Self-confidence versus self-esteem
Self-confidence versus self-esteem

I am writing this on the plane on my way back to bonnie Fife in Scotland after my holidays. Reading (yet another, I can’t help it) book on hypnotherapy has sparked an idea for this blog, the topic of which I feel is rather pertinent.

One of the most common enquiries at my hypnotherapy practice is from clients who seek help for issues with low self-confidence and low self-esteem. I have noticed that these terms are often used interchangeably, yet they are different. Hence I have decided to write this article. You may have noticed that my blogs are sporadic but when the inspiration kicks in, who is to argue about the circumstances?

Self-confidence is a trait that people possess when they are confident in their abilities and resources. It doesn’t mean that they don’t have a fear of the unknown, but they still have the belief to take advantage of the opportunities that come their way. People who possess self-confidence are able to act on opportunities and seize them despite fear or even anxiety, not because they don’t experience those things. The difference is that they are able to transform risk into a challenge. Without taking risks we would not move forward and would lead rather stagnant lives.

I have worked with many clients who had successful careers, a good family and social life, and yet had low self esteem.

So whilst self-confidence is tied up with self-trust and self-reliance, self-esteem is our own sense of self-worth. It is how we “perceive” ourselves. This perception has an impact on our self-acceptance which, ultimately, influences how we are able to accept other people.

People with low self-esteem often experience relationship issues. Being intimate with someone requires opening up, trust, loosening our defense mechanisms and essentially showing the other person our most vulnerable and fragile parts of ourselves. This can be very challenging if our self-esteem has been damaged in some way, for example in previous abusive relationships.

When we have low self-esteem, we may struggle to or even be incapable of validating ourselves from within. Consequently, our own sense of security largely depends on validation from other people. Seeking approval and acceptance from others, from external sources rather than from within ourselves. This is what psychologists call “external locus of control” and it has been linked with many mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, addictions etc.

I have come across this often in my hypnotherapy practice. The circumstances vary –

if only I lost more weight others would like me…

if only my boss was complimenting me on my hard work more often…

if only my partner paid more attention to how I look…etc.

Where does this come from? The blueprint is usually laid out during our formative years. We may have been criticised by our parents or teachers, rejected by someone we fancied, we may have been bullied at school…

Hypnotherapy can help you uncover the “whys”, assist in emotional release and healing and help you “rewrite” the old programs for more appropriate ones, so the old negative programming does not have to run the show anymore. You can become empowered and be in charge.

This is because learned thinking and behaviour can also be unlearned. You just need to make a conscious choice that you want it to happen and commit yourself to the process. Many people are scared to do this because they are afraid of a change or taking steps toward it. They fear what such change may bring and how their lives may alter so they they adopt an approach of ‘better the devil you know’.

There is also a possibility of people experiencing a ‘secondary gain’ from an unhappy situation, but that is a topic for another blog, another time.

So, is there any damaging and unhelpful programming that YOU may need to unlearn? If so and you are ready to do it, please get in touch.