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Confidence can kill!

To be more accurate, overconfidence can kill – partly because the overconfident are usually ignorant of the dangers they may face.

But, so can low esteem. Issues with confidence can lead to eating disorders, which in turn may lead to relationship break downs and isolation, lack of activity and loneliness, depression and worse …. Our sense of self, psychological and physical wellbeing are interconnected. When our self-esteem drops, we may see ourselves and our lives in a more negative and critical light. Not only do we find it harder to deal with problems, but our health suffers.

“In the short term, avoiding challenging and difficult situations makes you feel a lot safer,” says Chris Williams, Professor of Psychosocial Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. “In the longer term, this can backfire because it reinforces your underlying doubts and fears. It teaches you the unhelpful rule that the only way to cope is by avoiding things.”

Traditionally associated with women, a new, and harrowing, storyline about male rape in a popular soap reminds us that no one gender is immune to low self-worth, depression or sexual abuse. While an increasing awareness of male suicides and the growing MeToo movement are turning the spotlight on men – and what it is it to be a man in the 21st Century.

Growing up in the 60s, and as a young business woman in the 80s, I was frequently disparaged for being ‘pushy’, ‘bossy’, ‘autocratic’ ‘intimidating’ and … even worse … ‘a feminist!’ (I thought I was assertive!!) The MD of one agency I worked in even suggested, several times, the way to win new business was to, let me put it euphemistically: ‘lie down’!!

I just saw him as ignorant and arrogant. In fact, that simply encouraged me to win more business and take it to another agency!! Those personal affronts were commonplace in, what was then, a male dominated world. I must have questioned my sense of self, my confidence must have taken a bashing, but when you are young and ambitious these things often wash over you.

Today, online and social media means a more closely connected world; the news is at our fingertips 24/7. This creates transparency and unity, which is wonderful. But it also encourages an aggressive, bullying tendency – from cruel comments about physical attributes and fashion sense to libel … to lumping all men under one category.

No wonder young men question their position in society. Not a bad thing, you might say. But we all know wonderful, caring and supportive men; we have brothers, cousins, friends, boyfriends, sons, fathers, uncles, grandfathers – they are not all abusive, sexist, arrogant, selfish, uncaring.

So how do we support them? Or anyone else whose confidence needs boosting?

Sarah Stewart-Brown, professor of public health at the University of Warwick and a wellbeing expert, says: “Feelings of contentment, enjoyment, confidence and engagement with the world are all a part of mental wellbeing. Self-esteem and self-confidence are, too. Of course, good mental wellbeing does not mean that you never experience feelings or situations that you find difficult,” says Professor Stewart-Brown. “But it does mean that you feel you have the resilience to cope when times are tougher than usual.”

So, confidence is linked to wellbeing – and if you want to improve your health, whether mental or physical, here are some changes you can make:

  1. Build your relationships – connect with others whether socially or in business
  2. Sleep well – 7 to 8 hours is recommended for good health
  3. Nutrition – I am not endorsing dieting, just good, healthy eating
  4. Exercise – we are not all marathon runners but adding exercise to our lives increases endorphin levels which in turn make us feel happy and well: take the stairs; walk an extra stop in each direction on that commute home; leave the car behind; and use the bus or a bike!
  5. Looking good makes us feel good! Our levels of confidence have a strong influence on how well we feel – we only need to think about this for a few minutes to understand how obvious this sentence is; how confidence, styling and wellbeing are interlinked and form part of our personal brand.

Sandi Goddard is MD of Goddard Delaney, a strategic brand consultancy that works with business owners to raise the profile of key assets whether people, products or service. We can show proven success whether taking a £1m turnover business to £60m growth or a startup from £0 to £100K+ in less than three months.

The Room Upstairs events, now launched in Surrey, began over 15 years ago as a means of introducing Sandi’s contacts to each. Numbers are limited to allow everyone a chance to get to know each other over lunch/dinner. There is no membership or category exclusivity, guests simply pay for the event.

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