If I find articles or images I like, I tend to share them on an ad-hoc basis via the YYCDI Facebook page. I rarely copy the text from articles directly into blog posts, though every now and again I’ll find something that resonates to such a degree with me, I just have to include the content within a dedicated post. This is one such example.
This is taken from a November 2020 BBC4 Woman’s Hour article, titled How to build your confidence, which saw Woman’s Hour speak to confidence coach Jo Emerson and Frances Monaghan of Wise Women to explain how we can overcome a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. Just about every sentence struck a chord with me – I hope it does the same for you. The article is largely written for women though there is certainly something for all of us to take from this.
Challenge your inner critic
“We all have a fear-based voice in our heads whiffling on about how we’re not good enough,” says confidence coach Jo Emerson, “But it’s just offering you one version of events and I’ve come to see that it’s usually lying.” She suggests that we learn to spot our inner critic and challenge what it’s saying.
Her tip: “Write down what your inner critic is saying and then ask yourself what the opposite thought or belief would be. Then, try on the opposite thought or belief. Repeat it to yourself and choose to believe it.”
Ask ‘why is that voice so negative?’
“If we see confidence as an action, then self-esteem is how you feel about carrying out those actions.” says Frances.
So, if you feel like you can’t do something reflect on why you feel that way. “You are not born with low self-esteem, it’s something that’s influenced and created by the things we are told and what we experience from the day we are born until right now. It could be from school, family, religious leaders or social media – literally anywhere – and if those influences are negative then it will have a negative impact. Recognise where that negativity comes from and start ditching the self-blame!”
You know the old adage ‘misery loves company’, well so does negativity. Think with more positivity. It’s not easy. Her tip to keep at it is to “accept that changing that negative internal voice is a process not an event. It takes commitment and courage. You’ll also need support, that is important too.”
She adds: “Moving forward in small steps is way better than standing still in a place you don’t want to be.”
Don’t compare yourself to others
“Stop comparing! Comparing your inside thoughts to other people’s outside image is a one-way ticket to low confidence because you are comparing your internal reality to an external image that person is projecting,” says Jo. “You are literally making up a story, because you have no idea what that person is actually experiencing.”
Her tip is: “Stop! Decide to run your own race – use people for inspiration but not comparison. If you can stop seeing life as a competition you will find your confidence rises because you can settle into who you really are rather than trying to prove yourself to people all the time.”
Do esteem-able things!
“My first coach told me that if I wanted to build my self-esteem I needed to do esteem-able things (for myself and others),” says Jo. “She was right – doing simple, nourishing things for myself built my confidence and I maintain it today in the same way.”
“Go for a walk, buy a homeless person a coffee, hold a door open for someone, say no if you mean no, shave your legs, don’t shave your legs, floss, eat lots of veggies, have that hot chocolate, meditate, call a friend, read a good book, get an early night, buy extra shopping for the food bank – doing things that are good for you and good for others for the sheer joy of simply doing them will build your self-esteem one action at a time.”
Evaluate your skills properly
“You have the right to feel good about yourself, be respected, safe, and have opinions,” says Frances. “You have the right to walk away from situations that make you feel bad about yourself and to ditch the emotional vampires who take your positivity and confidence and give nothing back.”
“All women have developed skills and qualities to get them through life. From surviving abuse to managing a family, from working to studying. Recognise those skills, write them down and use them to your advantage.”
Don’t let fear hold you back
“Ten years ago I lost my best friend to suicide and told I was told I had breast cancer in the same week,” says Jo. “It’s like I woke up. I had been sleepwalking through life and I was drugged by fear. When I experienced the most terrifying thing I could, I realised ‘what have I been worried about?’
As always, thanks for reading, stay safe, and please do try to be kind to others and to yourself.
Best wishes and take care.