Self-esteem is not a hot and sexy topic. Not even close. I know people don’t love to talk about their self-esteem in front of others, but I’m passionate about it.
Self-esteem is defined as confidence in one’s own worth or abilities. Have you ever noticed how prevalent low self-esteem is among the general population? I have. I have also grown to understand there is a lot we can do to change that. Once we become comfortable in our skin, our self-esteem can soar.
I used to have low self-esteem and all the accompanying characteristics. Then one day I began to ask myself why. Why do I feel this way? This one question inspired more than 10 years of studying low self-esteem and strategies to increase it. It consistently remained a focus for me for more than a decade.
My increased esteem has changed my life in ways I never could have imagined. People responded to it. Situations responded to it. Life responded to it. My relationships improved (or ended), my opportunities multiplied, and my joy and inner peace grew.
Most people don’t think about self-esteem. It’s not usually on their radar. But what a role it plays in our lives. We wear low self-esteem on us like a garment that everybody can see. I think it’s time we pay attention to it. So let’s start now. This does take a bit of practice, but once you implement these strategies, you will instantly begin to notice changes in your life.
- Accept thoughts, emotions, and sensations as they are
Do not judge them. They are neutral and do not define who we are. They rise up within us and can be released through the body and mind. They are fleeting in nature and can also be changed.
- Eliminate “should” from your vocabulary
“Should” comes from a place of judgement. Examine your beliefs, especially around your “shoulds.” Question them. What happens when you turn your “shoulds” into “coulds?” Does it open up other options or encourage less judgement?
- Do not rely on other people to provide you your sense of worth
They will inevitably disappoint. We have to internalize our power and make ourselves the only wielder of it. No label, position, or relationship can give us worth. Those are external factors. We have to ensure that if something or someone is removed from our lives, our esteem will remain intact.
We need to forgive ourselves for our past wrongdoings. Shame, regret, and guilt sabotage our self-esteem and self-worth. We often find it easier to forgive others, but we must apply this compassion to ourselves as well.
- Take stock of your talents
Everybody has a gift or calling in this world. In fact, each of us have many different abilities that help others. We must identify these. If we are unsure of what these abilities are, start small. What small things are we good at? Enjoy? In what ways do we make other people’s lives better? Celebrate these; they are the very things that make us feel worthy.
A word of warning for those working on their self-esteem: People in your life who have low self-esteem will begin to take notice. They may become threatened and uncomfortable with your progress toward self-acceptance. It is important that you don’t let this derail you. Be mindful of people who are unsupportive or think you are becoming full of yourself. There is a big difference between arrogance and healthy self-esteem. You can be a shining example to them by revealing what healthy self-esteem looks like. They can see the positive effects it has in all areas of life.
Remember, strong self-esteem means being comfortable with who we are, quirks and faults included. It recognizes our abilities and strengths, and knows the value and worth they provide in this world. It is very common to experience backlash from others when we make big strides in our personal growth, especially in codependent relationships. We must be prepared to cut loose the people who do not support us in our emotional growth. If it’s not appropriate to end the relationship, we can hold awareness of our personal issues versus theirs. Some people may in fact be supportive and encouraging, and use your growth as inspiration for their own. These are the people you want to keep close.