It is often thought that low self confidence and low self esteem are the same thing. Although they are related to one another, they differ as self confidence relates to your belief in your own abilities, whereas self esteem is about how we feel about ourselves whether positively or negatively.
Self confidence is hugely beneficial in all areas of our lives and the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned. Firstly you need to acknowledge your present level of self confidence and identify the cause of any lack of confidence, and then to address these areas and increase your levels of confidence until it becomes second nature.
How we feel about ourselves can have an enormous impact upon how we live our lives. If we have a negative view of ourselves we are likely to lack motivation, feel depressed or that we have nothing to look forward to and that we are a failure. The messages we received while growing up, particularly during early years and adolescence, and those we continue to receive can have a huge influence on our self esteem. If we regularly hear negative messages either from ourselves or those around us we will understandably have low self esteem and find it difficult to recover from set backs and challenges, feeling that failure or unhappiness is what we deserve. Improving our self esteem something that we have to address ourselves; it cannot be given to us by others, we have to actively pursue it. Learning to change your self perception and gaining self respect will enable you to have increased self esteem.
We all have goals: the things we would like to achieve, experience or have. But how doe we reach them? The three ingredients to making positive progress during our lives are self esteem, self confidence and motivation. If you are unhappy with any aspect of yourself you will struggle to be able to look forward positively and identify where you want to go or what you want to achieve. Likewise, if you lack belief in yourself and your abilities, you will have no belief in you ability to achieve your goals. If you lack motivation, you may have identified your goals and believe you can achieve them, but you will not have the desire and drive to put in the effort needed to keep going through difficult times. We need to acknowledge the things that are important to us and that have helped us enjoy success in the past and we need to be able to rid ourselves of the fear of failure or indeed the fear of success. The final element is to set achievable short-term goals that will help us achieve our ultimate goal; a small success provides additional confidence and convincing proof that we are moving in the right direction, giving extra motivation.
Performing to the best of our ability is something we all strive for, whether it is within our jobs, hobbies or on the sports field. Having the appropriate skills, knowledge and abilities are vital, but that is only part of the puzzle. Research has indicated that performing at the highest level has as much to do with our mental abilities as with our physical abilities. Having a positive mental approach to performance will help overcome nerves and enable a relaxed, confident approach. The brain cannot tell the difference between physically doing something and imagining doing it. Visualising yourself performing to the best of your abilities and being successful can help your mind be attuned for success; what the mind can conceive, the body can achieve. The more confident we are, the more likely we are to experience the desired outcome, having visualised ourselves performing well helps to convince us that we can achieve our goals.
Many people suffer with a real fear of speaking in public, whether it is giving a presentation, attending an interview, speaking at a meeting or perhaps making a speech at a wedding. Having a fear of speaking in front of others can cause our mind to go blank, make us shake and sweat, feel physically sick or have to run to the nearest toilet. Our minds are telling us to run away, but we know that we have to deliver our presentation or speech coherently, fluently and without trace of nerves, a task which can seem impossible.
The fear can come from a number of sources: lack of self esteem / confidence, being uncomfortable with being the centre of attention, being worried about making a mistake or making a fool of ourselves or even forgetting what we want to say. Fear of public speaking is a form of social anxiety which can trigger our 'fight or flight' response, making us feel that there is a threat which we have to escape from, hence the increased heart rate, nausea and sweating (amongst many other possible symptoms). It is possible to overcome this response; re-educating our minds to no longer see speaking in public as a threat, but to induce as more appropriate and beneficial response.
We can help with low confidence and self esteem by seeking to find the cause and identify ways to resolve it. We can help to explore and modify belief systems, replacing negative thinking processes with positive ones. We can teach relaxation and visualisation techniques which will help overcome barriers to being able to perform at your best whatever the situation.