Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

The definitive guide to supreme self confidence

So what’s the difference between self esteem versus self confidence?

Self esteem is created by external validation and self confidence comes from within. Albert Ellis, a famous Psychologist was once quoted saying, “Self-esteem is the greatest sickness known to personkind because it’s conditional”. Self esteem is conditional upon the compliments and approval of others whereas self confidence is unconditional. It’s a sense of self acceptance whether you achieve or not, whether you are thin and gorgeous or not. What an amazing place to be when you accept and love yourself unconditionally.

We become conditioned to believe certain things about ourselves by our constant (and largely automatic) thoughts about ourselves and our self worth. Ellis claims that if a person’s self worth is contingent on how others regard them or how well they do at tasks it can be very harmful. They rely upon others to feel good about themselves – what a sad situation.

So what do people who rely on external validation do?

People who accept themselves conditionally are far more likely to experience mental health issues. They tend to feel good about themselves only when others value them and feel a failure or worthless when they do not receive this approval from others.

Example: you get dumped by your boyfriend or girlfriend. Being dumped is a fact. How you perceive this action is subjective. A ‘self esteemer’ will have the belief that he/she is worthless due to being dumped. This is where a counsellor comes in very useful – this thought of being worthless needs to be challenged. A person feels a lot better when they understand that their worth was never given to them in the first place so it can’t be taken away. Self worth is a way of living and being, it isn’t a commodity.

These ‘thinking rules’ (that I am worthless if I am rejected or I fail, for example) are constructed ideas, there is no specific evidence for this thinking. As a result, these beliefs can be deconstructed.

As Eleanor Roosevelt said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” and this is especially true when you accept and like yourself unconditionally.

How to improve your self confidence:

Look at your strengths, what are you good at? Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t do.

Don’t compare yourself to others. We are all different and often we compare without knowing the full story of who we are comparing ourselves to. Don’t do it. We are all on different paths.

See yourself as valuable as a person without achievements attached. What makes you a good person? Are you kind, tolerant and/or caring? Focus on your good qualities as a person and not actions that make you more worthwhile (this is faulty thinking).

Watch your internal dialogue – we all have an inner critic. An inner bully that fills us with self doubt. Acknowledge the bully but don’t listen to it or buy into what it is saying. Rather talk to yourself in a kind way like this, “I can see that I am being self critical again. This isn’t helpful to me”. try to distract yourself – thoughts aren’t facts, just our inner bully being a nuisance.

Even the most competent and successful among us confirm that they have battled their inner bully and defended themselves against self criticism and self doubt. They go ahead anyway, they don’t accept that they are unworthy due to the decision made by someone else.

Mandy X