If you asked me who my biggest critic in life is, I would ponder back and forth through names before ultimately landing on the obvious. Myself!
I used to worry about every little thing in my life:
What if I did something that made that person not like me?
What if I make a mistake and my employer gets mad at me?
I’m not good enough for this.
I’m not good enough for that.
My stomach is too squishy and un-toned.
I shouldn't make the decision on that, because what if I make the wrong one?
I would take criticism to heart and knock myself down. Quite frankly, it was mentally exhausting and heightened my anxiety even more.
Stepping back and tuning into what my mind was trying to convince me, was the first step to realizing that I was suffering from a bad case of low self-esteem – and I'm not the only one.
Self-esteem refers to the way we perceive and value ourselves, based on our beliefs. It could almost be considered a ‘learned behaviour’ – if you continuously think negative thoughts about yourself and your worth, it’s likely you will fall into a dark hole of low self-esteem which becomes increasingly difficult to claw your way out of.
Having periods of low self-esteem is more common than you think and many people experience it at different levels. Whilst changing the way you think about yourself can seem like an impossible mission, there are small steps that you can take to help break your negative thought patterns and restore your self-esteem.
This can be easier said than done, as it’s human nature to strive to be liked by others and it’s easy to think someone else's opinion holds more value than your own. However, once you stop living your life based on what other people think of you and your actions, your life will become easier. Prioritize what is best for you and your life and sit back and watch yourself flourish.
When you’re scrolling through social media it’s difficult not to compare your life to what you see on your screen. Seeing a well-toned model, a successful business man/woman or an old friend celebrating moving into their new home can distort your mind and diminish your self-esteem. It’s important to be aware that everyone takes life at a different pace and just because you’re on a different chapter to others, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s also worth remembering that the social media snapshot of an old school friend looking happy on the beach, is just one day in their life, and is not a true reflection of how they feel on a day-to-day basis.
When we’re battling with low self-esteem, it’s easy to focus on our weaknesses, as opposed to our strengths. Whilst it’s helpful to be aware of your weaknesses so you can develop them over time, appreciating your strengths can really help to grow your confidence, self-esteem and self-worth.
Some ways to help focus the mind on your strengths are: writing them down in a journal (or on the Feelmo app) and revisiting the journal regularly, especially at times when your self-esteem is lacking. Listen to and accept compliments from others and take pride in yourself as you start putting those strengths into practice.
Pushing yourself and going beyond your comfort zone can be one of the most daunting things in life. It’s easy to stay in our bubbles and watch life go by, however, occasionally doing things that take you out of your comfort zone can help to build your confidence. It'll show you that you can do it and ultimately, this will boost your self-esteem. Whilst pushing yourself may initially be stressful, this can often be ‘positive’ stress that helps drive you to new experiences and challenges.
Improving your self-esteem is a journey. Taking small steps at a time can progressively help you recognise your self-worth and build resilience. Remember to be kind to yourself, live life for yourself and take the plunge out of your comfort bubble along the way. You may eventually find that life outside that bubble is not quite so scary and is actually, quite good!