Low self-esteem is a common topic, but little is said about fluctuating self esteem . Many people, including myself, struggle with self-esteem. Many people, including myself, feel unsure of themselves and anxious . These are some simple, practical tips to help you deal with swings in your confidence.
Strong Emotions Are Not Your Enemy
Our evolved warning system includes strong emotions. Every emotion has a positive and productive purpose. Sometimes, the system can be mis-calibrated (e.g. in the case panic attacks and depression). Fundamentally, your emotions are there to guide and help you.
Are You Worried About Your Emotions?
Sometimes people feel a loss of confidence suddenly. You might be nearing the end of a project with high stakes, are close to a deadline, or have just begun to explore new areas.
Our brains are designed to respond to uncertainty and mixed signals of anxiety. Let’s suppose you get feedback about an idea. Nine of the reactions are positive or mildly positive. One is negative. This negative response will likely rock you in adisproportionate way. Although this is helpful in general, it may not be the best for every situation. We are designed to detect signs of danger (physical and social) that are difficult to ignore.
If you feel a loss in confidence, you can try to determine if it is a false alarm, a valid or justified alarm (e.g., when you realize you are on the wrong track), and/or a combination of both.
You might need to slow down and make small adjustments in your behaviour if you are taking on too many risks or charging ahead.
Recognizing A Mixed Alarm Can Help You Stop From Catastrophizing
When I feel a sudden loss in confidence, it is usually a sign that I need to prioritize better or look at the bigger picture. This is usually a sign that something is not quite right. Sometimes I have to remind myself that this is not a sign that I am completely ineffective or that my actions are destined to fail.
People’s reactions to losing their confidence fall into one of three broad categories: “flight” or “freeze” (e.g. crying, avoiding), or “flight” (e.g. Denial of the problem, task switching), and “fight” (e.g. working harder, arguing, defensiveness). Which style is your dominant?
Unconfident people can become paralyzed and frozen. You can stop this from happening by doing anything productive, even if that means driving to the grocery store to complete an errand that you have been putting off.
There is a sweet spot in which you can be productive if you don’t freeze. However, you shouldn’t use other activities (productive and not) as a form “flight” or distraction.
This sweet spot may not always be 100% clear. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel right to you. It’s the nature and scope of the problem.
Steps To See The Whole Picture
Your emotions can be used to signal that you are ready to take a step back and see the bigger picture. These are some simple tips to help you do that.
- Ask for feedback. You can get valuable opinions from others if you aren’t sure.
- Do some math. You can see things objectively with numbers.
- Take breaks. You can take a break from work, go for a walk, take a shower, or drive.
Be Confident In Your Abilities. This Can Help You Achieve Great Results, Such As Epiphanies And Greater Social Connections.
It’s not something I have noticed, but it can be a positive thing to alternate between being confident and uncertain. For a more detailed explanation, see this long-form article.
These are the positive actions I believe can be taken when you feel insecure.
- Retrospective: Finishing what I started but never completed.
- Instead of feeling unsure because there isn’t enough measurement, establish metrics/measurement.
- It’s about sharing vulnerability and building relationships through it.
- Requesting critical feedback and suggestions on current work.
- Positive procrastination. Sometimes, when I feel anxious, I will do certain tasks to make me feel more in control. These are often things I would not otherwise do, such as cleaning my car.
- Positive types of checking. As a response to anxiety, we naturally feel the need to check. The subtypes of Obsessive compulsive Disorder that include compulsive checking show that this urge has become unhelpful hyperdrive. This checking urge can be productive in milder cases. This could be used to get feedback from colleagues, or for checking in with business contacts to ensure that something is going according to plan.