I consider myself lucky – I am surrounded by amazing women. They are smart, successful, witty, passionate, and more. So, I’m shocked when I listen to these very people put themselves down. How it is that someone who is so great can have doubts about their value? I (and most others) see their accomplishments and their potential while they worry about their perceived failures and shortcomings.
A lack of self-confidence can manifest itself with arrogant or self-deprecating behavior, and is dangerous to your career. Our fears and insecurities are directly linked to our level of confidence. If you aren’t confident in your abilities and the value you offer, how can you expect someone else to be? In the end, you could very well be passed up for the promotion you want.
What happens to people who are unsure of their value? At the extreme, they don’t take risks and they set goals that are too low for fear of failure. Often, they don’t feel that they deserve success, money, promotions, etc. and may settle for less than what is easily attainable. For people who suffer from occasional declines in their confidence level, they can be afraid to voice their opinions, they might focus on the disadvantages of new opportunities, and have a harder time reaching their goals.
On the other hand, successful professionals are dynamic, decisive, and courageous. But you can't possess these traits without being confident.
What most people don’t realize is that our actions are perpetuating the problem, not improving it. If you suffer from severe self-esteem issues, please see a mental health professional, but if you're just seeking to improve your confidence levels, check out these five tips:
1.) Stop the self-sabotaging behaviors. As Work It, Mom!'s Kathy Howe points out over at Who Stole My Stapler, if you keep saying you're stupid, people will believe that you'r stupid. Every time that you start to put yourself down, either in conversation or in your own head, stop. Replace the negative thought with a positive one. When someone compliments you, simply say “Thank you.” Instead of asking “Why me?” ask “Why not me?”
2.) Don’t expect yourself to be perfect. It’s great to have high expectations, but remember that you can’t be good at everything. Accept the fact that you have weaknesses – you are human. Put yourself in a position where you are building on your strengths and not overcoming your weaknesses. The more successes you experience, the more your confidence will rise.
3.) Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who are supportive. Let go of relationships with people who feel compelled to point out all of your weaknesses. If you can’t separate yourself from those people, put it in perspective and limit your interaction with them. People like this typically make themselves feel better by putting down those they find intimidating.