How I rebuilt my self-confidence after a huge setback

How I rebuilt my self-confidence after a huge setback

My self-confidence took a very big hit many years ago when my marriage failed at about the same time a client defaulted owing me a large amount in outstanding fees.


I realised that if I was to recover from the situation, it was very important that I nurture and regain my self-belief and confidence in myself.

Focus on a few little things

So, as I wrote in my partly-autobiographical self-help book on dealing with stress “Overcoming Financial Stress: How to Conquer Your Financial Fears and Create a Better Future”:

“As I sat there in my little home, sitting on my plastic chair, feeling very alone and very low wondering what was the next misfortune that would befall me, I resolved that I wasn’t going to be beaten by all of this. I also resolved that I was better than that, and that I would get on top of it, because, after all, there have been many, many people who have gone through far, far worse things than I had to face.

I realized that the events of the previous couple of years had given my self-esteem and feelings of self-worth a bit of a beating. After all, it looked as if I was failing on a number of fronts, in my marriage, in my business, and financially, and that the separation from my wife would make it even harder for me to be the good father and husband that I wanted to be.

I also realized that most of the things that were upsetting me were unlikely to change in the short term. I remembered that research had shown that stress and the associated negative feelings are most powerful in people who feel they have little or no control over their situation. So, I looked at the few things that were within my control; things that would help improve my self-esteem and bring back some of my pride.

So I decided that, although I was living in humble circumstances, there was no need to exaggerate it. I resolved to cook really good meals for myself, and take great care with my nutrition, as I figured that I’d need every ounce of energy to get on top of my problems.

I decided to keep the house really tidy and take great pride in my appearance making sure that my shoes were always really shiny clean and I would carefully clean my teeth twice a day. I would set the table properly, even though it was that small circular plastic outdoor table, and I wouldn’t read the paper while I was eating, so that I could concentrate on enjoying my food and chewing it carefully.

I also resolved to focus on the wonderful things that I did have, rather than the things that I felt that I was lacking… Really, when I looked it, there were many, many more things to be happy about than there were to be sad about.

In fact, to this day I still have my gratitude walk each morning. As I walk out to the front gate to get the newspaper and back again, I reflect on just how very fortunate I have been and resolve once again to make the most of all the blessings that I have received.

I set small goals, achievable goals that I could aim for every week. And when I succeeded in achieving these goals, I took great care to congratulate myself and to celebrate in some small way acknowledging my success.

 I knew that it was really important to set goals, but figured that, unless I celebrated successfully achieving them, I would be missing out on the opportunity to give myself a boost, a pat on the back, that I could use to help encourage me to successfully achieve my next goals.

As the days went by, I grew even more determined to take pride in these little things. Much of the time I felt like I couldn’t be bothered, that I really wanted to give up, especially when things happened such as arriving home to a totally darkened and cold house because the electricity had been turned off, as I hadn’t been able to pay the power bill.

But I knew that I couldn’t really give in; I knew just how much I wanted to provide for my children and to somehow, despite the unpleasant circumstances, be a good example for them.

I also started to take even more pride and interest in my running, keeping a diary of each run, writing down the thoughts and feelings that I had as I ran and keeping my own private running records for each of the running trails that I had set out for myself.

Running made me happy and took my mind off my problems. As I became fitter, I reached a point where I realized that pretty much all I needed to make me happy was a pair of running shorts, a running singlet and some good shoes. Give me these and my physical fitness and I would be fine.

And, of course, all along I took great pride in my work as a university lecturer. I always found it really refreshing and uplifting to work with young people, watching their minds expand as they learnt new things and new skills.”

So, if your self-confidence has taken a bit of a hit lately, the really important thing to take from my experience is that it can be really valuable to do the following:

  • set small achievable goals,
  • take care to achieve them and then
  • make sure that you celebrate these successes.

Of course, some people are held back by unconscious programming that undermines their self-confidence. If you would like some help with this, feel free to send me a direct message or contact me through my website so we can have a chat to discuss how I might be able to help you let this go very quickly.

#self-confidence #self-esteem

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