Self-esteem!… so what does it really mean? In simple words, Self-esteem is how we value ourselves, with respect to others. It is usually put to test when we have to face the outside world. It means feeling good about your own self. High self-esteem means that we love and accept ourselves for the way we are, and generally feel satisfied most of the time. Low self-esteem means that we are not happy with the way we are.
What is self-confidence?
To be self-confident is to be secure in yourself and your abilities.
Confident people inspire confidence in others: their audience, their peers, their bosses, their customers, and their friends. And gaining the confidence of others is one of the key ways in which a self-confident person finds success.
So we see that though these two words are similar, and used together quite often, they have different meanings. For example, you may easily go in front of a crowd and give a speech or a presentation. This shows your self-confidence. But at the same time, you may think very poorly about your own public speaking. And this shows a lack of self-esteem.
Quite often, self-confidence and self-esteem are used interchangeably to describe a person’s level of assurance, self-respect, poise, and security. The main difference is that confidence varies, while self-esteem remains constant.
So in this article, for convenience sake, I will be using the term self-confidence, for both self-esteem and self-confidence.
Understanding the relationship of our belief and confidence–
It’s interesting to understand how our minds really work. As we all know, our subconscious mind holds beliefs and “truths” about us that really aren’t changed much by external facts or proofs.
Our subconscious wants to protect us. After negative experiences, the subconscious develops defense mechanisms – After that negative social experience, for instance, your mind might have started to tell you: You don’t like social situations. You’re not good at them; you should avoid them altogether.
We expect so convincingly to fail at talking to new acquaintances – which we will ourselves get into having a bad time, letting our shyness take hold, and push ourselves to avoid meeting new people.
And the negativity becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy – to prevent us from feeling the hurt, or shame, or failure that we might have experienced. This defense, manifests as those automatic thoughts which, if left unchecked, persuade us to have these negative experiences over and over again.
So, you can have an outstanding performance where the critics rave. But if your unconscious mind is convinced that you’re a mediocre actor, you will approach your next role with the same dread and hesitancy. On the flip side, if the critics tear you apart but your unconscious believes that you’re brilliant, you’ll simply ignore those rotten reviews!
The problem is: Overcoming these negative thoughts is a real challenge.
These thoughts are automatic and deeply embedded in our minds. You look in the mirror – and bam!
The subconscious tells you not to like what you see. It happens unconsciously, automatically.
In other words, low self-esteem is often the result of flaws in our subconscious. Our automatic thoughts are irrational. They aren’t based on facts.
Characteristics of low self-confidence-
- Feels inferior to others
- Downplays or ignores their positive qualities
- Uses negative words to describe themselves such as stupid, fat, ugly or unlovable
- Unable to trust your own opinion
- Snapping back aggressively to criticism.
- Afraid to take challenges, being worried you wouldn’t overcome them
- Panicking and getting overwhelmed at crossroads in life.
- Negative self-talk and self-criticism
- Doesn’t believe a person who compliments them.
- Tolerate all sorts of unreasonable behaviour from partners in a relationship
- Fear of being judged by others
- Lack of self-care. E.g. alcohol, drugs, eating disorders, no personal hygiene, etc.
Causes for Low self-confidence-
Knowing that you have low self-esteem is the first step to improving and overcoming that mental habit.
- Physical ill-health
- Negative life events such as losing your job or getting a divorce, deficient or frustrating relationships, and a general sense of lack of control.
- People who are victims of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse or discrimination based on religion, culture, race, sex or sexual orientation.
- Traumatic childhood experiences such as prolonged separation from parent figure, neglect, abuse, etc.
- Negative authoritative / parent figure during childhood
- Poor academic performance during the school
- Negative body image for self
- Unrealistic goals
- Constant comparison
Ways to Increase Self-Confidence –
You may already be doing some of these things, and you certainly don’t need to do them all. Just do those that you feel most comfortable with.
- Having a positive inner dialogue about who you are and what all you have to offer to the world. Ask yourself what you fear the most and search within yourself for ways to cope up with these worries and fears. Throughout life, you might need to search within yourself again and again to find your own empowerment and strength.
- Childhood experiences of needs not being met, negative feedback from others, or due to a major negative life event. Knowing the source of your self-esteem problems can help you overcome them.
- Listen to your inner voice. When you have thoughts about yourself, determine whether they are positive or negative. If you have trouble evaluating this or noticing a pattern, try writing down thoughts you have about yourself every day for a few days or a week. Then look at the statements for patterns or tendencies.
- Investigate the source of your lowered self-confidence.
- Find a meaning life purpose
- Explore your creative side
- Make a list – of your strengths, achievement, and things you admire about yourself. Keep this list around your workplace or any place where you spend your time. And read this list regularly.
- Act the part – If you look ready confident and act the part you aspire to reach, you’ll not only feel in control, people will have much more confidence in you as well. Hold your head high, sit up straight, gently bring your shoulders back to align your spine and look directly at the other person when interacting.
- Dress the part – suit up for success. Dress up in clothes and accessories that make you feel good and confident. Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine.
- Speak assertively and confidently – Identify and challenge any negative thoughts that you may have about yourself, such as ‘I am a loser’, ‘I never do anything right’, or ‘No one really likes me’. To be taken seriously, avoid high-pitched, nervous chatter or twittering giggles in your speech. People will listen to you more attentively when they see the leader radiate from within you.
- Positivity– make conscious efforts to identify and avoid negative self-talk. Smile, laugh and surround yourself with happy, positive people. Think about what is important to you and where do you want to go.
- Prepare well – remember Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. The more prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel about your expertise and competency. Preparation will help you avoid getting tripped up by life’s unexpected glitches. Build the knowledge to need, in order to succeed. Focus on the basics.
- Take action – use what you have gotten in you and capitalize on your strengths. Set sensible, achievable goals and take appropriate actions to achieve them. Prepare well and act on your ideas. Keep stretching yourself step-by-step.
- Keep yourself grounded – people tend to become over-confident and over-stretch themselves once they start achieving their goals. Remind yourself to be more humble and open to new learning with each passing day.
- Pay special attention to personal hygiene – comb your hair, trim your nails, floss your teeth, wear clean clothes
- Eat healthy food
- Stay fit – exercise regularly, go for a walk or a run in the garden, join some sports or dance class
- Get enough sleep
- Have a positive and comfortable living space – keep it clean and tidy, display items that remind you of your achievements, or the special times and people in your life.
- Do things you like and enjoy doing
- Finish your To-Do list – e.g. cleaning your cupboard, filling the papers, washing the windows
- Help others – volunteer for a cause, help someone, make donations for a good cause, visit a friend/relative who is sick, and make someone smile. Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.
- Talk to your family and friends about what you are going through.
- Connect with your loved once – talk to them, spend more quality time with them
- Professional help – at times when you feel that things are out of your control and you might want some professional help from a mental health care professional, who are trained and experienced to help people with a variety of difficulties. Hypnotherapy is one of the ways which can help you.
Hypnosis for Self-Confidence –
Hypnosis is a state of altered awareness in which access is available to the subconscious mind. It’s a state in which your mind becomes highly aware and highly suggestible. It’s a state of deep relaxation, in which the conscious mind is able to concentrate acutely on a specific thought, emotion, memory, or sensation while blocking out all other distractions.
Unlike the “sleep state” in which you are oblivious of what is happening around you, the hypnotic state is one in which the conscious mind is awake and aware of what is going on, simultaneously providing access to the subconscious mind.
The beliefs that we hold in our subconscious mind affect everything that we observe (or don’t observe), our emotional reactions, and how we perceive things.
So real self-confidence, or lack of it, is based on the beliefs that we hold in our subconscious mind. The only way to permanently change your level of self-confidence is to work with the unconscious to release limiting beliefs and install more positive, confident beliefs. Utilizing hypnotherapy, we can access these unconscious, automatic thoughts, and through the power of suggestion, we can begin to unseat and reframe them.
Hypnosis is a powerful tool for targeting the root cause of low self-confidence and help prevent those negative, overly critical thoughts from telling us how to feel about ourselves and empower us to get rid of those negative thinking patterns.
Hypnosis repairs the mind, by helping us re-teach the subconscious to be a more supportive partner in our day-to-day lives. Taking out all those irrational, negative thoughts, and repopulating the subconscious with more helpful information. It gives you the power to make that shift in perspective consciously. Seeing yourself from a different point of view can bring change to mind, almost immediately.
In complex cases, a hypnotherapist uses numerous techniques for empowering and repairing the subconscious mind.
He or she may also make statements about how wonderful your newfound confidence feels, and how easy it is for you to achieve any goal you desire. He may address particular issues you have, such as feeling more confident with the opposite sex, or in your career, or speaking in front of people. These issues are often addressed upfront so that the hypnosis session is tailored to fit your particular goals and needs with regard to your confidence issues.
I’ve heard people say “HOPE is not a strategy.” That may be the case, but without it, it’s unlikely that you will make ANY strategy.
You can never be sure until you do it. You can fool yourself into thinking it will definitely be OK, develop some powerful optimism, but you can never be 100% sure. Used in the right way, hypnosis reduces the feeling of uncertainty to tolerable levels, so you can go and do that thing that used to terrify you. But when it comes down to it – it’s down to you to make the final leap.