What an arrogant statement, you may be thinking – but on the contrary: It is good for you to know what you are good at and to be proud of it! Clearly, no one is perfect. However, a lot of people put themselves down and make out that they are worse than they really are. In today’s blog, I will explain to you what it means to have good self-esteem and what influences it. And in three weeks’ time, I’ll give you some concrete tips on how to strengthen my self-esteem.
The importance of self-confidence cannot be overestimated. After all, the way you see yourself and feel about yourself determines the image you project (consciously or unconsciously) to other people, thus influencing their view of you. This Your level of self-confidence also shapes the way you act – and therefore has an impact on your entire private and professional life. “We can be our own best friend or our own worst enemy”, as the online magazine www.eatmovefeel.de says. All people have an inner critic who “follows them every step of the way and comments on their behavior and personality”, is how the German psychotherapist Rolf Merkle so aptly describes this. We have too little confidence in ourselves, criticize ourselves and put ourselves down. Do we allow the inner critic to dominate us and make us smaller? Or do we stand up to it by focusing on our strengths and accepting our weaknesses?
Many people have ‘pseudo’ self-confidence that makes them appear confident on the surface. In his interesting book ‘How to gain more self-confidence’, Merkle points out that these people think they can strengthen their self-esteem by being successful, accumulating wealth, cosmetically altering their appearance, knowing a lot of people and gaining plenty of recognition from those around them. These people’s self-esteem is based on performance and outward appearance, and it is dependent on gaining recognition from others – meaning that logically, it is easily undermined. Of course, each one of us needs appreciation and affection, both privately and professionally. However, these people are recognition ‘junkies’ and are addicted to achieving outwardly visible success. They expect praise when they do something well or make a special effort, and they define their value as individuals entirely on that basis. In reality, however, healthy and stable self-confidence can only come from within.
No self-enhancement to please others
Accepting yourself as you are is the basis for good self-esteem. It is about thinking that you are great just as you are and not having to continuously try to enhance yourself to please others. An unknown author once expressed this perfectly: “I am not in this world to be what others would like me to be”. And liking yourself unconditionally has an additional, positive impact: The more we value ourselves, the more we appreciate others and can give them real recognition.
A lack of self-confidence is usually the result of experiences during early childhood or at school that leave a lasting impression on you. That is why it is important for those of you who are parents to know that you should not only praise your children when they have done something well but also let them know they are loved, no matter what they do and what others think about it. The newsletter zeitzuleben.de summarizes this effectively: “Children often have the feeling that they are not okay just as they are.” Over time, external criticisms evolve into an internal critic who makes life difficult for us. This is because one of the two main fears behind a lack of self-confidence is the fear of being rejected. That is why we all need appreciation and attention – but we should first give them to ourselves before expecting them from others.
Don’t be afraid to make mistakes
The second fundamental fear that contributes to a lack of self-esteem is the fear of failure. However, it is only by trying something again and again (and sometimes failing) that you actually achieve it (I’ll talk about this more in my blog in mid-November on the subject of perfectionism). For many people, failure is a huge tragedy (see also my blog about failure [Link], which attracted one of my largest readerships ever). However, failing or making a mistake also has a positive side: This is how you learn and become stronger.
I was impressed by the reaction of IBM founder Tom Watson when one of his employees made a mistake that cost the company USD 600,000. Someone asked why he was not firing the employee. He answered: “I just invested USD 600,000 in his education. Why would anyone else get this experience for free?” And the former basketball star Michael Jordan shows that your attitude to failure decides whether you continue to believe in yourself or fall victim to your inner critic: “In my career I have taken more than 9,000 shots. I have lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I was the player who could have won the game but I missed the shot. I have failed again and again. And that’s exactly why I’m successful.” www.karreriebibel.de very aptly wrote: “Self-confidence does not come from always being right but from not being afraid to be wrong”.
In my next blog, which will be published on October 23, 2018, I will give you some practical tips on how you can (re)build your self-confidence.
© Claudia Kraaz