in yourself, can become chronic and lead to depression.
Or it can be quick and powerful, crashing down on you like an avalanche. This feeling can take hold, for example, if you suddenly lose your job or become a victim of a crime or even find that your health or the health of a loved one is suddenly at risk.
When you experience an abrupt and unpredictable blow to your world it can have the effect of knocking the wind out of you emotionally. If you are not prepared for it and have little experience with this type of adversity it can cause real damage to your self confidence.
The consequences of losing your self confidence can be dire and can cause a chain reaction to occur. You can start to feel sorry for yourself, become withdrawn; develop bad habits that might impact your physical health, become unable to honestly evaluate yourself and your circumstances leading to poor judgment and bad decisions and generally devolve into a negative, gloomy person. If this lasts a while it becomes depression.
We humans are impressionable and, depending on our resilience, can be fragile or vulnerable at times. We all have the potential to fall victim to a loss of self confidence. Therefore it is in important be aware of the dangers and keep ourselves strong and flexible.
Building Self Confidence
If you have lost some self confidence during these turbulent times and are wavering between despair and hope, please consider using some of the self confidence building strategies set forth in this article.
In a way building your self confidence is like building your muscles through exercise, the more often you do it the stronger you get.
Take a step back: Take the time to really consider what is going on in your life, professionally, emotionally, financially and personally. Evaluate these areas carefully. Being thoughtful and accurately assessing your situation can help reduce the tendency to become anxious and hasty in decision making.
Look for opportunities: To quote Winston Churchill: “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty”. There is always something opportune that appears for someone whose mind is open, regardless of circumstance. Keep your mind open and your creative instincts will lead you to opportunity.
Take care of yourself: This seems so obvious but when you are feeling low you may have a tendency to neglect your health. Keep your vices to a minimum: drink less, eat well, exercise more often (unless you are already overdoing it), listen to good music, read good books and look for inspiration wherever you can find it.
Associate with positive minded people: We have all experienced being in the company of a whiner or a person with a negative mindset. This can be poisonous to a healthy attitude. (See How To Stay Positive). There are obvious benefits to mixing with people who have good attitudes about themselves, are self confident and upbeat.
Tolerate less:In the best of times you may not even notice the messy desk, disorganized file cabinet or your tendency to become distracted with minutia. You may have always been available to those who called upon you for help but now you need to help yourself. When you are feeling less confident your surroundings become even more important. It will help you to be less tolerant of clutter, more aware of your time and better focused on how to be more productive.
Make time to help others: This may seem like a contradiction of the previous point but it is not. If there is any way you can contribute to the enhancement of another person’s life set aside the time to do so. It is a positive experience to help another person, particularly when you don’t feel like you have to but when you really want to.
Recognize your achievements: When you suffer a loss of confidence you may tend to forget your good attributes and successes. This is dangerous and can cause a quicker decline. Reflect on and list all the successes and achievements you have attained in your lifetime. Include the personal as well as the professional. Realize that these are important and give you a foundation to continue to achieve good things.
Put worry aside: Don’t agonize or fret about things. Excessive worry can undermine your resolve and cause unnecessary anguish and loss of self confidence. It stifles creativity and drains energy. You may not find the solutions to your problems right away but worrying about them all the time won’t help.
Trust yourself: Confidence begets confidence. If you believe in yourself and your abilities you will find your way. It may require that you tap into your more spiritual side.
Be a loving and grateful person: Spend time with your family and friends. Be aware of life’s rewards and grateful for the ones you have. Learn to appreciate your good fortune and never give up hope as self confidence needs hope to grow.