An Interview With Psychotherapist Jennifer Lehr, MFT – interviewed by Jaleh Weber 8/15/2010
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I am a marriage and family therapist. I specialize in working with couples and also work with individuals around self-empowerment.
Why do some people have a low level of self-confidence?
I believe that if we are not affirmed as a child, we do not have the experience of our own value. Also many kinds of abuse can leave us feeling as if we are not valuable. Some people, despite less than optimal backgrounds are able to overcome them by being able to “decide” that they are valuable, despite a history that does not back that up. Some of these kids had parents that with all good intentions stifled their self-esteem development by being over protective and overly complimentary. Self confidence is like a muscle – it needs to be developed. It takes courage to leave one’s comfort zone. Effective parents architect opportunities for their children to have to ‘suck it up’ and leave their comfort zones while also providing support. When children have to summon courage to do something ‘scary’ (but not dangerous), once they do it and succeed; their self-confidence goes up. Real ego gratification comes from within, not externally.
What type of impact can a high level of self-confidence have on a person’s overall life?
The higher your self-confidence, the more likely you will take risks, and ultimately succeed.
What are seven easy ways for someone to improve their self-confidence?
1) Therapy, especially if you are plagued by negative thoughts, or self depreciation
2) Applying yourself to a task and persisting until you succeed
3) Learning to change your self talk to positive thoughts
4) Treat yourself the way you would want someone to treat your child.
5) Never judge yourself on externals. Somebody will always be doing better than you.
6) Take risks. You will never find out whom you are if you don’t try.
7) Do not allow yourself to indulge in destructive feelings such as resentment or jealousy. Find higher ways to look at things.
What last advice would you like to leave for someone who wants to improve his or her level of self-confidence?
Improving your self-confidence may be one of the tasks of your life. Embrace it, rather than make yourself wrong for it. We all have different lessons. Yours are as valuable as anyone else.
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