Do you feel that you suffer from low self-esteem and that it affects every area of your life?
Abraham Maslow described that there were two kinds of self-esteem needs. The first is the need for respect from others and the second is the need for self-respect. Self respect includes a feeling of confidence, achievement, competence and independence. Respect from others includes acceptance, appreciation and recognition. Maslow suggests that if these needs ar not fulfilled, a person will feel unconfident, discouraged, weak and inferior.
So how can one improve one’s self-esteem? How you feel about yourself can vary from day to day.
Stop comparing yourself with others
We naturally tend to use others as benchmarks for our own performance, attributes or abilities. Consequently we often feel that we don’t measure up to other people in our own eyes or are not living up to what we perceive as other people’s expectations of us. There are always going to be people that are better in some way to you but that is just part of the richness and diversity of life and you will also have many attributes that thousands of others do not. So concentrate on what you do have, rather than on what you do not.
Does it really matter what other people think of you? When we are younger we try to fulfil family expectations but once we are older we should try and live up to our own expectations based on what we really want out of life. I remind myself often of the saying: “What other people think of me is none of my business”.
Let bygones be bygones
Often we waste time and energy thinking about what has gone wrong on in the past and let that control our present mood and thoughts. Everyone makes mistakes and we need to forgive and forget those made against us and move on. If you hold a grudge against a person you are just giving your power away to them and letting them control you.
Similarly, if you are still blaming yourself for past mistakes, consider them as lessons that you have learnt from and move on. Instead, concentrate on your achievements, however small and every-day, as this will help build your self-esteem.
Accept yourself as a unique person
You are unique – accept yourself as such! It would be a very boring world if we were all the same, especially if we were all perfect! So think about what you want in life, not what you think you should want based on what you think other people expect. It is you living your life, not them.
One way to give yourself a boost is exercise. Now this does not have to be strenuous but a good walk 2-3 times a week will help raise your endorphin levels which are the ‘feel-good’ hormones. Getting outdoors and the change in scenery will also help stimulate your thoughts in a positive way.
Keep a journal
Keeping a journal may sound like hard work but it is a very rewarding experience. You need to update it on a regular basis but does not need to be a daily chore. In the front of it, write out a list of all your positive qualities. Initially you may not think you have many but you can add to it at later times. However, seeing them written down and reviewing them each time you write your journal will help reinforce them in your mind.
Also write a list of all your achievements in your journal so that you can review and add to these over time.
In the journal, write about your feelings and perhaps what triggers your low bouts of self-esteem if it fluctuates. As you work on raising your self-esteem you will be able to look back through your journal and see that you are making progress and why there are certain times that you have a high or low self-esteem. Progress will take time and you may not be aware that you are making progress if you do not record it in a journal.
Set some goals
If you want changes in your life you need to be specific about them. The best way to achieve them is to write them down and where better but in your journal!
Studies have shown that you are more likely to achieve objectives and goals if you write them down and review them on a regular basis. Be realistic in your goals and the timeframes you set to achieve them by. If you do not achieve them in time, do not consider that you have failed but re-set the goal with more achievable parameters.
One way to help you achieve your goals is with visualization. You need to be by yourself in a relaxed state and visualize yourself as having already achieved the goal. To feel the feelings and emotions that would go with that achievement. This visualization process can be enhanced by listening to suitable music which has been specifically designed for this process.
To conclude, better self-esteem is possible for you if you are willing to take control of your life and thought processes.