How to Banish Low Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
I'm always surprised to learn which of my friends suffer from low self-esteem. It's always the most beautiful, successful, put together women that are affected the most. While I'm sure there are lots of personal reasons behind these feelings, we also live in a society where we are constantly shown the ways we are not good enough to be whatever it is we want to be. That sh*t takes a toll.
Recently, I was in an appointment with a therapist and she asked me what feelings I struggled with the most.
While I've found it hard verbalize for a lot of my life, I've recently realized that what I feel is that I am not enough.
And how could I be? We, and I mean all people but especially women, are supposed to be everything these days. How could I be enough? And since I'm not enough, how could I possibly be worthy of success and having my dreams come true?
This is a problem.
And as a result of this problem, there is a lot of self-sabotage that goes on which prevents us from succeeding because we do not feel worthy.
But I've got news for you. You are worthy. Of happiness, of success, of love. We all are. And we are all capable of accomplishing amazing things in this life.
You will always be your own worst critic.
I mean, I sure as hell am. We are more unkind to ourselves than any other person could ever be to us, and that, too, takes a toll. So it's very, very important that we take care of our mental health and try as best we can to show ourselves a little kindness.
Now, if you're like me, this won't be easy. I don't mean to brag, but I am so good at being mean to myself. I might be the best. But I'm working on it. And I've put together a few of my secrets for just. . . feeling better about being me. These tips have helped me to start to overcome my feelings of unworthiness and chart a course towards a more positive life.
Get the f*ck away from social media.
When my husband and I broke up for a couple of years in 2010, the best thing I did was to get the hell away from Facebook (this was before I was using Twitter very much and before I even knew Instagram was a thing). And you know what? I felt like I had privacy for the first time in a long time. It was reassuring and comforting to feel that I had a curtain I could close when I was feeling so exposed. And studies have shown that social media plays a huge role in low self-esteem. While the intellectual mind knows that people are just putting on a show and everyone else's life is not soooo much better than yours, the emotional mind just sees everyone else living a much better life. So get away from that. Read. Watch TV. Go for a walk. Just unplug from online and give yourself a f*cking break.
Learn to say NO.
Being a people pleaser myself, I understand that this is a hard one to put into practice. But you'll find that the more you try to please people with saying "yes" all the time, the more you will fail to meet expectations because you're pushing yourself too far.
Take care of yourself.
Put good food in your body, not just food that tastes good. Exercise. Meditate. Self-esteem starts with self love. And if you're feeling your best, you'll love yourself more, which means you can love others more. Practice the Golden Rule (Treat others as you wish to be treated). You'll see that reflected back at you most times. (But not all the time. Some people are dicks.)
Rewrite your narrative.
This one is straight out of the therapy playbook. In order to start feeling better about yourself, you need to think better about yourself. But Amy, it's so much easier to focus on what I don't like about myself. Yes, I know. But it's not doing you any favors. Do you love your curly hair? Tell yourself that. Love your gray eyes? Stare at them for a minute in the morning. Tell yourself you're beautiful and maaayyyybe you'll start to listen. Everyone has flaws and everyone has stuff they hate about themselves. Even Beyonce. I know you think I'm lying, but it's true. Stop obsessing about flaws. Everyone has theirs. The key is embracing your flaws and starting to feel good about them. Once you begin radiating that positive energy, it'll land on other people and make them feel better about themselves.
Stop wearing a mask.
I made a decision recently to start being myself around people. Allow me to explain. When I would enter into new social situations where I felt uncomfortable, I used to make myself into a person who. . . I guess I thought people would like more. I was quiet, more reserved, and, well, kind of boring. That ship has sailed. And yes, it's uncomfortable being myself when I first meet a new person, especially after years of putting on this "first impression persona." But I'd rather be rejected for who I really am than for whatever this mask I put on is. And you know what? For the most part, people respond much more positively to me when I am actually myself. And I'm much more memorable. And it feels so much better.
Listen, I know I keep harping on this, but journaling is a great tactic for healing just about every self-esteem ailment. When I journal and physically get the thoughts out of my body, I feel so much better. But there's an added tactic that should be added in here: journaling in a positive manner, such as through bullet journaling, can be a huge boost to your self-esteem over time. Also, gratitude journaling is amazing for your self-worth. Try writing down some stuff about yourself that you're grateful for. Maybe you have strong legs that allow you to work out hard. Or perhaps you have great vision that allows you to see without glasses or contacts (I'm super jealous of that one). Write some positive affirmations: I am enough, I am smart, I am beautiful. If you write it enough, you'll start to believe it.
Women especially need to hear this one. I hear myself apologizing so much during the day, for things that I have no business apologizing for. If someone bumps into me, I apologize. If someone asks me for something ludicrous that they have no business asking me for, I find myself saying, "I'm sorry, but. . . " That behavior permeates our psyche like a plague, and we find ourselves feeling apologetic for things that aren't our fault. The negativity breeds an inferiority complex and a vicious cycle begins. And the worst part is, for a lot of people it's ingrained so hard into us that it's a super difficult habit to break! The next time something happens that isn't your fault and you feel an "I'm sorry" start to slip out, zip it, stand your ground, and breathe.
When your self-esteem starts to rise, the people in your life who don't support you won't be important anymore And whenever I do it, I'm surprised by who I realize should not be in my circle. People who are negative, people who use you for their own personal gain without giving anything back, those are the people that will stop interesting you. These people are parasitic; they feed on others' energy to feed their own egos. And you don't need them. When you realize your own self-worth, you will also realize who in your life doesn't see it – and get them out, stat.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, provides a self-worth boost quite like helping another person. Lend a hand to a friend in need. Go volunteer at a soup kitchen or an animal shelter. Do something bigger than yourself to contribute to society. When you stop focusing so much on your own problems and start seeing a little bit of the bigger picture, your life might not seem as insurmountable as you thought.
Be a beginner.
You know what's fun? When you first start learning something. Whether it's a new language, a musical instrument, a new skill – think about the first day that you start learning something new. Try to take those feelings with you into every day and see things with fresh eyes.
I have a hugely hard time with this. As an impatient person in general and nostalgic to boot, I spend a lot of my time a) looking toward the future and b) reminiscing about the past. I can tell you, that doesn't do me any good. I also have a terrible habit of replaying things in my head that I did wrong 150 years ago that I would have liked to have done a different way. And while as a psychological exercise, this is useful, it doesn't make me feel great in the moment. Meditation helps with this. Breathe, focus, and think about what you have going on right now, what you can help right now, what you can do to better yourself right now. You'll be a lot happier.
Guilty as charged on this one. Plus I'm a Scorpio, so I'm great at isolating myself. This is a huge, huge issue for a lot of people who struggle with their self worth. You push other people away because you're afraid to get too close, afraid you'll let them down, afraid you'll let your guard down and they'll hurt you. So if you have a tendency to do this, try waiting 24 hours before you send that email or make that phone call or shut someone out of your life. You deserve their love, and they deserve yours. Don't isolate yourself. If you're lucky, people who really love you won't let you push them away.
Give yourself a break.
This harkens back to what I said at the beginning – we feel so much like we need to be everything all the time, and it's an impossible standard to live up to. Give yourself permission to fail once in a while. Wallow in it, learn from it, and then move on. And when it happens, give yourself permission to be okay with it – it happens to everyone.
Love yourself. Remember, you are worthy. You are loved. "You is smart, you is kind, you is important." The one person who really needs to believe that about you. . . is you. 😉
Does your self esteem need a boost?
Try taking the 30-Day Self-Care Challenge! This challenge is all about taking just a little time out of each day to learn to love yourself.