Building Self-Confidence

Once considered an uncomfortable or even taboo subject, mental health has become an increasingly mainstream topic of discussion in recent years, as the stigma surrounding it has begun to fade away.

Still, there are many who find it challenging to establish and maintain self-confidence as a result of their difficulty coping with mental health and other life challenges. There are more still who are unable or unwilling to acknowledge their own struggles the negative impact on their lives.

What is self-confidence?

By definition, self-confidence is the belief in your own abilities to take on anything that comes your way. Self-confidence is knowing what you are good at and how to put that to use. It’s also about how you view yourself and carry yourself throughout the world. There will be things in life that knock you down and build you up, but no matter what they are it is important you know who you are and value yourself.

Self-confidence issues are often evident in those with depression, mood disorders and other mental illnesses. Because mental illness and the confidence issues that stem from it are not matters that should be avoided or swept under the rug, it is important to learn how to properly address these feelings and build up self-confidence, even when one is feeling down.

When individuals have high self-confidence, they value who they are despite their mistakes and flaws. This part is important because humans all make mistakes. It’s easy to be hard on oneself over shortcomings, but it is important to remember not to sweat the small stuff. For many, this is easier said than done.

Potential Sources of Low Self-Confidence

Low self-confidence is caused by many different factors and vary from person to person. But while the reasons may not be the same, the feelings of unworthiness and sadness are shared by many.

Some of the biggest contributing factors to low self-confidence come from childhood experiences. For example, if your parents or guardians were not very attentive and did not praise you for accomplishments, you likely felt forgotten about. These feelings, especially when experienced over and over again, easily translate into adulthood and impact the way you view yourself.

The same can also be said if your primary caregiver or an important adult figure in your childhood disapproved of the things you did. If they were quick to criticize everything you did as a kid, you probably felt like no matter how hard you tried nothing was ever good enough. This can also be a potential source of low self-confidence.

Bullying also harms your self-confidence. It can be especially traumatizing if there was no one there to comfort you after you were bullied as a child. The opposite is also true. If your primary caregiver was too supportive, you likely weren’t prepared well enough for the outside world. This can leave you feeling angry as you grow older, without the support of mom and dad in these undesirable situations.

Other common sources of low self-esteem include physical, sexual or emotional abuse. This is a sensitive issue that should be handled with caution. If you know anyone who has experienced this, it’s important that you be there for them when they need it most and help them in their daily lives. Additionally, religious beliefs can make you feel like you are always doing the wrong thing. It is important that you not be too hard on yourself.

The perception from the outside world is also a possible contributing factor of low self-confidence. Celebrities on social media are picture perfect — and oftentimes, we feel the need to live up to those same unrealistic expectations. The inability to do so can lead to low self-confidence.

Techniques, Exercises and Methods to Build Esteem

When you’re feeling low, building up your self-confidence is probably the last thing on your mind. Talking yourself up is often the only way out of a self-esteem slump. There are various techniques, exercises and methods you can practice to build your self-esteem. Each person responds differently to the methods.

Think about who you are and what your goals are. If you don’t have any goals, sit down and write up a list of personal and professional goals. When you have goals to work toward, it makes you feel valued. When you begin to check these goals off your list, your sense of accomplishment grows and your self-confidence skyrockets.

Another great way to build yourself up and overcome life’s challenges is to affirm yourself. Each morning or periodically throughout the day, take a few minutes to compliment yourself for the great job you are doing. This could be as big as a shout out from your boss for all of your hard work on the last assignment. Self-confidence comes from many different places and these are just a couple of them. The more you affirm yourself, the more confident you will feel.

If you are looking for a confidence boost, try something that scares you, try something new or learn a new skill. Perhaps you’ve always been envious of those who can knit blankets. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn how to change your own tire. Why not pick up a new hobby and teach yourself that you can do it too?

Practicing self-care is also another way to help improve your overall mental health, which can be directly linked to your self-confidence. Take a few minutes to yourself in the morning hours or whenever you have quiet time to yourself. Reflect on yourself and your life, and reward yourself for all your efforts by doing something that makes you happy. These are just a handful of the ways that you can build your self-confidence.

Resources for Building Self-Confidence

Breaking down the walls of mental illness and truly addressing your self-confidence issues is no easy task, but it is important to remember that there are many resources available. It may help to start by talking with a friend, teacher or family member that can help you fall in love with yourself all over again. If you are feeling depressed and low on self-confidence, it may be time to seek the help of a medical professional. Schedule an appointment with a psychologist or therapist to further discuss your feelings of self-worth. The earlier you start the conversation, the better.

A number of professional groups like the National Association for Self Esteem can also be helpful resources for building your self-confidence. By connecting with an organization such as that one, you can connect with people who are experiencing similar feelings and talk to experts and professionals that provide additional tips to build your self-confidence.

Self-help podcasts such as TED Talks and others can help you navigate any self-confidence issues. These talks are full of real-life, relatable stories that let you know you are not alone. You will also find tremendous support in online communities. People from around the world come together to discuss their feelings and lift up one another when a lack of self-confidence begins to hold them back. At the end of the day, your support system is likely going to be your greatest resource. Never self-diagnose. Always seek professional help from your doctor or a mental health expert.

Related Article: When to Get a New Mental Health Therapist

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