One of the most important things we can achieve in life is the ability to feel good about ourselves, to feel we are worthy. To believe we are worthy. This is what self esteem is; it is our attitude towards us. It refers to what extent we like and accept ourselves.
We would all like to feel better about ourselves, to feel secure in our relationships, to feel happier each day, to be content with our life choices and satisfied with our body and image.
Low self-esteem is something that develops over many years from many factors including genetic components, how we were treated during our nurture years, bullying, our physical weight and appearance, and mental health.
People suffering with low self esteem usually depend on the approval of others to feel worthy about themselves, they seek constant approval from external sources. With this mindset we are doomed to fail, no one receives constant approval. Self esteem has to begin from within, our approval needs to come from us and when the need for external approval is overcome, it does not matter what happens around us as we are secure from within.
The great news is, there are ways we can boost our self esteem. With some patience and practice, I believe these 7 techniques can help mold the self to receive approval from our core.
Meditation is the practice of training the mind to become aware of our conscious thoughts. It is especially important when it comes to self esteem as it is our thoughts, and self talk that create our beliefs. Including beliefs related to our self worth and value. Learning to meditate can help us notice when our thoughts are beginning to travel down a negative spiral. The actual awareness of these thoughts is the biggest step to allowing us to control and recreate our thought processes. If you are not already, add a morning meditation to your life. Check out apps like Headspace or Calm for guided meditations.
Once we have developed an awareness of our thoughts. We may notice that at times we are extremely self critical. The best way to examine our inner critic is to question if you would say to a dear friend, the same things that you are allowing your inner voice to say to you. More often than not, we allow our self critic to berate us and tell us we are not good enough, or that we will fail. It is extremely unlikely that you would ever say those things to another human being, so why are you allowing your mind to speak to you that way?
Now you are aware of these thoughts, it is time to question the truth of them. If the self critic says “I always” do this or “I never” do that, is that factual? Is it REALLY the truth? If you find it difficult to do this, begin by altering the language of your self critic. Using language like “I sometimes” or “occasionally” are more honest and on the road to positive language than terms like “never” and “always.”
Everyone makes mistakes, has setbacks, and failures in life. It is all part of everyone’s journey to achieving their goals. The most successful people in the world have failed time and time again and that is how they got to where they are. To read more on changing your mindset towards failure, click here. Failing and making mistakes is how we learn and grow. Often the self critic takes over our thoughts in these times but this is when it is most important to question your thinking, be a friend to yourself. Allow that inner voice to pick you up and tell you to try again, because continually trying is how we achieve things. Remember this, “We learn from Failure, not from Success.” –Bram Stoker. Embrace the mindset that each failure is a lesson, and now you have the opportunity to continue on your journey with more experience.
“We learn from Failure, not from Success.” –Bram Stoker.
One of the most crucial components of improving our self esteem is practicing self compassion, acceptance and love. If we accept and love us, we feel good about ourselves, dissociating ourselves from any flaws and self judgments so we can accept all aspects of who we are. Self acceptance is unconditional so we have no need for external approval.
Combining some of the techniques we have already discussed, as part of your morning meditation, incorporate a mantra that is worded without judgment, that supports your personal attributes. Try phrases like; ‘I am enough, I am worthy, I am loved, I am safe, I am capable, I am beautiful, I am powerful, I am strong, I am trustworthy, I am talented, I am blessed.’ Choose 5-6 that work for you, or create your own phrases and repeat them to yourself each morning when you wake and again before you go to sleep at night.
By practicing self love and acceptance regularly, we are creating a stronger core to battle and question our inner critic and learning not to rely on any external sources to boost our mood. We are strengthening our self image so that next time something doesn’t go to plan, it will not affect our self esteem.
When we have low self esteem and begin to compare our lives to people around us, we notice that people look better, have more possessions, and have better careers. The list goes on, comparing ourselves to others with this mindset can only cause despair. This is not going to change, no matter how beautiful you are, someone in the world will always be prettier, or leaner. No matter how much money we have, someone will always have more, and have a better career. The trick here is to change our mindset in the way we compare ourselves to others. We do this by firstly noticing the other end of the scale, that we are so much better off than someone who is homeless, or physically ill, or fleeing a war torn country. By noticing this and making the comparison from this perspective, we become aware of just how well off we are in all aspects of life. Once we fully realise this, we can see that comparison to others is irrelevant. We are neither inferior or superior to others, everyone has their individual talents and stature. We can only benefit by comparing ourselves to ourselves. How have we improved today compared to the person we were yesterday? To read more on this topic, click here.
The concept of being perfect and flawless is prime ground for our self critic to take over and beat us down, telling us how much we have failed. Perfectionism has it’s benefits, it can motivate us to achieve what most people will see as unattainable goals, and the high we receive when these goals are achieved is incomparable. However, the greater our drive for perfectionism, the harder we are on ourselves when we do not accomplish these goals fully.
I suggest beginning by altering the language we use here, changing ‘perfection’ for ‘striving for excellence’. This language can help trick our brain into realising it’s a journey, we are striving for the end goal and any setbacks are only temporary.
It is important to fully comprehend that when we have setbacks, these are normal and are not diminishing our self worth, they are not caused by personal defects. Embrace setbacks as lessons as we talked about in point 3. Ensure you question your inner voice as discussed in point 2 and remember that nobody is perfect. We can only strive to be our best possible self.
“When you aim for perfection, you discover it’s a moving target.” –Geoffrey F. Fisher
Jim Rohn’s famous quote “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with,” is something we should all consider more in our lives. Unless you are an extremely resilient person that lives a very present and conscious life, the people we spend our time with affect us all. You may have noticed through different stages of your life that you adapt and become similar to those you spend a lot of time with. This is completely natural, happens progressively and to everyone. This is why it is so important to choose carefully whom you spend most of your time with. Choose people who do not compromise your integrity. If you are suffering from low self esteem, surround yourself with understanding, compassionate people who will support you and your dreams. It is your choice, if a certain individual is damaging your mindset, choose whether you need that person in your life. This may be difficult as often a parent figure or family member may be the culprit, depending on the severity of the affect they have on you, maybe creating a temporary distance until you have improved your self esteem is necessary and then limit the time you spend with them in the future unless circumstances change.
Be patient with yourself, it took your mind years to create low self esteem. However with these tools and the drive to change, we have the ability to become confident and comfortable in our own self worth.
By raising your self esteem, you will increase your happiness levels, you will feel lighter, have less worries and feel more stable in your self.
I would love to hear from you in the comments below, how these techniques work for you, and any other techniques you may use to increase your self esteem levels.
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Thank you for reading.
Love and Light