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The opposite of bragging damages confidence too

Add text(1)We may not be the person who is bragging, but we may be affected by the behavior of others.  Bragging is really an attempt to put the other person down.  Just as dangerous to our confidence though is, if we were to diminish our own self.  If we were to look at another person’s skills or abilities and put ourselves down – thinking or saying “I’m no good because…”.

No matter who we are or what skill we are most proud of,  if we open our horizon enough, we will find others who are just as good or many times better than ourselves.  That is not a reason though to diminish our own efforts, skills or abilities.  Accepting who we are, being happy for others who also excel, and taking the challenge to improve ourselves in whatever way we would like to improve is a balanced way of being here in this world.

We get in trouble with ourselves when we ‘have to be better than’ anyone or everyone around us.   We get in trouble with ourselves when we look at other humans or families as a competition.  Our life does not need to be a competition – if it is we will eventually die “without enough”.  You have heard it said that no one gets on their deathbed and wishes they had spent more time at work, or with a bigger car or house.  Most of the time people wish they had more time with family and friends, enjoying the relationships or participating in an activity that they loved.

Life is not a competition for bigger things or even bigger accomplishments.  Life, at least in my point of view is about improving ourselves and those around us to the best of our ability.  Life and leadership is about being aware of and asking others how we can help them.  Life and love is not about getting – it is about giving.

Our confidence is driven by our commitment to our values, knowing that we are living by them, finding and practicing the things we are good at – a commitment to our mission, and being our own best person.  Live your life with confidence, be aware of the areas you might improve in, do the work of compassion and you will respected by others and yourself.

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How to show confidence without talking about ourselves

If telling everyone how great we are, or putting others down does not show confidence how can we show confidence?  How do we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?

We show our confidence by our body language, standing tall, looking at the other person in the eyes, speaking with a clear voice, expressing our needs in a clear manner with a tone that tells others that we believe in our statements.

We show our confidence by our stepping up with courage when a situation needs to be made right.  We are not afraid of what others might think.  We have morals, values and ethics that we are willing to stand for.

positive_quotes_compliment_people_147From another point of view we show confidence by our willingness to ‘build others up’.  A confident person is not afraid to give sincere compliments to others or to express appreciation for what they have done or what they do.  Helping others feel good about themselves, and helping others feel good about another person, demonstrates a lack of fear, that someone may appear “better than” ourselves.

I especially like this point.  One of the things we teach at Balanced Life Skills is that the strongest leaders are ones who are willing to submit themselves to others by asking, “How can I help you?”.   Our willingness to help others improve themselves, to prove themselves, and to feel good about themselves is a demonstration of our own self-confidence.

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The science behind why anyone brags

When one person puts another person down by pointing out a weakness or making them feel “less than”, the confidence level of the recipient takes a hit.  When a person looks in the mirror and puts themselves down by focusing on what they have come to believe to be a weakness, their confidence is lowered – not improved on.

In trying to make up for not feeling confident some resort to pretending to be something that they are not – bragging or boasting – to make themselves feel “better than” or in an attempt to make the other person feel “less than”.  We see that kind of behavior in kids with one upping another child.  I scored 10,000 points on such & such game and the next kids say I scored 15 K and on and on.  We see it with kids feeling superior due to where they go to school (private vs. public), where they went on vacation, what they did this weekend, and the list goes on and on.

moms-braggingWhen it comes to adults and parents especially, we live in a culture in which most parents strive to raise ‘star’ children and convince everyone around them that they are stars.  They do this by gushing about a child’s accomplishments, how smart they are, how athletic, how beautiful they are.  Why do people – kids and adults carry on with bragging?   That answer in a moment.

How else does bragging show itself?  It might be shown on the purchasing of material things just to impress others (whether they can be afforded or not).  Keeping up appearances by this kind of activity is no different than speaking the words that are exaggerated to impress others. Still others may take actions to get the attention of others – to impress them with how brave or awesome they are – simply to prove the “better than” superiority.

So whether it is talking to no end about their non existent achievements, spending money to prove how well off they are, or pointing out the weaknesses of others – all of this is bragging and results in lowering the confidence of those that are targeted.  Oh yes the question WHY?

In 2012 a Harvard study found that sharing information about ourselves triggered the same sensations in the brain synonymous with eating food.  So talking about ourselves is rewarding.  In fact, it was found that 40% of what we talk about is our own thoughts and feelings.  So now that we are aware of what and why – the real question for us to consider is, How can we make ourselves feel confident without making someone else feel worse?  How can we make others feel more confident and spread those confident feelings around?

Thoughts on this question this week.

Tamir, Diana I., Mitchell, Jason P. “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding.” Cambridge: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 2012. Web: wjh.harvard.edu/~dtamir/Tamir-PNAS-2012.pdf

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5 Reminders in dealing with diminishing confidence in children

Bullying at school pic

A child’s confidence can be diminished very quickly when they become the target of mean behavior or words.  One of the worst things that can happen to a child is being made feel “less than” by others.  This is many times the results of others talking about them, making sly comments, or being made to feel unwelcome or not a part of the group.

As this kind of behavior can be directed to anyone, especially a young person, we want to encourage them to be sure to speak up to adults and ask for the help that they need.  Along with that,  choosing friends that are not taking part in that kind of behavior is a good idea too.  Many times though, this is not enough.

As an adult, if a child comes to us with these kinds of situations, we can be confused about what the right thing to do might be.  There is no one answer to that question, as every situation and child needs to be worked with individually.  However, there are a few things for us to remember and not all of them are easy.   Control of ourselves and our emotions is key to do what is best for our children.

First, we must remember this is our child’s situation and our place is to protect them, but not take the problem over as if it is ours.
Second, what the target of this kind of behavior needs more than anything from us is to know that we understand their feelings.  So before you start getting all the details, be sure that you give your child as much time as they need to express themselves. (this is the hard part, because parents will want to jump right in and fix it)
Third, find out what your child would like to see happen and what they want to do or what they think might help the situation.
Fourth, help them weigh out their options, choose one and then practice it with them.
Fifth, follow up with how they are feeling, how it is working and what they want to do next.

Nobody has the right to make anyone feel less than or unworthy.  We have to understand though that bullying behavior is going to take place until we are able to create a culture of kindness and peace in our families, schools, and communities.  Having a ‘zero tolerance’ policy does not work in any community situation.  Changing culture of the community, where those in the community stand up and say – in our class, in our school, in our community – we do not treat each other in that manner, is what does work to eliminate confidence reducing behavior.  Are the teachers in your school making this the norm for the classroom?  The confidence level of your son or daughter may be at stake.

Anyone in our community that is dealing with a situation like this may consider working with a bully prevention expert like Joe Van Deuren at Balanced Life Skills.

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Building Confidence in Children in 5 Easy Steps

parenting confidenceThere are so many negative messages around and directed at young people, especially from those surrounding them, like the media they see and read, and the messages they hear from adults and friends.  How can we as the adults in their life help them develop a positive, confident  attitude while teaching them how to do the same for themselves?

Focus on the good things that they are doing, identifying their unique strengths and expressing your appreciation for those strengths.  It is easier for both us as adults and them as students to quickly see the faults or the things we would do differently.  Seeing the good will help our children to do the same with themselves and others.  This is not about over praising them, rather an acknowledgment of their unique qualities.

Focus on learning and thinking critically as well as creatively.  Encouraging our children to learn to think and learn with open minds makes a powerful difference in their life and how they feel about school and learning, building their confidence in themselves.

Take care of the physical health.  Encouraging our children to be active, by being active ourselves, eating in a healthy manner, all lends itself to feeling positive and confident.

Having a mission and setting goals, both as a family and as an individual gives us something to look forward to and work towards.  As you meet your challenges and work through them your confidence increases.   Working this together as a family helps our children to feel good about themselves.

Give back to others.  Helping others not only helps us have gratitude for what we have, but it also gives us a great feeling, knowing that we were able to assist someone else.  Confidence comes from seeing the accomplishments of our services to others.

The messages we send our children every day has an effect on the feelings they have for themselves.  Are they proud of who they are, the way they learn, their physical health and what they are doing to maintain it, do they know where they are going and why, and are they showing gratitude for all they have and give to others?  Doing these things makes every child and adult feel positive about themselves.

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