In the past month I’ve worked with our local child protective services to keep a baby out of a dangerous home. I’ve diagnosed cancer and referred for treatment early enough for a 95% chance of survival. I treat a teenage boy with ADHD who just two months ago wanted to drop out of school and now is proud of the fact he knows the answers before the “smart kids.” Every provider in our clinic can give story after story of what we’ve done for our patients. So imagine my frustration when one of the nurses said “don’t you want to do something with your life and leave something behind?” This was in a discussion of getting married and having kids. Now, I’m sure men do something similar, but I see it time and again: savvy, smart, successful women brought down because they have been made to believe self-worth comes from having marriage and family and so they belittle the things they have accomplished.Now, this blog is NOT about whether or not you should get married. And, it’s not to debate what’s better.
What it IS about is Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence. No matter what you think about the above, you need Self-Confidence to have the Strength to stand by your convictions. Self-Confidence comes from a high Self-Esteem.
Now, I could go on and on about how we need to instill confidence in our kids at early ages. The truth is, not every child has the opportunity to be in a home where this is given. Maybe a foster parent or grandparent or teacher can fill the role. Far too often the child/adult has to find it inside themselves.
How can this be done?
- You have to want to be confident. The role of victim is an easy one to assume, especially with all the attention it receives. To be strong and confident doesn’t always have the perks. It’s still better, though.
- Think about what you can do. What are you good at? What do you like? What are things you want to do? Do what you’re passionate about.
- You’ve invested a lot into your career, but you aren’t you’re career. You are you. Make the job what you want it to be, not the other way around.
- Don’t just do the job. Have something else: a hobby, friends, things you like for relaxation. Something that isn’t related to your job.
- Take care of what you can control. In your workspace, keep it tidy. Make sure everything that can be done is caught up. At home, pay your bills, make your bed, wash your clothes and dishes. There’s enough you can’t control: annoying co-workers, that unexpected client, a kid getting sick. Not being cluttered with stuff that should be done boosts esteem and confidence.
- Don’t try to do it all. Involve co-workers. Invite friends. If you’ve got a spouse and kids, make them help you. Let go of your ideal. If it’s done correctly, it doesn’t have to be just like you’d do it.
- Think forward. What are your goals? How can you achieve them? Many people don’t sit down and think realistically about what they want from life. Make a plan based on what you want. Move ahead with your plans, but know circumstances may change them. Be flexible.
- Celebrate your accomplishments. This is not arrogantly flaunting what you’ve done, but giving yourself a high five for a job well done. You’d do it for others. Why not yourself? Thinking about what you’ve been successful doing gives confidence to try new things and to not be devastated by failure. Nobody’s perfect. We forgive others, but beat ourselves up over our smallest mistakes.
- Look at others who are confident. What about them makes them stand out? Be like them.
- Fake it if you have to. Most health care providers have this down to a science. How you present yourself effects how others respond. Appear strong even if you don’t feel like it. How? Be prepared when you go into something. Do your homework. It takes effort, but know the situation as much as you can. Scan the Internet. Do continuing education. Research a company before the interview. Knowledge brings confidence. The more you succeed at faking it, them more real confidence you gain.
I said emulate those who have self-confidence. How can you tell who they are?
- They take care of themselves. In their appearance and speech they are clean, neat, put together. They manage their lives responsibly.
- They consider others’ opinions but make their own decisions.
- They congratulate others when they deserve it but don’t applaud negative behaviors.
- They take risks. Mistakes don’t scare them or bring them down.
- They offer help with no strings attached.
- They show caring for themselves and for others.
Everyone wants to be successful. We want to have a good life and think we did something worthwhile. When that doesn’t happen we want someone to blame. In the end, though, God isn’t going to ask what our mom or dad did or what our spouse did to us.
What He’s going to ask is “What did you do?” We are responsible for our lives. The confidence to do this has to come from ourselves. Others can influence it, but only individually can we can use it.
If Character is what we do when others aren’t around and Integrity is how we show it to others, then Self-Confidence is what we need to have the Strength to use it. Without a high Self-Esteem we won’t believe we can or even have the ability to accomplish what we want in life.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"