A New Year, A More Confident You!
Author: Dr. Julie. Sorenson, DMFT, MA, LPC
Your Opinion Of Yourself Matters
One of my favorite quotes that I share with my clients is: “at the end of the day, the most important person’s opinion of me is that of my own.” Let that quote sink in a moment, how does it resonate with you? Oftentimes people are so concerned about what other people think about them that it lessens their confidence in themself. Of course, you may allow certain people may weigh their opinions of you, but remember your opinion of you is the most important.
What Causes Someone to Have Low Self-Esteem?
There are many reasons why someone may not feel good about themselves. However, here are a few things that may contribute to someone having lower self-esteem or self-worth.
- Experiences within one’s childhood such as abuse, neglect, and being a victim of bullying can impact the way someone sees themself.
- Feeling of not meeting the expectations of others, or the feeling you have failed or let yourself or your family down.
- In adolescence, there is a lot of pressure to fit in. This is a time when you are forming your identity. If you feel left out or like you don’t fit in, it can impact the way you view yourself.
- Not having positive experiences in a loving relationship. You may see yourself as not good enough if you don’t experience affection from family or friends.
Self-Esteem Affects Your Confidence
Having high self-esteem means that you like yourself and you can be your own best friend. You are the only person that goes everywhere with you, so you might as well like who you are. If you have medium self-esteem, you like who you are sometimes and sometimes you don’t. If your self-esteem is low then you don’t like yourself much at all. You may practice negative self-talk which could impact your daily life. You may be critical of yourself, sensitive when others provide you with feedback, focus on failure, become pessimistic, and remove yourself from social situations. The negative talk that you give yourself takes a toll on your confidence and can be emotionally exhausting.
Things People with Negative Self-Esteem May Say:
I am stupid
I am a failure
I am inadequate
I am ugly
I don’t deserve love
I don’t deserve to be a part of the group
I cannot succeed
There are many negative cognitions that people with lower self-esteem may say to themselves, the list above are just a few examples. When you have low self-esteem, and you are constantly saying negative things to yourself it changes your brain to notice the negative and not pay attention to the positive. The negative self-talk compounds the feeling of hopelessness.
Challenge Your Negative Thinking
The good news is that you don’t have to continue to sit in the negative thought process. You can change your mindset and build your confidence. It is important to understand you may have been saying negative things to yourself for many years, so changing the way you speak to yourself may take some time. Connect your strengths with your passions and identify your personal values. Don’t be afraid to ask others for feedback as to how they notice the changes you are making and how it is impacting your mood. When shifting your mindset think about starting your day with a positive thought, practice adding gratitude, and remind yourself of the successes you have had thus far. Your confidence won’t be restored overnight, it is a work in progress that will allow you to feel better about you.
Here are Some Helpful Strategies to Assist you in Building Your Confidence By Improving Your Self-Esteem.
- Turn your negative cognitions (or negative self-talk) into new beliefs.
- Once you believe the new beliefs, you can work on saying the positive thoughts that you wish you could say to yourself.
- Validate yourself
- Be aware of your strengths. If you aren’t aware of the strengths you possess, then learn them.
- Give yourself grace
- Remember it takes 30 days of consistency to change behavior.
Why Challenge Yourself to Stop Negative Thinking?
Building your self-esteem isn’t always easy. Matter of fact, redirecting the negative thought process can be challenging. Another quote that I often share with my clients is “When you challenge yourself, you step out of your comfort zone and that creates growth.” Every day is a step towards a more confident you, when you feel better about yourself you are more likely to:
- Try something new
- Meet new friends
- Feel better
- Be more willing to say yes to something that you have wanted to do before but didn’t have the confidence to do so.
How Do You Turn the Negative Thoughts into New Beliefs?
Let’s look at the negative thoughts that we discussed earlier and turn them into new beliefs.
|I am stupid.
|I am capable of learning new things.
|I am intelligent.
|I am a failure.
|I can become successful.
|I am successful.
|I am inadequate.
|I can learn that I matter.
|I am adequate.
|I am ugly.
|I am fine as I am.
|I am beautiful.
|I don't deserve love.
|I am capable of learning to believe that I deserve love.
|I deserve to be loved.
|I don't deserve to be a part of the group.
|I can learn that I am worth being in the group.
|I am an important member of the group.
|I cannot succeed.
|I am capable of succeeding.
|I am successful.
Notice how speaking these new beliefs affect you. It is not easy to change the practice of negative self-talk because it has been something you may have been doing for a long time. However, shifting your mindset can change your overall mood and the way you view the world. Our internal dialogue may be running on overdrive, we may or may not be aware of it. Stepping out of your comfort zone and making yourself self-aware, stopping to sit with the negative thought for a moment before allowing it to float away while you replace it with your new belief as well as what you would eventually want that belief to look like, will be a great start in re-building or building your self-esteem. If it is possible, track your progress and celebrate the success even if it is a small step.
How Will the New Beliefs Help Me?
Putting into the practice of saying new beliefs to yourself will assist you in several areas of your life such as work, home life, time with friends and spending time alone. When you improve your self-esteem it will be easier for you to recover from setbacks.
Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Self-Esteem!
- Focus on your current mood. Think of the 5 to 5! How will this impact me in 5 minutes, 5 hours, 5, days, 5 weeks, 5 months, or 5 years?
- Don’t overthink your future, live in the here and now.
- Accept yourself for who you are and know that it’s okay to make a mistake.
- Take ownership and accountability for your actions. Remember that your opinion of yourself trumps everyone else’s.
- Practice self-care, and remember it is okay to come first. The flight attendant on airlines always says, “You can’t help others unless you put your oxygen mask on first.”
- Set goals! Create a list of a vision board, some type of visual to let you know what you are working towards.
- Live for your authentic self.
- Take each day one step at a time, as you begin to learn to believe in yourself.
- Focus on being proud of you.
- Give yourself grace if you have setbacks.
You Aren’t Alone!
Remember you aren’t alone. Reach out to your support group. If you don’t have a support group look for one. Meet up Kalamazoo offers different groups, sports teams, book clubs, walking clubs, and gyms are a few. Contact a counselor to assist you in rebuilding your self-esteem if you need extra help. It is okay to admit to yourself that you aren’t okay and take care of your mental health. Start viewing yourself as worth it and you will notice positive improvements one step at a time.
Taibbi, B, 2022 5 Steps for Increasing Your Self-Esteem and Confidence, Psychology Today
Florko, L, 2022, How to Build Your Self-Confidence. Challenge unhealthy thinking, validate yourself and build on your success. Psychology Today
Dave, T, 2022 Six Ways to Build Self Esteem. Psychology Today