Want to Boost Your Confidence? Be Nice to Yourself!
by Jamie Spannhake
January 26, 2020
I am listening to an Audible original by Laurie J. Cameron called "The Power of Self-Compassion." In it, she discusses a study by Serena Chen, Juliana Breines, and Jia Wei Zhang that tested whether self-compassion or self-esteem is better at creating self-confidence. The self-esteem model posits that if we focus on our good qualities rather than our negative, then we will feel more self-confident. The self-compassion model posits that if we talk to ourselves with kindness about our weaknesses or failures – as if talking kindly to someone that we care about – telling ourselves that it is okay that we made a mistake, for example, then our self-confidence increases.
Turns out, the self-compassion model is much more effective at increasing self-confidence.
Why? There are several reasons. One is that, when we treat ourselves with self-compassion, we resolve to try to change and feel motivated to change. And, when we feel that we can change, we develop a growth mindset that, in fact, enables us to change and improve. This growth mindset, as coined and discussed by Carol Dweck, allows us to recover more quickly and learn from failures and negative experiences and feedback. This acknowledgement that we can improve increases our self-confidence.
And that’s not all. When we treat ourselves with compassion, we are able to self-reflect. This self-reflection allows us to assess our lives so that we can change things that aren’t a good fit for us, like a job that’s not the right choice. In other words, self-compassion also leads to authenticity. This makes sense to me. As we embrace who we truly are – the good and the not-so-good – we can accept and improve. Not talking about it, to ourselves or to others, means that we don’t address the issues causing our self-confidence to wane. As we all know, what we resist persists.
With all this in mind, I started thinking about how I could incorporate self-compassion into my daily life in a very practical way. As you may know, I like theory and research, but what I really care about is practical application: in other words, how can I make life better with this information.
I thought about how compassionate and understanding I am with my daughter, how I always try to encourage her, how I repeatedly discuss trial and error and growth and experience rather than outcome and achievement.
I settled upon a new mantra: Mother Myself.
Think of how you mother, or how you were mothered, or about an ideal mother. What would that kind and compassionate person say to you when you face heartache or failure or when you don’t do your best or disappoint someone. Say those things to yourself. Mother Yourself.