Self-Esteem & Self-Confidence – Helping or Hurting In Your Life
Self-Esteem is a powerful word that has a lot of influence on the outcome of a person’s life. How you view your personal value and worth will be displayed in the level of confidence you have, which will be evident to everyone observing how you approach all possible scenarios in life – the good, the bad, and the indifferent. This is how first impressions are made and what sets the stage for the types of relationships you attract, both personal and professional.
The other important factor that is a result of your combined self-esteem and self-confidence is trust. This is one of the most important elements in ANY relationship, whether personal, social, professional, or familial. Your level of trustworthiness is equal to the level of self-esteem and confidence you possess. The lower your self-esteem and self-confidence, the lower your trust levels are. This is because people are less likely to trust your judgement and abilities if you show evidence of not believing in yourself, or your own abilities and worth.
Those who have learned how to improve self-esteem exude more confidence, and because of that confidence, they are also more likely to trust themselves as well as be trusted with more important matters in all areas of life. The confidence that results from building self-esteem is simply the ability to trust yourself and your abilities as you move forward boldly in pursuing closer relationships, professional achievements, personal aspirations, and other general objectives and goals in life.
Without a focus on building self-esteem and without putting effort into building confidence, you could be lacking the level of trust needed to move yourself forward on the road to a more successful, significant, and fulfilling life. Low self-esteem, a lack of confidence, and a low trust quotient could be sabotaging your ability to achieve your goals and dreams.
What is self-esteem?
Self-Esteem is your own personal system of how you value yourself, and the amount of respect you give yourself as it pertains to your abilities, talents, the value you can offer others, and what you allow to happen to you and around you. When you learn how to improve self-esteem, you will see that your level of self-esteem is equivalent to your feelings of worth and personal value.
Are you able to pursue your goals and dreams because you know you are worth the effort, or do you instead take up time thinking of reasons why you are unable to pursue and achieve anything worthwhile? The answer will help you determine whether you have a high or low level of self-esteem.
What are the indicators of a person who has a high level of self-esteem?
For those with a high level of self-esteem, there are quite a few obvious indicators that can be recognized by anyone. A few outward signs of a healthy self-esteem are:
- A high level of self-confidence (a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgments)
- Proactive behavior (setting your own to-do list instead of being directed by what everyone else is doing, engaging in personal development and self-improvement activities)
- Self-motivation (doesn’t have to be told what to do, has the ability to figure out what is needed and gets it done)
- Personal responsibility for actions (doesn’t blame others for life’s problems)
- An awareness of personal talents, gifts, and strengths (a focus on personal development and self-improvement will reveal these traits to you)
- The ability to learn from their mistakes (instead of blaming others for them)
- The ability to forgive and offer grace and mercy to those who make mistakes, as well self-forgiveness and letting go of past mistakes
- A positive and engaging attitude
- The ability to acknowledge and express a wide range of emotions
- An optimistic outlook
- Engagement in problem solving
- The ability to trust others
- A healthy sense of personal boundaries and limitations (for themselves, as well as what they permit from others)
- A focus on self-care activities (allowing personal time in the schedule, interested in personal health & fitness, extended down-time for rest and rejuvenation)
- The ability to say no (not doing things out of fear of rejection or just to gain favor from others so they will like you)
Take a moment to look at each of these qualities and rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being a resounding yes if you possess that quality. The closer your score is to 150, the higher your self-esteem. If your score is under 100, there is room for self-improvement and personal development in regards to building self-esteem.
What are the indicators of a person who has low self-esteem?
Low self-esteem is something that is hard to hide. It is a condition that keeps you from reaching your full potential in life. It equates to feelings of unworthiness, incompetence, and complacency. A few indicators of a person who has low self-esteem are:
- A negative outlook on life and critical self-talk
- Expectations of perfection (and then complaining when those unrealistic expectations are not met citing it as a reason to be unproductive and why they are unable to move forward)
- The inability to trust others, even those from which they desire affection
- Lack of personal responsibility (they blame others for their status and disposition)
- A fear of taking risks
- Feeling unlovable
- The inability to make decisions and move forward (always letting others take the lead and make decisions for you)
- A fear of being ridiculed (which leaves you feeling paralyzed, unable to do move forward and pursue your own goals and dreams)
Why is a high level of self-esteem and self-confidence so important?
Low levels of self-esteem and self-confidence will also reduce the level of your trustworthiness, which will in turn reduce your effectiveness in every area of life. This is because we attract that which we reflect. Our reflection is what others see and it includes our body language, our appearance, and the way we communicate.
The saying is true in that “Birds of a feather flock together.” You don’t see any Bald Eagles taking advice from Pigeons.
The opposite is true for those with a higher self-esteem and those who work on building self-confidence. They will attract others who score high in those same areas and are more likely to gain the trust of those ‘next-level’ peers who can help pave the way towards even more success.
For example, a woman walks into a conference room with her shoulders back and her arms extended in a welcoming fashion towards those already present. She’s sharply dressed and accessorized with a unique and personal style, yet fitting for the specific event. Her voice is confident and purposeful as she articulates her greetings, and her eyes draw the attention of others as she directly meets their gaze with a warm smile.
Next walks in a gentleman who raises his head only high enough to ensure he will not bump into anyone as he enters. His shoulders are slumped forward with poor posture, and he is draped in a crumpled suit as he walks towards an empty chair in the corner of the room. He greets no one, nor does he meet anyone’s gaze before opening his briefcase and busying himself with paperwork until the meeting begins.
Based on the two people described above, answer these questions:
- Who would you say has higher self-esteem?
- Who do you think has a higher level of influence with their peers?
- Who would you bet on as being more successful in their passions and pursuits?
- Who would you trust to be associated with on a project that could determine your own personal success?
With a very basic description of each person, you are able to form an image in your mind (your first impression) of who these people are and you can easily determine with whom your investment of time, resources, and reputation would best be placed.
In the same way, people also form an immediate opinion about you and are able to quickly determine whether or not you are worth their time. This is why your first impression (and consequently, every subsequent impression) is so very important.
How to Build Confidence
We all have a desire to matter. There are some who have a lack of confidence and self-esteem because they feel they are owed either status or material success without having to experience any type of self-improvement. Many feel that ‘others’ are responsible for their misfortunes and therefore have the expectation that ‘others’ should accommodate their personal lack of self-worth. They lack the personal development necessary to be proactive in life and spend their life reacting to what’s happening around them instead of taking control of their life and making things happen in their favor.
For those who have already explored the question of how to build confidence, they are generally not afraid to be vulnerable, face their strengths and weaknesses, and actively develop and pursue goals and objectives they desire to accomplish in life. They engage in self-improvement exercises and personal development, are proactive and create their own agenda instead of being batted around by everyone else’s agenda and expectations.
Knowing your core values – what you stand for and what you will not accept – as well as your passions and purpose in life, all works together to provide a general direction in which you travel. This type of introspective personal development sets the standard for the type of people you allow to have influence over you and your decisions. When you know where you are going in life, you develop a healthier level of confidence than those who only know how to react to what is happening around them.
To actively pursue the burning desire of living a life that matters, you must be proactive in self-improvement and personal development to prepare for the opportunities that will reveal themselves to you at such a time when you are prepared to handle them. Opportunities do not come and are not revealed or evident to those who are unprepared.
The more prepared you are for engaging and connecting with others, the more you have to offer them regarding your talents, services, and inborn gifts. The more you reach outside of yourself and help others succeed, the more success you will find – both in your professional life and in your personal life. All of this will naturally grow your levels of confidence, which will in turn impact and grow your levels of self-esteem and trust.
How Do you Focus on Improving Your Level of Trustworthiness?
Building trust is an activity that can be learned and accomplished easily when you know what to do. Increasing your personal trustworthiness is one of the quickest ways you can impact and increase respect in all areas of your life, including raising your self-esteem and building self-confidence.
Stephen Covey was a long-time student and teacher of productivity who years after his passing is still impacting others with his teachings. He found that trust is one of the most important factors in a successful and fulfilling life. His book, “The SPEED of TRUST: The One Thing That Changes Everything” lists out 13 ways you can grow your trust and in doing so, change your life and level of influence and success.
Building confidence, building self-esteem, and levels of trust, takes effort and action on your part as you engage in self-improvement activities so you can experience the personal development you need to find the success and fulfillment available to you. Here is what you need to do, along with ensuring you approach these steps with pure authenticity:
- Talk straight (be direct and clear about what you want)
- Demonstrate respect
- Create transparency (be in the moment and authentic, with walls, preferences and ego removed)
- Right wrongs (don’t run or hide from mistakes – make it right)
- Show loyalty (in both personal and professional relationships)
- Deliver results (do what you say you are going to do)
- Get better (put effort into regular personal development through books, seminars, conferences, counseling, coaching, etc.)
- Confront reality (take responsibility for what happens in your life and understand you have a part in everything that happens)
- Clarify expectations (your own expectations of your life, values, and behaviors, as well as what you expect from others personally and professionally)
- Practice accountability
- Listen first (active listening is an effort to focus on the person talking and work at understanding what they are saying instead of simply waiting for your turn to talk)
- Keep commitments
- Extend trust
Stephen Covey also explains further the steps it takes to achieve high levels of trust in all areas of your life, and he refers to them as “The Five Waves of Trust.” Understanding how trust works in your life will better enable you to inspire trust in others allowing them to also trust in you as you work at building confidence.
- Wave One: Self Trust. This one is all about you. The key principle underlying this wave is credibility.
- Wave Two: Relationship Trust. The key principle underlying this wave is consistent behavior and how you treat others.
- Wave Three: Organizational Trust. The key principle underlying this wave, alignment, helps leaders create organizational trust.
- Wave Four: Market Trust. The underlying principle behind this wave is your organization’s reputation.
- Wave Five: Societal Trust. The principle underlying this wave is making contributions in the world.
No matter where you fall on the scale of trustworthiness, or self-esteem and confidence, the key to changing and improving any of these areas begins with you.
Final Words on How to Build Confidence and How to Improve Self-Esteem
A high level of self-esteem and confidence are crucial to making influential connections, long-lasting relationships, and reaching your full potential of purposeful living and a significant life of influence and impact. Your legacy depends on your efforts right now towards self-improvement and personal development so that you can reach your potential of leaving your mark on this world long after you are gone. Although it begins with you, life is in fact not all about you.
New York Times columnist, Tony Schwartz puts it well in his article titled The Enduring Hunt for Personal Value when he states, “We feel best about ourselves when we stop focusing obsessively on filling our own sense of deficit. Making others feel more valued makes us feel more valuable.”
When we feel valued, we exhibit confidence as a result of our efforts in seeking how to build confidence and how to improve self-esteem. When we value others, we open the door even further for trusting relationships that can help springboard us to even further success and fulfillment. Again, building self-confidence and building self-esteem all begins with you and your effort towards self-improvement and personal development. It’s time to tell yourself you are worth the effort!