Whatever we do in life our own measure of self-esteem will affect it. This is because we radiate our own self image in the way we talk, act and move, and other people are extremely receptive to it. Self-esteem however, differs from having confidence. A public speaker for example, could appear confident when they talk in front of thousands of people, but out of the public eye could have issues of low self esteem. Confidence could be said to relate to other people’s perceptions of how we see ourselves, whereas self-esteem is the impression we have of ourselves. It is important to learn how to improve self esteem so that we can be happy in ourselves.
Firstly it is important to distinguish between having a low self esteem, and having a useful and temporary negative image of ourselves. Allow me to elaborate; when we have a negative idea of ourselves it can be useful in our motivation to change. Perhaps it is a guilty reaction that gives us more concrete morals for the future, or a feeling that we are not happy in our job. These are both valid thoughts that can lead us to change ourselves for the better.
There is no failure, only opportunity for growth
Having negative thoughts and feeling that everything is not how it should be in your life is completely normal, and unrelated to self-esteem. Negatives happen. What is related to self-esteem is how we react to negatives. A person with a low self esteem suffers from a type of faulty thinking that leads to conclusions of a lack of worth. With high self-esteem a more likely reaction is to use a negative, a mistake, or a weakness as an opportunity for growth and transcendence. Rid yourself of the idea of “failure” and see instead the opportunity for growth.
Embracing yourself; knowing your strengths and weaknesses
When a professional, whether economic, or sportsman, or anyone, trains to become the best they may have a coach that points out their own strengths and weaknesses in a constructive manner, and lays out a plan for positive change. Your thinking too needs coaching, and this is pretty much the philosophy behind many psychological therapies. If your thinking is faulty you can consider hiring a coach (therapist) or allowing a friend or family member to play the role. Even better, you can psychoanalysis yourself; it is actually quite easy to begin this process.
Make a list of your own strengths. Don’t be scared to express this to yourself. What are you good at? What are your skills and interests, how do you help people? List down some of your core strengths and then make a plan that allows you to express these strengths on a regular basis. Revel in the fact that you have value and worth. If you are struggling, think about what other people have to say, and how you have been complimented by them. Know your strengths.
Like I mentioned before, understanding your own weaknesses is equally important. Write down a list of weaknesses. Don’t be afraid, everyone has them! Think about aspects of yourself that you do not like, about skills that you have never been good at. Embrace it; weaknesses are human. It will boost your self esteem to be more aware of your own perceived strengths and weaknesses. No successful person has ever gone through life without making mistakes; they simply know that mistakes are an opportunity for growth. Your weaknesses are just as big a part of you as your strengths. See how your self-esteem improves when you can admit that to yourself, and to others.
Barriers and how to overcome them
Expectations- One of the barriers to a high self esteem has already been touched upon; unrealistic expectations. By accepting our weaknesses we have already set into motion the breaking down of the barrier of unrealistic expectations. You are not perfect. You never will be. This might seem like an unusual mantra for self-esteem improvement, but often our perceived notion that we are supposed to be perfect in every way is damaging. This is perpetuated further by beauty magazines, plastic surgery, and celebrities, all of which give the impression of an unattainable image of perfection.
We can have unrealistic expectations in many areas of our life, all of which are ultimately damaging to self-esteem. We can set targets for ourselves, sometimes very long term, but rarely productive, such as “I want to be a millionaire by 30,” or something of that nature. How about replacing all unrealistic expectations with “I want to be happy and contented in my life.”
Comparing to Others- Maybe we compare ourselves to our parents, maybe the head of the company, perhaps a celeb, or God? Whoever it is, comparing your life, relationship, finances, and strengths and weaknesses to someone else is nearly always damaging for self-esteem. Life is a personal journey. There are no winners or losers, and nobody is racing. Take life at your own pace, and know that you are a unique individual. This really ties in a lot to knowing your own strengths and weaknesses. Don’t try to be anyone you are not, instead focus on who you are, and where you are going.
Social Image- Our social image concerns who other people think we are. A person with a very high self esteem, in the kindest of ways, really isn’t much concerned for their social image, but it does effect everyone in some way or another. Image can become some sort of a definition. It is what other’s use to define us, and subsequently begins to rub off on how we see ourselves. Be flexible with your self image; make sure you are not living in an outdated image. Be dynamic and change who you are in social situations to reflect who you actually are outside of them. The more you can bring your “true” self to the party the less conflict will arise between your social image and self image.
Look after yourself
Self esteem will never be at its highest if you are not in good health. Be kind to your body as well as your mind. Eat a healthy diet full of nutrients, get some sunshine whenever it is available, and do a lot of exercise. When the body feels good self esteem is likely to take a turn for the better. Sometimes all it takes is a nice long hot bath. Personal hygiene may also be important for self esteem; feeling clean and fresh will certainly help with your radiant glow.
Take some time to contemplate yourself, to know yourself. No one else can do this for you, it is down to you. Write down thoughts, think about strengths and weakness, think about what you want out of life, and think about how to get it. A better self-esteem will lead to a more enjoyable life, with more success in jobs, relationships, and a higher level of happiness. It is worth the pursuit.