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Learning

5. Self confidence and self esteem

In the last exercise, did you spot some of the ways you communicate? Are you sometimes aggressive or passive or manipulative?

If you are feeling a bit nervous about what might happen when you try using assertive communications, here are two friends that will support you: self esteem and self confidence.

Often it is people who think badly of themselves who find it hardest to be assertive. But being assertive can help you improve how you think of yourself… …and thinking better of yourself can help make you more assertive!

Self esteem and how to build it

Self esteem is what you think of yourself. It is not linked to what you’ve done or what’s been done to you.

Building on it: You don’t have to do anything to matter. Just by existing, you are worthwhile. It doesn’t matter if you’ve failed, let people down or done terrible things. You will always matter!

Remember that you have been taught to think badly of yourself. By practising some of the tips below, you can teach yourself to think well of yourself instead!

Try these tips to improve your self esteem:


Get used to saying this!

  • When you pass a mirror, say something nice to yourself.
  • If you start saying bad things about yourself, stop!
  • Compliment your children and friends. Be complimentary and positive on social media. Being nice to others makes you feel better about yourself.
  • Keep reminding yourself that you are worthwhile just as you are.
  • When you’ve succeeded in doing something, take time to praise yourself for it!
  • Take note of when you use words like “should” and “ought to”. Try replacing them with “I want to” and “I’d like to”. Instead of “I have to”, “I have an opportunity to!”
  • Treat yourself to something nice every now and then. Not as a reward for something you’ve done, but just to remind yourself that you matter.
  • Say no to things you don’t want to do. The next page is all about this.

In your worksheet, answer the following questions.

  1. What I would say to a friend with low self-esteem?
  2. What I am going to do in my life to improve my own self-esteem

Self confidence and how to build it

Self confidence is how confident you are that you can succeed at doing something. Often people with low self confidence are afraid of trying things because they have failed in the past, or have been so afraid of failing that they have never tried at all.

The best way to build self confidence is by doing things yourself. And, surprisingly, sometimes by failing!

Try these tips to improve your self confidence:

  • If you try something new, make sure it won’t be a catastrophe if it goes wrong. Eg for your child’s first camping trip, go somewhere where you can get home easily if it doesn’t work out, not the middle of the Sahara!
  • Don’t give up if something doesn’t work perfectly first time.
  • Use visualisation: this is when you imagine yourself succeeding. People who lack confidence expect to fail. If you feel like you’re going to be a success, you will act more confidently and create a better impression.
  • The more you do things the more confident you will be. There are many things you can easily do now that you once found difficult.
  • If something has been a big failure, try a smaller version where you can deal with it going wrong. Eg if you’ve had to leave a job, try some voluntary work. If you’ve dropped out of a course, try an easier one, or a free online one like this one!
  • Write a CV of the things you’ve succeeded at, or keep a diary. Look back at it to remind yourself of your successes.

In your worksheet, write something for the following:

  1. Something that I found difficult but succeeded at.
  2. Something I want to do.
  3. How I will do it so that it won’t be devastating if it goes wrong?

Dealing with setbacks

Building your self confidence and self esteem takes time and you’ll have to work at it. But it’s very worthwhile and no one else can do it for you.

  • Take control: make your own decisions, celebrate your successes and learn from the mistakes.
  • Don’t try to do to much: ask your children and other people to help you, and beware of things you think you “ought” to do or “should” do.
  • Ask for advice from people you trust. There might be an easier way to achieve the things that you find difficult.
  • Keep reminding yourself that you matter, even if people treat you badly or the things you try to do go wrong. Come up with an encouraging phrase and keep saying it to yourself.
  • Remember your successes: things that used to be difficult that are now easy. Maybe toilet training was once a nightmare, or you couldn’t use a knife and fork or tie your shoelaces or tell the time? We hope you can do these things now!

Next: 6. Saying “no”Back: 4. Assertiveness, passive, aggressive or manipulative?

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