February is International Boost your Self-Esteem Month, so I thought this week I would talk about just that: self-esteem.
I was always someone who suffered with shyness growing up, and a lack of confidence. Someone who always wanted to be in the background. Nevertheless it was an issue with my self-esteem which was truly holding me back. It was how I viewed myself and my abilities which had the most damaging effect, because I never felt enough to anyone anywhere. It took me until my 30s to fully get to grips with my self-esteem issues and see the bigger picture, but there are times even now when I fall back into old habits. So, this blog post is a reminder to myself as much as everyone else to why boosting self-esteem is so important.
What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is an evaluation of your own self-worth, essentially the opinion we have of ourselves.
When somebody suffers from low self-esteem it can hold them back from doing things in life they want to do, make them believe they are not capable of success, make expressing their needs difficult, make them believe other people are better or more worthy than them, make them critical of themselves and overall give people a feeling of not being good enough.
Boosting your self-esteem – especially when you have been used to feeling/thinking something for a long time – is a working progress. It takes time, patience and a lot of kindness to yourself, nevertheless here are my top tips:
- Learn to say no – When you are a yes person you are putting other people’s needs before your own and this needs to change. To boost your self-worth you need to do what feels like the best option for you, and if that means not meeting up with a friend when they want you to then that is what you should do. To begin with people may badger you because they are so used to you saying yes, but the more you do it the more authority your voice will have.
- Avoid focusing on negative experiences – Every time you think about something that has gone wrong in your life, you are emphasising the thoughts of not being good enough. The thoughts that you must be the problem or that it went wrong because of something you did. Acknowledge the event of course, but then leave it where it belongs: in the past.
- Stop comparing yourself to others – One of the worst things you can do when it comes to self-esteem is compare your life to others (guilty as charged!). We are all on different paths at different times juggling different challenges, therefore how can your life be exactly the same as someone else? Living with chronic illness, it is hard not to see other people your age and see where they are in life in comparison to you – so don’t! Avoid social media searching and finding reasons to believe other people are better than you, instead focus your energy on yourself.
- Learn about yourself – Rather than criticising yourself, why don’t you praise yourself and write down the positives in your life. Having low self-esteem can mean you have spent so long beating yourself up that you probably don’t really know yourself at all. What are you good at? What are your hobbies? What have you achieved? We all have things in life to be proud of no matter how small. By learning about yourself, it can remind you why you are good enough and change your opinion of your self. Read my post on gratitude lists for more ideas here.
- Understand there is no thing such as perfect – The reality of life is nothing can be perfect all of the time, if ever at all. By holding high standards of where you think you should be or who you should be like, you are always setting yourself up to fail. Then when you fail you are confirming to yourself that you are not good enough and reinforcing your low self-esteem. Realising life is a learning curve in which you can only do your best in and that no situation will ever be 100% will help you regard your worth.
I hope you find these tips helpful – I for one will be reminding myself of a few of these things again. If there is anything you take away from this Boost your Self-Esteem Month make sure it is this: Know your worth and that you are good enough no matter what.