As I consider this chapter, there is something that I need to address. Though I have taken a few psychology courses and a class on social work, I am not a trained counselor. In addition to these classes, I have read a variety of books dealing with inner healing.
I have had the pleasure of reading books like “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud, “Confidence: How to Succeed at Being Yourself” by Alan McGinnis and “Search for Significance” by Robert McGee. I have read other books; however, these books have proven to be very helpful outside of the Bible.
Nevertheless, I am not a trained counselor and I can only share what has worked for me. I hope this chapter can be of help to you. It’s not an easy matter to overcome low self-esteem. I should know as I’ve had many struggles with this issue.
How does one build confidence? How does one avoid the pitfalls of pride? Pride will always seek to exalt itself over everyone and God. It comes when we think too highly of ourselves. For a person struggling with low self-esteem, pride tends to get ignored.
In my effort to develop a healthy view of myself, I had to learn the value of humility. Do not confuse humility with low self-esteem. They are not the same thing. Humility will let you have confidence; however, it is not at the expense of other people. How so? For one, you are not busy comparing yourself to other people.
Secondly, humility will let you take an honest measure of yourself and see your progress. Humility says, “I do have good skills and I can help others. Yet, I am open to learning as I am not a ‘know-it-all’. That’s right. Humility doesn’t need to prove itself.
Sounds good? Shall we talk about a good way to build confidence? Humility is not the only ingredient for building confidence. You need to get rid of the negative self-talk. These self-talks are essentially mental recordings of negative criticisms spoken by ourselves and by other people. They have a very bad habit of staying around even if the original reason is long gone.
Here is a good example of a negative self-talk. As a kid, I was told that my singing was horrible and sounded like a cat that swallowed a canary. It was hardly a kind word and it was often directed at my attempt to sing. The criticism had a chilling effect on my willingness to sing in public. It had the effect of blotting out the one kind word given by my music teacher in fifth grade.
As I got older, it became harder to enjoy singing some beautiful songs. The situation was made worse as the comment was made by someone that I respected. Thankfully, God helped me in overcoming this negative self-talk.
For one thing, my old role playing group had a hand in helping me to simply sing for fun. Though my singing is off tune, it’s no reason to not have fun. Years later, I had a chance to sing some worship songs at my various churches. It’s easy to sing when you’re in a crowd.
One day, God told me that my singing is beautiful. I was honestly surprised at my Father’s statement. When I heard it, I was deeply touched by such loving words. I had a choice. Will I believe my Father? Will I believe my friends who gave an honest word of encouragement? Will I choose to believe the only person who berated my singing?
Clearly, I chose to believe the good and true words spoken to me. By the way, nobody said that I should get a job singing at a nightclub. My singing skill is not that great. There is a difference between truth spoken in kindness and a mean spirited criticism. Negative self-talk can never help you in achieving anything as it can only hurt you.
Here is another tip for building confidence. Do you have a passion or something that you enjoy doing? When I read Dr. McGinnis’ book, I noticed that the good doctor suggested pursuing a hobby.
You see, confidence is essentially believing that you can do something and seeing it happen. It’s like building your muscles in weight training or other physical exercises. You start small and you build up. As time progress, you will grow stronger and you’ll get more results.
How can a hobby build confidence and how does it relate to other areas of life? I actually got the following idea from a friends YouTube channel. As the guy is known for Minecraft and videogames, he used videogames as an example.
These days, I have a general interest in cooking. You’d have never guessed it as I used to cook only microwave dinners. Some time ago I made an effort to transition over to actual cooking. I started with something simple. As my confidence grew, I became more willing to try new things.
In time, I had the opportunity to learn from other people. Does this mean that I am now a gourmet chef? I am far from such a thing. For one thing, I don’t have the interest in such cooking. I knew of a great gourmet cook and I’ve no interest in copying Liz. However, I did learn a few things from Liz.
If I was interested in such cooking, then I’d have pursued it with some modifications. For one, I’d have to scale down the recipe and I would need to use a different style of cooking. What style of cooking am I talking about? What about my poor vision?
When it comes to building confidence, it doesn’t help to focus on the negatives or the things that I can’t do. For me, I am not comfortable with cooking with a skillet; as there is the risk of grease splattering. Did it stop me? No, it did not stop me. If anything, I simply found alternative ways to cook food.
My friend Liz used to cook with a Cuisinart indoor grill and she encouraged me to get one. I followed her advice and I fell in love with my George Foreman indoor grill. As I continued cooking with it my confidence grew.
Alas, man can’t cook on an indoor grill forever.
As my confidence grew, I sought to try other cooking methods. I simply wanted to expand my horizon. In time, I got a multifunction cooker and a convection oven that can serve as a toaster. These tools gave me an opportunity to try other types of cooking recipes.
As I attempted new recipes, my confidence grew and there was a willingness to try other things. What if I make a mistake in cooking? Guess what? It is going to happen. I have certainly made my share of cooking mistakes.
In fact, I just made some dinner. I had some marinated pork chops that I threw in the multifunction cooker and I set it to bake the pork. Unfortunately, I scorched the bottom of the pork. As I don’t have a real sense of smell, I would not have known of my error.
I simply cooked the meat too long. Does this mean that I won’t try baking pork in that multifunction cooker or try something else? No it does not! Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to try again. For me, I will likely talk with a friend and learn. My confidence is not hurt by mistakes; rather it is hurt by not trying.
As you grow in confidence you may begin to experience a sense of boldness and a willingness to try other things aside from cooking. Heck, you may want to share your cooking with other people.
How does volunteering help build confidence or develop a healthy self-esteem? In serving other people, you invariably take your eyes off yourself. I have derived a great deal of pleasure when I had the opportunity to do something for other people.
For me, it was not always an easy thing to do. It is very easy to get caught up in one’s own problems or caught up in a web of negative self-talk. It took a great deal of encouragement for me to do things like that.
I would certainly encourage you to give it a shot. In the long run, you won’t regret volunteering your time. There is a certain satisfaction in helping other people even if it’s only to bring a smile to their face.
I hope this chapter has been of a help to you. As I have indicated, I am not a counselor, and I can only offer things out of my own experiences. Don’t be afraid to talk with a pastor who you can trust or a trained counselor if you need more help.