How to Build Your Self-Confidence and Improve Your Self-Esteem
What is The Difference between Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence?
Self-esteem and self-confidence are sometimes confused. Self-esteem is about how you see or value yourself. It is the way you feel about your worth. It is whether you feel you are good, not so good or even bad. It is the inner judgment of your worthiness as a person.
Self-esteem is borne out of the early experiences we have in life. It is greatly influenced by the way we have been treated by our family and friends throughout our formative years. If we have been taught to value ourselves by being treated with respect and kindness as we develop from childhood, we have a good chance of developing good self-esteem.
Self-confidence has to do with the way we feel about our abilities to accomplish tasks or engage with others. Self-confidence is about trusting your judgment to make good decisions and feeling capable of meeting your objectives.
You may have some self-confidence but feel you need to build more because self-confidence varies from situation to situation. It is developed from accomplishing tasks, overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. A person can have low self-esteem and still feel confident in his abilities to achieve specific goals. Conversely, a person with high self-esteem may lack self-confidence.
However, having good self-esteem strongly contributes to your self-confidence thus enabling you to feel that you can achieve success.
Tips for Building Your Self-confidence
Making Good Decisions…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. Self-confidence is built by carefully assessing and understanding your environment.
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses: You might be a very creative person who knows how to engage and influence people. On the other hand you may also be impulsive, causing you to make hasty and regrettable decisions. Understanding your strengths and weaknesses should inform the way you approach a challenge thus creating a better opportunity for success leading to an increase in your self-confidence.
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.
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 and undermine self-confidence building. There are obvious benefits to mixing with people who have good attitudes about themselves, are self-confident and upbeat.
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. Not only will you be feeling good about yourself (building self-esteem) but you will also raise your self-confidence by helping someone achieve their goals.
Take good care of yourself: This seems so obvious but 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.
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. The more productive you become the more self-confidence you are likely to have.
Reflect on and recognize your achievements: When you suffer a loss of confidence you may tend to forget your good attributes and successes. Reflect on and list all the successes and achievements you have attained in your lifetime. Include the personal as well as the professional.
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 and have recognized previous accomplishments, you will find your self-confidence improving. This is not about fooling yourself into believing something that isn’t true but more about believing in you. Self-doubt can contaminate self-confidence.
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.
Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem
Having good self-esteem really has to do with accepting yourself for who you are and having a sense of pride about yourself as a person. We tend to judge ourselves as compared to others, often in a materialistic and unrealistic fashion. If we want to make a positive shift in the way we feel about ourselves there are certain fundamental things we need to do.
Break the Pattern of Harsh Self-Judgment
People with poor self-esteem tend to be their own worse critics. This tendency was developed a long time ago as you were growing up and has become automatic, a habit or pattern with a life of its own.
You may not be fully in touch with what you say to yourself when you are self-critical but it is very important to know. To change these negative patterns take the following steps:
- Write down your negative, critical thoughts as short declarative sentences (for example: “I never do anything right”). These are typically not based in reality but are an exaggeration of negative thinking.
- Then write down your counter-thoughts also in short declarative sentences (for example: “There are a great many things that I do well”). These thoughts are more evidenced based and not driven by those negative patterns.
- Whenever you notice the negative thought pattern identify what specifically you are thinking and apply your counter thought for balance. Practice this often.
Don’t Discount, Validate!
Although having low self-esteem is not necessarily the same as feeling depressed, there are some similarities. One of those similarities is not giving yourself credit for the things you may have been able to accomplish but instead focusing on what you perceive as your failures, thereby discounting much of the success in your life. Recognizing what is good and valuable in your life, accomplishments and relationships you have developed, validates your worth as a person.
Put Perfection Aside and Learn the Strategy of Good Enough
People who are only satisfied with being perfect are often disappointed. A new mother who obsesses about harming her child emotionally because she has become short tempered at times may not recognize all the other good things she is actually doing with her child. Being good enough is often more than adequate. Trying to be perfect all the time can lead to feeling inadequate.
To improve your self-esteem begin thinking of yourself as good enough: A good enough parent, a good enough friend, a good enough partner, etc. Obviously if you need to improve on those things you should take the time to do so.
Being Physically Healthy Promotes Healthy Self-Esteem
For many this statement seems like a no-brainer. However, if you are struggling with low self-esteem paying attention to your health and doing all you can to live a healthy lifestyle can be of enormous benefit to feeling better about yourself.
Learn to Be Happy With Who You Are: Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
There is a tendency for most of us to compare ourselves to others and make judgments about that comparison. Judgments such as: we are not as tall as someone, or as slim or as rich or as beautiful or as smart or as accomplished, etc.
Accepting yourself for who you are, as a unique, worthwhile human being in a world where differences should be celebrated is an important step towards improving your self-esteem. We all have imperfections and recognizing that perfection is an illusion can foster self-acceptance.
About the Author
Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as infidelity, careers and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work life balance.