I often get asked by my clients “How do I become more confident? My self-esteem is low. How can feel better about myself?”
It is difficult always to feel good about ourselves. It is next to impossible. I completely, agree!
So what do we do?
While no one can feel confident all the time, there is a solution!
In this article, we will explore how we can keep our self-esteem high even when we are not feeling so great about ourselves.
Sounds contradictory? I promise that towards the end of this article this statement will start making sense.
Over the next few minutes, we will find out what self-esteem is, test our self-esteem, and go over concrete tips for how to strengthen our self-esteem.
Let’s begin with defining self-esteem.
Wikipedia’s definition: “self-esteem reflects a person’s overall subjective emotional evaluation of his or her own worth. It is a judgment of oneself as well as an attitude toward the self.”
Personally, I like a shorter definition.
I define self-esteem as the relationship you have with oneself. Most importantly, how you talk and treat yourself behind the closed doors.
Ask yourself right now, are you kind and fair to yourself? Do you talk to yourself respectfully in your thoughts?
Do you apply the same compassion and understanding to yourself as you do to others?
Or do you bully yourself? Use name calling and berate yourself?
For some reasons, most us have this clear double standard that it is ok for us to be mean to ourselves, but for others.
Test your self-esteem!
A good self-esteem test for that is to ask yourself: “Would I let a complete stranger talk to me like I talk to myself in my mind?”
If the answer is “Yes,” then most likely you are a great and supportive friend to yourself.
And if the answer is “No,” it means you have been treating yourself rather badly!
So badly that if a stranger approached you and said the things you are thinking out loud, you would want to get away from them asap.
Our low self-esteem comes from us treating ourselves in a mean and cruel way.
This is good news!
Because changing how we treat ourselves is something that is concrete! It implies talking to yourself with respect, consideration and applying compassion and empathy.
It is something most of us already do in relationship with others. You are just not used to extending this treatment to yourself.
You already have the ability and skill to do it! And that’s the fantastic news!
Now, I know it’s not easy!
It is important to highlight that it will take some time and practice to change how we treat ourselves. If you have been treating yourself badly for most of your life, it is best not to expect overnight success.
Think about it as changing a habit.
Just like when you start anything new, expect that rebuilding your self-esteem by treating yourself nicely might feel uncomfortable and ‘unnatural’ at first.
Please remember that learning to drive or starting an exercise routine can also feel uncomfortable and ‘unnatural.’ With time, self-respect will become second nature to you!
Here are the steps to get you started to raising your self-esteem:
1. Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself.
Do you call yourself names or bury yourself in the ‘should’ statements? There are many dysfunctional ways of thinking that we all can get caught up in. Avoid the common thinking traps listed here.
2. Challenge your thoughts!
Ask yourself “Would I say this to a friend?” If not, follow up by asking “What would I say to a friend?”
3. When talking to yourself, use third person pronouns.
For example, instead of saying “I can manage this situation,” say “Sarah, you can handle this situation.”
Now, I understand that this sounds a bit silly, but neuroscience research shows that this is a very effective strategy.
It creates a psychological distance between a stressor and yourself. This distance makes things feel more manageable and promotes self-control and more clear thinking. To dive more into the science behind this, click here.
Let’s get back to that contradiction I mentioned earlier,
Yes, we can have a solid self-esteem, and still at times not feel good inside. It ‘s okay to be hurt or feel upset at times. Feeling confused does not mean low self-esteem.
This is very important,
Feeling hurt or upset does not mean that you are bad. Feeling uncomfortable does not imply that there is something wrong with you!
A feeling is just a feeling.
If your friend is upset, you don’t jump the gun and tell them that “He/She is bad”.
You recognize that something happened that caused your friend’s distress and offer words of comfort and reassurance.
Same applies to you! You too can feel these feelings, but that does mean there is anything wrong with you. You are ok!
Now, you can use these last two sentences as your new mantra.
Last, but not least,
I recognize that accepting and managing certain feelings can be very difficult, especially when we don’t know how to do it.
In the article Anxiety & Panic Hacks, I share effective tools for managing anxiety or any other uncomfortable feeling.
Building our self-esteem by changing how we treat ourselves can be challenging.
If you feel that the tips mentioned here are not enough or if you would like to see the positive results faster, consider working with a coach or a counselor.
Build your self-esteem with me:
For a limited period, I am accepting new clients. To explore if my therapy approach is right for you, please book your free online consultation here.
Your Global Therapist, Counselor & Coach