Funny thing, self-esteem; a fine balancing act between confidence and humility that can quickly tip over to either one of two opposites if not checked: arrogance or inferiority.
Achieving this balance is a constant battle every one of us faces, and it is not an easy battle, if you think about it. It needs constant working on, otherwise it’s easy to drown in your own pool without noticing it.
The first step to balancing confidence and humility is to become aware of the two.
Humility is this beautiful human trait that allows us to be modest despite the fact there is a lot we could scream from the rooftops about.
It is that ability to remain humble in the face of success and achievements, accepting but never allowing them to let you lose the connection with your true self.
Humility itself can have adverse effects. Too little of it makes you meek to the point of submission – not a good thing. Too much of it and it borders on pride – not a good thing either.
Humility is not about feeling unimportant. Rather, it is about tempering your sense of importance.
Having a sense of confidence is not a bad thing. In fact, we could say there are different kinds of confidence.
The genuine satisfaction we get when we achieve something, or maybe from the achievements of others, is wonderful. So is the confidence we derive from our own dignity; having a sense of self-respect.
But confidence becomes a bad thing when we start having an excessive high opinion of ourselves or our importance. When it crosses this realm, it becomes arrogance or haughtiness. An inflated sense of self-importance.
Ironically, traits such as arrogance may have spawned from some prior achievements we had. But we failed to arrest it early and it morphed into egotism, causing us to lose sight of what drove us to achievement in the first place: a beginner’s mindset perhaps, hard work, a willingness to try (and fail) and so on.
And this is where an antidote of humility is called for.
Self-esteem is truly a balancing act that everyone has to perpetually work on. It is a dance; nothing static about it.
There are three things you can do to achieve a confidence and humility balance.
It starts with being mindful. Stopping and taking a deep breath each step of the way. The simple act of slowing down from all the haste to take stock helps to clear your mind and relieve you of unnecessary pressure.
The essence of doing this is that it allows you to view your current situation in the most realistic way possible; not sugarcoating it, and not beating yourself down either, but objectively.
Think of it as a simple mindfulness exercise that clearly opens your eyes to the things you are doing in life. It helps keep you on the right track, eventually helping in finding balance.
Second, it is also good to be aware of who you spend your time with. It is often said that you are the product of the five people you spend most of your time with.
That is true, your environment does shape you a lot. You may regard yourself as too strong to be diluted by the influences of others, but spend many hours in the wrong crowd on a consistent basis and you will become average just like them. Those are just the laws of nature.
If you have someone around you who is too proud and self-assured, some of that is sure to rub off on you. Finding balance means finding the right company.
Third, teach yourself to go for the essential things when making daily choices in life. Meaningful things like family and loved ones. Kindness and helping others. Doing the things that matter. Being a student of life. Following the path that feels just right for you. And so on. These things help to keep us grounded (in a good sort of way).
Be honest with yourself and define that “meaningful thing”, then consciously decide to focus on it.
Humility is a strength in its own right. Confidence is a strength in its own right.
When these two qualities converge in a balanced and authentic way – call it a dash of healthy self-esteem – their presence cannot only enrich us in untold ways, but you never know what you could achieve.
It is not easy, balancing your self-esteem. It’s a constant work in progress, and the beauty of it is that we can always paddle our canoe to either the confidence or humility side whenever we find ourselves veering off.
Years ago, you may have heard people who hold onto clutter referred to as "rat packs". Today, hoarding is a term used for the practice of holding onto clutter.