Last week I raised the issue of low self esteem not being treated seriously enough in society, and to follow on from that, today I'm providing some guidance on ways to boost your self esteem. If you suffer from long term low self esteem, it can be seriously limiting, holding you back from doing things you really want, and creating barriers in your relationships. It can also put your life in danger, as discussed previously.
On the whole, long term low self esteem often stems from an event, or events, in your past that have bruised your confidence and made you doubt your self. If you were bullied as a child, not given the support you needed growing up, made a mistake or hurt badly in a relationship, it can leave nasty scars on the view you have of yourself. Do you really want these past traumas to dictate the rest of your life?
I've worked with hundreds of people in different settings to help them boost their self esteem, and feel more confident in striving towards a new life. Here's how I did it:
Mindfulness- Low self esteem is often linked with a mindset that is stuck in the past, reliving some painful situations and believing them to be true now. To combat this, try using some Mindfulness practices and live more in the now. Focus your attention on what you are doing well at this time in your life. Look not only at your physical appearance, but your personality too, and identify things you are actually happy with. You have likely overcome some difficult struggles in your life, but do you ever give yourself credit for that? In order to beat low self esteem, you have to start by praising yourself for the things you have done well, and looking for things you like.
View your self esteem as a work in progress- You won't wake up one day and feel good about yourself if you've spent years hating who you are, but it can be nurtured. Take small steps every day to gradually increase your confidence. Set yourself small and achievable tasks that will help you gain self appreciation such as taking a multi-vitamin every day, or growing some plants from seed and feeling proud when you have nurtured something to life. Whatever you do, make it manageable but productive.
Treat your mind and body with respect- Your mind may be your worst enemy right now, but it's the only mind you've got, and you need it to work for you. If your car doesn't work, kicking the hell out of it isn't going to do any good, so why would this work for your confidence? It's the same for your body, it's never going to get you where you want to be in life if you don't start taking care of it. Learning to give yourself a break physically and mentally is hard, but it's worth it. If you don't like something about yourself, carrying this with you won't make life any better. It means nothing if someone else says they've forgiven you, or if they say you look nice if you don't believe it yourself, so it's time to start respecting what you've been given and make the best of it.
Try some guided visualisation- I previously wrote a post on how to give your positive thoughts the spotlight amongst all the hate in there, so why not give it a try? You can find it here.
Talk to someone about how you feel- Low self esteem may be a battle you've hidden for a long time, and it's often not as obvious as you think. We become masters of putting on a 'front' to others, because we don't want them to think we're 'weak' or 'pathetic' (not that having low self esteem is weak or pathetic at all), and other people can't support us if they don't know. They will more than likely be able to relate as well, as we all have things we don't particularly love about ourselves. If you feel you don't have anyone you can talk to, look at what is available online. My previous post about e-counselling options includes lots of free resources that can put you in touch with someone who can help.
Make notes- A great excuse to buy a cute notebook, writing a confidence journal can be a great way of taking small steps every day. If you focus your attention every evening before you go to bed on something you did well that day, you will start to notice more and more good things about yourself. Make it a regular reflection and you'll notice you do those good things all the time, which should show you that you're not that person you thought you were after all. And when you're having a bad day, read back over your past entries and give yourself some credit.
Do something you are proud of- Reaching out to help other people is a fantastic way of boosting your own self esteem, and is a great way of focusing your attention on something other than your perceived short-comings. Volunteer for a local charity, help support someone you know who needs a boost, do good deeds for others, and you'll find the benefits far out weigh the effort you put in. In all my work, we encourage group members who have finished the programmes to become peer mentors, providing support to others going through the same experience and giving back what they had gained. The results in their confidence was inspiring, and proves that doing something for someone else is perhaps one of the best ways of changing your own life.
The most important thing to remember is that you don't have to 'learn to live' with low self esteem, and that even if you hate everything about yourself right now (as a lot of people I've worked with have), it can change. I've seen men and women at their lowest point blossom into confident and inspiring advocates for change, living their lives for themselves and respecting who they are and liking themselves. Don't underestimate the damage low self esteem can have, and make it a priority to do something about it.
If you need some support, please contact us. We'd love to hear from you and help out more if we can.