Over the past few days I had a very ill friend staying with me. Seeing her made me reflect on a few things, but the thing I noticed most was her very low self-esteem - and it made me really sad. As women we do so much, but most of the time we take for granted everything we do.
This is for anyone with low self-esteem – here are some steps to finding yourself again.
STOP LIVING IN THE PAST
People with low self-esteem often hold on to old mistakes, replaying them in their mind again and again, wishing they could do things differently. But you can’t change the past.
The first step toward increasing your self-esteem is to forgive yourself and let go of mistakes. One way you could do this is by journaling about your mistake and destroying the pages when you’re finished. Any time you’re tempted to relive your mistakes, remind yourself that those pages of your life are gone and today is a new day.
PURSUE WORK THAT YOU ENJOY
Low self-esteem can take a toll on your ambitions. You may be stuck at a job you hate because you worry that another employer won’t want you or that you have nothing valuable to bring to another employer.
Building up your self-esteem can help you find work that you’ll enjoy. Start by looking at your current job. What do you enjoy? What areas do you shine in? Try asking your boss these questions or look at your old job reviews for answers.
If you’re in a job you hate and you can’t change it, do things you enjoy in your free time. Pick up an old hobby or look for a new one. This is a simple way to discover talents and abilities that you didn’t know you had.
JOURNAL YOUR THOUGHTS
What mistakes do you struggle to forgive yourself for?
What do you enjoy about your job? What do you dislike about it?
What projects do you enjoy working on in your spare time?
RECOGNISE ROADBLOCKS TO BELIEVING IN YOURSELF
Do you look around and feel like everyone else has a handle on life but you don't? This is a common feeling, especially in our digital age. Maybe you have a friend on Pinterest who always seems to have a clean house. But you don’t see what her house looks like when the kids have the flu and there hasn’t been time to do laundry.
Seeing your friend’s good days can leave you feeling like you’re a failure because your house doesn’t look clean all the time. When you’re on social media, you’re constantly exposed to the best side of someone’s life. You rarely see the ugly parts, too. It’s important to remember this when you’re scrolling through your news feed.
The past often shapes us and affects us far more than we realise. Negative situations in your past can make it hard for you to believe in yourself. Maybe you were in a toxic relationship with a partner who verbally abused you. Maybe you grew up with an alcoholic parent or maybe you were bullied in middle school.
Your past can be the biggest threat to your present if you don’t act. It can take a toll on your self-esteem and crush your sense of confidence. If you’ve been in a bad situation in the past, you need to re-train your thought process, and you may need the help of a therapist or life coach to help you deal with painful situations from your past that are keeping you stuck.
Are there current relationships with a dynamic that keep you questioning yourself? Sometimes, other people can undermine your sense of self-esteem. They may do it subtly by making unkind remarks and dismissing these remarks as jokes. They may discourage you from tackling a project you were excited about. They may tell you that you’re not good enough to achieve your goals.
Few things are more painful than a friend or loved one that is unkind or unsupportive. If possible, try to have a conversation with this person about their behaviour. In a healthy relationship, there’s room on both sides for honesty.
But if your loved one or friend still won’t be supportive, you should consider limiting how often you interact with them. If you do have to be around this person for some reason, try to have a nurturing activity planned for yourself later after your interaction.
Just as you can switch your iPod to a different song, you can change thoughts about yourself from negative to positive. It takes a lot of work and it doesn’t happen immediately. But as you begin to focus on your positive qualities, you’ll experience a boost in your self-esteem and find it easier to believe in yourself.
JOURNAL YOUR THOUGHTS
Who do you compare your life to? Why?
How has a past situation affected your self-esteem?
Is there someone in your life that makes you feel insecure? Who is it, and in what ways is this person crushing your self-confidence
IS IT YOUR ENVIRONMENT THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE?
ARE YOU PLAYING SMALL?
Sometimes we feel small because we're living small. This doesn’t mean that every moment of your life must be an epic adventure. But for many people with low self-esteem, it’s easy to get into a rut. You start believing that you can’t do better, so you stop trying. You create a self-fulfilling prophecy without realising it.
Look at your life right now. What limitations have you accepted without challenging them? What areas of your life have you accepted as “good enough”?
ARE YOU PURSUING NEW EXPERIENCES?
Often a lack of confidence and self-esteem can be caused by becoming too comfortable. You do the same things in the same way every single day. You don’t change things up. You don’t challenge yourself to experience new things and you don’t go beyond what’s safe and comfortable. This can cause you to stop growing as a person.
When you go beyond your normal and look for new experience, you open yourself up. You discover new ways to do things. You find solutions that you wouldn’t have come up with any other way. You learn more about yourself and the world around you.
You can find new experiences into your life just by looking for opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Try a different type of cuisine. Drive a different route to work. Volunteer at an organisation that you wouldn’t typically support. Take a weekend road trip and see where you end up.
Your environment shapes your self-confidence, so don’t be afraid to look at your life and make some bold changes. Surround yourself with people and experiences that build your self-esteem and make you happy.
JOURNAL YOUR THOUGHTS
In what areas of your life are you playing small? Why?
Look at your social circles. Do you surround yourself with positive or negative people? Which people are positive and encourage your growth?
When was the last time you tried something new? How did it turn out?
CONQUERING NEGATIVE SELF TALK
Actions follow thoughts, so your thoughts are important
If you want to change your life, you must change your thoughts first. Instead of thinking that you’re destined to be overweight, flip the script. Say to yourself, ‘I am in control of what I eat and how much I eat’. Doing this changes the story you’re telling yourself. You just went from the victim in this story to the victor.
You don’t have to be carried away by negative thoughts
You are the only one with the power to change your mental soundtrack. Just because you have a negative thought doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. You have the power to change your focus. By focusing on the positive, you’re teaching yourself to let go of negative thoughts.
Garbage In = Garbage Out
It’s hard to stay positive if you’re constantly consuming negative information. If you really want to change your negative self-talk, then focus on consuming good stuff. Read and watch content that lifts you up, and not only will you feel better, but you’ll notice that your self-talk becomes more optimistic when you focus on the good.
Practice positive affirmations
What you say about yourself becomes your truth. That’s why it can be helpful to practice positive affirmations every day. Start by looking in the mirror and telling yourself, ‘Today, I choose to be happy’ or ‘Today, I choose to fully accept myself’. When you speak these thoughts out loud they will begin to affect how you talk to yourself and how you live your life.
What are some of the negative things that you think about yourself?
How do these thoughts affect you?
Flip the script—What are three positive things about yourself that you could replace these thoughts with?
What are some ways that you're letting negativity in? How can you find more positive messages?
It's time to dream a dream
Start by dreaming. What is it that you really want to do? Think about what you’d like your life to look like if money and time weren’t factors. Would you take dance classes? Start your own business? Embrace your inner artist? Travel across the country and stop at small towns.
You can’t work toward your dreams until you’ve identified them. It’s OK to have multiple dreams. Most people are multi-passionate. They have a passion for several different things. You don’t have to pick just one thing for the rest of your life.
What does your future self want to accomplish?
It’s time to figure out what you want to accomplish. This isn’t about titles or money or fame. It’s about how you want to be remembered. How will leave your mark on the world?
Do you want to be remembered for being the sassy businesswoman that provided clean drinking water for an entire village in a third world country? Or the artist and foster mom of countless teens that didn’t have a place to go? Do you want to be the secretary that decided to go to medical school at age fifty?
What do you see as the major roadblock to making that happen?
Anticipating roadblocks ahead of time can be helpful when you’re thinking about the future. Common roadblocks might include time, money, or a lack of emotional support. You don’t have to have all the answers right now. Just acknowledge the roadblocks. By doing this, you’ll be better prepared mentally and emotionally when you encounter setbacks or problems along the way.
What does your life look like when that road back is in your rear-view mirror?
No matter who you are or what you’re trying to achieve, you will encounter roadblocks. In order to prevail over them, you must have a clear vision of your future. This vision must be strong enough to motivate you when you’re still living your ‘before’ story. If your goal is to go back to college, then imagine that moment when you walk across the stage in your graduation gown. If your goal is to start a business, imagine that moment when you get your first client. Hold onto your vision.
Dreaming about your future and planning for it can be exciting. It can also feel a little scary at times. But don’t let the fear stop you. You deserve a beautiful future filled with dreams.
What are the dreams you have that you're afraid to go after?
What exactly about your dream scares you?
What are some roadblocks that are keeping you from being your best self right now?
How do you want to leave your mark on the world? What do you want your legacy to be?
Be kind to yourself.
Christine Phillips xx