Want to boost a friend's self-confidence? Good for you. The support of friends and loved ones can greatly influence a person's perception of their self-worth. With enough guidance, suggestion and patience, your friend may recognize her true potential. The following tips will provide ways you can help, and what you should do when your help might not be enough.
Encourage talent-inducing activities
Everyone likes the feeling of doing something well. If your friend is a racquetball player, grab a racquet and foster her talent. Doing activities at which your friend excels will bring her out of her shell and make her feel like she has something to offer, which raises her confidence level.
During the activity, try a teacher-student role, where your friend shows you a skill or technique. Ask for instructions on serving the ball, or other tips pertaining to the session at hand. Encouraging your friend to share her skills will promote a feeling of authority, which will also boost her self-confidence.
Do not tolerate self-deprecation
Dr. Dorothy Briggs notes in her book, "Your Child's Self-Esteem," that a low self-perception is linked with thoughts of negativity. As more negative phrases are spoken, the lower the perception of self-worth. People with low self-esteem often make comments like, "Well, if I were only a little thinner this wouldn't be a problem," or "I guess it's my fault for just not being better." When your friend makes these comments, respond with a firm, matter-of-fact, "That's not true. I don't want to hear you saying that. I'm serious." Do not coddle or try to sympathize with the negative remarks, as the pity party will only get worse. By incorporating a no-nonsense attitude with your friend's downbeat behavior, she will re-program her mind. By blocking the remarks, she will soon learn to replace those thoughts with a more positive outlook.
Understand your limitations as a friend
If your friend's low self-confidence is tied to clinical depression or suicidal thoughts, come to terms with your own inability to fully help them. If your friend is cutting or self-mutilating, the book, "How to Help your Hurting Friend," instructs not to condemn your friend, as she likely knows her behavior is wrong. The best way to help your friend in this situation is by encouraging her to seek help. Offer to drive her to counseling, get her to add a suicide hotline to his phone under a pseudonym and keep notes on the severity of her thoughts. Do not shoulder the burden of being her sole source of support, as it only does a disservice to you and your friend.
If the issue of low self-esteem is tied to a problem that is not life-threatening, persuade her to join organizations of interest so her pursuits can be reaffirmed with like-minded individuals. Go to these events with your friend. Reneau Peurifoy, author of the book, "Anxiety, Phobia and Panic," explains that low self-esteem can derive from an early feeling of lack of acceptance. New activities with other supportive people can break her feeling of inadequacy, as it helps her face her fears of social rejection.