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How to improve my confidence and self-esteem…

Dear H2

Although I enjoy my job and have a great manager, I feel that I need to do something to improve my confidence and self-esteem. Every night I run through in my head what's happened during the day and find myself being hyper critical - looking for everything I've done wrong or could do better. I then think about what's in store for me the following day, and often have sleepless nights worrying about small details and planning how to make sure I don't make any mistakes.

I have a feeling that this isn't normal - as everyone else seems to take their jobs in their stride. Can you offer any suggestions?

Thanks - S

Dear S

Thank you for 'Asking H2' - this 'problem' is much more common than you think! In our experience, people at all levels within organisations, and within all types of jobs have times when they lose confidence in their ability to cope. They may do a great job at hiding their anxiety from colleagues, but it's still there!

Self esteem requires a belief in your own skills and abilities. It is also based on trusting in your capacity to learn from your mistakes and to be able to deal effectively with unexpected or difficult situations. It is therefore essential that you develop an accurate picture of your skills, abilities, strengths and weaknesses - so you can focus on reality, rather than worry about things that just aren't true. Like seedlings, self-esteem and confidence need to be 'fed' - so try to seek some positive, yet honest feedback from those you respect. This could be your manager, or a good friend.

Also try to use positive language whenever you talk or think about yourself. For example, instead of saying "I'm hopeless at…" or "I can't do…", use phrases such as "I am getting more confident". If you catch yourself worrying about every small thing you could have done better, try to concentrate instead on all your successes no matter how small you think they are - such as completing a project on time, or confronting a difficult issue rather than leaving it to get worse.

Finally, if you really do feel that your job is beyond your capabilities, or that you cannot continue without feeling such high levels of stress and anxiety, then maybe you need to think about a change. If it hasn't already, this sort of on-going stress will begin to have an impact on your health and well-being.

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