Sometimes, watching a friend struggle with self-doubt can feel nearly as challenging as dealing with insecurity yourself.
Heather Monahan says there are a few things we can do to help. She’s the author of Confidence Creator and the host of the Creating Confidence podcast, which is all about building self-esteem from the inside out. We asked her a few questions about how to guide friends who doubt themselves, and here’s what she had to say.
Sweety High: When a friend is seriously doubting themself, are there any steps we can take to help?
Heather Monahan: Think of the things that help you. When someone reminds you of a time you doubted yourself, but you went for it anyway and you didn’t die, that’s a big victory. Surrounding yourself with people who help you remember how strong you are in the moments you don’t feel very strong, are lifesavers.
Try taking a picture of a sibling this person loves, or of them when they were very young, and have them hold it. Ask them how they would speak to the person in the picture. Would they encourage them and tell them how wonderful they are, and that they can do it and that they believe in them?
SH: How can we help boost someone’s confidence in a way that’s genuine and helpful?
HM: Give honest feedback. If your friend is obsessed with her phone and constantly checking for messages from a crappy boyfriend, then it’s time to introduce her to the Headspace app or another meditation practice to calm her nerves. Do it with her! Then it’s time to let her know that she deserves better, and if she wants greatness, she’s going to have to let go of the mediocre. It’s time to fire the boyfriend.
When people aren’t being honest with themselves or others close to them, it chips away at their confidence. Maybe you know that your friend is failing math but afraid to tell her parents. Talking things through with your friend so she knows she has your support and that you love her, flaws and all, may be the encouragement she needs to get real with the other people in her life. When she takes the step to do this, she creates confidence. Shine a light on shame and watch how much stronger you become.
Write her a letter telling her all of the things you admire about her and how special she is. Notice the things about her that make her unique, and share them with her. Sharing our fears and shortcomings with others helps them see they’re not alone. Sometimes all you need to do is be there with them, listen to them and give them a hug. When all else fails, get moving. Working out together, going for a walk together, getting out of the house and into motion instantly makes you feel better, and it’s healthy! Good choices deliver better outcomes. Kick the negative habits and start some good ones.
SH: How can we know if we’re pushing a doubtful friend too hard?
HM: People have to want to change or address their issues. We can never make someone else change or do something they don’t want to do. That’s up to them. Pushing a doubtful friend too hard may also hurt you. It’s important to know our boundaries and recognize when someone doesn’t want to change. What you may decide is that you may need some space from that person who is constantly down and negative. Some people are more familiar with negativity and actually choose to stay there. When that’s the case, it’s important for you to save yourself. Creating space from those who are bringing you down will give you space to have clarity and find the positive people in your life.
Need to deal with your own insecurity, first? Click HERE for more advice from Heather Monahan on conquering doubt.