If you missed part one of this series, you can find it here.
Self-Esteem and Social Anxiety
Almost all Social Anxiety issues are due to a low self-esteem.
If I was to ask, what worried you most about your specific issue, it’d most likely be a fear of judgement. A fear that you weren’t good enough in some manner.
I doesn’t even matter what your particular issue is. Let’s give you some quick examples;
1. Anxiety about talking to a group of people.
You’re going to be worried that you’ll mess up some how. That the people looking at you will think you’re hopeless, or won’t agree with what you’ve got to say.
2. Anxiety about answering the telephone.
You’re probably going to be worried that you don’t know who’s calling and it might be someone who’ll ask you a question you don’t know the answer to. If that were to happen, you’d feel useless.
3. Anxiety about asking questions in learning situations.
You’re worried that your question will appear stupid and/or irrelevant and you worry that others will see you as less than them.
All of these ‘imagined’ outcomes are created by your low self-esteem.
If your self-esteem was higher, you wouldn’t be bothered by what other people thought of you. You’d KNOW that your views and opinions were as worthy as any of theirs (which the absolutely are by the way!) and you’d be happy to share them.
What is Self-Esteem?
So, for the second part of this journey, we need to get to grips with your self-esteem.
First of all, you need to understand what Self-Esteem is.
Simply put, it’s how you feel about yourself as a person. How much value you put on your views and opinions.
Your self-esteem is a bit like your immune system. If you have a strong immune system, you feel strong and any virus or infection, etc. that’s going round doesn’t effect you.
But, there’s a problem if you have a weak, or low immune system. You try to stay indoors because you seem to grab a hold of any illness making the rounds. You’re immune system’s just too weak to fight them.
The same is true of your self-esteem. If you have a strong self-esteem, you feel confident in your views and opinions. You know that not everyone will agree with you, but it doesn’t matter because those views are right for you.
If you have a weak self-esteem, you probably try to stay indoors , because you’re effected by everyone else’s view of your opinions. Your self-esteem is just too weak to overcome their opinions.
The more comfortable you are with yourself, the less you need the acceptance of others. Which, in turn makes you less susceptible to their judgement and criticism.
So, how did your self-esteem get so low?
As we grow up, we experience everything the World has to offer. We see things happen to us and to other people around us and we start to develop our own belief system. A set of rules that’ll decide our future outlook on life and the amount of confidence we have in ourselves.
Initially, those beliefs are based strongly on the beliefs of the people who surround us. These people, although not usually consciously, implant their beliefs on us by the way they react to certain situations and achievements, etc.
Then we start along the path of education and as well as developing new beliefs, a lot of our current beliefs and values are changed, reduced in importance, or strengthened.
Up to about the age of 12, our minds are like a sponge. We pick up, mostly unconsciously, on other adults and children’s beliefs and values by the way they act with, or to us. Then, we modify our own beliefs according to how those situations affect us, or from the reactions they get from others.
Your self-esteem can be influenced for example, by a school bully (even if they don’t pick on you!). It can be influenced by a bereavement, health issues, marriage, divorce, childbirth. In fact dozens of things can cause us to become more, or less confident people.
Getting married or being loved by someone else for example, can give us a huge confidence boost. Suddenly, we realize that this person sees a side of us that we struggle to see in ourselves; maybe even a side of us that up until this point, we didn’t even know existed within us.
Unfortunately, just as entering into a relationship with someone can bolster our self-esteem, ending that relationship can have the opposite effect. In the case of a divorce, or relationship breakdown, suddenly we can begin to wonder if we’re worth a person’s love and affection or; if we’re even worthy of affection at all!
This week’s exercise:
Life begins outside of your comfort zone.
The problem for many of us, is in taking that initial step.
Why not make yourself a promise, to take a small step each day that pushes you just a bit.
Every day, take a few minutes to think about one small task, or action you could take the next day, that’ll stretch you slightly.
It needn’t be anything overly difficult in the beginning. It could be making that call you’ve been putting off, (or if you’re a man, asking for directions 😉).
Once you’ve decided on your task, close your eyes and imagine yourself confidently achieving it.
Now, take the plunge and go do it! Little-by-little your self-esteem will improve.
Let me know how you got on in the comments and remember,
Be Brave 🙂