How Will We Build Confidence And Self-Esteem?

As a society, we seem to becoming more and more averse to what we perceive to be confrontation.  When someone is told how to do something correctly, when their first attempt at it was not quite right, we seem to think and feel we’re being confronted instead of guided and supported.  Of course delivery of the message is key, so there might be times when someone is being confrontational but if you’re just about to drive over a customer’s foot then that’s probably appropriate! 😉  We build confidence and self-esteem as we learn so if we can’t tell anybody what to do any more, even if that’s with great kindness and compassion, how will we learn about ourselves and life to help build our resilience, confidence and self-esteem?

Generational Differences

I watched a TV interview a while ago, where a lady talked about how she had developed great resilience and confidence by working through difficult times.  She remembered being at University with very little money and having very little food, which must have been really difficult.  As she reflected on those times though, she actually smiled as she reconnected with the resilience, confidence and self-esteem that working through those difficult times had given her.  In the next breath she talked about how she would never allow her daughter to struggle.  I waited…..and thought “she’ll connect those two things in a minute”…but she didn’t appear to.  Didn’t appear to recognise that her daughter needed to experience some difficult times too, in order to build her own resilience, confidence and self-esteem.  We can’t give those things to other people.  After our formative years we have to build them for ourselves.

I have a theory, that because the baby boomer generation were a less emotional generation of parents, because that’s what they had learned and experienced with their own parents, we have over-compensated with subsequent generations.  If we know the impact of a harsh and less loving upbringing, we will either replicate that or go totally the other way as we know how that felt and don’t want to repeat that experience for our loved ones.  That makes sense.  But the over-compensating might include not challenging young people, colleagues and others when they are doing something that is not right or less than helpful.  There must be a way to direct people, kindly and compassionately without getting hit over the head (metaphorically) with an accusation of being mean!

Sharing Our Skills And Experience

I can think of many life experiences when, in the moment I thought my parents, teachers, colleagues and bosses were being mean to me but on reflection they were just trying to guide me (mostly!).  The delivery of the message wasn’t always fabulous but we live in more emotionally enlightened times now, so we’ll be better at that when we need to do it ourselves.  Passing on our skills and experience is a way to help people learn but if we can’t do that now, for fear of being perceived as dictatorial or confrontational how will other people learn and develop their resilience, confidence and self-esteem?

Whether our learning and development is as a younger person or a more mature adult, we can still build our confidence and self-esteem from surviving and working through difficult times.  As a younger person, taking exams and navigating relationships at school can teach us many things about the realities of life.  As an older person working through physical and mental health problems, or supporting loved ones through those things, can demonstrate the resources that we have available to cope, manage well and function in other areas of our lives during really difficult times.  Resources that possibly we didn’t know we had until we had to dig deep to work through something really challenging and upsetting. 

The Perception of Confrontation

Levels of confidence and self-esteem are definitely dropping in my view.  We find self-esteem in materialistic things these days such as a big house, a nice car or fab holidays, which are all great but if you can’t challenge someone’s behaviour and offer guidance and support through adversity, how will they ever learn the skills to thrive in their own life and business; to get their own big house, nice car and fab holidays?  Teaching people and sharing your skills and experience are good for your mental health and self-esteem, and if you do it kindly, it’s good for the health and self-esteem of the other person too.  Win-win 😊  Shouting at people is an aggressive approach and that seems to be how an assertive approach is perceived nowadays, so let’s consider the differences.

Aggressive communicators will:

  • try to dominate others
  • use humiliation to control others
  • criticise, blame, or attack others
  • be very impulsive
  • have low frustration tolerance
  • speak in a loud, demanding, and overbearing voice

Assertive communicators will:

  • speak in a calm and clear tone of voice
  • have a relaxed body posture
  • feel connected to others
  • feel competent and in control
  • not allow others to abuse or manipulate them
  • stand up for their rights

The two things are miles apart aren’t they?  So if you need to tell, guide or support someone to do something differently, use an assertive, kind and compassionate approach, which reflects beautifully on your emotional maturity and wisdom.  Don’t bang on about something for the sake of it, just to prove what you know because that’ll dis-engage the other person and make them less likely to use you as a source of help, information and support in the future.  Not everything can be learned via a YouTube video thank goodness, especially when it comes to communication, building relationships and holding people to account, although attempts at those topics are probably all on YouTube!

By guiding people kindly and assertively through difficult times, you can support them to tap into and build their resilience, confidence and self-esteem.  If they tell you they don’t need any help, just offer again.  It might be that they’re not used to being challenged and having a kind offer of support made to them, so it might take a while for that to feel comfortable.  When we feel backed into a corner, physically, mentally or emotionally we can hiss and spit sometimes and tell people that we’re fine.  Keep offering support and try to create a safe environment where someone can admit their fears and concerns.  Our greatest fear is usually that we’ll look stupid so get past that one – there are no stupid questions! – and sit down with a cuppa to talk things through.  That’s definitely a win-win 😊

Take good care please, direct people kindly and have a great day.

Best wishes, Karen