How Can You Improve Low Self Esteem?
The world is constantly painting a picture of who we ought to be.
Thinner, better-looking, more successful, less emotional. It’s easy to get caught up in the constant struggle to be better.
The reality is, though, that the constant striving for better inhibits the ability to love ourselves in the moment. We think that if only we can get the next promotion, if only we can lose the next ten pounds, then we will be happy and worthwhile.
In truth, though, the toxic message from society that we are not good enough is poisoning our ability to self-love. Low self esteem can come in many forms, from self-deprecating humor to true self-loathing that manifests in outward cruelty.
To break the cycle of low self esteem, we must first understand it.
What is Low Self Esteem?
Your self esteem is your own self-image, your opinion of what you are worth. It encompasses how you feel about your abilities, your personality, your body, and your relationships.
Everything in your life exists within the framework of your self esteem.
When you have low self esteem, you may feel worthless, or think that you aren’t good at anything. You may push away relationships, sure that no one could possibly love you. Or you may shy away from responsibility and promotion at work because you are certain you would fail.
You must find a way to break away from low self esteem. Here are our five best tips.
1. Give Yourself a Break
We are our own worst critics. With low self esteem, every misstep suddenly becomes a major failure, every mildly awkward conversation a source of insomnia as you berate yourself.
Before anything else can be done, you must learn to give yourself room to mess up.
Perfection is unachievable by anyone. Even those we compare ourselves to, with their seemingly perfect lives, have the same moments of failure as you. You must stop holding yourself to the impossible standard of perfection.
Acknowledge that failure and mistakes are inevitable in life. Give yourself the room and the grace to mess up. Take the lessons from your missteps, and move on, refusing to allow them room in your mind.
2. Silence the Inner Voices
While we are talking about giving yourself a break, it’s also time to silence that inner critic. You know the one. The voice in your head telling you that you aren’t good enough, criticizing your every move and imperfection.
It’s time to, as the song says “Change the voices in your head/Make them like you instead.”
When you hear that voice begin to deride you for a petty mistake, immediatly tell it to stop. Say it out loud if you have to. Think of a phrase, or a centering method, to force the voice to quiet.
And while it may sound trite to just say “think happy thoughts,” the reality is that our brain is powerful, and the way we use that power determines the course of our lives.
3. Take Time for Kindness
There are two kinds of happiness in the world. The first is selfish or self-sentered happiness. It’s the happiness you get from a trip to the Bahamas or a nice dinner out.
There’s nothing wrong with that, despite its name. But it’s limited. Selfish happniess gives us a moment of joy, but doesn’t last.
Altruistic happiness, on the other hand, creates lasting joy, and helps counter low self esteem.
Now, common knowledge would have you believe that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself, and there is truth in that saying. But studies have found that activly practicing kindness, even in small ways, contributes to higher self-worth and happiness overall.
So tell a friend in the office that you like their shoes, and leave a larger than normal tip on your restaraunt tab. Practcing kindness daily may help you feel better about yourself.
4. Practice Gratitude
Often when we struggle with low self esteem, we get so caught up in what is going wrong that we forget to see what is going right.
By constantly focuising on the negative, we can warp our view of the world and ourselves, seeing only the ugliness and none of the beauty.
When you catch yourself thinking negativly about yourself, stop immediatly, and force yourself to come up with one thing you are thankful for externally, and even harder, one thing you are grateful for about yourself.
Even if the things seem small and trivial at first, they will help you see the beauty in the world and in yourself, and to mindfully be grateful for it.
5. Refuse Negative Self-Talk
Low self esteem can manifest as a constant monologue of hateful thoughts directed at yourself.
Begin, right now, refusing to be a part of it.
Give your negative self-talk a name, preferably the name of someone whose opinion you consider useless (politicians you dislike work well for this), and anytime you begin to berate yourself, imagine it is them talking.
Blow them off, refuse to give their opinion validity.
This is hard at first. When you are so used to speaking negativly about yourself, learning to love yourself again is a long journey.
And even if your first attempts at silencing the negative self-talk aren’t as successful as you would like, just refer to step one. Cut yourself a break and try again next time.
You are Not Your Low Self Esteem
The world does a good job of making you feel like you can’t measure up to its sky-high ideals. But the reality is, you are you. Imperfect, but doing your best, and a valuable, intrinsic part of this world.
Your negative feelings about yourself do not define you. They are not the real you.
You don’t have to live as a slave to your own inner monologue, and you don’t have to continue thinking you are a failure.
To take your journey to the next step, check out The Avatar® Path, a road to awakening.