In our fast-paced modern world, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing our lives to others. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and similar platforms showcase individuals who, at least in their outward appearance, seem to have it all – beauty that outshines ours, better wealth, better connections, and unwavering dedication to their loved ones.
As we watch stories of seemingly perfect lives, it is natural to feel a sense of inadequacy and to question our own efforts in comparison.
These images often present an idealised version of life, carefully staged to hide the struggles, insecurities, and complexities that lie beneath the surface. They convey the message that we are not good enough, without showing us the path towards self-improvement and personal growth. It is a painful realisation that leaves us grappling in the dark, yearning for a way to rise above our perceived limitations, yet unsure where to find the light that will lead us there.
Amid the difficulties and challenges that life throws at us, testing our resilience and determination, there is a remarkable power within us − self-confidence.
Self-confidence emerges as a guiding light, empowering us to overcome obstacles and persevere when the journey gets tough. It is a precious attribute that enhances the quality of our lives. It allows us to dream bigger, achieve our goals, and face challenges with courage and determination. Self-confidence changes how we view ourselves.
However, at times, building confidence can be a difficult pursuit, often made more challenging by the echoes of the past and the burden of negative self-talk.
As we grow older, we become more aware of our limitations and imperfections. The innocence and optimism of childhood are gradually replaced by insecurities and self-doubt of adulthood, leading many of us to believe our best is not enough and that we are destined to fail.
For those who grew up with criticism and little, or no encouragement, it can be particularly challenging to build self-confidence, as the inner critic that creates guilt and shame can be overwhelming, making it more difficult to break free from negative patterns of thought.
Our inner voice has a profound impact on our self-confidence. It is easier to focus on our mistakes and imperfections, reinforcing the belief that we are not good enough. Unfortunately, this negative thinking can become the inner voice of our own children, perpetuating a cycle of guilt, shame and self-contempt.
Strategies to assist ourselves and our children
To teach our children self-confidence, we must first believe in ourselves. We need to change our inner voice, recognising that we are enough as we are, our efforts are something to be applauded and what matters most is persevering and never giving up.
Building self-confidence is not always an easy journey, but some strategies can assist both ourselves and our children. One approach is to change our inner dialogue, counteracting thoughts of shame and self-doubt with thoughts of recognition for how hard we try. This approach is equally applicable to our children.
For instance, instead of solely praising their grades, we can applaud their effort for studying and taking things seriously before results actually come out. It takes great courage to put ourselves out there and try, and our children deserve recognition for their journey, not just the destination.
Another strategy is to reaffirm new ways of thinking with mantras like “I am enough”, “I can do hard things” and “I am brave”. We can create a list of these affirmations with our children, explaining how they can be used daily, especially when we feel bad about ourselves or are afraid to try. We must be mindful of the story we tell ourselves and the examples we set for our children.
Embracing self-confidence means embracing our unique journey and acknowledging our own worth. We must never forget that we are only human and being human means it is okay to make mistakes. Each of us has areas where we excel and areas where we struggle, and we all harbour dreams that we long to turn into reality. Thus, finding the confidence we need to pursue those dreams is essential.
“We must be mindful of the story we tell ourselves and the examples we set for our children”
When something does not feel right deep in our heart, let us have the strength to say no, and when something resonates within us, even if others disagree, let us say yes. Being our own source of validation is important, particularly when others attempt to bring us down. You are more than enough by simply being you. Further, let us pass on this belief to our children, teaching them to embrace their own uniqueness and worth.
Despite the difficulties that accompany building self-confidence, it is a journey that is worth the effort. As we embark on this journey, we discover that the beauty of our own lives lies in our authenticity and growth.
Self-confidence is not about proving ourselves to others; it is about nurturing a deep sense of self-acceptance and self-love; about celebrating every small step we take towards personal growth; and about embracing our imperfections as part of what makes us beautifully human. We do not have to be perfect to be perfect!
Jessica Azzopardi is a counselling trainee and member of the Malta Association for the Counselling Profession.
If you’re interested in learning more about the counselling profession, or would like additional information on mental health and self-care, visit www.macpmalta.org, www.facebook.com/CounsellingMaltaMACP or send an e-mail us to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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