#childrensmhw | Confidence and Character

Confidence and Character:

Tapping Into Your Strengths for Good Mental Health

At the age of 13, I knew I was a great swimmer.  My confidence level in the pool was high; give me a pair of cossies (swimmers), goggles, a diving block, and a pool, and I was happy, content, and self-assured. Put me on a stage in-front of a crowd of people and I was a quivering mess. Yet, as my achievements in the pool rose, so did my confidence in everything else, including the dreaded speech-making in class and at Australia Day ceremonies. Sometimes our anxieties can really stop us from achieving interesting and wonderful things in life, but when you latch onto a strength that you have and build confidence in this strength, it naturally spreads into other areas of your life and can make you, in general, a much more confident person, just as my swimming did for me.

It has been shown that having low self-esteem and confidence can lead to depression and anxiety, so by addressing the way that we can build our own, and others’, confidence up, can lead the way in preventing mental health issues. One way of helping people who struggle with self-confidence and self-esteem is to look at their strengths, and this is what this blog post will explore today.

There are many different ways that you can look at a person’s strengths, but in general when we speak of strengths, we are talking about a person’s character and the impact this has on their day-to-day life. At the VIA Character Organisation they talk about strengths (and weaknesses) being perceived as fixed within a person’s personality - someone may be pigeonholed as kind or a bully, they may be resilient or fearful, they may be humble or self-important. Character strengths can also be reduced to a particular “good” number of traits that uphold certain values, with other traits being ignored or seen as lesser. These approaches limit what we view as a strength, and therefore they need to be reassessed and, dare I say it, discarded, for a wider, more inclusive approach to character strengths. Having said this, however, we need to be aware of what strengths mean and how they can impact on our confidence.

Strengths within ourselves are a unique mix of what makes us human. To get an idea of your strongest strengths (out of 24 carefully selected strengths) you can go to the VIA Character Organisation page and take a free survey. This survey will give you a starting point, an indication of where your strengths lie and how you can utilise them to increase your confidence and success. This awareness means that you can hone your skills and focus where you can achieve greater success.

I have done my VIA strengths survey and my top 3 strengths are:

  1. Appreciation of Beauty and Excellence
  2. Fairness
  3. Love of Learning

These three traits have appeared evident in my life, from doing my Fine Arts degree, to cultivating and standing up for diversity, but being more aware of these three strengths means that I can play to them in a more purposeful way, leading to more direct and focused achievement. Take the VIA survey and see what it reveals about you, and then think about where these strengths have been evident in your life in the past, and also think about how you can utilise these strengths in the future.

So today, take one of your strengths (one that you know of already, or pick one of your top 3 from the VIA report), and think about how you can use that strength more on a day-to-day basis. Once you have a few ways to use that strength get out there and start taking action. Each day, do something new where you are using this strength, see the impact this is starting to have, and build your confidence in your ability to be happy, content, and successful.

It's Children's Mental Health Week (#childrensmhw). Please join our campaign to improve mental health provision in UK schools. 

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Elizabeth Wright

ELIZABETH WRIGHT | TRIPLE PARALYMPIC MEDALLIST | GOAL JOURNEY COACH | AUTHOR | Since moving to the UK from Australia and starting her speaking business in response to the amazing success that was the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, Elizabeth has spoken in primary and secondary schools all over the UK. Elizabeth addresses such issues as disability, the Paralympics, goal setting, and goal achievement. Elizabeth’s story intrigues and inspires across generations, with her ability to cross between primary schools, secondary schools and corporate/business, illustrating her adaptability and passion for speaking. Elizabeth is a professional speaker who believes in the power of stories to inspire and motivate those who hear her speak.