Self-esteem, or lack of it, is a subject often raised by my clients.
They want to know:
- What is Self-esteem?
- Why did I lose it?
- Where can I find it?
- How do I keep it?
Here’s how I answer these four questions-
1. What is Self-esteem?
Self-esteem is about how you value and respect yourself and your capabilities.
If you’re aware of your strengths, achievements and skills you’ll have high self-esteem. But if you constantly put yourself down, don’t believe the compliments you get and set unrealistic goals for yourself, your self-esteem will suffer.
2. How did you lose it?
Your self-esteem probably started highish’, like all the other children in the class. But a creeping series of events gradually caused it to shrink, over the years.
Perhaps you found school life hard. You believed that others were more lively, sporty, musical, numerate than you. You might have been shown up in class by a thoughtless teacher. You might have been bullies or humiliated.
Perhaps your family had too high expectations of you and compared you unfavourably to your brothers or sisters.
In other words, you got ‘negative feedback’ and after a time, you began to believe it was true.
3. Where can you find it?
The good news is it’s not lost for ever. Here are some suggestions about how to find it:
- Start small.
Set a goal that you know is realisitic
e.g. stop smoking for one hour
learn some simple recipes before moving on to more complicated ones
sort out one part of your garden.
- Give yourself some positive feedback: a reward.
I know it sounds silly but, trust me, it works!
A reward might be:
an hour to yourself,
an afternoon to read a book you’ve been looking forward to for ages,
some retail therapy,
whatever means a reward to you.
- Start to banish negative thoughts.
It’s not easy to do this when negativityis a long term habit but when you hear yourself say,
‘I could never do that…’
‘I always get it wrong’
‘I’m a hopeless cook/mum/person/dad/’
try to turn it around to, ‘
‘I think I could try…’
‘I’ll get it right this time’…
I’m sure you get my drift.
- Practise giving compliments.
See how the person beams at you when you compliment them. Notice how they react. Try to do this several times a day (OK, once if you like…). You’ll enjoy it!
Then – next time you receive a compliment,
‘Oh, this old thing? It’s only from Marks and Spencer. It’s quite old.’
Just smile and say ‘Thankyou.’
It gets easier the more you do it.
- Follow your intuition.
Do this, all the time and you won’t go far wrong.
If it feels right, then it probably is.
If you think you can achieve a new goal, then go for it.
Your intuition always acts in your best interests.
4. How do you keep it?
It won’t all happen over night.
But if you get into the new habits that I’ve described, it’ll become part of the way you naturally behave.
The secret is, consistency.
Every time a negative self- belief lurks in your mind, banish it with a positive one.
Every time you think, ‘I can’t’, remember this:
You started out the same as everyone else. They’re not better than you, simply different, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
If you really want to… you can.
‘Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.’
Header image by abyreed, post photos by starbooze and Dawn Ashley, all on Flickr.
- Adolescence and self-esteem. (psychologytoday.com)