Acquiring self-esteem isn’t easy. Most of us can start out with good intentions but then lose our way. We need simple guidelines, a catechism or a simple mantra show the way or give us something to fall back during hard times. To this end, I have put together ten steps that may help you gain the self-esteem you want so much.
The words self-esteem comprises ten letters. The first letter of each of the following step names spells out the words S-E-L-F E-S-T-E-E-M. This may seem a little conceited to some and, if this is so, I apologise. However, it is hoped that it will help as an ‘aid memoir’ to some.
For some, this first step can be the hardest and most frightening of all. But before we can embark on change we must first examine ourselves; to take stock of where we are in life and our relationships. A few may even believe that close scrutiny of the inner self will lead to even lower self-esteem. This is true, if there is no plan or intention for change. Therefore one should only take the first step if there is a real desire for change.
Having gathered the information we need to analyze it objectively. This often involves looking at our past to gain understanding of our present. What can’t be changed can be more easily accepted or can be delegated as the responsibility of others. This does not mean that we apportion blame – no one is on trial. Rather, this analysis in an important step in the process of helping us to take more responsibility for our feelings, thoughts and actions.
Love is the most important part of the human condition. Learning self-love is the key to ridding our self of low self-esteem. We must learn to love and indulge ourselves; to spoil ourselves. Unfortunately, many believe this self-indulgence is a weakness, or even sinful. Those who see self-love as sinful must re-educate themselves. Self respect comes in hand in hand with self love.
Low self-esteem leads to depression. When we are feeling down we often feel overwhelmed. Problems seem unsolvable and many. This often leads to us running around in circles, which is counter-productive as we end up bouncing from one problem to the next like a pinball machine. The key to ridding our self of our problems is to focus on one problem at a time. Also, it is important to focus and tackle a problem that we know can be solved. Get rid of one small problem after another. Then, having de-cluttered our life and having gained confidence, can we rid our self of the bigger problems in our life.
Many top sports people see themselves on the winner’s podium even before they begin the race or game. This ability to actually see – or dream – of being first past the post helps them win the race even before they’ve started. Like top sports people, we too must learn to dream about our future. Our dreams must be nurtured and not allowed to flicker out. Your dreams are precious, so help them grow by sharing them with close family and friends.
Without a clear strategy you are lost. A well-defined plan is vital if you are ever to achieve anything. However, don’t make the mistake of devising ‘the big plan’. It is okay to have a long-term goal, but you should also set two or three intermediate goals. Achieving these goals will help keep you motivated. If it helps, write your goals down. File them, review them, and tick them off the list we your goal has been reached. Not only does this keep your goals stay focused but it will help you to take your plans seriously, like you would a business plan.
Breaking any habit is hard, but because low self-esteem patterns have been ingrained in childhood they can be tougher than most to overcome. Because the patterns are often conditioned responses they can be triggered by every day experiences such as a certain smell inducing a sense of fear, or even a simple word uttered in a certain way that can rob us of all are confidence. We must learn to identify and name these automatic responses. It may not be able to stop them entirely, but by being aware of them, we can try to send such responses into oblivion.
Very few people ever achieve anything by themselves. Overcoming low self-esteem needs encouragement from other about us. People who suffer low self-esteem aren’t usually the sort to go out a seek support, but this is precisely what you must do. Get support from friends and loved ones. If they don’t give you the support you need join a group of like minded people, there’s plenty of these groups. And, if you can’t find one, start your own.
Most people are trapped in a rut. They live each day the same way, eat the same food, go to the same places and think the same way. But life is for living and learning is about experimentation. How can anyone be sure about what is right for them unless the have tried different paths. You may have a big plan all worked out but you may find that as time goes by, what you wanted a year ago isn’t what you want know. You must allow yourself to be flexible; to allow yourself to try something you hadn’t thought about before. If it doesn’t work out, what have you wasted? Nothing. You will have learned something more about yourself.
Regular appraisal in any learning program is essential and in this particular field the only judge and jury worth listening to is you. You plans must allow time for regular appraisals. Taking time-out for an appraisal isn’t always easy to do. People with low self-esteem often refuse to appraise themselves. When confidence is at a low ebb, it is all too easy to adopt defensive psychological behaviours that ensure that we have neither the time, the energy nor the inclination to asses whether we like ourselves. But, you must take time out for assessment; write it down as part of your strategy or plan. Write down a schedule of times when you will sit down and allow yourself the right to assess your life.