How would your life change if your self-esteem would improve?
Have you ever asked you this question? As a person who has struggled with self esteem for the most part of my high school life, I can confidently tell you that I asked myself this question many times. As I compared myself to classmates with perfect grades and my peers with flourishing social lives, I couldn’t help but feel like I was not enough. I felt that I wasn’t clever enough, unwanted, and useless.
However, it’s also because of all of this that I can tell you just as confidently that self esteem and self compassion is something that can be learnt, and even though it looks like a long and difficult journey, you will get there!
WHAT IS SELF-ESTEEM?
If I were to put it into simpler words, self esteem would be the way you generally see yourself and your personal opinion of yourself. These opinions are shaped and moulded from what you have experienced in the past and the people that surrounded you. While these past experiences and interactions with others can be positive, such as receiving encouragement and praise, can build up your self esteem, consistent negative experiences will only lower your self esteem and paint a negative image for yourself.
The ideas we form as our younger selves are engrained so deeply in our core, they become something we genuinely believe in, something like a principle, whether positive or negative.
Before I say anything else, let me ask you something. If I were to tell you to fill in the blank to this sentence “I am…”, how would you describe yourself?
As someone with low self esteem, I put so much pressure on myself while criticising myself every step of the way. I became so bitter about the future because I thought there was no future, expecting the worst out of everything I did, but at the same time admonishing myself when I could not reach my ridiculously high standards.
SO HOW DO WE TURN THAT AROUND? There’s a few things we can do.
CHALLENGE NEGATIVE THOUGHTS
Pick something that you think is about negative about yourself, write this down and begin to challenge this statement by painting a bigger picture that includes a multitude of colours, life isn’t just black and white.
First we have understand where these thoughts come from and what they really mean to you. Was it because of something someone said to you or perhaps mistake you made that got you trouble? During that time, what were the first thoughts to run through your mind? Now that you have broken down this negative thought, let us begin to challenge it.
- Step back from the situation and imagine you are looking down at what has happened from 30,000 feet above.
- Look back at everything that’s happened from someone else’s point of view and ask, is there anything happened after that made you believe this more? What about things that have happened that show you that this thought of yours is not true? I’m sure many times over, people have shown you that you are worth it, that you are good enough, and maybe these are all things you may have overlooked.
- Finally, with all of this in mind, ask yourself, will this matter in 5 years, will this even matter next year? So, remember this 5 by 5 rule; if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend 5 minutes upset over it.
We are wired to judge everything and put thing into categories, ‘good versus bad’, ‘right versus wrong’, ‘positive versus negative’. From this, we often only absorb part of the truth and develop a distorted view of reality. Instead of saying “I am stupid and all my classmates are smarter than I am because they all received higher grades”, I want you to describe this without labelling yourself or your classmates. Recount the exact situation using facts only, look at this from a neutral perspective, don’t inject your opinion and this way you’ll be able to see the full picture of what exactly has happened.
KEEP A SELF-ESTEEM JOURNAL
To collect and organise your thoughts, a little diary next to your bed can have tremendous effects. We tend to forget positives of life easily or don’t acknowledge them in the first place. Allow yourself to build up your self esteem and allow it to grow as the days pass by. Every night before you go to bed, write down THREE POSITIVE THINGS ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR DAY.
Something I did well today …….
I felt good about myself when …
I had a positive experience with….
This way, even when you feel down, you can express your feelings or challenge your thoughts through your words, while being able to look back through the pages and truly understand how far you have come.
To continue to make a change and battle the negative voice in your head is striking your down relentlessly, don’t be scared of opening up to those around you or reaching out to a psychologist near you. In fact, the courage to open up it just proves how strong you are.
So finally, I hope that next time you say to yourself “I am…”, that it’s something positive.