The seeds of doubt are planted early in life—in the years of greatest vulnerability. Unless you were extraordinarily fortunate, much of your early education was grounded in fear and intimidation. These kinds of experiences structure a defense against the world. You may have come to doubt yourself after having been pitted against awesome forces—teachers, parents, insensitive peers and the presence of law enforcement in your community. These forces often act to make the individual feel quite small and inadequate.
Self-confidence, on the other hand, is born out of self-esteem. Some people are wise enough to overlook, sidestep, reject or transcend earlier life experiences detrimental to positive self-regard and, in time, come to a realistic understanding and balance appreciation of themselves.
When we are unhappy, our sadness is often sustained by repeated, intrusive thoughts. These push themselves into consciousness and preoccupy or even dominate the mind, leaving little opportunity for the experience of happier thoughts. There are several categories of such automatic thoughts.
Low self-esteem thoughts express an unjustified lack of self-confidence. Examples are: “I cannot do it.’’ or “I’m going to be a failure in life.”