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This piece is all about the significance of self-esteem and how it affects our lives. Rachel Hollis’ book, Girl, Wash Your Face is what really brought this to light for me (I highly recommend it!). Originally I wrote one monster of a post about self-esteem. Then I decided to break it down into 2 separate pieces. Why?
First, I think all the info will be easier to digest this way and you’ll get more value out of it.
Second, I really want you to recognize why it’s so important to have healthy self-esteem before you jump into trying to improve it. Honestly, you can’t improve your self-esteem overnight. It takes time and it takes mental effort. You’re going to have to really focus on this and if you know why you’re doing it to begin with, it’ll make the whole process a lot easier.
Third, I have a specific step-by-step plan that you can follow that will guide you in improving your self-esteem. This plan is the second post of this installment (soon to come!).
Just listing out the steps could help you along, it would be more beneficial to provide background on them; Like why I included them and examples of how you can actually carry them out. This should be tangible advice that you can take and implement.
Improving Your Self-Esteem
Alright, quick recap. You know the first step in the Path to Happiness is mastering your mindset. The second step is getting to know yourself. The third is building up your self-esteem. Why? Read on to find out.
What is Self-Esteem?
People often see self-esteem and self-confidence as one and the same. However, while they go can go hand in hand, they are actually different.
Self-esteem is more concrete and stationary, if you will. It doesn’t tend to change from day to day. Self-esteem is how you see yourself and what you believe and feel about yourself. Ever catch yourself thinking, “I don’t deserve to be happy”, “I’m ugly”, or “I’m so dumb”? I know I used to think this way about myself. My self-esteem was in the dumps.
Self-confidence, on the other hand, is more situational. Self-confidence is your belief in your ability to do something. For instance, while my self-esteem was extremely low in college, when it was time to take a calculus test I walked into the lecture hall like I owned the place.
Remember that what you think of yourself doesn’t always line up with how others see you. That goes the other way around too. The other students in my Calc class may have thought I had great self-esteem. But they would have been wrong.
Put simply, your self-esteem is when you think “I am”. Your self-confidence is when you think “I can”.
Why is Self-Esteem Important?
The state of your self-esteem is super important. Here’s why.
People with poor self-esteem are more likely to:
- Engage in self-destructive behavior, like drugs and alcohol. It makes them feel good temporarily.
- Define themselves by how much money they have or the material things they possess. But what happens if any of these things go away?
- Have a victim mentality and feel powerless. They tend to think the world is cruel to them and the way their life goes is out of their control. That is an awful feeling to have.
- Miss out on a lot of the great experiences that life has to offer because they are afraid that something bad will result from it. Who wants to live in fear all of the time?
- Speak their opinions and views for fear of being rejected. As humans, we innately want to belong. It’s a survival mechanism. But in today’s world, it can easily work against us.
On the contrary, people with a healthy self-esteem are more likely to:
- Put themselves out there, whether it be giving their all to a project, embarking on a career adventure, or starting new relationships. They know failure is an option, but they also know that if they fail, it won’t break them. They’ll learn from it and carry on.
- Take care of themselves more. They’ll maintain a healthier lifestyle in general and avoid toxic people.
- Look for ways to constantly grow, learn, and be challenged.
You can see now how one’s self-esteem can have a direct impact on their physical health, mental health, and quality of life. That’s kind of a big deal!
What creates your level of self-esteem?
Our self-esteem is molded by our own life experiences. It’s totally possible that as a child you had great self-esteem and then when you reached adulthood, it plummeted. And vice-versa.
Let’s say you grew up in a very strict household where it was easy to do something wrong and hard to be recognized for something good. If you were constantly made to feel like what you did was never good enough or wrong, your self-esteem would most definitely suffer.
While you could carry this low self-esteem through to your adulthood, you could also certainly take actions to build it up.
On the flip side, if you grew up in a loving, stable, supportive home, your self-esteem would be on the healthy side. But it doesn’t take much to knock it down. An abusive relationship, illness, your job, negative friends – all of these can easily chip away at your self-esteem.
Do you have low self esteem?
You might be fully aware that your self-esteem could use some improvement. But if you’re unsure where your self-esteem lands on the sliding scale of poor to fabulous, here are some signs to help you gauge it:
- Your outlook is negative. You always assume the worst.
- You feel like everyone else is better than you. They have this whole life thing figured out, and you’re just blowing around like a piece of paper in the wind with no direction.
- Guilt is an all too common emotion for you, even when you know you don’t really have a valid reason to feel it.
- It’s really hard for you take a compliment and you don’t know how to respond to positive feedback. You just don’t think you deserve it and don’t believe it to be genuine.
- You’re incredibly fearful of failing which causes you to shy away from a lot of experiences and opportunities that could end up adding fulfillment to your life. You believe that you’d never succeed at it anyway.
- You know what you completely suck at. But if someone were to ask you what you’re good at? The list is short, if it even exists at all.
- It’s hard for you to communicate to other people what you want or need. Part of that is because you aren’t even sure what you want or need. Part of it is because you don’t think you deserve to get what you want or need.
- You have trouble saying no to people and don’t think your time is as valuable as someone else’s.
- You feel depressed or anxious.
Some of these signs may look familiar to you. Maybe all of them resonate with you. Ten years ago, I would have said yep to every single one of these things.
The great thing is that it’s 100% possible for you build your self-esteem up!
Let’s Turn This Around!
Trust me, no matter how low your self-esteem is, you can absolutely turn it around. You might be at a point where you can’t stand yourself, you don’t know why anyone cares about you, and you can’t see anything positive about yourself at all.
I get it – I’ve been there. But you can claw your way out of it. You have to DECIDE that is what you are going to do and then you have to take ACTION.
Not sure what steps to take? Stay tuned for the second post of this installment that will give you all the tried and true methods to picking your self-esteem up off the floor. Want to get a jump start? Then read Girl, Wash Your Face (one of my favorite books!).
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