The 3 Pillars Of Confidence - 3. SELF-ESTEEM

by Elaine Sihera - Date: 2007-03-02 - Word Count: 755 Share This!

Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves. If we believe we are wonderful, we have high self-esteem and if we think we are worthless, invisible and insignificant we carry around a low self- esteem which not only affects our potential, but also dictates the reactions of others. Gradually they pick up the negative body signals we send out and treat us accordingly.

A smile is the biggest example of how we can affect the responses of other people around us. If we are being cheerful and welcoming, it is difficult for someone else to be miserable. And if we sense that the manager/partner is in a bad mood, we modify our behaviour to suit, to avoid attracting unnecessary attention until we detect a more welcoming change in the air.

Any feeling of well-being is controlled by how we feel about ourself. We are prone to more illnesses, more problems and more difficulties when our self-esteem is low because we tend to feel bad, laugh less, become more critical of our situation and others, often hate ourselves and systematically lower our resistance to cope with the rigours of life. Talk about walking disasters: with a lack of confidence we make far more mistakes because we become unduly anxious, especially if we are being watched, which reduces the quality of our performance.

With no confidence and low self-esteem, we appear either negative to other people (seemingly through aggressive behaviour) or excessively fawning or friendly to mask our feelings of inadequacy. In a vicious circle, these actions only prompt others to reject our behaviour which erodes our self-esteem even further. In a competitive world there is no place for low confidence or faint hearts. You really have to believe in yourself to get ahead. If your self-esteem is low, there is no belief because belief is positive perception based upon pure faith, created and sustained by a knowledge of past achievements. Low self-esteem is dominated by negativity and a denial of those very achievements. It is hard to recall past glories when we are down. They become insignificant and non-existent in our eyes as we cease to acknowledge our capabilities and potential.

The Need to Blame Others
In the end, our self-esteem can make or break us. People with low self-esteem tend to be very self-conscious in appearance, difficult to please, superficial and materialistic, mean with appreciation and praise and often inspire little faith in, or respect from, others. They often find it hard to resolve personal difficulties because, being too ready to blame others, they expect such scapegoats to provide the answers. They refuse to believe any solution might lie within themselves. Blaming others become a handy support for doing nothing while maintaining the low esteem and sense of inadequacy.

Ultimately, no matter how simple the achievement, if we do not manage to get it, we will remain unfulfilled and dissatisfied and its loss will affect our self-esteem and our subsequent actions. The level of esteem will be dictated by our sense of belonging. If this is high, because we feel loved and secure, we will be able to take disappointment in our stride and weather any temporary setbacks in achievement. We will be more willing to try again because our confidence will get us through the bad patch. So these three pillars make up the confidence we desire and once any pillar is missing, our confidence will be affected too. If you are feeling low at this moment, one or all of those three is the culprit. You only need to examine why you feel that way and it is very likely to be caused by them. Genuine confidence will not be possible until each is addressed.

But what makes us this way? Why is our self-esteem so tied up with our desire to belong and to achieve?

It could have a lot to do with an innate drive for power and control. We have a strong capacity for freedom of thought, choice and action, yet any potential for hurting others with this unrestrained freedom is tempered by an equally pressing desire to be loved and wanted. Without exception, at some point in our lives, we all want to be recognised, feted and adored; to be known for something of value. Just for one brief moment in time we would all like to be noticed and honoured.

In short, what propels us forward in life is an overriding need to be somebody.

*Further information on the key steps for building confidence is available in the book Money, Sex and Compromise, from Elaine's personal website.

Related Tags: denial, confidence, perception, emotional, self esteem, recognition, belonging, somebody, miserable

ELAINE SIHERA (Ms Cyprah - and is an expert author, public speaker, media contributor and columnist. The first Black graduate of the OU and a post-graduate of Cambridge University. Elaine is a CONFIDENCE guru and a consultant for Diversity Management, Personal Empowerment and Relationships. Author of: 10 Easy Steps to Growing Older Disgracefully; 10 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Soulmate!; Money, Sex & Compromise and Managing the Diversity Maze, among others (available on as well as her personal website). Also the founder of the British Diversity Awards and the Windrush Men and Women of the Year Achievement Awards. She describes herself as, "Fit, Fabulous, Over-fifty and Ready to Fly!"

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