The Problem with Low Self-Approval and Low Confidence
When we lack self-approval and confidence, we may feel like we are not good enough or not clever enough, which can make us hesitate to take action towards our goals and dreams.
These feelings of inadequacy can be a major obstacle to personal growth and self-improvement. When we don’t believe in ourselves, we may not take risks or try new things, because we are afraid of failure or rejection. This can prevent us from learning and growing, and from discovering new things about ourselves and the world around us.
Furthermore, these feelings can have negative impacts on our mental health and wellbeing.
Research has shown that low self-approval and confidence are linked to a variety of negative outcomes, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem (Orth & Robins, 2014). When we don’t feel good about ourselves, we may struggle with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and despair.
These feelings have an impact on how effective you believe you are.
For instance, if you don’t feel that you’re clever enough or that what you do is ever good enough in the opinion of others, or even in your own opinion, you may seek to find approval and self-worth through external validation rather than internal validation. You will increasingly value ‘doing’ over ‘being’.
Your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours will therefore reflect this attitude, which will become needy and self-serving.
As such, you will begin to feel motivated to be cleverer and better than others. You will find yourself becoming extremely competitive, and that you have the constant desire to win at all costs.
This happens because your sense of identity and self-worth will be dependent on your need to be first and your need for superiority over others.
When you win and you’re the top dog, you feel great. But when you don’t win it feels as though a bottomless pit has opened in the ground and you have fallen into it.
This is why many who seem outwardly confident are actually covering up a deep sense of insecurity.
The Problem of Perfection
Feelings of not being clever enough or not being good enough may also drive you to the unending search for perfectionism.
The logic works this way: “If I’m perfect, who can reject me?” Not yourself and not anyone else, or so you assume.
Perfectionism is a mindset that involves setting excessively high standards for oneself and striving for flawlessness in everything one does.
While this may seem like a positive trait, it can actually be a major obstacle to personal growth and success. When we constantly strive for perfection, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment, because perfection is an unattainable goal.
This means perfectionism is a false ideal because, first of all, there’s no such thing, so you’ll always be chasing a phantom and worshiping an illusion. This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and a lack of confidence in our abilities.
Second, perfectionism gets in the way of being effective. It’s also exhausting trying to become something that you cannot ever achieve and reach an end goal that keeps on moving further out of reach.
Furthermore, we may become so focused on getting everything perfect that we fail to take any action at all, or we may spend an excessive amount of time on small details and miss out on the big picture. This can lead to missed opportunities and a lack of progress towards our goals.
Research has, in fact, shown that perfectionism is linked to a variety of negative outcomes, including anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem (Sironić & Vulić-Prtorić, 2015).
But by letting go of perfectionism and embracing imperfection, we can actually become more effective and successful in our lives. We can learn to take action, make progress towards our goals, and feel more confident in ourselves and our abilities.
As Eckhart Tolle once said,
“The greater part of human pain is unnecessary. It is self-created as long as the unobserved mind runs your life.”
By learning to observe our thoughts and feelings, and letting go of perfectionism and self-criticism, we can cultivate a sense of self-approval and boost our self-confidence.
Perfectionism is therefore a barrier to your effectiveness and success. It gets in the way of your success because there will always be something more you can do to be perfect and thus it becomes a distraction from getting on with what you should really be doing. If you’re not careful, perfectionism can become an unintentional cause of procrastination.
I too have fallen many times into the trap of perfectionism, and every time I do so it is invariably because of my lack of feeling good enough or my fear of not being accepted. In my early years of writing at the turn of the Millenium, I could spend ages deciding on the use of a comma. Should I put it in? Should I take it out?
Then I’d make a decision to put the comma in, only to suffer a gnawing doubt of whether or not it was the right decision. Then I’d delete the comma, satisfied that the sentence read much better, only to agonise over whether I should have left it in or not. I in fact edited the opening page of my medical thriller, Ananda, 17 times.
Probably more, actually, 17 was when I’d had enough and stopped counting how many times I edited the first page.
Silly, really, when I look back on it, but that’s how perfectionism can get in the way of being effective. Don’t let it stop you.
The Benefits of Building Self-Worth and Aligning with Your Life Purpose
On the other hand, building self-approval and boosting self-confidence can have many benefits.
When we approve of ourselves and feel confident in our abilities, we are more likely to take risks, pursue our goals, and form meaningful connections with others. This can lead to a greater sense of fulfillment and happiness in life.
In fact, a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology found that self-esteem, which is closely related to self-approval and self-confidence, is a significant predictor of life satisfaction and well-being (Orth, Robins, & Widaman, 2012).
The main benefits of healthy levels of self-approval and confidence are threefold:
1. A greater sense of personal growth and self-improvement.
When we have a healthy level of self-approval and confidence, we are more likely to take on challenges that may have previously intimidated us. We are less likely to be held back by fear or anxiety, and more likely to approach new experiences with an open mind and a positive attitude.
This can lead to a greater sense of personal growth and self-improvement, as we push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and develop new skills and abilities.
2. A greater sense of belonging.
Having a strong sense of self-approval and confidence can also lead to better relationships with others. When we feel good about ourselves, we are more likely to attract positive people into our lives and form meaningful connections with them.
This can lead to a greater sense of belonging and social support, which are important factors in overall well-being and happiness.
3. A greater ability to manage stress and adversity.
Additionally, building self-approval and boosting self-confidence can lead to a more positive outlook on life. When we feel good about ourselves and our abilities, we are more likely to see the world in a positive light and appreciate the good things in life.
This can help us to manage stress and adversity more effectively, as we approach challenges with a more optimistic and proactive mindset.
Overall, building self-approval and boosting self-confidence can lead to a more fulfilling and satisfying life. By learning to value and approve of ourselves, we can unlock our full potential and live up to our own aspirations.
This can lead to greater success in both personal and professional domains, as we approach life with greater courage, determination, and positivity.
Steps to Build Self-Approval and Boost Your Confidence
To build self-approval and boost self-confidence, here are some practical steps you can take:
- Identify your strengths and weaknesses: Take some time to reflect on your strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your strengths and find ways to use them more in your daily life. Work on improving your weaknesses, but don’t be too hard on yourself.
- Set realistic goals: Set goals that are challenging but achievable. This will help you build confidence as you achieve each goal.
- Practice self-compassion: Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s okay to not be perfect.
- Challenge negative self-talk: When negative thoughts and self-talk arise, challenge them. Replace them with positive affirmations and self-talk.
- Take care of your physical health: Exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, and get enough sleep. Taking care of your physical health can help boost your self-confidence.
- Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and learn to accept them without judgment. This can help you build self-approval and self-confidence.
- Surround yourself with positive people: Surround yourself with people who support and encourage you. Avoid people who bring you down or make you feel bad about yourself.
- Celebrate your successes: Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may be. This will help you build self-approval and self-confidence.
Knowing your value and self-worth feeds into your self-belief. The more self-belief you have, the more you believe you can do it. The more you believe you can do it, the more courage and confidence you have to face down any fears and surmount any obstacle along your path to your worthy cause.
Take these steps to build your self-approval and see what a difference it can make. Here are 8 tips to help you do this:
8 Tips for Self-APPROVAL
#1: ACKNOWLEDGE that you don’t know everything and can’t do it all—you’re not a robot.
#2: PRACTICE self-forgiveness every day—don’t put bricks on yourself and pile up the pressure to always be perfect.
#3: PUT one foot ahead of the other and keep climbing your mountain, because no-one else can do it for you.
#4: REACH for your worthy goal every day by doing at least 1 thing that will bring you nearer to it.
#5: OPEN your heart to self-love and close your mind to negative self-talk.
#6: VALUE who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you do it.
#7: ACCEPT your perfect imperfections.
#8: LIVE and let live—the past is the past and all you can do is focus on this present moment, because only now are you alive.