Confidence and self esteem (part 2)
Updated: Aug 31, 2020
Self-esteem is a complex and subjective topic that relates to our value of self and our perception of our belonging within a wider context.
Low self-esteem can stem from a variety of life experiences and factors, but almost always relates back to the messages we give ourselves about "what we should be" or "who we are" .
It effects our decision making, our ability to create and maintain boundaries, assert ourselves, to move beyond mistakes and partake in new things. it also detracts us from being able to view ourselves fairly, to see our strengths and causes us to falsely believe that we are not good enough.
Challenge the messages
"I'm so stupid" "I'm such a chunker" "I hate my freckles" "I should be quicker than this"... the records that play on repeat that tell you, you are not good enough! Sound familiar? Well, many people would tell you, that you should tune those messages out and although this is true, it is important in the first instance to acknowledge exactly what messages you (on a subjective level) are giving yourself. Think about where they originally come from and if they are even yours!? Often we receive messages about ourselves from the expectations and words of others, be it through unkindness, cultural beliefs, or even misaligned care, that we then assimilate as our own voice.
Say it again
Would you say those same messages to a child or your best friend? When we offer ourselves these negative messages, that is exactly what we are doing. We pick on our emotional core, our own vulnerabilities, which taps into our "child self"... it's a little like bullying your inner child. Imagine yourself as a child. What would you like that child to hear? What would be a more realistic or nurturing messages?What words would help that child to grow and flourish into the best version of themselves? Learning to reframe these messages into caring and constructive ones, will go a long way to helping with self-esteem. I am not going to lie, this is very challenging and many of us have had years of practice with self deprecation. Therefore don't expect this technique to work over night...it will take time but it's worth it.
I can be my best me
There is only one you. How amazing is that! One uniquely gifted, individual who nobody else will EVER get to be!! In the same token, you will never be anyone else.
Comparing ourselves, our lives, our skills and attributes to others, or to a version of ourselves that once existed, usual detracts us from focusing on what we, as incredible individuals can offer in the now.
Learn about you. Focus on what you want, what you don't want and what you value as important. Concentrate on what you can do, (not what you can't) and solidify your concept of self. Doing this will help to empower you and create boundaries, increase assertiveness and growth, as well as build self-esteem.
Oh, and don't be afraid to push yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things. You may surprise yourself with what hidden talents you have.
Self esteem comes with self care
TREAT YOURSELF AS SOMEONE YOU VALUE. I have touched on this with how we talk to ourselves but self care is so much more. It is saying no, it's taking time out for yourself, it's nourishing yourself physically, mentally and spiritually, (whatever that means for you) its not tolerating bad treatment from others...the list goes on. Doing things that mean you see yourself as equal to those around you and taking time to put yourself first when you need to is vital. Self care is also avoiding things that seek to sabotage you and that you will later beat yourself up for.Which leads me onto my next point...
Blame and shame
These horrible little gremlins, ear-worm us all as children. It is one thing to know you did something bad but another thing to say you are a bad person because of it. Blaming and shaming has never proved as a useful tool to draw the best out of a person. As Brene Brown says:
"shame corrodes the part of us that believes we are capable of change"
Therefore accept you did something daft/wrong/that meant you failed, but never accept that you ARE stupid/wrong/a failure. Again talk kindly to yourself, accept that mistakes happen and move forward with care and empathy for yourself.
Accept compliments and celebrate yourself
Another insight to my world, I used to be terrible at accepting compliments! "Nice dress!" "ah this old thing, it was only a tenner from Primark" (er, I think the answer I was looking for was thank you!?!).
We often spend so much time listening to the worst and merely hearing the good...time to switch it up! Listen to the compliments, absorb and relish in them, then when you have a moment of self doubt recall them, the same way that you might be recalling negative messages about yourself. Soon enough they may become your new internal dialogue.
Also it is OK to celebrate yourself! its good practice...if your aren't your own cheerleader what invitation are you extending to others on how they can treat you?
It isn't a quick fix
If you have low self-esteem, you have probably spent many years embedding this belief system. This means it is heavily enmeshed and may take time to break apart and replace.
Self-esteem issues are also very subjective and could relate to trauma or life changes. If you are suffering from low self-esteem which is effecting your mental health, professional help may be beneficial in creating opportunity to explore the origins of this trauma or low self worth and to reframe any negative belief system.
The techniques I have written about, have proven effective in raising self-esteem, however, in some cases the underlying causes of these belief systems may also need addressing.