Experts Say The Key To Confidence Isn’t More Self-Esteem

Most people would agree that feeling good about themselves takes the top spot on their list of wants in life, along with being healthy, happy, and fulfilled. Kristin Neff, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology, says confidence comes with self-esteem, an internal judgment of your worth.

You can boost your confidence by telling yourself to push harder, to become stronger, and to develop grit, perhaps the most talked-about method of self-motivation. Psychologists are now finding flaws in that theory, noting that while elevating your self-esteem can undoubtedly lead to more confidence, it also has its dangers.

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Christopher Germer, Ph.D., a lecturer in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, says self-esteem is fragile because it’s based on external validation. It’s easy to compare, feel isolated, and criticize when things go wrong.

An alternative to assertiveness is self-compassion, which means showing yourself kindness when you struggle, fail, or notice something negative about yourself. Self-compassion is about relating to yourself as a human, not measuring up to expectations. You can persevere and make changes when expressing concern and caring for yourself during hard times.

Neff says self-compassion gives you a stable source of self-competence instead of a ‘sugar high.’ There is a tendency to think of self-compassion as passive, even unproductive. However, that is not true. A self-compassionate attitude has two sides.

Exercises For Self-Compassion

These three methods will help you understand self-compassion better and improve your well-being today and in the future.

  • Take a moment to ask yourself, what do I need?
  • Don’t be afraid to put your hand to your heart
  • Understand when you don’t have what it takes

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Positive Self-Talk: How To Practice It

Positive self-talk fuels compassion, but putting it into practice is more than just saying, “Everything’s great!” Here are some tips to alter your thinking:

  • Keep an eye out for the negativity
  • Let’s wish for the best
  • Remove the word should from the sentence