SELF ESTEEM, CONFIDENCE, ARE THEY THE SAME THING?
Photograph courtesy of Jared Nicholls
I often have clients who come to me and when I ask them what they want, they tell me that what they want more than anything is to be confident. Usually if a client tells me this, I will immediately ask them if there is anything in their life which they can do really well, and nearly always the client can tell me that there is. These things that people can do really well can be anything, from swimming a perfect butterfly, creating beautiful carvings, or baking a superb cake. There is always something that the client can come up with. Once these clients have told me about there abilities, I can ask them, “do you feel confident then in this particular area of your life,” and of course they say, “yes”.
CONFIDENCE is something we can feel about certain aspects of our lives. It is something which we can aquire through learning a certain skill, or group of skills. It is also something which we may feel in certain circumstances, for instance, we may feel totally at ease, and confident to voice our opinion with our friends, but not confident to do so in front of strangers or work colleagues.
SELF ESTEEM concerns the core beliefs we hold about ourselves, both positive and negative - thus the terms 'high self esteem' and 'low self esteem'. These beliefs which we hold to be true, are a result of the experiences we have had during our life, consequently a person who has experienced a lot of negative experiences may have a lot of negative beliefs resulting in 'low self esteem'.
When we have negative beliefs about ourselves, these beliefs will manifest in various ways; negative thoughts, self criticism/doubt, poor eye contact, drooping shoulders, bent body unwillingness to take risks, difficulty in making decisions etc. Negative beliefs effect our emotional state also, creating anxiety, sadness, anger and so on. Unless we can find a way to deal with these negative emotions the effect can impact on our bodies, causing tension, tiredness and ultimately can cause illness.
It is important to be aware that 'low self esteem' may only present at certain times in a persons life. For instance, at times of intense stress, during or after illness, during problems in a relationship, or if a person is clinically depressed, during times such as these negative beliefs may appear. These beliefs need to be addressed and ways found to enable the person to re-establish positive thinking patterns. If a person is suffering from depression, medical intervention may be needed in the way of medication in order to assist the person return to full health and positive thinking once again.
WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR LOW SELF ESTEEM?
Low self, esteem as mentioned above, is a result of negative beliefs we have about ourselves. When we want to increase self esteem we need to work on our beliefs. Have you ever had a belief which you found out at some point was not true? Think of one now........... What belief have you had in the past which you now know just is not true? If you have managed to identify a belief you will now know that beliefs can and do change. How many people begin smoking as young adults, believing it to be cool, and trendy? Twenty years on, how many have the same beliefs? As we grow up we take on all kinds of beliefs, many of which may not be true and some of these beliefs will involve what we believe about ourselves. Sometimes these beliefs are deeply embedded in our psyche and therefore it is beneficial to work with a counsellor or coach who is experienced in working with self esteem and will help you identify any limiting beliefs you may have.
When I work with self esteem the following areas are covered:
- Learning about Beliefs.
- Belief Change.
- Values ( personal guiding principles which guide our life) – discover what your values are.
- Negative -v- Positive thought patterns (learning about how our thoughts influence our behaviour).
- Identity (discovering who you are – who you are really!).
- Habits ( are your habits useful to you or would you benefit by changing some of them. (we are what we constantly do).
- Finding value in your own opinion of yourself (people with low self esteem usually want validation from others).