Self-Confidence can seem to thrive within us one moment and be gone the next. It can attach itself happily to one or even a few of our activities and bolster the way we feel about ourselves. Yet it can literally vanish regarding the rest, leaving us with a low or non-existent sense of self-worth or self-esteem in those areas of our life. Then all too easily, we can allow this negativity to grow in us like an infection. We can let this negativity get to us in the way we most often think about ourselves, and worse, in the way we talk to ourselves. This in turn merely reinforces a vicious circle of thought in our mind. It raises fundamental doubts about our whole being and validity. This causes overall self-confidence to ebb away quickly and completely. So how can we best confront this?
First, I believe there are some helpful principles well to keep in mind.
It is very easy to generalise, but I am certain as much of our problem relating to creating and sustaining self-confidence lies in our past as it does in our present. We can have had a childhood where much or little was done to build our self-confidence. Our schooling can have helped or hindered across the board at the hand of good or bad teachers. We can have fed our opinion of ourselves on either these positive or negative messages.
Lack of self-confidence is a very common affliction. And, it can have had an even deeper and more surprising origin. Would you believe, we can have infected ourselves! Why? And how? There are any number of reasons, but let me give one. We can have been left alone a lot as a child. Or as siblings we can have been left alone together. Rightly or wrongly, we could have been hurt by this. If so, we could have tried to position this hurt in our mind – and heart. We will have done this so that we could somehow better explain it to ourselves and live with the hurt better. How? Here comes the hammer blow! We told ourselves we were not good enough to love, and were not worth the attention.
Do all children – even siblings, react in the same way? Seemingly not. The degree of reaction may vary widely. And of course it can be countered by positive messages coming from parents or teachers when we were with them.
However, once this notion of not being worth love or attention is formed, its hidden effect through our life can be insidious. When any marginally related example of it occurs later in life, the emotional reminder of this sub-conscious notion can kick in with a vengeance, almost as though to say, “There you are! Told you that you are no good!”
Worse, give the notion disproportionate room in one’s mind and it can then actually seem to go on relentlessly looking for examples to prove its point! Each time it finds it, it crushes your sense of self-esteem and self-confidence!
So, all the more reason is there in my view, to revisit one’s childhood. Don’t do it to apportion blame but to find cause. Find it and strange to tell, this can provide a great source of peace and reconciliation within oneself. It can at least identify the way one did think and pattern and flag up that one should not now keep doing it.
So what about our lack of confidence we feel today, at this moment?
This needs some simple personal re-assessment and then some simple and honest admissions.
Ask the question, “Given the age and the stage of my life I am at, what have I done and do I do well, despite my negative feelings about myself?”
I am sorry, but I refuse to accept that you are unable to think of anything! Even if you are not masterminding a business, then running a home well, cooking to ensure a balanced diet are among a whole raft of vital skills to ensure an effective and enjoyable life. There will be hobbies and creative skills too, whether it be flower arranging, garden management, painting or drawing, or serious amateur fishing.
Now I can hear the comment, “Yes but I can do those already so that I don’t count those!”
Exactly so! We take existing skills for granted merely because we can do them. Yet most of us ignore one feature: there are key ingredients common to them all as achievements!
Let me explain.
Each of all these skills I have mentioned appear at first sight to be unique in every respect. They are not! Not by a long chalk! They are unique only to about 20% at most of what we do in each case. Whether one is intent on creating a new flower bed or painting a picture, one brings a whole raft of common skills to each one. Powers of visualisation, motivation, planning, organisation, perspective, colour, commitment and persistence – are all vital ingredients every time. Only then comes the awareness and grasp of the actual skills unique to the particular activity. And an infinite amount of help material is available on each!
Conduct that simple but necessary analysis of the common ingredients you have already adopted and see the result in terms of self-confidence. Now facing the new challenge, listen to your self talk! One bit will still be struggling vainly to re-establish the old truth by telling you that you are useless, incapable and wasting your time. But now, I guarantee that there will be a new voice saying this: “Surely with all the other things I now admit I do rather well, haven’t I demonstrated that I am already 80% of the way towards realising any new challenge? And I didn’t let myself stand in my own way to achieve what I have already done, so why stand in my own way now? (Or, if I am honest, with some of them I did stand in my own way initially, but, hey, I can do them well now!)
Always, praise, encourage and be a positive influence to others in the acquisition of additional skills. Oddly, by so doing, sub-consciously we actually encourage and influence ourselves.
Don’t boast, but never, never, never talk yourself down – to yourself or others! Don’t spend much time with people who talk themselves down – and never agree with them when they do!
I wish you success. You are worthy of it.