Steve James, Psychological Wellbeing Advisor at Help for Heroes, writes about boosting your self-esteem and having the confidence to make decisions.
Confidence and self-esteem can have a huge impact on each other. The two are often confused, but they are very different. Self Confidence is all about skills and how well we think we can cope with something, whether it goes well or not. Self-esteem is how we value ourselves and our rights, in relation to other people.
If you’re struggling to cope in either of these areas, it can be anything from relatively simple to quite complex so it’s important to seek the right type of support.
Here are some tips for building self-confidence:
- It’s about repetition; getting it wrong as well as getting it right
- Confidence is not ‘on’ or ‘off’ – you can feel levels of confidence in different areas of your life. It may be helpful to remind yourself of the areas in your life where you are confident; for example at work, playing sport, doing a hobby or spending time with your family.
- If you are feeling anxious about doing something you lack confidence in, try writing down a couple of outcomes you think are likely and what resources you have available to you (both from yourself and others) to deal with them if they do happen.
- You may have heard the expression ‘fake it ’til you make it’. There is definitely a useful element to this idea; try acting in a more confident manner or standing in a more confident way, even if you don’t feel it inside. It may also help to imagine yourself in a situation where you feel more confident or even thinking of someone whose confidence inspires you.
- You can’t be brave unless you are scared; life is full of people acting differently to how they feel inside. The tricky part is finding the balance where a lack of confidence doesn’t stop you doing things you’d like to do.
- With decision making, remember it’s very rare that there will be a perfect option. If there’s a choice or decision you’re struggling with, try writing down the pros and cons of each option and, if appropriate, try a little internet research (just make sure you only use reliable sources).
- It’s important to know that confidence will come, even if you don’t feel it when you start.
Here are some tips and points for building self-esteem:
- Self-esteem often varies depending on where we are and who we are with. It can go from feeling really bad about yourself to actually feeling ok about who you are.
- Good self-esteem is about accepting that you’re human – just like everyone else – with all the good and the bad that go along with it.
- A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself what you would think if a friend were in your situation. If someone else has the right to speak up for themselves, so do you.
- Try writing down three things each day that you have done.
Next to each one, try to think of three positive characteristics that the activity shows. For example, you might write: “Wrote shopping list – organised, practical, methodical”
- If you tend to criticise yourself a lot, try turning that critical voice in to a comedy voice. While this may sound silly, it’s a proven technique in reducing the emotional impact of self-criticism.
Above all else, remember that there is lots of mental health support out there. If you’re a Veteran or an Armed Forces family member, get in touch confidentially with our Hidden Wounds team here to find out more about the support available to you.