By AYANNA CLARKE
his article series is an offshoot of a voice note series that is now heard in about eight countries worldwide. Every so often, one of my listeners reaches out with a question that places me in the hot seat and immediately I rise to the challenge of responding as teacher.
Recently, I had to reply to the following question: “Hi Ayanna, I have been following the ‘Yes To Me Series’ on social media and I think I have said yes to me, but I am still lacking confidence. What should I do?”
After doing some quick thinking and some praying, I was inspired to ask her a question of my own: “What are you lacking confidence in? What activities do you participate in that lead to the anxiety that you are feeling?” (Now you must know that I asked these questions deliberately.)
Then I waited for her response. When it came, I knew that it was time to be teacher again: “Ummm…it’s not anything in particular… Just this lack of confidence in myself.”
My next question sealed it: “Is it really lack of confidence or is it low self-esteem?”
You see, we often confuse one for the other, and try as we might we can’t really say ‘yes to me’ without knowing the difference between the two.
The difference in definitions
Lack of self-esteem denotes an overall negative consciousness about yourself. It is characterised by a hypervigilance regarding anything that looks like rejection toward you or feelings of all-encompassing inadequacy.
Lack of confidence in its purest sense is characterised by feelings of anxiety or nervousness when it comes to performing a particular task. Lacking confidence can be compartmentalised and doesn’t have to be a feeling that covers everything, but can ebb and flow (show up or disappear) depending on the trust you have in yourself with a particular activity.
To put it simply, low self-esteem deals with an overall negative feeling about who you are as opposed to lack of confidence which deals with a negative feeling about things you can do.
Let me use myself as an example. When it comes to confidence, believe it or not, I am most confident in my teaching ability. People mistakenly assume I’m more confident in my singing or speaking, but nothing could be further from the truth. It is and has always been a struggle for me to perform or minister publicly. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t shirk away from these activities; it just takes lots of preparation and prayer.
Regarding low self-esteem, I didn’t start out that way, but life broke me down to the point where I lost all belief in myself. I came to a full stop emotionally, and that wouldn’t stand.
This entire ‘Yes to Me’ series embodies all the steps I took to return to a healthier frame of mind regarding myself and my abilities.
Disclosing strengths and talents without fear
Affirmation through altruism and purposefully helping others
Choosing substantive connections above superficial ones
My goal is encouraging consistent, positive focus that enables us to believe in ourselves and trust that God has an achievable purpose for us all.
Like me, you must know what actions and affirmations will serve us on our journey toward Yes! If it is an overall lack of self-esteem then we remind ourselves we are fearfully and wonderfully made and act toward this end.
If lack of confidence is the issue, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” should become our mantra and overall attitude.
Either way, saying ‘yes’ to yourself requires that you be honest about your peculiarities, and face them head on, knowing that the end result is a more self-assured, more confident you.
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