A person’s self-esteem is essentially how you feel about yourself; it is that voice in your head that tells you that you can or cannot do something. But there is a difference between a negative thought or doubt and actually having low self-esteem. After all, everyone will have the occasional moment where they wonder if they can actually do something and question themselves. But there is a difference between these short-term isolated thoughts and low self-esteem. Your self esteem is tied up in what that inner voice tells you long term. If the voice inside is consistently negative, then it is a clear sign of low self-esteem. This understandably can potentially lead to bigger mental health challenges such as depression or anxiety.
Mindset not ability
The important thing to remember when it comes to self-esteem is that it is all about how we perceive ourselves, not actual ability or how others perceive ourselves. Its why we all know that one person who is actually quite ugly, but thinks they are the most beautiful person in the world (a sign of high self-esteem) and another person who could be a model but actually thinks they are ugly (a sign of low self-esteem). Likewise, someone could be absolutely amazing at (enter pretty much any skill or talent here) and feel like they are worthless and no good at it and vice versa. This feeling can often stem from some sort of abusive or dysfunctional relationship. A child who is constantly criticised by their parents and anything less than perfection is criticised. A person in an abusive relationship who is constantly belittled by their partner etc. This naturally leads to the person behaving in a way where they do not believe they will ever succeed, and this naturally becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Identify positive traits
To build your self-esteem its important to remember that it is a journey and it’s OK to start small. No one goes from low to high self esteem in a few days. Instead you need to take gradual steps to build your self-esteem over time. One of the easiest ways to begin to do this is to begin to take note of all of the things you do well. It could be as simple as identifying one thing you have done well each day. It could be as simple as you made yourself breakfast, or that you cleaned the apartment, or that you completed a work task. These small acknowledgements will slowly build your confidence that there are many things that you can do well. This will eventually transfer through to you recognising yourself for delivering on bigger achievements. You will change the internal dialogue to one who cannot do anything, to one of someone who does many things well and who believes they can even do more. It’s a bit like cooking, if you can’t boil an egg, its highly unlikely you are going to win MasterChef. But if you learn to boil an egg, you then try an omelette, then scrambled eggs, then maybe you try poached eggs and gradually overtime you try more and more complex recipes.
Avoid Negative relationships
Another important step to building your self-esteem is to remove negative people from your life. If you have friends or loved ones telling you that you are worthless, then this is how you are going to feel. This goes beyond just friends and personal relationships and should also include your family. You may love your mother, but if your mother is constantly telling you that you are worthless and can never achieve anything, then for your own mental health and personal growth that is a relationship you may want to re-evaluate. Yes, she may be your mother, but at the same time, you should not allow anyone to make you feel you are worthless. However, it is obviously easier to cut a friend out of your life than your mother. But instead of having dinner with your mother 3 times a week, you only see her on Mother’s Day, her birthday and Christmas for a few hours each time.
Finally, its amazing at the impact exercise has on our mental wellbeing. Not only have the endorphins released from exercise proven to combat a number of mental health issues such as depression, but it will naturally boost your self-esteem. Quite simply if we look good, we feel good and if we feel good then we are likely to have higher levels of self-esteem. Exercise will also make you feel like you have more energy and if you have more energy you will feel like you can do more. Again, its important to start small, but a consistent exercise regime will do wonders for your self-esteem.