Self confidence is hard for most people to develop. We all struggle with low self esteem at sometime or other. Here are some ways to increase your self confidence.
Self-esteem is the way you think about yourself and what you expect of yourself. The foundation for positive self-esteem is built at an early age and is influenced by relationships between you and your family. Your feelings about yourself will change as you grow. Praise and criticism from parents, friendships at school and attitudes from teachers will continue to affect you from preschool through high school. Persistent criticism, teasing and failures can make you feel worthless. Praise, support and finding something you are good at can help you develop confidence in yourself.
That confidence, or lack of it, may affect decisions made during puberty. All kinds of peer pressure and outside influences can guide you as a teenager and affect your decision making process. The depth of your self-esteem also affects those decisions, whether it's about playing one sport over another, who to hang out with, which electives to take in school or other situations such as smoking, drinking, or deciding to have sex.
We all have a mental picture of who we are, how we look, what we're good at, and what our weaknesses might be. We develop this picture over time, starting when we're very young kids. The term self-image is used to refer to a person's mental picture of himself or herself. A lot of our self-image is based on interactions we have with other people and our life experiences. This mental picture (our self-image) contributes to our self-esteem.
Self-esteem is all about how much we feel valued, loved, accepted, and thought well of by others — and how much we value, love, and accept ourselves. People with healthy self-esteem are able to feel good about themselves, appreciate their own worth, and take pride in their abilities, skills, and accomplishments. People with low self-esteem may feel as if no one will like them or accept them or that they can't do well in anything.
We all experience problems with self-esteem at certain times in our lives — especially during our teens when we're figuring out who we are and where we fit in the world. The good news is that, because everyone's self-image changes over time, self-esteem is not fixed for life. So if you feel that your self-esteem isn't all it could be, you can improve it.
Self confidence is often hard to come by. Many people suffer from low self esteem. We are always much harder on ourselves than we are on others. We kick ourselves for seemingly small mistakes. We believe others are prettier or smarter or better than we are. Ironically, others can think that we are wonderful, but we cannot see ourselves that way. Low self esteem can be damaging and can inhibit our lives.Fortunately, time and experience are good teachers. As we grow and mature physically, we usually grow and mature mentally, emotionally and spiritually, as well. We usually learn, out of want or necessity, to live with ourselves, then like ourselves, then love ourselves. And the truth is, that we cannot fully love another until we learn to love ourselves.
So how confident do you seem to others?
Your level of self-confidence can show in many ways: your behavior, your body language, how you speak, what you say, and so on. Look at the following comparisons of common confident behavior with behavior associated with low self-confidence. Which thoughts or actions do you recognize in yourself and people around you?
Doing what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.
Governing your behavior based on what other people think.
Being willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things.
Staying in your comfort zone, fearing failure and so avoid taking risks.
Admitting your mistakes, and learning from them.
Working hard to cover up mistakes and hoping that you can fix the problem before anyone notices.
Waiting for others to congratulate you on your accomplishments.
Extolling your own virtues as often as possible to as many people as possible.
Accepting compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that prospectus. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”
Dismissing compliments offhandedly. “Oh that prospectus was nothing really, anyone could have done it.”
As you can see from these examples, low self-confidence can be self-destructive, and it often manifests itself as negativity. Self-confident people are generally more positive – they believe in themselves and their abilities, and they also believe in living life to the full.
It is logical to always want to get to the root of a matter in any concept - positive or negative. After all, we’ve all been made to believe that the only way forward is to look backwards.
Almost always, this truth holds because only then can we see the true lessons that will guide us through life. Knowing the cause of anything - whatever it is implores careful analysis and research. The concept of Self Esteem is a very significant phenomenon in any individual’s life. It is the reason we fail or succeed, we laugh or cry, we rejoice or wail. Low Self Esteem will cause you those negative things you only wish for your enemies.
Low Self Esteem will make you act indifferently, negatively to the various events that occur in your life - which is the whole essence of living - the reaction, the responses, how we choose to organize ourselves in the midst of difficulties. So let’s get to the basics. Low Self Esteem is never born into you. It’s not like being shy which we may believe have some genetic factors to it. Low Self Esteem starts at a very early stage in our lives; it can however begin at a latter time in our life. Low Self Esteem can be the result of our background, our status - as we grow in age, we tend to interact, for we cannot live all by ourselves.
When we have these interactions, we begin to see a whole different scene induced by our conversations - the gap, the social status in the intonation, the beauty, the physique, the personality, the intelligence and lots more. At this point, when you give in to the pressure that you’re not complete except by being like the other person, you no longer live yourself - other people’s opinion now dictates your sense of taste, of smell, of perception towards life and of living. Your life begins to dwindle, it begins to drift, gradually, you no longer feel happy and comfortable with yourself, as a result, nothing seems to please you about yourself which is low Self Esteem. Influences from the media [TV, Press, Radio, and the Internet] can also cause you low Self Esteem.
The over flogged idea of trying to model yourself to suit "the ideal lifestyle, life of the famous and the rich, the superstars" can really destroy your Self Esteem. It is a blow to your whole perception of yourself and your world. Parents could also cause low Self Esteem. A home where there’s no love produces nothing but negativity. A situation where you are not praised by who you are, what achievements you have made cannot encourage you to feel happy about yourself.
Before a person can overcome self-esteem problems and build healthy self-esteem, it helps to know what might cause those problems in the first place. Two things in particular — how others see or treat us and how we see ourselves — can have a big impact on our self-esteem.
Parents, teachers, and other authority figures influence the ideas we develop about ourselves — particularly when we are little kids. If parents spend more time criticizing than praising a child, it can be harder for a kid to develop good self-esteem. Because teens are still forming their own values and beliefs, it's easy to build self-image around what a parent, coach, or other person says.
Obviously, self-esteem can be damaged when someone whose acceptance is important (like a parent or teacher) constantly puts you down. But criticism doesn't have to come from other people. Like Steve in the story above, some teens also have an "inner critic," a voice inside that seems to find fault with everything they do. And, like Steve, people sometimes unintentionally model their inner voice after a critical parent or someone else whose opinion is important to them.
Over time, listening to a negative inner voice can harm a person's self-esteem just as much as if the criticism were coming from another person. Some people get so used to their inner critic being there that they don't even notice when they're putting themselves down.
Unrealistic expectations can also affect a person's self-esteem. People have an image of who they want to be (or who they think they should be). Everyone's image of the ideal person is different. For example, some people admire athletic skills and others admire academic abilities. People who see themselves as having the qualities they admire — such as the ability to make friends easily — usually have high self-esteem.
People who don't see themselves as having the qualities they admire may develop low self-esteem. Unfortunately, people who have low self-esteem often do have the qualities they admire. They just can't see that they do because their self-image is trained that way.
Why Is Self-Esteem Important?
How we feel about ourselves can influence how we live our lives. People who feel that they are likable and lovable (in other words people with good self-esteem) have better relationships. They're more likely to ask for help and support from friends and family when they need it. People who believe they can accomplish goals and solve problems are more likely to do well in school. Having good self-esteem allows you to accept yourself and live life to the fullest.
How To Boost Your Self Esteem
1. Step 1: What is low self esteem?
Self esteem is the opinion you have of yourself. This is not constant. Your self esteem can go up and down depending on the things that are happening in your life.
A major influence on self esteem is the type of childhood you had. The relationships you've had with your parents, and others, and the amount of praise and encouragement you received from them will have had a big effect.
Any type of abusive relationship, whether it is physical or psychological abuse, will invariably have an impact on a person's self esteem.
2. Step 2: Don't be so hard on yourself
Try not to focus on things that have happened or that you might have done wrong in the past. Holding onto guilt and regret over long periods doesn't achieve anything. Try to let go of these feelings, rather than criticising yourself and being negative about yourself.
Try to focus as much as possible on your achievements, and your talents, even if they're small. If you're good at something, keep doing it, and try to forgot about what you perceive are your weaknesses. Also try to stretch yourself by giving yourself new challenges and goals, so that you can feel a sense of achievement when you reach them. It can also be helpful to have a positive role model, someone whose qualities you admire. Surround yourself with positive people, and try to enjoy a social life with people who make you feel good about yourself.
4. Step 4: Reward yourself
A good way to feel better about yourself is to set achievable goals, and then reward yourself when you reach them.Treat yourself to things you really enjoy and make you feel good, like a massage or a nice meal.Acknowledge that you deserve to be good to yourself.
5. Step 5: Your health
Eat a healthy, balanced diet, but don't beat yourself up if you don't always stick to it. Also, try to exercise regularly, and take up activities that help you relax - yoga, pilates and meditation are good for this.
As your body changes, you may feel unattractive, awkward, even ugly. But believe it or not, you can change the way you feel about yourself — and the way other people perceive you — just by changing the way you think about yourself. First of all, if you are worried that your weight, height or anything else is unhealthy, talk to your health care professional. If everything is okay physically, then you can begin dealing with the image problem.
First of all, accept the fact that there are many things that make you a unique person — your eye color, skin shade, height, facial shape — cannot be changed. And note, as you watch television and movies, or people-watch at school or the mall, that attractive people come in all colors, shapes and sizes, that girls and women who are not supermodels are, in fact, loved and adored by the opposite sex.
If you do want to make a change, such as losing weight, don't set unrealistic goals ("I want to be a size five," or "I want to lose 50 pounds in three months.") Instead set realistic goals you know you can achieve, such as exercising three times to five times a week and eating well. The pounds will come off and you'll enjoy a feeling of success each time you meet your goal.
Next, the most important thing: When your inner voice starts putting you down, counter those comments with positive or neutral ones.
Remember, high self esteem doesn't just happen automatically. But by staying positive, and nurturing yourself, you can end up feeling great about who you are. Good luck!
If you want to improve your self-esteem, here are some steps to start empowering yourself:
- Try to stop thinking negative thoughts about yourself. If you're used to focusing on your shortcomings, start thinking about positive aspects of yourself that outweigh them. When you catch yourself being too critical, counter it by saying something positive about yourself. Each day, write down three things about yourself that make you happy.
- Aim for accomplishments rather than perfection. Some people become paralyzed by perfection. Instead of holding yourself back with thoughts like, "I won't audition for the play until I lose 10 pounds," think about what you're good at and what you enjoy, and go for it.
- View mistakes as learning opportunities. Accept that you will make mistakes because everyone does. Mistakes are part of learning. Remind yourself that a person's talents are constantly developing, and everyone excels at different things — it's what makes people interesting.
- Try new things. Experiment with different activities that will help you get in touch with your talents. Then take pride in new skills you develop.
- Recognize what you can change and what you can't. If you realize that you're unhappy with something about yourself that you can change, then start today. If it's something you can't change (like your height), then start to work toward loving yourself the way you are.
- Set goals. Think about what you'd like to accomplish, then make a plan for how to do it. Stick with your plan and keep track of your progress.
- Take pride in your opinions and ideas. Don't be afraid to voice them.
- Make a contribution. Tutor a classmate who's having trouble, help clean up your neighborhood, participate in a walkathon for a good cause, or volunteer your time in some other way. Feeling like you're making a difference and that your help is valued can do wonders to improve self-esteem.
- Exercise! You'll relieve stress, and be healthier and happier.
- Have fun. Ever found yourself thinking stuff like "I'd have more friends if I were thinner"? Enjoy spending time with the people you care about and doing the things you love. Relax and have a good time — and avoid putting your life on hold.
It's never too late to build healthy, positive self-esteem. In some cases where the emotional hurt is deep or long lasting, it can take the help of a mental health professional, like a counselor or therapist. These experts can act as a guide, helping people learn to love themselves and realize what's unique and special about them.
Self-esteem plays a role in almost everything you do. People with high self-esteem do better in school and find it easier to make friends. They tend to have better relationships with peers and adults, feel happier, find it easier to deal with mistakes, disappointments, and failures, and are more likely to stick with something until they succeed. It takes some work to develop good self-esteem, but once you do it's a skill you'll have for life.
ETHNIC-MINORITY GIRLS AND SELF-ESTEEM
Does self-esteem vary with ethnic background? YES!! At least a team of researcher at Wellesley College believe so. Psychologist Sumru Erkut, PhD conducted a study with over 150 seventh and eighth graders in the Boston area about three years ago. According to the results of the 'Raising Competent Girls' project, self-esteem appears higher in African-American adolescent girls than of any other ethnic group.
Results from the Study:
African-American: Scored highest on the measures. They consider themselves very socially accepted and romantically appealing. High academic achievement was the strongest predictor of high self-worth. They consider attractiveness somewhat important, and most black girls were satisfied with their looks. Black girls also tend to ignore the beauty standards set by the media, instead they form individualized notions of beauty based on their own perceptions.
Latina: Scored second in having a high self-esteem. They see themselves as enticing to the opposite sex. Good grades are important to them. They consider attractiveness very important.
Caucasion: Scored third in having a high self-esteem. However, they did score the highest on athletic competence and second highest on social acceptance. Good grades are important to them also. They are "practically obsessed with their looks," Erkut said. The media plays a big part on their notation of beauty standards. These girls are mostly dissatisfied with their looks, which also lowered their self-worth.
Chinese-American: These girls scored the lowest in the self-esteem study. They scored low on feeling socially accepted and romantically appealing. They feel they excelled only at having close friends, being able to follow the rules, and behaving well. Friends' support is especially important to them. Physical appearance mattered the least to these girls.
The Looking Glass
As I look at you a sense of sadness enters my mind
You look so full of despair
Watching you through my eyes
Wondering what kind of thoughts, hopes, dreams you
might come to share
I am your friend
I hope you understand
Whatever fears or worries you may have
I want to help you in whatever way I can
Why do you hate yourself so?
Hiding inside yourself
Where is the girl I used to know?
If only you had enough courage
To love yourself as you should
I know the feeling of loneliness
I wish to help you if I only could
For the girl that I am looking at
The girl so full of despair
Tho one who seems to hate herself so much
Thinking that nobody seems to care
For the girl that I am looking at
The girl that I tend to see
Is nothing but a true, reflected image
An image I call me......