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Mind Your Thinking, Mine Your Self-Confidence

February 6, 2013 , , , , , , , , ,


Emotion (Photo credit: rexquisite)


With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us will focus our attention on love and appreciation of someone else.

When we feel loved, and appreciated by others, positive emotions follow (e.g. security, confidence, goodwill, comfort), which create more mental and physical energy, which are important for us to perform well and achieve success in life (whatever “success” means for us).

But to rely or depend upon others to supply us with love and approval, to feel good about ourselves, can be a risky strategy. What if, one day, the validation, feedback or appreciation we seek wanes, is inconsistent, or is not as forthcoming in the way we would like it to be? What if we don’t receive any of the attention we want or expect from someone else… what does all this do to our self-esteem and self-confidence?

Answer: Our emotional wellbeing and energy levels spiral up and down like a roller coaster ride. Sometimes we feel strong and resourceful, other times we feel helpless and stuck. Sometimes we feel joyful and resilient, other times we feel depressed and defeated.

It’s like handing over your self-esteem to someone else and keeping your fingers crossed that they do a good job for you.

The most important person in your life, as far as your emotional wellbeing is concerned, is you.

If you don’t love yourself enough, you will never allow yourself to reach your full potential for achievement and happiness. When you have low self-esteem, it’s easier to feel stressed and overwhelmed by external events that happen to you and challenging circumstances you may find yourself in. Under stress, your brain is much less efficient, making it easy to fall prey to that vicious cycle of negative self-talk.

Negative self-talk is most people’s worst emotional habit. Our thought patterns have become distorted, so our mind plays tricks on us. Here’s a sample of some unhealthy thought patterns:

Mind reading (assuming what people think), catastrophizing (believing what will happen will be so awful you won’t be able to cope), blaming (seeing someone else as the source of your feelings), making unfair comparisons (focusing on others who you perceive to be doing better than you) and labelling (assigning negative traits to ourselves).

These negative thoughts become a critical voice, whispering in your ear, dragging you down, leading to unhelpful behaviours and poor decision making.

Mind your thinking. Recognize when your mind starts playing tricks on you and see if you can challenge the distorted thinking that’s driving it. Rather than allow your thoughts to spin into a negative spiral, consciously stop, observe and cancel. See if you can choose to let go of the thought pattern and break its power. Think about something else; acknowledge the facts; accept the uncertainty; counter the self-critical voice with a more compassionate one. Be your own best friend.

All too often in life we focus on our flaws and the things we dislike about ourselves; the things we wish were different. We can become too dependent upon others to “fill our bucket” with approval and appreciation.

Self-confidence is an attractive quality to others, especially employers and co-workers. It can generate more interest, resources, goodwill and support which in turn will increase the likelihood of success.

Someone else on this planet thinks you’re special. Do you think you’re as special as they think you are?

Hazel Morley is principal of Think Smart: Training and Coaching with Change in Mind. She can be contacted at

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