Self-esteem – we all know what this means but how important is it to our everyday lives? Well, having self-esteem is being comfortable in one’s own self, whereas having self-confidence is having the conviction of being able to perform at a particular task. So are these two things mutually exclusive and is it possible to have one without the other?
The general belief is that if you trust in yourself, you’d believe in your ability to perform. As Maxwell Multz once said, “Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand break on”. As pleasant as it sounds, to live by this philosophy can be extremely difficult at the best of times. Failing exams, getting dumped, being rejected for jobs, not showing signs of progression, etc.; these are all examples of times when we may start to lose ourselves and this can reflect on our performance, impacting our self confidence. So how do we avoid this occurring?
- Accept the situation – if the situation is keeping you up at night and you’re finding it more difficult to focus, then unfortunately, the truth is that it is affecting you worse than you may think. By admitting this to yourself you identify and then begin to think about how to resolve the issue.
- If you have to be upset, so be it! – Some studies show that by crying you can display calming effects, such as a slower heart rate. As much you don’t have time to waste, after getting all of your emotions out of your system, chances are you’ll feel better and you’ll think more clearly as a result.
- Concentrate on the positives – instead of thinking, “yeah, but this part was absolutely dreadful!”, start thinking, “Even with that little slip-up, that work was incredible!”. As important as it is to learn from your mistakes, identifying your strengths is one key element of gaining self-confidence.
- Try and balance your time –To get through my dissertation I had a few awful weeks! But in this time of pain I was working for 10-15 hours at a time with long breaks, slowly making strides…but it paid off in the end! And this is because I was still making progress in the right direction, giving me the confidence to continue. Remember, quality over quantity.
- Take every opportunity and make the best of it – we all have our ups and downs but the important thing to remember is that just because we’ve followed a different path does NOT make you inferior! What do employers look for? … the person who stands out in a crowd. If you’ve been set a year back, see that as an opportunity to spice up your extra-curricular activities. If you’ve been dumped, see that as a chance to meet somebody better. If you’ve not got the grade you’ve expected, put in that extra effort into your retakes or into applying for jobs. I promise you… it WILL pay off!
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Finally, to answer my original question, are self-esteem and self-confidence mutually exclusive? The answer is no. Based on my personal experience, my achievements and consecutive (although slow) progress act as evidence to the fact that I am able to achieve that particular task, boosting my confidence. In turn, by applying the new skills gained in completing that task to other tasks in the future I gain more expertise. That boost in self-confidence triggers the acceptance of self that is needed to gain self-esteem. And this, my friends, has a domino effect. Achievement helps improve self-confidence, helping self-esteem, leading to new achievements, helping further boost self-confidence, thus helping raise self-esteem and so on and so forth…