There is a strong connection between confidence and mental health. Our self-worth has a huge impact on quality of life and our personal well-being. I think a lot of people with mental illnesses lack confidence in themselves.
Can you blame us?
We’re kind of told that our minds and basic chemistry are inferior. Messed up. Jumbled. Diseased. Sick.
So it makes sense that we question ourselves. Our abilities, worth, skill, etc.
I’ll be the first to admit that my self-esteem isn’t the best. Some days, I’m so busy that I don’t notice my self-esteem. Other days, it’s all I can think about.
Let’s take a look at the connection between self-esteem and mental health.
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Research on Mental Health and Self-Esteem
I was blown away to read about all of the studies done on this topic. I’m going to quickly summarize everything I’ve learned because I know you don’t have time to pour through the data yourself. Nice of me, right?
Low self-esteem is linked to addiction. Turns out, those with low self-esteem in childhood might be predisposed to addiction later in life. This study found that kids with low self-esteem at the age of eleven were 1.6 times more likely to have a drug dependency at age twenty.
Low self-esteem leads to poor relationships. Our confidence in ourselves basically leaks into every aspect of our lives. Those with low self-esteem often end up in abusive relationships because they don’t believe they deserve any better.
Low self-esteem and depression and anxiety. This is kind of a chicken or the egg situation in that we’re not sure which happens first. Does low self-esteem cause us to develop depression? Or does depression give us low self-esteem? What matters most is that they are inextricably connected.
Low self-esteem by itself is not a mental illness, but perhaps it should be. This article in Psychology Today makes a compelling case for why poor self-esteem should be an illness in and of itself. I have to say, I agree.
Lucy of Succeed Now was kind enough to share her personal experience with her lack of confidence and how it affected her depression and anxiety.
Lucy’s Self-Esteem Story
I truly believe you can’t underestimate how powerful confidence is. If you have none it can ruin your life. If you have confidence it can transform your life. I have seen both ends of this scale and I have to say; having confidence has made an incredible difference in my quality of life. I’m going to share with you my challenges and the techniques I used to build my confidence and transform my mindset and life.
I won’t talk too much about this part as it wasn’t a very nice time of my life. Alongside anxiety and depression, I had zero confidence and self-belief. I hated leaving the house. I couldn’t enter a shop alone without panicking. I hated how I looked, how I spoke, I couldn’t look in the mirror, I just hated everything.
After meeting with a counselor about my anxiety, she introduced me to a personal development book. I am so grateful that she did this as it opened up my mind to a whole world of personal development that I didn’t even know existed. I started reading every book I could.
The best one I found for confidence was Katie Piper’s book called Confidence. She shares so many practical tips you can start using to see an instant increase in confidence. I wrote a review on the book right here.
I started listening to podcasts, reading blog posts and consuming all the information I could possibly find about personal development and building my confidence.
Another technique I found and still use today is affirmations. I realized how I always spoke about myself in a negative way – no wonder I was feeling negative about myself! I now start my day with positive affirmations such as “I am confident”, “I am successful”, or “I am happy”. You can create any of your own, replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones and starting with I am.
Pushing outside my comfort zone also massively helped build my confidence. It took time and perseverance but it was so worth it. Just doing something little every day that scared me proved to myself that I could do it and that I was good enough.
I can now shop alone for hours without a second of worry and I can drive alone anywhere, including long distance. This has taken me a couple of years to get to this stage but it all started with a small step outside my comfort zone.
I can’t even compare my life now to how it used to be. Since building my confidence I have become happier and more fulfilled. I am kind to myself, I don’t think badly of myself in any way. I applied for a new job and went through a grueling application process full of confidence and without any mistakes. I then started the new job, made new friends easily and had full confidence in my job role.
I have built this successful business and do live videos and YouTube, I have created online services that change peoples’ lives. I have even faced my biggest fear of public speaking. I would not have achieved any of this without building my confidence first.
If you’re looking to build your confidence and would like some more advice feel free to email me on Lucy@succeednow.co.uk,
Lucy Smith is a personal development coach supporting others in their journey of overcoming anxiety, fears and limiting beliefs and improving their mindset.
You can find her at www.succeednow.co.uk where there is a range of support to help you on your personal development journey.
I want to thank Lucy, and add some additional tips for building your confidence.
Acknowledge the Way You Speak to Yourself
Just as Lucy mentioned above that she was constantly talking negatively to herself, acknowledging this is important. You can’t fix something if you’re not aware of the problem. Try to be mindful of what you think throughout the day. As negative thoughts enter, let them leave just as quickly. Thoughts are not facts.
Comparing yourself to others never leads anywhere worthwhile. And, honestly, we’re not mind readers. We don’t know how other people live their lives behind closed doors.
I was told this story one time and I’ve never forgotten it. My youth leader told me she lived next door to this beautiful couple. The woman was tall with a perfect figure and beautiful, golden hair. Her husband was attractive, well-built, and funny. They always had fancy things. They were, in her mind, perfect.
Until one night, when the husband was led out of their house in handcuffs, and the wife was taken to the hospital. Behind closed doors, that charming husband was abusive. Their life was not a fairytale.
You never know the truth about people. So comparing yourself to them is a waste of energy.
Helping others often makes us feel better about ourselves. No one has to know you’re volunteering for your own benefit. 😉 But really, there’s no harm in doing something for others with the knowledge that it will benefit you, as well. I find that just getting out into the world is extremely helpful for my mental health.
Practice Makes Perfect-ish
We all know perfection is a load of crap, right? But your self-esteem can drastically improve with some practice. Catch yourself in your negative self-talk and practice replacing it with positivity. Next time you’re stuck in a pit of self-doubt, grab a pen and paper and spend a few minutes writing down every possible positive trait you can think of. Even the smallest things count.
Practice using positive affirmations. Start by reciting them each morning. Once you’re used to that, reflect on them throughout the day. Replace your negative self-talk with a few positive affirmations.
How will you improve your confidence? Do you have any personal tips for dealing with low self-esteem? Be sure to share them in the comments section.