Confidence Emerges: The Lifelong Journey to Self-Esteem Part Two
In part one of this article, you read about the journey to confidence and self-esteem from childhood to young adulthood. This week’s post will continue from mid-life into our golden years. While a lot of our confidence and self-esteem is developed in our early years, there are nuances to consider as we age. While these are recommendations for any stage of adulthood, I believe they’ll resonate more with those of you at the mid-life to golden years stage of life.
Midlife: Navigating Transitions and Reevaluations
Midlife, generally considered from the mid-thirties to early sixties, often brings significant life changes such as career shifts, parenthood, and caregiving responsibilities. Because so much of our confidence is wrapped up in how we see ourselves from an identity perspective when that identity changes, so might our confidence.
Consider this about your identity. When we meet someone and they ask us to introduce ourselves, most of us will introduce ourselves based on our identity. We say I’m a mother, or a job title, or any other way we identify ourselves. But what happens when that identity changes? What happens if you change jobs or careers, lose jobs, graduate, retire, or your children return to school? What happens when you’re no longer what [fill in the blank] represents? How do you reconcile who you were with who you’ve become? That change impacts our confidence.
Here are suggestions for continuing to build that confidence at this stage in your life.
Midlife often brings significant transitions, such as career changes, empty nesting, or caregiving responsibilities. Embracing adaptability is crucial during this stage. It's about accepting that life can take unexpected turns and that our ability to adapt to new roles and responsibilities is a testament to our resilience and competence. By embracing adaptability, we can maintain confidence even in the face of significant life changes.
Self-Care and Wellness
Prioritizing self-care and wellness is vital for maintaining confidence in midlife. This includes physical and mental well-being. This includes making time for exercise, healthy eating, and stress management. A healthy body and mind provide the foundation for a strong sense of self-esteem and the energy to tackle life's challenges.
Pursuing Lifelong Learning
In young adulthood, I shared that one of the skills was embracing personal growth. That doesn’t stop in mid-life. In fact, one of the foundations of a growth mindset is a passion for lifelong learning. I’m not saying you have to go back to school. I'm encouraging you to pursue education and skill development opportunities wherever possible. Whether it's taking up a new hobby, enrolling in courses, or acquiring new professional skills, continuous learning fosters personal growth. It also reinforces the idea that one's potential for growth and adaptation is limitless.
Later Life: Wisdom and Self-Assurance
In the later stages of life, there are new opportunities and challenges. The good news is we can draw upon a lifetime of experiences and wisdom. Whether you’ve already built your confidence or are looking for ways to grow it even more, here are some suggestions:
In later life, it's essential to celebrate one's achievements and milestones. Reflecting on past successes, both big and small, reinforces a sense of self-worth and accomplishment. It's a reminder that you have a history of overcoming challenges and achieving your goals, which can boost confidence. I know of one woman who is writing her memoirs, not for publication but for her family.
Passing on Knowledge
Mentoring and sharing knowledge with younger generations can provide a profound sense of purpose and pride in later life. It's an opportunity to give back, share wisdom, and make a positive impact on others. This enhances self-esteem and reaffirms one's value and relevance in society. Consider volunteering at a school, as one friend of mine is doing.
This is perhaps the most important way to continue building confidence at this life stage—embrace aging. I’m in my early 60s and am learning there are so many changes that I sometimes feel like I can’t keep up with them.
However, accepting the natural process of aging and valuing the wisdom that comes with it is a fundamental aspect of confidence in later life. Focus on the positive aspects of aging, such as the depth of experience and the perspective gained over the years. I’ve lost many friends—some younger than me—so I embrace how fortunate I am to be on this earth. A positive outlook on aging can lead to a profound sense of self-assuredness and contentment.
General Strategies for Building and Maintaining Confidence
While some of these confidence-building strategies vary with age, some principles apply throughout life:
Encourage yourself to engage in positive self-talk and challenge your negative beliefs. Replace self-doubt with affirmations of your abilities. Whenever you find yourself speaking negatively ask yourself, “What proof do I have that this is true?”.
Foster self-awareness within yourself by engaging in regular self-reflection and introspection. This practice can lead to personal growth and increased self-esteem. Journaling is a great practice to understand who you are and what you need.
Seek Professional Help When Needed
Recognize that seeking help from therapists, counselors, or coaches is a sign of your strength, not weakness. These professionals can provide you with valuable guidance in building confidence.
Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity
Learn to view failure as a stepping-stone to success. Each setback can provide valuable lessons and contribute to your personal growth.
Conclusion: Confidence as a Lifelong Journey
Confidence is not a static quality; it's a lifelong journey that evolves with age and experiences. By understanding the unique challenges and opportunities at each stage of life, you can actively work on building and maintaining self-esteem. Whether you're guiding a child through adolescence or seeking to enhance your own confidence in later life, the principles of positive reinforcement, self-compassion, and continuous growth remain invaluable. Remember, confidence knows no age limit—it's a quality that can flourish throughout a lifetime.