Do you have the confidence to take on the world?

How would you describe your level of self-esteem?  Do you have enough confidence to deal with your day to day life fairly easily?  We’re all experts at spotting people with high self-esteem.  They seem to have an astonishing level of confidence that leaves the rest of us wondering what the secret is.

Of course, an apparently confident person could be putting on a good show.  There aren’t many of us who don’t have worries or insecurities of some kind.  We all have a ‘fantasy-reality gap’ that reflects the difference between how our live actually is and how we’d like it to be.

The real question is how large that gap is and how we cope with it.  It can have a powerful effect on our self-esteem.

Low self-esteem

When you suffer from low self-esteem you’re also much more likely to be a perfectionist.  People with adequate levels of self-esteem tend to be OK with who they are and what they do.  There might be things that they would like to change but they tend to be less important to their overall level of confidence.

By contrast, low self-esteem makes you feel that you aren’t getting anything right.  You want things to be perfect and set your standards impossibly high.  Of course, this simply sets you up for failure and you end up in a vicious circle where you feel incapable of making any positive change.

Anxiety and low self-esteem

People suffer with anxiety for many different reasons.  It’s an emotion that we experience when we feel threatened.  Our stress response kicks in and we find ourselves ready to fight, fly or even freeze in response.

Low self-esteem can make our brains feel as if we’re under threat.  We believe that we’re not good enough.  We’re more likely to internalise comments from other people or try to reach standards imposed by advertising or social media.  We feel threatened and therefore more anxious.

Treating someone with anxiety often finding ways of lifting their self-esteem.  Being in a state of anxiety is really unpleasant.  It creates all sorts of strong, negative emotions which can rob people of their ability to see the root cause of the problem and deal with it.  We know something is wrong but can’t do anything about it.

Anxiety is the brain’s way of trying to protect itself from harm.  It’s usually a therapist’s job to start a conversation with the emotional part of the brain so that people can start to understand where their feelings are coming from.

The way forward

When you begin to think of anxiety as a message from your emotional brain, you can start to change it.  Lifting yourself out of low self-esteem means learning to love yourself, value yourself and be kind to yourself.  It tells your brain that it’s being listened to.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but we have some resources to help.  Therapy or counselling is a good way forward but we can also support ourselves.  We all have an emotional need to feel safe, to have control over our actions and to feel part of relationships and a community where we are listened to and respected.  It’s also important to consider whether we feel our life has a purpose.

We can help ourselves by talking to our loved ones and getting involved in our community.  We can also use our memory and imagination to learn from the past and address our problems in a creative way.

Do you need to find a way out of anxiety?  If you need to start a new kind of conversation, please get in touch.