Self-regard is an important aspect of our lives. Your level of self-regard can make a difference in what type of work you chose to pursue (do I apply for that promotion or not?), how kind you are to yourself (and others), how well you exercise your voice (assertiveness) and many other important aspects of life. It is a reflection of how you feel and the degree of objectivity you apply to your own internal self-image. Whether you think you are “doing well”, or are a “work in progress” or an “abject failure” has a lot to do with how you show up in life. Call it self-confidence, self-regard or poise our ability to count on it to be there for us in a positive way is key to how we handle many situations in life.
The DNA of self-regard is in our “beliefs, values, experiences, attitudes and expectations” (page 38 Emotional Intelligence in Action, 2nd edition, M. Hughes and J.B. Terrell). These things inform how we see and perceive both the world around us, and our interaction within it. Looking at it from a practical perspective many of us have a feelings of self-regard that serve us well; we are highly functioning and contributive members of society who are there for ourselves and others when needed. However, self-regard can be fleeting, which is a frustration to many of us. Self-regard enables many things, it helps us to effectively solve problems and to be assertive when needed, but only when our self-confidence is present; so what should we do when our sense of confidence deserts us?
Couples everywhere will tell you that the magic phrase “we have to talk” will create a crisis of confidence. If your boss sends you a cryptic e-mail asking you to meet with him/her as soon as possible without stating why, most people will feel anxiety. No matter how well things are going, or how well we know ourselves, life happens and occasionally we experience a confidence gap. Can you detect when you feel that gap and what its impact is on your ability to conduct yourself? How does this make you feel physically? Being able to be yourself is a key interpersonal skill, especially when you are practicing it under pressure and potentially during a physical response that may include an elevated heart rate, sweating, mild shaking, etc. This falls under the heading of self-management and it is key to consistently practicing self-confidence. Showing up for what may be a difficult conversation is a great step. Keeping your head about you before, during and after this conversation supports what you need to do to preserve your self-confidence.
This requires you to be able to practice objectivity; a practice that begins before you even enter a conversation like the ones outlined above. The reason your significant other may want to speak to you could be as simple as needing assistance to iron out a wrinkle that popped up regarding family; your boss may want to check on some specific fact of importance in her/his work. Remembering that not everything is about what you have done (or not done) as you head into these types of situations is key to remaining calm and feeling your self-confidence has got your back. You are good at what you do and how you are present for others - center yourself in this knowledge. Being able to express yourself (and feeling like you can rely on your abilities to express yourself even in trying circumstances) is also key to hanging on to your self-confidence consistently and is core to being assertive. We all know those people who have faced a “firing squad” in a meeting and handled it with grace. They too were likely experiencing an elevated heart rate, etc. but they didn’t allow that to interfere in their ability to remain objective and assertively (not aggressively) conduct a conversation that lead to a positive outcome. Practice makes perfect, no one does this right the first few times; the fact that you strive to improve as you go is also a key confidence builder, one that will serve you well no matter what life throws at you.
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I believe in giving back to others in many tangible ways. When I learn something new, or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website. You can always find my latest blog entries here, on Face Book or Linked In.