Struggeling to build self-esteem and understading what it is? I can help.
Have you ever wandered what self-esteem is and how to be more sure of yourself? I gotta tell you, this has been my goal for years. I’ve seen therapists, read tons of self-pelp books and eaten a lot of hotdogs in the process. But now I finally figured it out. So if you’re interested in knowing what self-esteem actually is and how you can build it. Then keep reading.
What is self-esteem?
Alright, so what is self-esteem exactly?
It’s kinda sounds like something you only learn in school and then never have to use it again. But to put it simple:
I want you to think back to a time when you were in the dressing room at Forever 21, and tried on a silky blouse. It revealed the exact amount of curves but still didn’t show too much. You’re thinking to yourself “Man, I look like a hawt piece of ***”.
But when you got home, you doubted your decision because “what if no one else is going to like it?“
So you put it on the next day going to work and your worst nightmare happened. No one commented on your clothes. The compliments you were hoping for didn’t come and you started feeling a knot in your stomach.
You panic and think “Oh gosh, what if it’s because everybody thinks my clothes are ugly? I knew I shouldn’t have gotten this piece!”
So what happened when you didn’t get approval of yourself? Any guesses?
Because no one approved of your new clothes, you felt out of place and unsure of yourself. You weighted your self-worth in whether people liked your clothes or not.
This is the opposite of having good self-esteem.
Having self-esteem is knowing that you’re enough without relying on other peoples approval.
It’s knowing that it’s okay to hear crickets after you tell a joke (this happens to me a lot). That doesn’t mean that you’re stupid.
It’s being sure of yourself in your new suit no matter if anyone gives you complements or not.
Why is self-esteem important?
The other day I was in the elevator with a guy who made me really uncomfortable. Not because he did anything weird. But because he looked like he had stepped straight out from the cover of Men’s health magazine.
Straight away my thoughts started going crazy. “Does my hair look good enough? Do I have spinach from breakfast stuck in my teeth? I bet I smell like a truckdriver from my bike ride over here”.
I went from feeling great about myself to feeling like a total looser going from 1st floor to 6th in the elevator.
This is a great example of why self-esteem is important.
Because it plays a big role in how you see yourself. It’s important that you believe that you’re good enough despite outside circumstances. Because if you don’t, it can either make or break your day.
It can also play a big role in how many chances you’ll take in your life. It’ll be the factor that can decide whether you’ll go for your dreams or ignore them out of fear.
Think back to a time when you thought about something you wanted to do. But instead of going for it. You got scared and thought “I could never do that”.
That’s your low self-esteem holding you back. Because what would be at stake if you tried and failed? Your reputation? Or dignity?
Many weigh other peoples opinions higher than their own. They’re either scared of rejection or if others think negative things about them. This is a huge factor that might hold you back from achieving your dreams.
That’s why I personally think having self-esteem is crucial if you want to live a life you love. Where you reach your goals and you’re not held back by your fear of failing.
You’ll believe in yourself regardless of other peoples opinions.
What are signs of healthy and low self-esteem?
Knowing the signs to both healthy and low self-esteem can be really helpful when you’re trying to identify if you have either or.
Here are some signs of having healthy self-esteem:
- Staying true to yourself even if you disagree with someone else.
- Knowing that you’re enough despite someone else being upset with you.
- Going after your dreams regardless of what others might think.
Here are some signs of having low self-esteem:
- Agreeing with everybody else in a conversation, even though you disagree.
- Having the need for approval from others in order to feel good enough.
- Holding yourself back because you’re scared what others might think of you if you don’t.
How to build self-esteem?
Now to the fun stuff!
Improving your self-esteem can seem like an impossible task and who wouldn’t rather watch netflix?
But it’s totally doable and it’s about time, right?
WARNING: It will requite some soul-searching and to stop avoiding your feelings (by watching 25 episodes of Game of Thrones).
Alright, so where do you start? By figuring out where the negative self-beliefs you have about yourself comes from.
What is the root cause?
Low self-esteem can come from a couple of different places. I’ll list some of them for you
1. The first place to look for the root cause is in your childhood. When you were born, you instinctively knew that you needed to be loved to survive. By spending time with your parents, you slowly found out what behaviors made them happy and what didn’t. It didn’t take you long to figure out that your mom didn’t like it when you broke her vase. Or that your dad
I know you might be thinking. “How did this give me low self-esteem?”. When your life mission is to please someone in order to be loved, you automatically change yourself. You suppress some sides of your personality because you feel like there isn’t space for it. That’s when you develop low self-esteem.
2. Another factor can be if you grew up in a family with parents who spend more time telling you what you’re bad at instead
3. If your parents or other family members didn’t bother spending much time with you because they were too caught up in their own hobbies or work. This could make you feel like you weren’t good enough and why they found more value in doing their own thing than spending time with you
4. Low self-esteem doesn’t have to only come from your parents. If you were teased in school for something specific it can affect the way you view yourself.
What excises can I do to build self-esteem?
No matter how uncertain you feel about yourself, you’re never a lost cause and there are plenty of things you can do right now to build your self-esteem.
1. Keep tract of negative thoughts
The conflicts you have with yourself is often something you tell yourself in your mind. You’ll believe what you think, so if you think negative thoughts about yourself all the time, this is a great place to start. Please, please, please invest in a journal, so you can write down your negative thoughts. This is in my opinion the best way to help you become aware of your thought patterns. Then you can start seeing if there’re any negative recurring thoughts.
2. Give yourself love and attention
Your inner child is the core of who you are. It’s the person you were born to be. When you were a kiddo, it was your parents job to make sure you didn’t eat oreo’s all day and got enough sleep at night. Now this is your job.
Unfortunately many of us isn’t that good at practicing giving ourselves the love and care that we deserve. If your parents didn’t give you a good foundation of love then it might be harder to learn how to tread yourself with love and kindness. There might be some scars from the past that needs heeling or something that’s holding you back from beliving that you deserve love.
If you’re kinda lost and don’t know how to figure out where to start. Then a good starting point is using your results from your journal. Watch out for the patterns of negative self-beliefs and see if you can see any ‘Themes’.
These are the thoughts that needs all of your love and attention to heal.
You can imagine yourself as a child or find an old picture of you to truly re-connect with yourself. Now imagine that you’re holding the child (aka yourself) and tell yourself “I love you for everything that you are. you are enough and you deserve all love in the world”. This may feel strange at first but keep trying, because if you do, you’ll slowly but surely start finding love for yourself again and you’ll heal from within.
3. Learn how to forgive yourself
Forgiveness is the best gift you can give yourself. Maybe you carry something around from childhood or another time in your life that you feel bad about. You might have accedentilly said something mean to a friend or yelled at your mother. It might go deeper than that and have to do with feeling bad about not spending more time with a loved one who has passed. Whatever it is, it’s time to let it go.
I want you to write a letter to yourself and say “I forgive you (name). You did the best you could and that is good enough. Let go of all self hatred and anger. You deserve piece”.
You can write anything you specifically need to forgive yourself for. Maybe it’s a specific situation or time in your life you need forgiveness for.
You might need to re-write the letter several times, and that’s okay.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others
I’m sure you’ve head this a million times before, but comparing yourself to others is like drinking soap. It tastes nasty and gives you a stomach ache. You’v got to realize that your situation doesn’t change by comparing your life to someone else. It only slows it down and makes it more painful. You have nothing to do with other people. You’re not raised the same way, you don’t have the same genes or the same talents. It makes absolutely no sense to compare yourself with someone else.
You’re only allowed to compare yourself with you! I know I sound like your mom now, telling you what to-do and not to-do. But comparing yourself to someone else is like comparing yourself to gum-balls. Gum-balls are great. They taste good, they have pretty colors. They don’t get wrinkly with age. Why don’t you compare yourself to them? That sounds like some tough competition.
Because that wouldn’t make any sense right? You have nothing in common with gum-balls. That’s why you don’t have anything in common with the skinny model in the magazine, who’s photoshopped and cried all the way to work because she got dumbed by her high school boyfriend.
Related reading: How to build self-confidence and believe that you’re good enough
Now, I’d love to hear from you. What resonated with you the most and why? Was it the gum-balls…?
Leave a comment below and let me know.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with me.
With great love,