5 Ways to Boost Your Confidence

At it’s simplest, self-esteem is the way we feel about ourselves. It can vary a bit on an hourly or daily basis according to our experiences, but often, if we have a low self-esteem then it remains low regardless of what else is going on in life.

When we are children we learn about the world, other people and ourselves through the interactions we have with others. The way that others talk to us and treat us over time influences the way we see ourselves and the way we see the world. We learn whether other people are trustworthy, or not. We learn whether the world is a safe place for us, or not.

If we are given lots of love and positive attention then we will come to believe that we are worthy of being loved and of receiving attention. That’s the ideal. But life isn’t always that simple. Often parents have their own stuff going on and as much as they might love us and want to demonstrate that to us, sometimes we receive mixed messages or confusing messages and we can start to believe that we are only loveable if we are a certain way or if we behave in certain ways. Love can feel conditional and can make us feel like we aren’t loveable or worthy.

The messages we receive from others, whether explicitly said, or just implied from body language and responsiveness of those around us sets us on a path about how we feel about ourselves. We learn about whether the world revolves around us or whether we are a bit of an inconvenience to others.

In counselling, often you become aware of the messages you might have received about yourself and how they affect you currently. You can then decide whether the way you see yourself is working for you. The way you see yourself can change. Self-esteem can be pretty complex, so I don’t want to oversimplify it here, but I will give some tips as to how you might be able to start to work on improving the way you see yourself.

1. Identify your strengths – you don’t have to be good at everything. So often we are encouraged to identify our weaknesses or areas for growth and work on them, which can give us the message that we have to be good at everything. This can make you feel totally rubbish. Instead, try to identify what you are good at or what you really enjoy and do more of that. Make life work around your strengths and explore how you can utilise your strengths more to grow them further. If you improve what you are already good at and focus on what you can do, then it can give you a boost.

If you don’t know what you are good at and find it hard to identify your strengths, then there are lots of free strength finder questionnaires online where you answer some questions and they will tell you your top 5 things. Or maybe ask a couple of close friends or family members you trust about how they see you and what they think your strengths might be.

2. Listen out for compliments – learning to hear and accept compliments can feel really awkward and uncomfortable at first. We learn to filter out or deflect any messages we receive that don’t fit with how we see ourselves. So if we get a compliment, we often don’t really hear it, deflect it or just shrug it off. “They’re just being nice. They don’t really mean it. They say that to everyone.” Have you ever said something like that to yourself? We all do it. Try to listen out for positive things people say to you, even if you’re not sure if you agree with them at first. You can always weigh things up, but at least look out for them and try to hear them in the first place.

3. Celebrate the small stuff – often we don’t bother to celebrate what happens in life unless it is something dramatic like a graduation or a decade birthday. Start to notice the small things that go well in life or where you’re pleased with what you’ve done. Celebrate when you made it through the day even though it was hard. Celebrate when you saved some money or made your money last all month. Celebrate when someone at work thanked you for helping them or for doing something well. Celebrate when you try something new. Celebrate when a friend wants to hang out with you, so therefore they must like you. It is so easy to overlook the little stuff that happens in life, but it means that life feels out of balance. We notice negative things a lot more than positive, which can make life feel worse than it is. Start noticing the little things and celebrating the small stuff makes life feel a lot more positive.

4. Collect feedback – write down or gather together some ‘evidence’ of whenever things go well or you get some good feedback from others. You can have a notes folder on your phone or a box you put things in. You could add photos of times you’ve had fun or memories you want to treasure. Maybe cards people have sent you or text messages where people have said thank you or told you what they value about you. Having bits like this gathered together can be helpful for days when you feel overwhelmed or you’ve had a knock or feel totally rubbish about yourself. Having it somewhere that is easy to reach for means you can have a quick scroll on your phone or have a flick through a box of bits and remember that this feeling will pass and that sometimes you have better moments.

5. Give yourself a break – sometimes we expect way too much of ourselves and so set ourselves up to feel bad. It takes time to learn new things and failure is part of learning and success. When your inner critic kicks in and tells you all the things you’re rubbish at, that you’re failing at life and that everyone else is better than you, try to speak to yourself as you would to a friend. You are only human and so can’t be perfect or get it right all the time. Try to be kinder to yourself and more accepting, like you would be if it was happening to a friend. Treating yourself like you would a friend and talking more kindly and softly to yourself can stop you feeling like you’re falling short all the time.

Unfortunately there is no magic bullet and these things won’t turn things around overnight, but making small consistent changes to be kinder to yourself, to identify your strengths, to celebrate wins, collect feedback and listen out for compliments really can make a big difference.

If you want to do some work on what underlies your self-esteem then I’d love to work with you. Please do get in touch via my Contact page.

Find out about my workshop: Love Yourself First