Low self-esteem, which is just another term for shame, is very common in our culture. It especially afflicts those who grew up abused, neglected, or bereaved. Here are some simple tips for building confidence.
1. Be Fair
Everyone suffers from flaws. It’s not fair to focus on our own personal defects without acknowledging the messiness of every personality.
If we only notice our own shortcomings, we feel insecure. If we remember that falling short is part of the human condition, we gain compassion for ourselves and others.
2. Be Honest
We all possess strengths, and we all display weaknesses. Identifying vulnerabilities is healthy, provided we also identify areas of resilience, perseverance, effectiveness, and so on. Thorough self-honesty provides a balanced view, a good remedy for low self-esteem.
3. Be Humble
Humility is not a four letter word. Our culture celebrates the brash narcissist, but wiser minds see blustery self-promotion as immature. We can let our works speak for themselves.
4. Be Proud
It’s odd that we see so much egotism but so little pride. Long ago I spent a short time in Jamaica. I was struck by the upright bearing and unspoken confidence displayed by people with so little material wealth and such a long history of oppression. They did not seem to question their right to exist the way I did.
Sometime later, I read these words in The Desiderata:
You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
Pride is knowing one belongs on this earth. Egotism is believing one better and more deserving than others. The former is healthy, the latter toxic.
Fairness, Honesty, Humility, and Pride will go a long way toward eliminating shame and improving self-esteem.