Does it ever seem like you know you should be confident but, when it comes to actually being confident in your day to day life, it feels a lot harder to actually do? There may be some subtle ways you are sabotaging your own quest to be confident. While fake-it-til-you-make-it is always an option, here are three common myths that can contribute to self-confidence problems.
Myth #1: You’re the Only One
We’ve all had those times where it seems like everyone else in the room has it together while we, on the other hand, definitely don’t. It’s times like those when the fact that our self-esteem could use a little bit of TLC is glaringly obvious. Why does everyone else look so confident and sure of themselves? What’s their secret?
Well, I’ll let you in on a secret of my own, everyone else experiences a little (or a lot) of self-doubt from time to time. As a psychotherapist, I’m in a unique position because my clients are very open with me while they might not be with other people in their lives. And one thing I hear over and over is that they believe they are the only person on the planet struggling with self-esteem while everyone else is as confident as they could possibly be. But that’s obviously not true if I’m hearing this from most of my clients, right?
We’re all struggling with self-esteem in our own way, even if we’re too afraid to talk about it.
Believing you are the only one who isn’t confident feeds the lie that you are somehow defective. Let go of this lie and embrace the fact that we all struggle from time to time. I often use the example of going to the gym with my clients. Many of them tell me that they feel self-conscious from time to time going. “What if everyone is judging me because I can only run for five minutes on the treadmill?” or “What if everyone stares at me because I don’t have an Olympic athlete’s body?” they wonder. The fact is, everyone is too busy worrying about themselves and their workout to actually pay attention to anyone else at the gym. Letting the fear of what others think about you keep you from going to the gym would be to base your actions on something that’s untrue.
Myth #2: You Don’t Measure Up
Ah, the comparison trap. Why is it so easy to look at others and see the great things they do but when looking at yourself to only be able to see that you don’t measure up? I love the quote, “comparison is the thief of joy,” and it’s very relevant when it comes to self-esteem. You can wake up feeling great about where you are in life. But, as soon as you log onto your social network of choice, you see the great vacation your co workers went on, your friend’s promotion to her dream job, or the picture perfect wedding of someone you don’t even know, and suddenly, you don’t feel very good about where you are in life. When you start to compare yourself to others, your self-esteem takes a hit because you only see in that person the things you haven’t yet achieved in yourself. You don’t see all of the heartache or struggle they may be going through or have gone through. You literally get a filtered view of their life.
So instead of comparing yourself to others, which only leaves you feeling not so good about who you are, remind yourself that we all have struggles and successes even if it’s easier to see others; successes and not their struggles. And remind yourself that, just because someone else has done something you’ve wanted to do, it doesn’t mean you can’t do it as well, or that you are somehow worth less for being on a different timeline. Be compassionate toward yourself instead of unnecessarily critical.
Myth #3: You Have the Worst Track Record
Another self-esteem crusher that I see in my work as a therapist is filtering out the positive so that you only see the negative in your life. In other words, many people have a tendency to only remember the things that didn’t work out for them and conveniently forget their successes when faced with something that affects their self-esteem.
Let’s say you haven’t had much luck on the dating scene recently. You could look back on the dates that didn’t work out and use them to “prove” that there’s no point in dating. After all, it’s too much effort and it never works out anyway so why bother, you tell yourself. Thinking this way is definitely not a self-esteem booster. Instead, try reminding yourself that you learned something from all of those dates that didn’t work out, and use them to your advantage to date smarter next time.
No matter what area of life you’re looking at, learning from your past experiences only increases your chances of success in the future and that certainly applies to dating. Don’t let your past negatively affect your self-esteem. So what if you had a few lackluster first dates? Those dates don’t define you or your worth as a person. They are just part of your life along with the other fun dates you’ve been on and other great things you’ve experienced in life. Use your past experiences as an opportunity to learn and grow and increase your confidence in yourself.
Correcting some of these common myths will set you on a path toward correcting low self-esteem, which will dividends in your life and the lives of those around you. You deserve it. And you got this!