If there is one thing I would alter about my life, it would be that, as a younger person, I had more self esteem. I spent so many years worrying about how I looked, how I acted and what other people thought of me. I certainly did not value myself very highly, compared myself to others constantly, and found it hard to say no.
When there were bumps along the road, I did not deal with them very well and often over exaggerated their impact on my life. I suffered from social anxiety and, at the worst point, suffered panic attacks.
Now in my mid fifties, my self esteem is the highest it has ever been. This I suspect, is a combination of age and experience, my years of counselling training, and a fierce determination to rid myself of these areas of my life that I rightly believed were holding me back.
When our self-esteem is high, we not only feel better about ourselves, we are more resilient when bad things happen. We are also less likely to being anxious and in a constantly worried state.
Self esteem can be up or down and can change by the day…. Sometimes by the minute! It is affected by so many things and therefore is not easy to pin down often why we feel the way we do. Yes, it’s about self confidence, but also how we think we relate to others, a sense of our own worth, security and abilities, and how strong our roots and sense of belonging are.
It doesn’t have a great deal to do with talent or sucesss, but is does have a lot to do with self belief. If your self esteem is not as high as you would like, have a read of these ideas and tips to give it a quick boost!
Firstly, I would like you to consider what is affecting your self-esteem. Write down 3 things that influence it the most. If you are able to identify a particular area of your life (a job you hate, or an unsatisfactory relationship), it may help you to start changing things.
You are not your current circumstances. Your circumstances don’t define you, the way you respond to them does. Charles Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Don’t compare yourself to other people. There will always be people who are stronger, more talented, more beautiful and more clever than you. But you are completely unique …and are deserving of whatever you want out of life.
Be kind. Showing compassion and / or kindness to others is guaranteed to make you start feeling better about yourself.
Control negative thoughts. Instead of allowing negative thoughts to affect your mood, come up with a affirmation you can repeat when the negative thoughts are overwhelming. Something like, “I am good enough” or “I am strong”
Choose to be around people who love you. Supportive friends will do a lot more for your self image than negative or critical ones, even though they may tell you that they have your best interests at heart.
Learn to be assertive. Express what you want. If you don’t ask, you don’t get!
Check your thoughts versus what you know to be fact. Negative thoughts are NOT facts. Make sure you know the difference. Thoughts come and go, they don’t change your circumstances.
Set yourself a challenge. Start small, but be confident that you can achieve whatever you want, if you have the will to pursue it. Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it”
Get outside and exercise. If you are not interested in going to the gym or running, get outside and walk. Fresh air is hugely beneficial.
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” – Sharon Salzburg
Don’t jump to negative conclusions. When something bad happens, consider if there is any positive aspects that have come out of it. Even if not, there will always be a learning opportunity.
Try to avoid “I must” and “I should” Statements. There is no need to put pressure on yourself. Take things at your own pace. Life is a marathon, not a sprint!
Treat yourself. Allowing yourself treats that you enjoy is healthy and is part of caring for yourself. Cupcakes are lovely, but it could as easily be a holiday, day trip, visit to the theatre, spa visit, or a new pair of shoes!
Forgive yourself. Holding onto guilt is unhealthy. If you have regrets regarding your past, accept that worrying and fretting about them will not change the situation at all. Instead, resolve to rectify mistakes where you are able to and avoid the same traps in future. Then, draw a line and move on.
Consider what you have learned. Every day is a new learning opportunity. You have gained a vast array of knowledge and you can incorporate all your learning into your future.
Practice saying no when you don’t want to do something. We all want to be helpful and to be liked by our friends and family. But sometimes saying yes has a negative effect on us. Try and think of it as each time you say “no” to others, you’re saying “yes” to yourself. This will help establish healthy boundaries and helps others to have clarity about what they can expect from you.
Do something you love. Leisure time is invaluable and underpins your commitment to caring for yourself. Spend it enjoying yourself!
Take a moment to think before fearing the worst. Calm yourself, take a breath, count to ten, and remember that you do not have to respond immediately.
Mindfulness. Practice mindfulness, particularly to stop the overwhelming nature of negative thoughts.
Stop for a few moments every day. Close your eyes and ask yourself to be calm and breathe deeply. The world can wait for you for a few moments.
Write down what you have to be grateful for. Writing a gratitude list is wonderful for underlining what is good in your life. Review the list regularly.
Reconsider your “failures”. Rename them as learning opportunities. Note down what you learned.
Be a best friend to yourself. In times of trouble think about what your best friend would say or do to try and help. Would they really criticise and blame you?
Share your knowledge. When you have been through a difficult experience, it may help to share experiences with others who are going through the same. Sharing may be beneficial to you and makes a positive from a negative experience.
Make an effort with your appearance every day. Put on your new coat, wear those shoes you were saving and buy a new bag to replace that scuffed one. Style your hair, put some fragrance on. Make an effort. It’s harder to feel down when you know you look fantastic!
And finally….Never forget what a unique, amazing powerful individual you are ❤️
“Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And, whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” Desiderata by Max Ehrmann.
A wonderful post. My girlfriend and I were discussing this very topic last night. Our extreme shyness was something that really hindered the development of good self esteem. At least being older, I don’t have to be subjected to groups of people I don’t want to be subjected to. What a relief!
Yes I completely agree – I often wish I knew what I know now, when I was 20!
All great advice. I hope many people follow it.
Thank you very much!
That all sounds pretty sensible.
Thanks for reading Mick!
Thank you for reading