Ways to Build Self-Esteem

Everybody experiences self-doubt from time to time. It’s a normal part of being human. When feelings of self-doubt last for long periods, however, you may have low self-esteem. “Low self-esteem is used to describe someone with a negative view of oneself, feelings of worthlessness and incompetence. Generally people fall on a continuum from low to high self-esteem, and this can vary from day to day and from situation to situation,” says Lori Ryland, a psychologist in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Fortunately, low self-esteem doesn’t have to be permanent. Recognizing symptoms of low self-esteem, understanding its causes and learning steps to thwart it can go a long way toward making you feeling worthy, valuable and confident.

What Causes Low Self-Esteem?

Low self-esteem can have many triggers and begin at any time in life. Some experts say low self-esteem is more the result of negative or traumatic experiences.

Others say low self-esteem stems from a critical inner voice. “Although it seems that our emotions and motivations result directly from the events and circumstances we encounter, they are instead reactions to our self-talk – the internal monologue that streams through our waking consciousness, interpreting whatever we experience and creating our perspective,” notes John Tholen, an author and retired psychologist who practiced in Southern California for more than 40 years.

Symptoms of Low Self-Esteem

The symptoms of low self-esteem may be hard to recognize or admit to yourself.

Ryland says signs can include:

Or perhaps you may recognize certain habits of low self-esteem, such as being unable to set boundaries. “Letting others have their way and failing to stand up for oneself can occur,” Ryland says.

Ways to Build Self-Esteem

You can build self-esteem with many techniques. Here are 17 to get you started.

  • Get some perspective. Realize that many people experience low self-esteem, and you’re not alone. “Self-esteem issues are much more common than you might think,” says Noam Dinovitz, a therapist in Philadelphia. “It’s one of those issues that frankly is easy to hide.”
  • Give yourself a break. “Maybe you are ‘just right’ how you are. Maybe this is a learning time. Maybe this is how it is all supposed to be. Be kind to others, and be kind to yourself. It is OK if you take a break today,” says Lynn Zakeri, a therapist in Chicago.
  • Be aware of self-criticism. “Take note of what you are saying to yourself,” says Alyssa Friedman-Yan, a therapist in Wilton, Connecticut. “Demand proof for these harsh statements.”
  • Get a second opinion. “First, list a few people in your life whom you value, and the reasons why you value them. Next, when appropriate, ask them why they value you. Then compare the list,” says Aaron Weiner, a psychologist in Chicago. “Is there any overlap? Do you agree with their judgment of you?”

  • Redirect negative thoughts.Reframe that critical voice into a more supportive one. Did you make a mistake? Well, instead of, ‘I’m so stupid,’ how about saying, ‘I learned what not to do,’” says Natalie Bernstein, a psychologist in Pittsburgh.
  • Change your expectations. “Unrealistic expectations can set one up for failure and diminish self-worth,” says Dr. Rahul Gupta, a psychiatrist in Atlanta. “It is important to tell oneself that not meeting certain goals and expectations is permissible.”
  • Write down your definition of worth. Be specific. “When we use general phrases, it’s easy to say we don’t feel good, because we can’t even truly define what we’re saying,” Dinovitz points out. “Furthermore, make sure that the worth is coming from a healthy place. If all of our worth is coming from a source like our jobs or how many followers we have on social media, that’s not healthy.”
  • Set realistic goals. “Start small and start simple. Be proud of even the smallest accomplishments. Change is best when it’s gradual and not abrupt. I like to tell my clients, ‘We cannot get from point A to Z without traveling through the alphabet, so please stop trying to skip B and C. Leave a trail of breadcrumbs so you can see your accomplishment and feel it and find pride in it,’” Friedman-Yan says.
  • Take control of negative experiences. “If we’re able to find purpose in the negative things that have happened to us, then we are able to use our negative experiences to our advantage and are able to feel like we have more control over what happened to us,” notes Brooke Aymes, a therapist in Haddon Township, New Jersey.
  • Take stock of successes. If you’ve succeeded before, you can do it again. “Make a list of all your accomplishments and keep this handy. Review it and add to it often, especially when you’re feeling low,” Ryland advises.
  • Try being assertive in conversation. “Say something that takes courage. It may just be chiming in or an opinion, but assertiveness can help you walk taller,” Zakeri suggests.

  • Challenge Yourself. “Maybe you’ve always wanted to hike a mountain, sleep in a tent or go kayaking, yet you’ve never made time for the experience. The more we challenge ourselves to try new things, the more we see what we are truly capable of and it helps us to build self confidence in ourselves,” Aymes says.
  • Surround yourself with healthy relationships. “Individuals that make up a social support system provide a mirror for one’s positive image. Healthy relationships and social support systems also provide an example of positive values that one can strive to embrace,” Gupta explains.
  • Avoid social media. Many studies suggest that social media is harmful to self-esteem. For example, a review of 49 studies of college students or teens, published online Aug. 27, 2019, by Media Psychology found that comparing oneself to others on social media was often associated with lower self-esteem. “Whether what we see is accurate or not, it’s very difficult to see what everybody else is up to or accomplishing and then not compare that to ourselves,” Dinovitz says.
  • Be in service to others. Aymes advises clients to volunteer or perform random acts of kindness, such as paying for the road or bridge toll of a person behind you in traffic. “Being in service to others helps us to naturally feel like good humans and also makes the world a better place,” she notes.
  • Use affirmations. “Think of how easily you believe critical ones of yourself. Instead, try to choose a phrase or two that you want to believe about yourself. Write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in your pocket, or note it on your phone. When saying it, try to tap into the feeling of the affirmation, imagine what your life would be like if this were to be true. Practice is important here, so set a timer on your phone if you need help remembering throughout the day,” Bernstein recommends.
  • Seek professional help. Consider reaching out to a professional such as a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. An expert can guide you through a number of types of talk therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, which utilizes many of the same strategies in this article, including identifying dysfunctional thoughts and refocusing them to be more positive. “We can improve both our outcomes and our state of mind by identifying – and shifting our attention to – reasonable alternative ideas that are more likely to inspire constructive action or hope,” Tholen says.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up if change doesn’t happen overnight. “A path to self-acceptance is often a long one and has many peaks and valleys,” Friedman-Yan says. “It takes effort and adaptation, and requires us to be mindful in our interactions with self and our world around us.”

By

Heidi Godman reports on health for U.S. News, with a focus on middle and older age. She has over two decades of experience and her work has appeared in dozens of publications, including the Harvard Health Letter (where she serves as executive editor), the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel and Cleveland Clinic Heart Advisor.

Source: Ways to Build Self-Esteem | US News

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How To Learn The Trick of Confidence

Dr Nate Zinsser, a top US army psychologist renowned for helping lieutenants and officers build their confidence, is giving me a talking-to. We’ve been discussing highly disciplined writers who sit at their desks at 9am each day, no matter the circumstances, and assertively punch out stories. “I definitely don’t do that,” I say, remarking that I envy their confidence to sit and deliver. An aggressive perfectionist streak combined with niggling impostor syndrome insecurities mean I need conditions to be just-so in order to have faith that I’ll produce anything decent. Zinsser blanches.

“The statement ‘I don’t do that’ is a decision you’re making about yourself,” he says, speaking over video call from his office at the US Military Academy in upstate New York; behind him there’s a whiteboard, ornamental Japanese swords and photos of athletes he’s counselled, including the Olympic-medal-winning US men’s bobsled team.

“A constructive shift in your thinking would be the idea that, ‘Whether or not I got the right amount of sleep the night before or had a good breakfast, once 9 o’clock strikes, I am at my desk, lights on, ready to go – and I’m producing good stuff,’” he says. “That’s a belief about yourself that you can de-li-be-rate-ly cultivate,” he adds, stretching out each syllable in “deliberately” so there can be no question that in this matter, as in all self-confidence-related issues, change lies with me.

Delivered with a gentle assuredness, rather than barked across the screen, it’s not the tone you might expect from a man who for 27 years has directed the academy’s performance psychology programme. Indeed, the only thing about him that screams “army” is his black jacket, which has the word emblazoned in capitals across its front.

With his snow-white beard and softly yawning New Jersey twang, the 67-year-old has a calm, almost paternalistic presence. His brand of optimism is far more reserved than the full-throttle enthusiasm often associated with self-help gurus. “We don’t live in a world of sunshine and lollipops,” as he puts it. “We live in a real world of deadlines, sweat, blisters and muscle fatigue, and we have to look at what is a constructive way to think in those situations.”

In addition to his army duties, in his private practice Zinsser has worked with a glittering roster of clients, including neurosurgeons, congressional candidates, ballerinas, writers and star athletes, such as two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Eli Manning. Whether their arena is the surgical table or the running track, they come to him for gamechanging advice on how to dispel those pesky naysaying voices in their head so that they can deliver knockout performances under pressure. And now he’s distilled his knowledge into a book, The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance.

I’m hoping to glean some tips from the famed confidence-whisperer. While hardly a quivering mess, I do have a habit of second-guessing myself in parts of my professional – and social – life. And the thought of public speaking sends me into a cold sweat. The chance to smooth out the chinks in my self-belief armour and come away with a quarterback’s swagger is tempting to say the least.

But is it realistic? We tend to view confidence as a magical elixir that’s only available to Olympic sprinters, CEOs and other creatures blessed with rare talent, puffed-out chests and Colgate-white teeth (plus, the odd blustering buffoon). For most of us, being an adult means having a PhD in our multitude of shortcomings, foibles and crippling insecurities. And while I can improve my fitness with a Peloton, and my inner calm with meditation, surely I can’t just learn how to think highly of myself, can I? How to be unflappable under pressure? How to believe – with a surety that overrides any lingering doubts – that I can be good at anything?

In his poised, methodical way, Zinsser is here to tell me that, if I doggedly commit to altering the story I tell myself about myself, then yes: yes I can.

First, some housekeeping: Zinsser wants to straighten out some common misconceptions around confidence – starting with how we define it. Although we tend to think of it as a sense of belief in one’s own ability, he finds this unhelpful because it neglects a crucial fact: we are hardwired to perform skills unconsciously. When we’re in the zone – whether during a tennis match, maths exam or violin concerto – we’re not critically assessing each movement but operating in a free-flowing state.

“If you’re hung up with the mechanics, and trying to think about what you’re doing as you’re doing it, you access a whole lot of neural pathways that tie you up,” he says. He defines confidence, then, as having “the sense of certainty about your ability that allows you to do something without thinking about it: that allows you to execute more or less unconsciously.”

Being in this state makes success possible, not guaranteed. It won’t conceal a lack of ability, but it will enable you to go into a performance thinking: “I’ve got this money in my wallet and now I can spend it – let’s see if I’ve got enough,” he says. Without confidence, we’ll never know how good – how talented, how skilled – an individual really is.

Zinsser doesn’t particularly see confidence as a product of genetics. Nor is it necessarily linked to competence. Sure, we idolize superstar athletes whose talent and bravado seem to go hand-in-hand, but he comes across just as many gifted people lacking self-belief. “The unfortunate fact I have seen is that our actual competence is higher than our degree of confidence in it,” he says, speaking about the population generally. “It’s the conclusion you draw about yourself from experiences of success [that breeds confidence],” he says. “Unless you make those conclusions, the actual success that you have might not do you any good.”

He believes confidence is cultivated during childhood – “how you were encouraged as a young person to think about yourself” – and cites as an example King Richard, the recent biopic showing Richard Williams constantly telling his daughters Serena and Venus that they were destined to become the world’s best tennis players.

Can anyone become more confident or is it only attainable for certain individuals? He pauses for a few beats, chewing over his words. “I think it’s quite possible for anyone to develop a greater sense of certainty,” he says, eventually. “Some people might have to overcome more baggage from their past than others, but I’m quite a believer in that kind of human potential.”

In any event, there’s no such thing as “a confident person”; it’s more that you’re confident in a particular skill or situation (and even within a skill, you’ll feel better about some things than others). Case in point: Eli Manning. The former NFL superstar, who twice led the New York Giants to Super Bowl triumphs, “was very confident in his ability to throw certain balls and reach certain defences, but he did not like to stand up and talk in front of a crowd,” says Zinsser. “I’m convinced that’s the case for all of us: I don’t think there’s anybody who’s confident across the board.”

“Have you ever produced good work in suboptimal conditions?” asks Zinsser rhetorically. We’re back to helping me forge a bulletproof writing mindset. “I would think so,” he continues, “otherwise, you wouldn’t be in the job you’re in. So what you need to be reinforcing, a story that you need to tell yourself about yourself, is: ‘I work well, despite distractions. I work well, in almost any condition. My editor can count on me to deliver quality work, even when things are chaotic around me.’”

This rather simple reframing of how I view myself feels pretty significant. And I put it into immediate practice: in a meta situation, I’m writing this article from a cramped plane seat en route to Australia, a series of pre-flight texts from my editor demanding reassurance that I will be able to deliver words by the deadline still warming my phone. With each blood-curdling wail from a baby in a nearby bassinet, I repeat my new mantra about myself with an increasingly feverish vigour.

Yet there’s much more to be done. Zinsser likens confidence to a mental “bank account” that we must constantly top up with valuable deposits. That includes mining our memories for instances of when we have done things well. After each training session, or day at work, we should devote about five minutes to reflecting on things we have accomplished and committing them to our “internal hard drive”. No victory is too small for inclusion. (He also notes that it’s worth spending time looking ahead and envisioning, in realistic HD-film quality, the dreams you most desire.)

This can apply to whatever knee-knocking situation is keeping you up. Plagued with impostor-syndrome thoughts of not being qualified to do your job? “I’d tell you to give me the whole of your résumé,” says Zinsser. “We’re so good at overlooking the skills that we have cultivated, the effort that we have put in to develop ourselves to the point where we are indeed employable and competent. Look for some of the reasons that you are indeed the genuine person for the job.”

His book contains countless tactics for keeping that bank account fat by recasting how you think about your missteps. Some are sourced from Martin Seligman, the father of “positive psychology”. These acknowledge that you will have negative thoughts and will make mistakes, but you can effectively see them off by viewing them as “temporary (“It’s just this one time”), limited (“It’s just in this one place”) and non-representative (“that’s not the truth about me”).

There are physical techniques, too: keeping your shoulders slightly back and eyes straight ahead will improve your posture, while focusing on breathing during a performance can be a powerful way to bring a feeling of control and yank you into the present moment. (Note that none of these require you to obnoxiously strut about like The Wolf of Wall Street.)

The most extreme example of selective thinking, the “shooter’s mentality” pursued by Golden State Warriors basketballer Stephen Curry, involves treating missed shots as temporary and as an omen that you’re about to experience a return to fortune (“I’m bound to make the next one”), while viewing successes as permanent (“Now I’m on a roll”).

One nagging thought I had while reading these passages: building confidence often requires you to ignore logic. This took me back to the late 2000s when, as a tennis-obsessed teen who travelled around Australia competing in tournaments, my on-court confidence was fragile at best. If my warmup went badly, I was convinced the whole match would be a disaster.

And I couldn’t get my head into the game if I had assessed, pre-encounter, that my opponent was better than me – smoother technique, bigger shots, flashy overseas academy training. In those instances, I was defeated before the match started. As often happens when we enter a situation devoid of confidence, it became a self-fulling prophecy.

If someone had told me about the shooter’s mentality, which Zinsser calls a “thermonuclear psychological weapon”, I would’ve said: “Great, but how am I actually meant to believe these things?” To cast aside all reason and buy into a fantasyland where errors lead to success and success also leads to success?

If I’m being honest it sounds slightly delusional, I tell Zinsser now.

It is, he replies. But the way to wholeheartedly believe in it is to practice it, repeating these mantras, memories and mental tricks until the story they tell becomes “your dominant way of thinking about yourself in that context”, he says. “It’s got to become your dominant habit of thinking about yourself – just like you brush your teeth every morning and night – if you want it to materialize in a challenging atmosphere.

You can’t just turn it on. It has to be already in you.” He can’t say how long this could take: for some clients it’s happened after only a few sessions, while for others it has taken six months of conscientious observance before it became endemic to their thinking.

In case confidence wasn’t slippery enough, once you have gained it, the struggle continues. “We’re all imperfect beings and, no matter how many times you practise that second serve, occasionally you’re going to mess it up,” says Zinsser. Confidence is more delicate than a handblown vase. Acquiring some of it “doesn’t mean you’re going to have it for ever. It can easily be knocked down. You’re going to have to wake up again tomorrow and rebuild it.”

Talk of confidence has been around for as long as humans have been going into battle. Zinsser’s book opens with a quote from the legendary Chinese general Sun Tzu who, in his fifth-century BC treatise The Art of War, declared: “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

Yet now, perhaps more than ever, individuals need to embrace self-assured thinking. Modern society is, at best, “very ambivalent” about confidence and is not about to puff us up, says Zinsser. Growing up, we’re taught that a soupçon of it is good; any more and we risk becoming smug or arrogant and therefore unlikable. Zinsser believes the biggest hurdle to striving for greater confidence is “the misguided impression that if I become certain about myself, I will somehow become lazy and complacent and I will lose my fire and motivation to improve,” he says. “Boy, is that a big misconception.”

As part of our education and socialisation, we’re taught to focus on fixing imperfections and mistakes, marking every facet of our lives with red pens. “There is a curious tendency in our modern world to over-identify with our shortcomings and even define ourselves by our mistakes, presumed limitations, and all the things we can’t yet do,” writes Zinsser. While he admits that there’s a time for being a harsh critic, “there’s also just as much value in being one’s best friend”.

Social media hasn’t helped the cause. “The 24/7, nonstop barrage of messages are always putting these somewhat false images in front of us: ‘Look at me, at this place, enjoying this wonderful day and this fabulous drink,” he says. “It tends to make us think, ‘Well, gee, I’m not in a beautiful location with a beautiful someone enjoying a beautiful drink. What’s wrong with me?’”

Are we less confident than previous generations? There’s another long, reflective pause from Zinsser. In the 1950s and 1960s, he says, “There was a whole generation or two of folks who really grew up believing, ‘Things can be better, I can have a great life, I can succeed. Today, with the generation that’s grown up online, I’m not sure there’s the same general level of optimism,” he says. “My sense is that maybe we’re not quite as confident and optimistic now.”

All the more reason to get to work on that movie about your life in which you’re the charming protagonist who completes everything – real feats from your past and wishlist goals alike – at a remarkable level. It takes dedication to stream this flick in your mind each night, sure, but it makes all that other hard work you’ve done – the backhand drills, the weekend reading, the university degrees, the blood and sweat – worthwhile by putting your head in the game come crunch time.

Zinsser calls it the cherry on top. “It’s the decision to say: ‘I’ve done the work. I know what I know. I’m going to deliver now. I am enough.’”

The Confident Mind: A Battle-Tested Guide to Unshakable Performance by Dr Nate Zinsser is published on 27 January by Cornerstone Press at £14.99. Buy it for £13.04 at guardianbookshop.com

By: Jamie Waters

Source: How to learn the trick of confidence | Health & wellbeing | The Guardian

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You’re Not Actually Bad at Sales 3 Ways to Gain More Confidence

Sometimes, it’s not your abilities that let you down. It’s doubting yourself.

“When I was first getting clients, it felt like I had to fight objections in near hand-to-hand combat with the prospect,” Joshua Centers, founder of Clicks on Command, told me once. “They’d eventually tap out, and I became disheartened. It wasn’t that I couldn’t sell; it was that I doubted whether I could pull it off. I was not confident, and it was affecting my sales.”

This experience is very common with entrepreneurs, and though sales isn’t everyone’s forte, it’s possible to get better at it. You may feel you’re bad at sales because of your lack of experience selling, and you’ll try to make up for it by taking courses, reading books and watching videos to close that gap.

However, the best way to improve your sales performance — and performance in other areas — is actually to improve your confidence first. Confidence has been shown to positively affect performance in many areas, from school to athletics to the workplace. Here are three ways to boost your confidence and sell more.

Related: Self-Confidence Is the Best Motivation for Chasing Your Goals

1. Learn more about your product

One of the reasons you may feel less confident in sales is not because you don’t know sales, but because you don’t know your product well enough. When you need notes or even a presentation to sell a product, you don’t know it well enough.

This doesn’t mean that visual or written aids can’t help you sell. But if you couldn’t talk about the product without using these aids, then there’s a problem. The more comfortable you are with the product, the more confident you are in your own ability to talk about it.

Take the time to learn about your product. What does it really do? How does it work? How has it helped your current clients? What do they like about it? Being able to handle the details of the product and speak about it more qualitatively will make a huge difference.

Even further, this familiarity comes across in your sales conversation, making you appear more relaxed, knowledgeable, and assertive — all of which help you sell.

2. Build an arsenal of what already converted

There’s a reason companies use case studies to sell: They work. People like reviews, unboxings, data and evidence that a product actually does what you say it does. However, beyond being more convincing, knowing what already worked can help your confidence.

Instead of making an empty promise to a customer in your sales pitch, bring up examples of when you used the product to successfully grow another client. In digital marketing, I can present a funnel that I know has already converted leads for my clients.

The more you believe in your own product, with actual examples and evidence to back you up, the more confident you’ll be in it — and in your ability to sell it.

Related: 4 Mistakes You’re Probably Making If You’re Struggling to Close a Sale

3. Use the DIP method

Centers, who I quoted at the beginning of this article, uses a method he calls the DIP Method to organize and close his sales conversations. DIP stands for Discover, Identify, Position.

The DIP Method focuses on finding your customer’s needs and targeting them. Instead of jumping into why your product is so great, you should find the reasons why your customer needs your product and how it can be the best solution for their problems.

  • Discover: Ask your customer some questions. How many leads do you have right now? What is your offer? What marketing efforts are you currently conducting? Don’t interrupt them or answer for them in this part. Let them talk to you about what they’re doing in their marketing and lead-capturing, without filters or expectations.
  • Identify: Based on their answers, you should know what problems they’re having. Do they have little to no leads? Do they have a problem converting leads? Are they not running any marketing at all? Identify the problems and relay them back to your customer so they can confirm them. Often, the customer may not recognize them for themselves, but since you’re basing it on the answers they gave, they can easily accept them to be true.
  • Position: Here’s where you shine. Position your product or service to solve the problems you and the customer identified. Tell them you and your product can help and explain how. This is where you make your sales pitch, getting into benefits, features and pricing. However, it should always be focused on solving the problems they’ve identified.

Following the DIP Method gives you confidence, not only in your process but also in knowing that your product can actually help your customer. If you’ve built confidence in your product, your process and yourself, you can more effectively sell and promote your product and business.

JC Hite

JC Hite Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor – CEO / Founder of Hite Digital

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How To Stop Taking Things Personally – Frances Bridges

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When people disrespect you or do not treat you well, it is easy to take their behavior personally, to blame yourself and think you have anything to do with someone else’s behavior. Taking things personally is emotionally draining, and an unnecessary, constant reevaluation of your self-esteem. There’s a difference between being reflective and constantly taking slights personally, one is productive and lends itself to self improvement, the other is the opposite…….

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