Extreme shyness, irrational fears of failure, unfounded feelings of shame, and guilt – these are just a few signs that can indicate low self-confidence.
Too little self-confidence is not only a subjective burden but also increases the risk of developing a mental illness.
Small exercises for everyday life can help to improve self-confidence. In more severe cases, a coach or a helping psychotherapist, the self-esteem problems to deal with.
Low self-esteem can show up in different ways. There are two different types which can be roughly distinguished.
In some people, a lack of self-esteem is easy to recognize. They are shy and fearful, often they speak negatively about themselves and downplay their success.
Social fears lead to anxiety and panic attacks – they are often accompanied by social withdrawal, up to complete isolation.
Symptoms of lack of self-confidence are not always obvious. Some sufferers try to cover up their insecurity by acting confidently. They often overshoot the target and appear arrogant and complacent to others. They seek confirmation from other people because only through this external insurance do, they feel that they are worth something.
Everyone intuitively tries to protect their self-worth. If this fails, there are two possible reactions:
“I am to blame” (with self-reproach and shame) and
“The others are to blame”.
The latter can lead to a person with low self-esteem being aggressive towards others and showing anti-social behaviors.
Both forms of self-deficiency have in common that those affected perceive their weaknesses more than their strengths (see also inferiority complexes).
In many cases, they cannot enjoy their success. A positive confirmation from other people can both increase the self-esteem of those affected and draw attention to the actual or perceived weaknesses.
Which variant applies depends on the individual. It is also possible that the reaction differs from situation to situation.
The advice that is often given to “just talk yourself well” is therefore often more complicated in practice than appears in theory.
Self-efficacy is an important basis for self-esteem. Psychologists use this to denote the conviction that one’s actions have the desired consequences.
A mother who consoles her child expects the child to calm down afterwards and expects the child to be consoled when she turns to the mother crying.
The expectation of self-efficacy does not have to correspond to the actual influence that a person has on other people or their environment.
A strong overestimation of one’s self-efficacy can be just as problematic as an underestimation.
Self-efficacy and self-esteem are part of the overall concept that you have of yourself.
This self-concept also stores knowledge of your skills and your biography. Basic assumptions such as the expectation of self-efficacy outweigh concrete skills such as good performance in sports or mental arithmetic. If you underestimate your self-esteem, this assumption somewhat overshadows your skills and success.
Lack of self-confidence, self-esteem, and mental health
A lack of self-confidence is by no means a luxury problem but can have serious consequences.
The feeling of being unable to do anything, failing constantly, or being of little value as a person is a risk factor for psychological illnesses.
A lack of self-confidence has been shown to favour depression and social phobia.
Conversely, low self-esteem can also result from mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and stress disorders.
Some personality disorders can also bring with it a lack of self-confidence.
A lack of self-confidence can have many reasons and causes. Some people tend to be shy by nature (or introverts), have a calm temperament, or have a genetic predisposition to develop an anxiety disorder faster than other people.
Childhood experiences are an important source of lack of self-confidence. In the parent-child relationship, the child develops a style of attachment that often persists into adulthood.
Sometimes depression can also add upto the lack of self esteem.
The first two years of life are particularly important for the style, although most people cannot remember this time consciously.
If parents criticize their child too often and give too little praise, the child can develop an unrealistic standard by which to measure their performance. Children need to feel loved by their parents, even if they make mistakes.
Possible reasons for a lack of self-esteem are (emotional) neglect, abuse, and sexual abuse.
It is not only the experiences of violence in childhood that are formative but also later experiences at work or in a partnership.
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Interpersonal relationships are not only important when it comes to the reasons for low self-confidence – in one way or another, partners, friends, family members, and colleagues feel the effects particularly clearly.
Some of those affected are very attached and subordinate to the partner. They try to do everything right and want to please the partner at all costs. The partner may feel cornered, which often has relationship problems. This gives some partners the impression that the partner is no longer themselves or has changed completely. This stirs up the fear and pain of being abandoned.
If the relationship experiences are very negative and the fear of failure in the relationship increases, a lack of self-esteem can lead to a relationship phobia.
In this case, the person concerned is afraid of entering into a relationship or even falling in love with someone. Those less often develop a basic fear of men or a fear of women.
Some relationship phobias seem indifferent and distant to their partner, while others cling to their partner (see proximity distance problem). A distant attitude towards the partner can have negative impact on relationships.
An anxious person who is looking for closeness and at the same time is afraid of not being loved enough or overwhelming others with their own need for closeness may have an anxious-avoiding attachment style.
Low self-esteem can also arise if you lack the skills that you need in your private life or at work. A coach or therapist can help you realistically assess the situation.
No one is born perfectly (even if many want to be perfect) – you can acquire missing skills at any age.
It is often just a matter of improving communicative skills, participating in a manageable social skills training course, or completing further vocational training.
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Sophia have studied at Medical University in Michigan and have good experience in the field of human behavior and psychiatry. She is also working as a researcher in well know medical industry.