So I’ve mentioned before that Donald Miller’s new video series is amazing. (Go here if you want to find out more about it.)
We watched another segment of this series at our camp church night a few weeks ago, and I loved it. Donald Miller and Dr. Henry Cloud were talking about self-esteem and the ways in which we seek it for ourselves, as well as for our kids.
While encouragement is a great thing, Dr. Henry Cloud shared that, contrary to popular belief, praise and compliments are not what will build a healthy self-esteem.
He said that working hard and accomplishing good things is what actually gives us a sense of self-worth. Becoming better at something will give us confidence as we do it. He explained that the first time you try something new, you will be hesitant and unsure of yourself. But once you’ve done it a number of times, and know you can do it well, you will do it with confidence.
When we’re attempting something new, and feeling out of our comfort zones, compliments will not build confidence. No matter how many nice things someone says to us, we will still feel unsure of ourselves until we’ve learned how to do it.
I see this with Anika all the time. When we color together, she oohs and ahs over my pictures, and gets really discouraged about her own. She so badly wants her pictures to look like my drawings. I can verbally build her up all I want, but she’s not dumb. She knows that her drawing is not like mine – she can see it for herself.
All the compliments in the world will not disguise the fact that I draw like an adult who took 6 years of art lessons, and she draws like a seven-year-old.
My encouragement might help her to keep practicing, but it doesn’t give her confidence.
What has made the biggest difference in her confidence and enthusiasm to keep trying is actually teaching her how to do it better.
Fridays are “Fun School” days for us. We finish up the “serious” stuff quickly, and then we get out her art book. We’re using this fun book called “Draw Write Now”, and she loves it, because she can see for herself that she is improving.
She’s having fun and she’s becoming more confident.
I love watching it happen. And I’m noticing that instead of getting frustrated, she has learned herself that she just needs to practice, and it will get better.
It makes me think about my own life. When I evaluate things, I can definitely see confidence and enjoyment in the areas where I have experience and ability.
So what about the areas that frustrate me, and make me feel all down on myself? Am I going to sit around and pout because of my inadequacy and lack of confidence, or am I going to do something about it?
Because here’s my little secret: I am scared of big groups of people. I love one-on-one conversations. But walking into a room full of people is extremely intimidating for me. As soon as I’m settled in some corner with someone to talk to, and we can get to the one-on-one stuff, I’m good. It’s just getting there that makes me feel SO uncomfortable and insecure.
Now let’s face it – all the practice in the world cannot make me great at EVERYTHING. God created each of us with gifts, and we accomplish the most when we all work together. My time would be best spent improving my strengths rather than chasing after all of the things I’m not good at, trying to become an expert.
But if there’s something small I could do to try to face my fears and get rid of some of my insecurities, that would seem like a logical, mature thing to do, right?
I thought about that for a bit, trying to figure out how to face my insecurities over large groups of people. And I couldn’t think of anything.
So I googled it! And I found a huge list of fantastic suggestions on how to deal with overcoming shyness and insecurity in large groups of people! Now I can’t wait for the next time I’m in that kind of a situation so that I can try out all the new tips! So much better than dreading it and feeling miserable about it.
I definitely want to find my identity and self-worth in Christ, but I think that if there are ways to learn and grow and mature, that’s good, too!
So what do you think? Is there an area you could work on that would get rid of insecurity in your life? Are you up for learning something new?