Two top tips to boost confidence or self-esteem. Which comes first? Find out as we look at what happens in lack of confidence and what happens in low self-esteem. You will discover how to replenish both, whether you are in burnout or not, and go on to create the results you want in life and at work.
Bonus: This also improves relationships!
Listen also to:
Ep#23 Work performance and imposter syndrome
Ep#28 How to give and receive a compliment
Ep#38 Creating Safety
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Dex (00:00:09) - Hi everyone. My name's Dex Randall and this is the Burnout to Leadership Podcast where I teach professional men to recover from burnout and get back to passion and reward at work.
Dex (00:00:23) - Hello my friends. This is Dex and I'm glad once again that you are here for this week's episode of the podcast on confidence and self-esteem. Because really I think we tend to tell ourselves that if we are very confident, we'll have loads of self-esteem, right? And if we have loads of self-esteem, we'll be really confident. So I'm gonna speak today about the connection I see between self-esteem and confidence or self-confidence. And also I'm gonna give you a couple of exercises to try, uh, if you have difficulties in either of those areas. But first, let me quickly revisit the definition of confidence. Confidence I think is I know how to do things or I know how to solve this thing, or even everything I might have a general confidence. And self-confidence is I trust myself to learn or find out how to do this thing or all the things.
Dex (00:01:20) - So idea, ideally, I think most of us would like to have high self-esteem and high self-confidence, which we think usually would make us feel more resilient, more relaxed, more happy. It definitely would counteract anxiety, right, which is always about something going wrong in the future if we don't save the universe and then we're gonna suffer because of it. That's what anxiety tells us. And really, I think this lack of confidence is always gonna have us holding back our ideas and contribution, undercutting ourselves, failing to believe in ourselves, um, reframing from offering solutions or even constructive dissent in a discussion. We're gonna fail to take, um, action. Or if we do act, it's gonna be kind of mechanical rather than acting from inspiration. We're gonna trust other people's ideas above our own, even when we secretly know we are right and we're gonna shut ourselves down, protectively, in case we are wrong about things or other people criticize us. Lack of confidence shrinks who we are willing to be.
Dex (00:02:38) - But let's now have a look at having low self-esteem. What does that mean? Well, where do our thoughts go every day continually? When our self-esteem is low, I think what we do is we spend a lot of time looking for our inadequacy and our inability to do things. Our radar is very much tuned into the negative. We fret about how much our actions will upset other people. Um, we think a lot about being judged and other people not liking us or wanting us to be around and all the while not really liking ourselves. We ignore or we dismiss our many wonderful talents and skills, instead shaming ourselves for being imposters as if our gifts were worthless. And I think the moral injury of this is profound. It's self denial. At a real foundational level, we're gonna have trouble making decisions because we don't trust ourselves.
Dex (00:03:46) - We fear failure and procrastinate, taking less action towards our goals, our motivation and morale crash. We become ironically clumsy and make more mistakes, and we reinforce our low self opinion with our thinking. We pull away from any exciting opportunities that present and we become self effacing really, so that we don't have to witness other people's doubts about us. We get lost in trying to people please. And we take action all of the time just to keep proving ourselves and secure external approval. Um, but then we go and dismiss any approval that actually does come our way. And I think in doing this, we we neglect our own basic needs, our values, and our rights. Of course, we berate and criticize ourselves endlessly, randomly, for any perceived deficiencies. And we dredge evidence up from the past of where we have deemed ourself unacceptable. There we deprive ourselves of opportunities to thrive, to be creative and expansive, to have big ideas and take on passion projects, to enjoy ourselves, to speak in public, to create business success and relationships, to collaborate with people around us, or to support other people who might need it.
Dex (00:05:18) - We carry the burden of the world on our shoulders thinking we should fix everyone else's problems. When we can't even fix our own and we feel unworthy giving in to compare and despair, we tend then to withdraw and be silent. Rather choosing to Wilton private, hiding ourselves away in shame, guilt, fear, inadequacy, and then we feel cast out, excluded, unwelcome, even when it's us freezing ourselves out. Low self-esteem I see as the great blr. But you know, if you listen to the inner monologue, this tyrant in your head and no wonder shut down, I think there's probably the voice of your parents mixed in there. There's probably a lot of very old story about who you should be and what you should and should not do. So try this for a moment. Imagine that your inner inner critic is standing in front of you and see the look in their eyes as they launched this familiar terrain at you.
Dex (00:06:22) - And then imagine yourself as a young child facing this barrage of judgment. Because those two figures are both you and that critic, of course is your subconscious programmed by your parents when you're a child, um, to tell you how to survive. You know, do this, don't do that. And I remember some examples in my case, it was a very firm, people won't like you if people won't like you, if you are angry, for example. Or look at this stupid thing you did, or why haven't you done that thing yet? And I was scared really, as any child would be, of losing parental approval and protection. I believed them that people wouldn't like me. So I shut down all the disapproved traits of myself as as much as I could. Things like, um, painting, writing, photography, being loud, willful, uh, very energetic, studious, inquisitive, anger of course, and having my own opinions.
Dex (00:07:25) - And when I shut all those things down, I also shut down my creativity, my joy, my passion. I simply became wallpaper. And you know, if you've got an inner critic, it's almost certainly busying itself each day. Making sure as a a mil told us that you don't tread on the cracks in the pavement so the bears don't get you. But guess what? There are no bears. Most of this archive of survival instructions kindly bestowed on you do not apply to you in your adult life because now you have an adult brain and you know how to keep yourself alive, take care of yourself, feed yourself, find shelter. And the obvious proof is, are you an adult? Are you still alive? So if you are inner, inner critic is not really helping you flourish and believe in yourself and be the full wonder of you having the life you are born to live.
Dex (00:08:23) - What next? Cuz I wonder then what would happen if you simply decided to increase your self-esteem and increase your self-confidence? Is did you know you can just choose to do that? It is, it's your brain, right? Do what you want with it and here's what you can do on purpose. It's deceptively simple, but that doesn't mean it's easy. You can start being kind to yourself. So I've got a couple of exercises and the first one is, you know, let's imagine you're at work for a minute and you've just come out of a meeting with your senior team, let's say. And in the meeting you spoke up about an idea you'd had to make things easier. And you are inner, inner critic, of course is seizing this window of opportunity. It tells you you shouldn't have opposed the boss. You idiot. You're gonna really, they're gonna eat you for breakfast.
Dex (00:09:21) - And when that happens, see if you can catch it happening. Just stop, stop time for a moment, listen and just decide not to believe you're in a critic. You'll still hear it, the voice doesn't go anywhere. But if you assume that you know, although it's motive is to keep you safe, it's just kind of got it cock-eyed and it's talking rubbish, a bunch of meaningless, irrelevant, outdated rubbish, you can choose to no longer believe that sharing your brilliant time-saving idea is gonna get you into trouble. Maybe you won't. So you can say, Hey, thanks Brian, thanks for coming. Thanks for supporting me. I really appreciate that. But you can take a rest for a minute because trust me, I've got a few thoughts myself, I'll take it from here. And at this point, <laugh>, this is the exciting moment, right? You get to go right off peace, like in your mind's eye, you suddenly see the snow gleaming and the sun twinkling across it.
Dex (00:10:23) - You see this crisp blue sky, vast and open and you're jumping on that powder exhilarated and free. Allow yourself to be right in that moment. Just allow yourself to be right about yourself. Offer yourself a positive thought about you. Just like that. Just do it. For example, it's a great idea. I'm proud I shared it. And then when you've had that thought, just decide that this is now your truth. Whatever other people may think, cuz a lot of those other poor people trapped in this same old style inner critic thinking, um, that you were trapped in, they're still trapped in it. You've just liberated yourself so you don't have to worry what they think too much. It's potentially as disordered as your inner critic thinking can be. So you show up, you've taken the initiative, you believe in yourself suddenly in this moment with sharing this idea and you feel calm and ordered, you know, your suggestion had merit, and you bat yourself to make such a suggestion.
Dex (00:11:40) - And perhaps you are listening to me now thinking, rubbish. I couldn't make a suggestion to my boss. He would hate that he'd kill me. And you know, feel free to add your own batch of negative thinking in here as I'm speaking. But the fact is, if at work we follow our guts, our lifetime of training, our intelligence and knowledge, then our suggestion is likely to have some merit if we deliver it with this calm, quiet, self-assurance devoid of self will not invested in what other people think. And really we provoke no one either the people there agree or they don't, no biggie. But really after all, as professionals, we are hired to display such intelligence. But what we've done actually is in this fear culture we have, we've just trained ourselves to follow like mules because we live in fear. All of us, us and our bosses quite frankly.
Dex (00:12:46) - So we've trained ourselves out of speaking up. It doesn't mean that our ideas are bad or that we couldn't voice them. That's just one, one example. But find an example in your own life and really think about if you were gonna back yourself, what would that look like? And then exercise number two, if you are a regular listener of this podcast, you may have heard it before and I'm sharing it again because it's dynamite and I love it. The other skill you can cultivate at the same time is instead of cataloging your defects and disasters catalog your assets and successes, write down every tiny little thing that you are or you do or you say or you think that contributes to daily good results of any kind. So it could be that you, for example, today only snoozed your alarm twice. You could have found your kid's shoes, you could have showed up at work, maybe you were willing to do to do this exercise and find things you like about yourself, called a client, smile at the cleaner, um, held a door open, didn't complain when it was raining, listened to a colleague, responded to an overdue email.
Dex (00:14:02) - Find nothing you want because you are inner, inner critic. Isn't picky, is it? It's gonna Dr. Dredge up any old stuff that's irrelevant or maybe it's happened even when you're a child. So don't be picky in the other direction. Charge yourself with saying appreciative and complimentary things to yourself about yourself. Just because you can. Any old thing, just really you've got a lot of catching up to do. If you want to develop a kind and trusting inner relationship with yourself, the kind way you feel valued, safe to be and speak and like what you like, then you're going to need to invest in your relationship with yourself as if you're befriending an abandoned dog. You're gonna have to work at it because finally, self-esteem, the thing that builds resilience, that can empower you to feel confident in your basic goodness, secure in your worthiness, safe in your skin. Self-esteem is just esteem for yourself as you are today. Unconditional, unconstrained, free, open and genuine. And you can show yourself esteem at any moment.
Dex (00:15:24) - When you find reasons to do this every day, day in, day out, as it becomes a new habit, you're gonna start to develop basic trust in yourself as an ordinary, perfect, flawed, worthy human. You will start to feel different. And when you esteem yourself as often as you criticize yourself, a confident, old spontaneous aliveness is gonna return to your life. And I've seen this time and time again in the people that I work with. It's actually a very simple equation. Hate in pain out, loving wellbeing out. When you cherish yourself, you're basically revealing the goodness that has always been there inside you waiting to be noticed. And I would be very surprised indeed if confidence didn't well up behind it and suffuse you with a warmth that you've been missing for quite a while. Confidence doesn't land on you out from the outside. It can't, no matter how many benevolent people in your life tried to shower you with it, it can only be drawn out from within.
Dex (00:16:42) - And yours, I promise you, is still in there waiting for you to come and get it. So if that applies to you, practice these couple of exercises that you've heard today, maybe give it a replay and give it another go. And for those of you who are in burnout, listen for the link at the end. You must come and talk to me about how to recover quickly and sustainably and get back to your best performance leadership and most of all, enjoyment inside work. And now let's just have some fun here, right? What's life for? Alright, so lovely to have you here. Thank you so much for listening. If you like what you're hearing, please do review and rate and subscribe to the book and I'll see you again next time.
Dex (00:17:28) - If you are in burnout and ready to recover, come and join my Burnout to Leadership program. You can book in to talk with firstname.lastname@example.org. Just tell me what's bugging you and let's make a plan to fix it.