Confidence and self belief

I am late in posting this because I was scared it was going to turn into a never-ending rant and I really didn’t want it to be one.

Confidence and self belief are needed throughout life. Confidence and/or self belief is needed for so many activities – presentations, exams, performances, meeting new people, asking a person out for a date, planning a journey, interviews. Really the list can go on and on. Anything that involves putting yourself out there requires some amount of confidence. If you are confident about doing something, you know that you can do it simply because you set your mind to it. You know that you can handle the thing. You know that you can say the right things, find the right answers, look the right way. You are assured that you possess the skills and abilities to get by. Although confidence and self belief are important in life, they are often lacking.

People who are confident are often better equipped to handle problems and challenges. They are more likely to take risks or put themselves out there. They have the mentality and self belief that they will succeed, nothing is going to go ‘wrong’.

“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit.” E. E. Cummings

That being said, an incident happened this weekend that made me angry. Truth be told, “incident” really isn’t the right word. Saying incident is making me think of something that is quite a big deal, but I don’t know what else to call it for now. It certainly wasn’t, or at least should not have been a very big deal. Basically what happened is, a mistake was made somewhere involving a form. This is not what made me angry. What enraged me was people’s reaction to this small mistake and that my dad got the full blame for it. So today myself and my dad went together and managed to sort out the problem. It took about five whole minutes to sort the whole thing! It was certainly not worth the worry and upset that had been our whole weekend. Also, this big mistake that was all my dad’s fault? Was not my dad’s mistake!

My dad has very low self-esteem and has very little faith in himself. I have witnessed people belittle my dad and point out that he can’t do things, or can not do them properly. For years my dad has been told he is not good enough and now, as a result, severely doubts himself. My dad doesn’t like reading or writing or talking to people. He worries that he might make a mistake, say or write the wrong thing and be judged for it. He double checks spellings, and information that he knows just because he does not have the faith in himself that he is correct. He will ask for help, because he doesn’t want to do it himself in the full fear that he will get it wrong. For quite a while now I have been encouraging my dad to write cards, letters, forms etc himself to try and show him that he can do it. I feel like my dad has not had much encouragement through his life to be independent and do things for himself. Other people did it for him, or instead of him. I like to be there for him, to help support him, but let him take lead so that he can see that he can fill that form in, make that phone call, whatever it may be. I hope that in doing so he can see that I believe in him. I hope that it might make him believe in himself more.

The fact that my dad received the blame for this mistake is what has made me angry. There was nothing to say that it was his fault. Many factors could have contributed to this mistake but the blame somehow fell to him. You would think that the fact we now know it was not him who “messed things up” would make things right? It has not. For a whole weekend my dad got told it’s been his fault, and he has beaten himself up over it. The more my dad was spoken about, the more my anger boiled. People who know my dad know he is not the most confident of people. So for people who know my him to say things in such a negative manner about him, and to him is not right. A mistake was made, somebody was upset and that is ok. That is what happens. People say things when they are angry quite often that they don’t mean. An argument, shouting, swearing, whatever it is, goes on for a much shorter time than the thoughts and feelings that are going to continue. You tell a person, who does not believe in themselves, that they are an idiot. That person can take that comment and torture themselves with it for day, weeks, often longer.

My dad is human, and yes he can get things wrong… But do you know what? So can everybody! He is just trying to feel his way through life the same as me, the same as you, the same as everybody!

I have always struggled with self belief and confidence my whole life. Teachers at parents night would be telling my parents that I was smart but I had to “speak out more in class”. They said that it was important for me to contribute more to class discussions, or volunteer to read out or volunteer answers. I have always been an anxious person and an overthinker. I think this is where a lot of problems can arise. Speaking out in class was my idea of a nightmare! Speaking out in front of people is still my idea of a nightmare! The very thought of it makes me feel sick. If a person lacks confidence, they may be reluctant to put themselves out there, and that is due to fear and worry. All sort of thoughts and worries can attack you, all those “what if” thoughts. “What if I say the wrong thing?”, “What if I stutter?”, “What if I fall in front of everyone?”, “What if I mess up?”, “What if they laugh at me?”, “What is I spontaneously combust?”, “What if I bore people?”, “What if they throw things at me?”, “What if they try and kill me”… The “what if” questions can create huge obstacles for people. They can range from anything from fairly realistic and acceptable worries to “dramatic” and unrealistic.

Fear and worry largely contribute to stress. This can in turn lead to problems such as insomnia, achy muscles, stomach problems, appetite problems, headaches, lead to alcohol or other substance use. All of this is hard in itself. If you then consider that people can experience this on top of a condition or illness you can hopefully get an idea on how dangerous lacking in confidence and self esteem can be.

If you know a person has low self esteem and confidence issues, don’t make them feel worse about themselves. Don’t belittle them. Don’t give them more ammunition that they are going to go away and torture themselves with. Show a little empathy. It’s ok to get annoyed. Just make sure that person knows you were saying that in the moment. Don’t let them think that they can do nothing right. Don’t let them think that they are worthless.

If you don’t know the person, just try and be a kind person. Still try and be empathetic. You don’t know what demons that person is fighting. A small comment can shatter a person’s feelings of self worth. It can evaporate any drop of confidence they have which in turn can affect that person’s life in a huge way.

It would just be great if people could spend time building each other up instead of tearing each other down. Tell people that they can do things. Praise people for their efforts! Tell people that they are awesome, cause at some point they could believe it and you’ve increased a person’s self worth and belief in themselves. Nobody know’s the kind of positive impact this will have on a person’s life. It works! I often tell my cousin Donald that he is awesome. He tells me that I am awesome. Do you know what has happened? There are times now that I am more willing to try things. There are times now that I have managed to do something, all because Donald has told me that I am awesome and I know that he believes in me, which has made me consider that maybe I can do. For example, him believing in me made me think that I could blog. I could give myself a voice. I can do this. Small things can be so impactful upon life, and can do wonders for feelings of self worth and confidence.

You are all awesome! Try and be kind to other people. Help each other feel through life and grow and develop each other’s self worth and confidence.