Self-esteem is vital to being able to enjoy your work and career, but it can also be frustratingly fleeting. Point of order, it’s not self-esteem if it abandons you the moment you need it most (and if when you read that it spoke to you, you are not the only person whose feels their self-confidence is conditional).
Self-esteem is “valuing yourself while understanding and accepting both your strengths and weaknesses” (that is my definition). So often I have run across gifted professionals who felt the only time they could feel confidence was if there were no mistakes or issues hanging around (past or future).
Mistakes are a certainty. Weaknesses are a certainty. So too are strengths and expertise. You need to embrace them all. How do you do that?
Self-esteem uses three areas of emotional intelligence. 1. Positive self-regard (accepting yourself warts and all). 2. Being self-actualized (working towards improving yourself and other personally meaningful long-term goals). 3. Understanding your emotional self-awareness (knowing when an emotion is present, what emotion it is and how to work with it).
Here are three simple ways to help your self-esteem become unconditional.
You are perfectly imperfect (we all are), so be kind to yourself, because if you won’t be kind to yourself then no one else will either. You can see how that would make it even harder to have resilient self-confidence, right?
Your emotional intelligence is what supports resilient self-esteem.
Being sought out for your expertise at work does many wonderful things for your self-esteem. It checks all the boxes; you feel respected, you feel secure in your work and you have confirmation that you are in the right place in your career (you belong).
So how can you be recognized for your deep knowledge more often and by more colleagues?
Emotional intelligence holds the key. Emotional intelligence is “the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage your emotions” (Dr. Susan Albers), it can help you be more relatable to others, which is instrumental in being asked for your expertise (consistency is important).
Being relatable uses three areas of emotional intelligence. 1. Building positive interpersonal relationships with others. 2. Being able to empathize with others. 3. Genuinely wanting to help others (even when there is no real advantage to you in doing so, also known as social responsibility).
It’s sometimes tough to get all three working together; as an example, you may genuinely want to help, but not this colleague (you don’t trust them). You may want to help your colleague but don’t understand their concern (you can’t connect to their need). You want to help, but don’t want the commitment of being the expert here (you get overwhelmed just thinking about what’s involved). All circumstances that could potentially impact the way you respond and consequently how others perceive you (i.e., your relatability).
To remain relatable when things aren’t lining up, balance between these three areas of emotional intelligence is needed. You can provide support by connecting to what this other person is feeling, without being intrusive, without over-committing your time and without having trust present, allowing you to continue to build strong professional relationships at work with everyone. Let’s look at some examples.
What is important to note is emotional intelligence is not about meeting the needs of others at the expense of your own needs, but being open, curious and clear about what is happening in that moment, ensuing everyone can have their needs met.
That is the power of emotional intelligence in making you more relatable at work.
Any day of the week something unexpected may happen at work with the potential to undermine your confidence, making your throat tight, your blood pound, or your stomach drop. It may even end up on your “highlight reel” at night when you want to sleep. It can play with your head until you can’t stand yourself.
This happens to everyone. So, why then does it sometimes feel like everyone but you are walking around the picture of self-confidence?
The solution can be found in emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence is “the ability to perceive, use, understand and manage your emotions” (Dr. Susan Albers); even if you don’t consider yourself an “emotional” person, emotions provide the compass for your actions and behaviours.
Let me be clear, you do not have to wear your heart on your sleeve to take advantage of emotional intelligence. This is how you can use your emotions to support your confidence through self-awareness.
First, you need to know when you are experiencing an emotion; not always an easy task as none of us got the “Emotions 101” class at school. Emotions are experienced as a sensation in your body before they become clear in your mind, it’s the reason you blush before you may even know you feel embarrassed.
So, if your body gets the message before you do, paying attention to the subtle sensations you experience during the day empowers you to be more able to manage your behavioural compass before it hijacks you (emotional self-awareness). It’s recognizing that being cut off by your boss in a meeting upset you and as a result your jaw tightened; without recognizing this emotional trigger (being cut-off and then your jaw tightening) you are living with unwelcome feelings throughout the day. Your brain then spends a lot of energy trying to continue to function …while also trying to process being upset …while trying to make everything look “fine”. It’s like swimming in deep water with one arm tied behind your back. How confident are you about making it to shore?
The kindest thing you can do for yourself is to name what you are feeling, and the closer you are to naming that feeling at its origin, the more able you are to support your needs through self-awareness. Here’s an example of not catching the emotion:
Can you relate? Getting closer to the point of emotional origin supports strong decision making, even during a confidence crisis - to do that you need to leverage your emotional intelligence and catch it as it is happening:
How is your confidence doing now? Being in touch with your emotions gives you options, so you don’t need to live with uncertainty or the upset that erodes your self-regard. Even if your boss interrupts you again in the future, you now have a means to address it, and over time you have the tools to make it happen less often.
This is how emotional intelligence increases your self-awareness and self-confidence.
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ABOUT MY BLOG
I believe in empowering others in many tangible ways. When I learn new career strategies or see something that might help others, I share it using my blog and website.