For women leaders, having confidence is a huge advantage in careers, life, and relationships. It’s the key to attracting the right job, the right people, the right decisions from others, and achieving goals.
All women leaders have a baseline of confidence. Some women leaders have unshakable confidence built upon strong foundations; others find their confidence level is a bit shaky when faced with mistakes, criticisms and failures.
Confidence is closely tied with our sense of self-esteem. Self-esteem enables us to experience ourselves not only accurately but gladly. It’s a realistic, appreciative opinion; we can be honest about our strengths, weaknesses and everything in between, and still feel good about who we are.
There is a difference between the outer appearance of confidence and deeply felt intrinsic self-worth. True self esteem is steady; it doesn’t lead to complacency or overconfidence, but rather is a strong motivator to work hard.
Foundations of Self-Esteem
According to Glenn R. Schiraldi, Ph.D, author of 10 Simple Solutions for Building Self-Esteem, self-esteem is built from three factors: unconditional worth, unconditional love and growth.
- Unconditional Worth: This means that a woman leader’s worth isn’t increased or diminished by external factors, but is based on her true value as a human being. This can be confusing to women who have learned they must achieve and acquire in order to be considered worthy. Once we, as women, believe in our intrinsic worth, we are relieved of the need to judge ourselves and others, or compare and compete on external values and factors. We can choose to value our own innate capacities and see the many ways we contribute to the well-being of ourselves and others.
- Unconditional Love: Abraham Maslow noted that psychological health is not possible without love for the essential core. Even those who have not experienced unconditional love from parents can learn to provide love to themselves and others. Love helps us experience our worth, feel satisfaction, and enjoy growth and life.
- Growth: As women, we feel better about ourselves when we are living constructively, learning, making decisions, developing and growing. Growing does not change our core worth, but it helps us experience it with greater satisfaction. In summary, self-esteem is a sense of satisfaction that comes from recognizing and appreciating our intrinsic worth; it encourages us to choose to love and grow. It’s not based upon comparing and competing. We can enhance and enjoy our sense of self-worth through learning, growing, achievements and goals.
Getting Rid of Negativity
Without doubt, our own critical nature eats away at our confidence more than any outside judgment, mistake or failure. Over-active negative mind chatter can cause women to react defensively in neutral situations.
Many of these habits of thinking are learned and can be unlearned. Forget about blaming parents, teachers, and people who didn’t like us when we were growing up. No matter what happened to us or how we ended up with negative reactions, we can learn to disconnect from harmful automatic thoughts.
We can replace negative thoughts with positive ones that will make us more effective, happier, and self-confident. Ultimately, we are responsible for the thoughts we choose. We can’t control many things in life, but we can control our thoughts.
We lose confidence when we apply negative thinking to ourselves or other people. No one escapes these intrusive thought patterns. The key is to become aware of them. Once we catch ourselves engaging in automatic distortions, we can re-think, reframe, and revise our thoughts.
For example, we might be thinking, “I can’t possibly get this done in time. I’m too slow in the mornings. My brain doesn’t work that way.”
We can reframe the self-talk like this: “I don’t like having to work in a hurry, especially so early. I’m not sure I can finish, but at least I can start. Maybe my brain will wake up after a few stabs at it.”
By acknowledging the reality, we avoid catastrophizing and assuming, and we agree to do what is possible by starting.
When we look at what we can do, instead of what’s wrong, we give ourselves a chance to succeed and grow from the experience. When we guard against distortions and negativity, our confidence grows instead of withers. Our minds start to acquire more positive thinking habits. We set ourselves up for success and build self-confidence.