How Your Mental Health Depends On Your Confidence
I’d like to be able to say that confidence is everything, but that’s not exactly true. For a time psychologists and educationalists actually thought that. They worked out that confident people were generally more successful people and therefore concluded they should spend efforts to boost self-esteem.
It turned out that they’d put the cart before the horse. They forgot that correlation is not causation and proceeded to spend all their efforts boosting self-esteem. According to Mark Leary, a psychologist at Duke University, they would have been better off boosting people’s opportunities and chances as being successful.
According to his Sociometer theory, self-esteem actually tracks how successful you are. And so, if you try to boost self-esteem without boosting people’s success at the same time, you just get people with a fragile self-esteem and inflated sense of self. These in turn can then come crashing down when reality does not match up to expectations.
The down side of low self-esteem
Of course, what we should note here is that we’re talking about unnecessarily high self-esteem. Having low self-esteem can be very harmful. This is mainly down to something called a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you don’t believe you can do something then you’ll go out of your way to avoid doing it, with all the consequences thereof.
You might end up hiding away from social situations, avoid trying new things as well as stop challenging yourself. And in the short run this will end up making you feel far better about yourself.
The thing is, in the long run this will make the situation worse. Avoiding these situations will mean that you have less opportunities to develop, grow and prove your low self-esteem wrong.
This will feed into your feelings of worthlessness and can lead to serious anxiety and depression issues. These, in turn, can lead to unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drug use and eating disorders.
So if your self-esteem is low (in other words, if you think of yourself as being worthless than other people) you do have to take actions to boost your confidence levels.
How to boost low self-esteem
The first thing that you need to do is realize that you’re being much harder on yourself than you are being on other people. We’re all guilty of this up to an extent, but some of us – especially those who have low self-esteem – excel at this. So you need to identify the negative beliefs you have about yourself and challenge them.
One good way to do this is to write about your negative self-image. Try to work backwards to get a better understanding of when these issues first started taking place and whether you’ve taken whatever was the original cause of these negative emotions and made it bigger than it actually is.
For example, a lot of people have parental issues, where a parent demanded more from them then they could deliver. This can be a serious source of self-esteem problems.
The thing is, this then continues into their adult life, when they’ve moved away from their parental house and don’t actually see that parental figure that often. And yet that figure still exercises undue influence over the person’s mental and emotional landscape. They loom much larger than they are. By writing about such things, people often find they can put such causes of self-esteem in their place and lessen their influence on their lives.
Battle your demons
Aim to weaken some of your most crippling demons. For example, are you not very confident about your communication? Then spend some time learning to communicate. Now the goal here is not to become stellar but rather to reduce the effects of those things so that they are at least manageable.
Now, if you do feel you’ve booked some improvement, don’t go out of your way to create situations in which you confront these problems. Take things slowly. After all, what will you do if you fail? Then all your hard work will be undone.
Instead, what you’re really trying to do is create a safety net so that if the situation does emerge, you have what you’ve learned to fall back on. This will then give you greater confidence to embrace new opportunities and try new things. And it is success at these things in turn which will boost your confidence.
See Also: 5 Steps To Regaining Confidence
Work on your strength
Another way to boost your self-esteem is to work on enhancing your strengths. This comes from the very sociometer theory that I outlined above. As you’ll remember the theory states that self-esteem is a measurement of how successful we feel we are.
Therefore, if we want to raise our self-esteem, we need to make ourselves feel more successful. This can be accomplished by working on enhancing our strengths, as this will first off lead to a feeling of accomplishment and secondly a feeling of self-improvement. Both of these have been shown to boost your confidence and self-esteem.
Life is a work in progress
Also you need to change your perspective by focusing on life as a journey, not a destination. What I mean with this is that the goal should not be perfection but improvement. Or, to put it in more concrete terms, you should not compare yourself with some character that you’ve got in the back of your mind, as we can never measure up to some fictitious ideal.
Instead, compare who you are with who you were yesterday, a week ago, a year ago. See what you’ve learned since then and how you’ve grown. This will give you a far greater sense of accomplishment, as this is a far more realistic comparison. And that will motivate you to seek out further self-improvement.
What’s more, it will mean that any improvement in the quality of your lifewill also lead to an improvement in your self-esteem and your confidence levels. And those, in turn, will create a positive feedback loop, where your greater confidence will cause you to embrace new challenges and try new things.
From there you’ll see your mood improve, your anxiety drop and your sociometer rocket upwards.