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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Understand Self-Esteem: To Become Confident Communicator

Self Esteem With Its Importance

Self-esteem is the picture we have of ourselves and the value we place upon ourselves. It is dependent on what others tell us about ourselves either directly or indirectly by the way they treat us.

For example if you have continually been told as a child that you are too clumsy, too fat, too tall, or hopeless at school this could very well be the picture that you end up forming of yourself. If you are told you are useless you may come to believe that you are useless.

Here’s an example.

Tim is seven years old. He has made a new friend at school and his teacher has praised him for some work that he did. As a result he was awarded his first gold star. He is bursting with pride and full of enthusiasm. He rushes out of the school gate to tell you but you’ve had a bad day, you’re late for an appointment, you haven’t got time to listen to him. How do you think Tim will feel? Yes, like he’s been slapped in the face.

Then Tim has another chance to repeat his wonderful news when his father returns home from work. But his father is too tired; he’s had a row with the boss. He’s worried about being made redundant and he tells Tim to be quiet, or go to bed. Again how do you think Tim will feel? You’ve got it, bitterly disappointed. If this pattern is repeated and continues what these parents
are telling Tim is that he is not worth listening to. His experiences are of no consequence to them so Tim begins to feel worthless. His self-esteem has suffered a severe blow, which could then affect the rest of his schooling and indeed his life.

Research has shown that feelings of inadequacy start very young, from birth in fact and are clearly apparent by the time a child reaches the age of ten.

Teachers, parents, guardians all signal to children that they value them as individuals. They do this by listening to them, by setting realistic standards, by encouraging them not to be daunted by failure, by urging them to have the confidence to try again and to act independently and responsibly.

Girls generally have lower self-esteem than boys even in the western world and this is largely due to the cultural and general status of women in society. When girls are paired with boys to perform a task, girls can artificially depress their performance so as not to outshine the boys.

This can also happen in the workplace. Women very often compensate for their lower feelings of self-esteem by over planning and they don’t always realize they are doing this. Women also tend to worry more about the task and attend to it more thoroughly, in order to prove they are as good as the men.

In addition, many women set themselves lower goals in life. They are more inclined to undervalue their abilities. If a woman is praised for a project, or a particular aspect of her work, she is much more likely than a man to say ‘Oh it was nothing’, simply shrugging it off and getting embarrassed while a man is more comfortable at accepting the praise even acknowledging and confirming it by saying, ‘Yeah, I did well there.’ Sometimes he will even bring it to the attention of the boss himself seeking out the praise.

In order to counterbalance this and boost self-esteem in girls and women they need to be encouraged to be more adventurous, to take risks. Indeed everyone should be told that to fail is not the end of the world but the road to improvement. We can learn a great deal more from our failures and grow from them than we can from our successes and yet in many cultures failure is not to be countenanced.

How can we improve our self esteem?

Many of us have been raised that to think or say nice things about ourselves is not ‘right’. It is sometimes much easier for us to find fault with ourselves than to find the ‘good’ in ourselves. It’s all very well to be self deprecating but this can become a habit, and a bad one at that. If we are always putting ourselves down then how can we ever communicate confidently?

Taking a piece of paper write down the following:
  • Two physical attributes you like about yourself
  • Two personality qualities you like about yourself
  • One talent or skill that you like in yourself.
How easy was that for you? If you found it difficult, which many people do, then find someone whose opinion you value and trust and ask them to complete it for you, (you can also do the same for them) and then exchange notes. This can be a great confidence boosting exercise.

Next keep this piece of paper with you, to refresh yourself of your good points particularly when feeling low or nervous.

If you constantly focus on the negative then you will give out negative thoughts, your body language will give out the same and not only will you continue to feel negative but others will react to you in a negative or hostile way, or they will completely dismiss you and your opinions.

So you need to constantly remind yourself of your good qualities and what you have got going for you. Retrain your brain into thinking about the positive and not the negative. Your body language will therefore change and you will start to give out more positive body language signals.

Feel good about yourself – also learn to feel good about others

Sometimes we are so self-absorbed that we become inward looking and selfish, wanting what we want, when we want it and how we want it. We think we are the only ones suffering, or the only ones that matter, the only ones who have any problems. We become obsessed about how we feel and some people thrive on the attention this brings them feeding their inner vanity so that they become even more self-obsessed.

Learning to think of others and yourself in a positive way can be the first step towards an inner confidence.

You can gain a great deal of personal satisfaction and strength through helping others.

Figure out what is important to you and let go of the rest - there isn’t time for everything. Take a moment to think how you would like to be remembered when you are gone. Are you living that life? If not, why not? What can you do to change it? You have the power to create your own dreams and use your experiences to help as many people as you can. By giving out you can take the focus off yourself and find greater inner confidence and gain self-esteem.

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