Understanding How to Rebuild Your Self-Confidence
Realizing your self-worth, after being exposed abuse, toxic patterns of behavior or traumatic events, can be an uphill battle. Self-confidence can be easily eroded if it’s not built on strong, stable foundations and we can be left feeling like a very vulnerable, unmotivated shadow of our former selves. Whether it’s from physical or psychological abuse, solitary events or repeated behavior, the effects can be equally devastating, leaving our self-esteem in tatters.
These traumatic experiences are linked closely to our self-esteem and the way that we see ourselves, and our sense of personal safety, security and belonging. They can also disrupt our ability to regulate our emotions. We can develop our own coping mechanisms to deal with the trauma, but these can often lead to even more issues that compound the problem, including:
- Depression or anxiety
- Difficulty with interpersonal relationships
- Borderline Personality Disorder
- Emotional and Psychological Dependency/Co-dependency
Regardless of the cause, the events that happen ‘to’ us, however, shouldn’t define how we feel about ourselves. If we are prepared to see that these things can happen ‘for’ us, we can learn how to understand both who we are and the negative characteristics we may have created for ourselves. These include our inner critic, the ‘shadow’ parts of us that we dislike, the self-hatred that we have curated and our perceived deficiencies.
It can be extremely difficult to accept our whole selves—our faults, our habits, and our ingrained beliefs— and that can prevent us from really feeling at peace with who we are. Learning to love yourself comes from self-acceptance of all these factors. It involves forgiving ourselves for and dispelling any guilt and shame that we may carry. It weighs heavily upon our inner selves and steals our positive energy.
Self-confidence and self-acceptance are therefore also closely intertwined, and one often reinforces the other. That’s because the entire issues of self-acceptance and self-forgiveness and even self-love are extremely complex. To understand how to love yourself through self-acceptance, we need first to address the concept of ‘self’.
What do we really mean by ‘self’?
When we talk about forgiving or accepting ourselves, who is doing the forgiving and accepting and who is being forgiven or accepted? And to whom or to what are we appealing when we ask ourselves for forgiveness or acceptance?
This is more than just an interesting philosophical question. It has a lot to do with the practicalities of self-forgiveness. How can we act as both the forgiver and the forgiven? In that scenario, we are trying to be prosecutor, judge, jury, witness, and defendant all in the same case!
To try to comprehend how we can truly forgive and accept ourselves, even in the radical sense, we need to get more acquainted with those parts of us that, at various times, lay claim to being ‘the self.’
There are theories that suggest we are, in fact, a whole community of selves. And the multitude of selves don’t always agree with each other. They may have different agendas, which means that at any moment they will be arguing different and even opposing cases. The internal conflict going on inside our heads can be overwhelming. We might think of some of them as ‘archetypal subpersonalities,’ all of which have their own way of being and acting – and we must manage all of them!
Our cast might include the critical parent, the professor, the princess, the clown, the snoop, the boss, the damsel-in-distress, the white knight, the snob, and so on. At any appropriate moment, any one of those archetypal selves can arise and become dominant.
For example, when you are feeling emotionally vulnerable, the joker is likely to come out strongly in your defense. Making a joke is a great way to deflect the perceived attack and to avoid feeling emotions. If you like to take care of others, our white knight will swoop in on any situation where a damsel is in distress. The princess is likely to show up in situations that trigger her subconscious memories of being treated as a princess by her father.
But there are other selves that were born of our need to survive our early upbringing. These are called, ‘survival personalities.’ This term was coined by Roberto Assagioli, an Italian psychiatrist who, in the early 1900’s, founded the spiritually oriented therapeutic system known as Psychosynthesis. (As a modality, Psychosynthesis is very much in line with Radical Forgiveness.) He showed that we have within us not just a singular inner child, as has been popularly represented, but a whole host of sub-personalities.
Understanding our Different Selves
There is also an important distinction that needs to be made immediately between the spiritual ‘I AM’ Self and the Human Self that is ‘YOU.’ These two are fundamentally different, though intimately connected.
a) The I AM Self
This identifies the self that exists above all others and yet remains the one we are probably the least aware of. It is called the ‘Observer’ because it’s the one who serves the ‘I’ who is ‘YOU.’ The I AM Self is the spiritual self, or Higher Self. It simply observes and loves you, no matter what.
b) The Human Self That Is YOU:
This your Human Self which differentiates you from all other humans and shows up in the world as ‘YOU’ in all your many disguises — i.e., all those archetypes and sub-personalities previously mentioned. It is the self that your I AM Self observes and supports. This self contains and encompasses many ‘selves,’ including the following:
- Your Authentic Human Self: This is the self that expresses your natural beingness as a human being. It is who you are at your core — your basic character— your genetically determined disposition and way of being — both good and bad.
- Your Inferred Self: Your inferred self is a sense of self that is generated in your mind, based on the feedback you get from other people. Even so, it is a self that can have enormous influence over our lives.
- Your Ideal Self: This is the self you would really like to be. It is the self that can hold a vision for yourself in the future and to move you in that direction. It will set goals and, through the Law of Attraction, manifest your dreams. It is a powerful self, but it is one that needs to be monitored.
- Your Socially Modified Self: This is the self who you may have become to be accepted — the person others have wanted you to be. This is the socially constructed self you have become to fit in socially or within a family — even though it is not really you.
- Your Lost Selves: These are the specific parts of ourselves that we have lost, or traded away, in exchange for acceptance, love, power, money, etc. both as a child and since becoming an adult.
- Your Disowned Selves: These are the parts of yourself that you have rejected as unacceptable and have been put completely out of sight and out of mind, through the mechanism of repression. (Read our post on the difference between repression and suppression) They have been pushed them so deep down in the subconscious mind that you have absolutely no awareness of them.
- The Saboteur Self: This is the self that constantly checks what beliefs, ideas, attitudes concepts, or prejudices exist in your subconscious mind, after experiences that you have had and subsequently formed subconscious perceptions and beliefs, whether right or wrong.
- The Sexual Self: This is a very complex self but very useful in helping us understand how we behave in relationships. Identified by John Kappas, PhD, Founder of the Hypnosis Motivation Institute, with physical sexual on one side of the scale and emotional sexual on the other, these versions simply refer to how the person defends the part of themselves they feel to be most threatened. The physical sexual is driven by an intense fear of rejection. The emotional sexual, on the other hand, is driven by a strong fear of intimacy.
- The Judging Self: This is the self that is your own worst critic. It is the self that rarely stops criticizing. It is the part of you that shames you and makes you feel guilty about anything and everything it can.
- The Self-Loving Self: This self, is the one part of your Human Self that lives in your heart and loves you no matter what. It has a huge amount of compassion for you and empathizes with whatever you are feeling.
So how can you build your own foundation of self-confidence from understanding and practicing self-acceptance? As we mentioned above, self-confidence and self-acceptance are intertwined, with self-acceptance serving as a strong base upon which self-confidence can be built.
10 Ways Self-Acceptance Can Help You To Build Your Self-Confidence
- Positive Self-Image: Self-acceptance is the foundation of a positive self-image. When you accept yourself as you are, with all your strengths and weaknesses, it becomes easier to see your value and build self-confidence. You stop comparing yourself to unrealistic standards and focus on your unique qualities.
- Reduced Self-Criticism: Self-acceptance reduces self-criticism and self-judgment. When you’re kinder to yourself and acknowledge your imperfections without harsh judgment, you’re more likely to feel confident because you’re not constantly tearing yourself down.
- Embracing Flaws: Self-confidence often stems from your ability to embrace your flaws and imperfections. When you accept your imperfections and see them as a natural part of being human, you’re less likely to let them hold you back and more likely to move forward with confidence.
- Authenticity: Authenticity is a key component of self-confidence. When you accept who you truly are, you can be more authentic in your interactions with others. This authenticity can help you build trust and connect with people, which, in turn, can boost your self-confidence.
- Less Fear of Rejection: When you fully accept yourself, you’re less fearful of rejection because you’re not seeking external validation to define your self-worth. This reduced fear of rejection can lead to more confidence in social and professional situations.
- Self-Compassion: Self-acceptance often goes together with self-compassion. Treating yourself with kindness and understanding when you make mistakes or face setbacks can help build your self-confidence. You know that even when things don’t go as planned, you still have your own support.
- Setting Realistic Goals: Self-acceptance helps you set more realistic and achievable goals. When you’re in touch with your strengths and limitations, you’re more likely to set goals that align with your capabilities. Achieving these goals can boost your confidence.
- Less Need for External Validation: When you accept yourself, you rely less on external validation for your self-worth. You become less dependent on what others think of you, which can liberate your self-confidence from the judgments of others.
- Inner Strength: Self-acceptance can build a sense of inner strength and resilience. When you accept yourself, you develop a solid foundation upon which you can build your self-confidence, knowing that you have the strength to face challenges and setbacks.
- Positive Feedback Loop: Self-confidence and self-acceptance can create a positive feedback loop. As you become more confident in yourself, you are likely to become more self-accepting, and vice versa.
Learn to Embrace and Love Yourself as You Are
The good news is that the Radical Self-Forgiveness/Radical Self-Acceptance processes will take care of removing all your old beliefs that create a perception of self that is not true, so people will begin to react to the you more in alignment with your true self.
The processes encompass understanding how and where your beliefs originated, and how your many selves might have arisen. They distinguish between guilt and shame, where guilt is about our behavior and shame is remorse about the kind of person we think we are. The methodologies and exercises help you work through and transform any guilt or self-recrimination about something that you might have done, or not done but should have. They teach you the techniques to be able to redress any negative, judgmental thoughts as and when they arise. By developing a clear understanding of your ‘self’, remembering these 10 building blocks, and utilizing the practical skills, you can begin to pave your own path for greater self-confidence and personal growth.
This post includes extracts taken from Colin Tipping’s book Radical Self- Forgiveness: The Direct Path to True Self-Acceptance. If you enjoyed this article, why not try one of our Radical Acceptance Worksheets for yourself, from our Free Tools section? Then fully embrace the path to true self- acceptance by taking our self-development course Radical Self Forgiveness/Self-Acceptance.