Confidence is Crucial

Well, what happened to January? Suddenly a twelfth of 2009 has been and gone, never to return.  Despite the miserable weather (its just started snowing), credit crunch and post Christmas slump I’ve quite enjoyed January. Its been a time of reflection, planning and generally rebuilding. Rather than embarking on over optimistic goals (or resolutions) it great to stop and think where you are and what is important to you. A calender year doesn’t have to be the boundary for setting goals. Reflecting on this blog and newsletter, Self Esteem Review, and how best to move forward I came across this quote in a book I’m currently reading:-

People who lack confidence and self belief always underachieve. They’re less adventurous and less likely to get the most out of life. They’re more prone to a variety of stress related problems, including anxiety, eating disorders and mental health problems. Low self esteem is the fundamental cause of most family breakups, poor parenting and relationship problems. In addition, much crime is associated with drug abuse, unemployment, poverty and aimlessness, all of which are related to low self esteem.

365 Steps to Self Confidence, David Lawrence Preston Well, that’s quite a powerful endorsement of the importance of building great self confidence and self esteem – and its just from his introduction! Whilst I’m still looking to see if he backs up some of those assertions with evidence, its nice to read an opinion that is at least in the same ball park as mine. One reason I’ve been reflecting and happy with January is I realize now how stressed I’d let myself become late last year.  Despite working in mental health for 22 years, and having taught the principles of stress management a zillion times, I didn’t notice that particular issues were getting to me. I was lucky in that what I now see as the roots of my stress resolved themselves without my doing anything.

Good self esteem and self confidence can protect against stressors, and help ensure problems and challenges don’t become worries or anxiety. But both are variable and its very easy to slip back and let the stressors undermine you and erode your self esteem and confidence instead.

Interestingly, I started to draft a post in December after my wife and I had been to see the James Bond film, Quantum of Solace.  Waiting for the film to begin, I was quite aware  how negative my thinking was – despite paying out money to enjoy myself! Some of my automatic negative thoughts were:- “I hope she stops eating and that awful smell goes before the film starts” (the lady sitting next to me was crunching through some bovril crisps, having just consumed her sandwiches – it was a matinée performance) “I expect the person sitting behind is going to have a restricted view, why didn’t they offset the seat when they built the cinema?” (The lady in front was tall, not as tall as me, and I could only just see over the top of her head.) “Are they going to talk through the film?” (the people behind were talking during the adverts) “I bet they keep that up during the film!” (Someone to the right had a particularly crinkly wrapper surrounding whatever sweets they were eating) “Why do we sit and watch films in a darkened room, on a large screen, surrounded by total strangers?” (We had arrived early and I was getting bored waiting…)

All silly, inconsequential thoughts. But looking back now I can see it was quite easy for me to get irritated at silly little things. And when you get in the habit of thinking like this, its easy to then think negatively about yourself or to start expecting to fail.

I go back to David Lawrence Preston again:-

Confidence is crucial to a happy and fulfilling life. It influences your success at work, your family life, relationships and leisure activities. It affects your performance in everything you do. A belief in one’s self is without doubt the greatest asset of all. Even great wealth and fame cannot compensate for a poor self image.

So my message here is two fold. Whether its from me or anywhere else, do what you can to keep your self confidence and self esteem high. I’m committed to building this site and accompanying newsletter and developing them into better teaching resources. But beware of what gets in the way.  Stress is a killer, but at a more mundane level it can eat away at your self confidence and self esteem. Look after yourself, keep a balance in life.  If you find yourself worrying, rather than problem solving; turning things over in your mind rather than relaxing or sleeping; getting irritated at totally inconsequetial things – something needs to change.

Yes, But Still... February 2, 2009 at 1:05 am

I love this blog! Please, keep these good posts coming!

Yes, But Still…s last blog post..I still don’t know why this works.

AJ Kumar February 2, 2009 at 8:03 am

Wow, that’s quite a long time in that industry. I’m sure you’ve learned some very amazing things about the human psyche

AJ Kumars last blog post..What do Hitler and Obama Have in Common?

Anna February 3, 2009 at 11:01 am

Hi David!

I’m a Finnish woman with age of 36 (after 2 weeks 37). I’ve always suffered from exrtemely poor self esteem and self confidence; e.g. i stayed for 12 years in really awful marriage with husband who was an alcoholic and durg-user and gambler, really addicted to almost everything one can think of. And – according to him- his behaviour was always somehow my fault. I had to get serious depression and exhaustion and was hospitalized for 3 months before i realized that i gotta tkae my life into my hands, otherwise my sweet kids would not have even one healthy parent capable of good parenthood. Even then, my mother had to “kick” me all the time to get enough courage to leave this husband and start my own life with the children.
This was 4,5 years ago, and since then i have met psychiatrist almost weekly, and i have take big steps to better life.
However, still i’m all the time nervous and worried and anxious, because i’m afraid that there’s something i have forgotten, somebody is angry with me, and most of all, being a mum is the hardest thing in my life. Every second i am with my children, i try so hard. I try so hard to do everything right, not to cause any kind of trauma to them, to give them childhood and ground from which they get power and courage to say NO if they don’t want something (like get married with someone they actually don’t want-like their mother did 🙁 ). I’m afraid every second that they don’t feel themselves precious and unique, and all this drives me crazy, since when i’m with them, i cannot “live in the moment” and just take whatever the day brings. Instead, i’m worried and scared if i can manage to be the perfect mum to them every single minute of the day, and all the time (in the weekend and evenings)i look at the watch and wish the day would be already over. Also, if i think i have made a mistake in e.g. how i talk to them, i cannot forgive myself, and i think i have ruined their life totally. Simply, i am not alive.
I think all this is because i don’t have the confidence in myself, that i’m enough just like this, like what i am, and nobody’s perfect. This i have been talking about with the doc weekly, and i understand with my sense how irrational my thinking and behaviour is. I just don’t seem to get this stuff from the common sense -level into my heart, as a part of my paradigma of life.
Because – for the first time in my life i fell in love last summer, and i really weant this relationship to work out, in my desperation i went into google and searched for “self confidence”. And that’s when i found your pages, and all this kilometers of text i actually wanted to write, to tell how much i appreciate and want to thank you for these pages! And also i want to tell, that i can believe that there are still really good people in the world- making these pages for helping people for free. Thank you is too small word for expressing my gratefullness, but since i don’t know any other word, i say: THANK YOU SO MUCH STRAIGHT FROM MY HEART!
Best wishes,
anna from finland

David February 4, 2009 at 8:30 am

Thank you all for your gratitude and very supportive comments. It does help me to get feedback, both to know I’m writing what people want – and to keep my own self esteem high!

Maudrey February 10, 2009 at 7:07 am

At a certain point in my life, I became a worrier but I couldn’t figure out why. I would wake up in the morning feeling very anxious. That feeling of anxiety would be with me most of the day. There were days I didn’t want to get out of bed because I dreaded getting that feeling again. After about a year of experiencing this on and off, I decided to talk to a somebody about it. I regularly saw a shrink for months and she made me realize the cause of my anxiety. It was the years of trying to please everybody and doing what people expect of me. It was that 9-year relationship that made me lose my identity and left me thinking I wasn’t enough when it ended. I dreaded getting up each day because deep inside, I was thinking that no matter what I did, I wouldn’t be living up to what people expect me to be. It hit me that I absolutely thought so little of myself that I didn’t even want to get out of bed and actually live. That was nineteen months ago when I first started seeing a shrink and I’m really glad I talked to somebody about it. I have been assured and I now know that those expectations that I thought people had of me were just in my head because I am enough. I have decided to do work that I will wake up looking forward to each day. The stresses in my life since then have been inconsequential. Whatever it is, I know it’s not important enough to lose myself over.

Thanks for the inspiring post. It’s good to be constantly reminded that confidence and a healthy self-esteem are key to living a happy life. I look forward to more great reads from you this year.

Maudreys last blog post..SG’s Picks for the Week

David February 10, 2009 at 8:09 am

Maudrey – thanks again for a very insightful comment and being prepared to share your own experiences for the benefit of others.

mercola February 11, 2009 at 7:31 am

I finding thinking positive helps me with my confidence. Instead of dwelling on the problem, solve it (or plan a solution) as quick as you can and you’ll have one less thing to worry about 🙂

Jack Zufelt February 13, 2009 at 3:09 am

Great inspiring post. I agree. Self confidence and self esteem are the foundation to living a healthy, happy and successful life which eventually results in self empowerment and self discovery.

Jack Zufelts last blog post..Do You Know Your Core Desires?

Macey February 18, 2009 at 5:41 am

It was really encouraging blog. Self confidence is more important in getting the things done. So we need to be courageous in all matters what ever may be the situation is. By reading this blog no one can give up.

Maceys last blog post..Green Bay, Wisconsin

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