If you missed part 1, you can read it here.
I am constantly working on improving my self-esteem. It’s not something that comes easily to me. At all. Most of the time, I’ll say something nice to myself and follow it up with a dig or a “but”. Which kind of doesn’t make sense. Why give myself a compliment only to follow it up with an insult?
I don’t know. It’s just how I’ve worked for so many years that it’s almost impossible NOT to do. But when I insult myself, I give others the freedom to do the same. I really don’t like that. Being insulted hurts and further damages my already damaged thought processes. Also, the insults make me feel like the negative voices are right. And they can’t be right all the time. Right?
So every day, I battle to make them wrong. I do it following these steps:
6. Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparison is dangerous. Comparison to others is probably the worst possible thing you can do to yourself if you’re trying to improve your self-esteem. Because there will always–ALWAYS–be someone who, on the surface, seems perfect. Perfect looking, perfect job, family, social life and OMG, look at how much money they have! But you never know what’s going on beneath the surface. Maybe that person inherited that huge house because both of her parents are dead. Maybe that person with the seemingly perfect family had to work really, really hard at conceiving her children. Maybe that fancy vacation and all those parties they attend are sponsored by work on you’re only seeing pictures from her one night off. You never know what the true story is. So don’t compare yourself because what you’re comparing might not be real at all. If you find this hard to do, take a Facebook break. Because Facebook is the worst place to go if you’re working through this step. And it’s also the source.
7. Acknowledge your talent and skills. It is my belief that every single person has some sort of talent, even if it’s small or weird (like eating spaghetti with your feet). If you’re anything like me, you don’t recognize or admit what you’re good at because for some reason, it makes you feel like you’re showing off or bragging. Guess what? You’re not. If you’re good at something it’s because you were blessed with a talent and then you worked hard to get better at it. You put in time, practice, effort, and you deserve to be proud of what you can do. There is no absolute no reason to hide your talents or to let them wither away. Acknowledge them. Use them. Embrace them. Share then with the world. Or at least your family and friends. It’ll be hard at first but as you get more comfortable with sharing, you’ll gain more confidence and realize that yes, you can do this! You ARE good at (fill in the blank). And there’s no shame in being talented.
8. Rebut the argument in your head. Anyone who knows me well knows that maybe, every now and then, I like a good argument. Actually, I’ll only get into an argument or debate if I know I’m right or if I passionately believe in something. Which is why this is the hardest part of the 10 steps for me. When I’m feeling particularly down, I do my best to go all Lincoln-Douglas on myself and usually, I just wind up in a draw. It’s hard sometimes to convince myself that I’m better than I think. I’m assuming it’s hard for some of you, too. But that’s when we need to do it most. When you tell yourself something negative, you need to combat it with a positive. Or reframe the statement in a positive light. Or just stop saying negative things to yourself (it’s hard for me, too). Negative self-talk is probably the most damaging, hurtful you can say, and if you say it to yourself to make sure that no one else says it first than we’re more alike than you know. But we need to stop saying those words.
9. Create a positive environment. In the first set of strategies, I mentioned that it’s important to let go of negative influences. Well, it’s hard to do that if you’re not also creating a positive environment. If you want to feel better about yourself, you need to surround yourself with possessions–and people–that make you feel good. It’s easier to do this than it seems (well, maybe not the people part but I promise if you look hard enough, you do have people in your life that build you up instead of tear you down). You can make a vision board or photo wall. You can paint your walls colors that inspire you. If you can’t paint, chose bedding or pillows or other objects in colors that make you feel good. Have a motivational playlist. Read inspiring books. Buy clothes that make you confident in your appearance. Clean your car. One, or all, of these tasks are bricks you can lay on your path to better self-esteem. Most of them aren’t expensive, either. And it’s amazing the difference your environment has on the way you feel every day. When you’re surrounded with things that make you feel good, it’s easier to turn those feeling inward.
10. Take care of yourself. Physically. Most of what we’ve been discussing is how to take care of yourself emotionally. But a lesson it’s taken me a long, long time to learn is that if you’re going to take care of yourself emotionally, you need to take care of yourself physically. If you’re following all of the steps we’ve discussed but you’re not sleeping or exercising or showering or eating, it’s going to be near impossible to gain the self-confidence you deserve. There’s a reason this stuff is on the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of need and self-actualization is at the top. You have to fulfill your physical needs first. Also, when you’re rested and clean, that right there is a big step in improving your self-esteem. Exercise will also do that. Don’t worry if you can’t lift a ton of weights or run a marathon. Just walking a mile will make you feel like you can accomplish anything. So remember, when you’re taking care of your kids or pets or parents or whomever, to also take care of you. You’re worth it, too.
There you have it. Jana’s 10 steps to improving your self-esteem.
I’m working through them, too, and I know it’s hard. There are plenty of days I don’t want to fight with myself anymore, and I want to just give in. I want to stop the debates in my head and I want to stop working so much on something that seems to come so easily to others. Sometimes it’s easier to wallow in my flaws and insecurities and all the things that bring me down than to focus on those that lift me up. And you know what? I indulge those feeling for a few minutes (or days, even. It happens). I let myself feel bad and jealous and depressed.
Then I get over it. I go back to the steps I’ve created (and now shared with you) and work through them so that I stop feeling terrible. I select the one area that I need to focus on the most and start there. It might be small like cleaning my desk. Or it might be major like talking to someone who inspires me. But the point is, I just start. I pick myself back up and get going again.
And you can do it, too. You just have to remind yourself that you can and that you’re worth it.
Because you are.