Self Esteem - How to give it a boost!
How to Increase Self-Esteem
Just Turn It Up!
Sadly it’s not always that easy.
People often talk about self-esteem like it’s a separate entity. As if it is something we have complete control over and can choose to change at any given moment. The image of a temperature gauge comes to mind, or a dial that we can move up or down all depending on the situation. If only it was as easy as acknowledging negative feelings about the self and then turning up the self-esteem dial by a few degrees. Unfortunately increasing self-esteem takes a bit of work.
What is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is how we view ourselves and the confidence we have in our own worth, abilities opinions, beliefs, and values. Our self-esteem incorporates the beliefs we hold about ourselves, for example, beliefs around whether we are likable, lovable, or worthy of other people’s time and attention. Ultimately, it is how we evaluate the self, and how we feel about ourselves.
How do we get it?
Our parents or primary caregivers have a huge influence on the early development of our self-esteem. Parents are influential as they mirror back to us who we are. Negative or positive mirroring will have an impact on how we see ourselves as individuals.
The way we feel about ourselves can depend on those early messages. All through childhood we are given positive and negative messages about ourselves and the image we form is often so ingrained that we never stop to even consider whether the stories we tell ourselves, about who we are, are true.
Can you recall some of the messages you were given? ‘You don’t work hard enough, you talk too much, you are a gifted child with lots of potential etc’ whatever, the messages may still be alive and kicking inside you.
Having a safe, loving, and nurturing environment in which to grow can make a difference in how we grow psychologically and who we believe ourselves to be. On the other hand, adverse life events such as childhood trauma, including emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, loss, bereavement, loneliness, bullying, or disordered attachment styles can all create a sense of low self-worth and esteem.
Why Is it so important?
Whether we have high or low self-esteem has been shown to impact our personal success, life satisfaction, relationships, and even criminal behaviour. Our self-esteem is at the heart of our lives, everything is filtered through who believe ourselves to be. We also see others in comparison to how we feel about ourselves, the values we hold, and our personal beliefs. How we treat others is directly influenced by our self-esteem. For example, if we have high self-esteem we will generally treat others equally, whereas if we have low self-esteem we may either put them on a pedestal or alternately, we may try to exert control over them as we feel inadequate.
How do we build it?
Picture a money box. Imagine that positive comments and compliments are like coins. When someone says something nice about you start saving them up. If you receive a positive comment, compliment, or reflection from someone, do not bat it back or dismiss it. Simply smile, say thank you, and put a self-esteem coin in the piggy bank.
Bring On The Self-Love
You can also start adding self-esteem coins of your own. Focus on:
- Self-Compassion – Fill your mind with kind thoughts about yourself.
- Self Love – Do things for yourself that are positive. This reinforces the notion that you are worthy.
- Boundaries – say no to others, and learn to put yourself first at times.
- Self-Forgiveness – We are human, and we make mistakes. At times, we hurt people and we hurt ourselves. Learn to forgive your shortcomings or your errors and move on.