Cultivating Confidence and Strong Self-Esteem

June 5, 2014

Confidence and Self-EsteemBy Joan French LCPC NCC

Merriam-Webster online defines self-esteem as, “a feeling of having respect for yourself and your abilities; a confidence and satisfaction with oneself.” I defer to this definition. I’m sure most of us are pretty familiar with what this is. But how do we feel content with ourselves? Here are five tips to feeling fine!

1. Just Say No! to Facebook Envy

So these researchers are saying that they’ve found that Facebook (and most likely other social media) makes us feel bad. We compare our own lives to the flawless, well crafted and conceived lives of those trumping up their vacations and smoothing their shortcomings. We can sometimes get lost in these images and begin to feel we’re the only ones all alone, binge-watching episodes of The Walking Dead on a Friday night… and everyone else is dancing with the stars. If you use these forms of communicating, be aware that most people don’t post about their foibles and failings. Try taking Facebook sabbaticals – and try to nourish real-life relationships with yourself and others.

2. Keeping it Real Kids – Praise

“For a wise man, I have been told, once said, ‘Gratitude is best and most effective when it does not evaporate in empty phrases.’” ~ Isaac Asimov. The newest research is telling us that heaping too much undeserved praise upon our kids is harmful to their self-esteem. We want our kids to feel good, acknowledged, respected – but when praise is handed out like candy  on Halloween we actually do them harm. How’s that? Well, while it’s ok to say things like, “Hey Joaquin, you did a really good job working hard to earn that A+ in Math by studying every night and putting in the extra effort.” It’s not so great to say stuff like, “Hey Joaquin, you did a PERFECT job at getting that A+!” The main difference is that with kids who need a self-esteem boost – piling on the inflated praise can backfire. Those kids can actually feel it’s too much pressure to perform, and will actually only challenge themselves minimally in order to not disappoint. They also should be praised for the process, the action rather than just defining their character as “good”.

3. Express Yourself!

Low self-esteem can be rooted in negative life events, trauma, physical ill health, problematic relationships, and a sense of loss of control – both intrapersonally and interpersonally. The good news is that you can break this cycle and/or boost your feeling of worthiness! Here is what you CAN do! Seek professional help if you need to. There can sometimes be a big stigma associated with seeking counseling or professional help for treatment of mental health issues. I am here to say that it can sometimes be VERY helpful to get some help from someone who is outside of your social network, and who can be rather objective with feedback. It is important to find a “good fit” with a counselor / mental health professional. Also, do let your friends and loved ones know you are struggling. It can be tempting to keep it all inside worrying that you are burdening others – but don’t. Let them know so they have the chance to show you support.

4. Have confidence, will travel.

Confidence is a precious commodity. Confidence, or “knowing what you’re good at, the value you provide, and acting in a way that conveys that to others” is extremely valuable. Knowing your worth can make you more attractive to others, can improve your work performance, and can also help you aim for higher standards. Here is what you can do. Work out. Dress how you want others to see you. Become more knowledgeable about what you already know. Compete at what you can do well in. Be realistic about what you feel you need to improve.

You are valuable and important just for being born. Yes, YOU! You are important to the world and your life is essential! I think many who have been hurt by others (especially early on) can form defenses which can hinder attempts at being realistic about improvements they can make to feel better. This is not about pleasing others rather, it’s about feeling your best, and making the best go of it you can!

5. Mmm…BOP!

Yes, this MmmBop and this MmmBop.

If you’re wondering about the Mmm… and what that stands for in the acronym, well I’m glad you asked! 🙂 Mmm means… Mmm Good. Living the good life! Mmm can mean “Meet Me in Mauntauk”, a somewhat obscure movie reference which could mean to never forget your worth… or the essentiala book reference (please excuse the references I’m feeling sentimental). Or, as the Hanson boys meant, “So hold on the ones who really care. In the end they’ll be the only ones there.” Or something like that. MmmBop people!

Hoover & Associates’ team of licensed psychologists, counselors, and social workers is here to offer you help and guidance. We’ve been providing mental health services in the southwest suburbs of Chicago since 1985. We’re conveniently located at 16325 S. Harlem Ave., Suite 200 (2nd floor), Tinley Park, IL, 60477. Our offices are conveniently located near Orland Park, Orland Hills, Homer Glen, Mokena, Frankfort, Matteson, Country Club Hills, Flossmoor, Homewood, Hazel Crest, Markham, Oak Forest, Midlothian, Crestwood, Palos Heights, Palos Park, and Palos Hills. Call to make an appointment: 708-429-6999.
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