We use the phrase self-esteem to talk about the beliefs we have about ourselves – what we think about the type of person we are, our abilities, the positive and negative things about ourselves.
When have healthy self-esteem, the beliefs about ourselves will generally be positive. We may experience difficult times in life, but we are generally able to deal with these without them having too much of a long-term negative impact.
However, if we start to develop low self-esteem, the beliefs about ourselves will become more and more negative and we will tend to focus on our weaknesses, or mistakes that we have made. This makes it hard to recognise the positive parts of our personality. We may also blame ourselves for any difficulties or failures that we have.
Some factors that can contribute to low self-esteem include:
• Difficult childhood experiences – negative experiences in childhood, such as bullying, difficult family relationships or having a hard time at school, can be particularly damaging for our self-esteem.
• Difficult life events – difficult experiences as an adult, such as the end of a relationship, long-term illness, the death of someone close or being unemployed, can lower our self-esteem, particularly if you experience several difficult events over a short period of time.
• Feeling ‘different’ – feeling like the ‘odd one out’, or under peer pressure to conform to social norms we don’t necessarily agree with.
• Relationships with other people – other people may feed into our low self-esteem, being negative about us or making us feel like we have little worth… Or feeling we don’t live up to other people’s expectations.
• Stress and excessive pressure – if we are under a lot of stress and finding it hard to cope, this can lead to feelings of low self-worth.
• Negative thinking patterns – we may learn or develop thinking patterns that reinforce low self-esteem, such as constantly comparing to others or developing high standards for ourselves that we can’t achieve.
• Trauma, abuse or bullying – trauma, physical, sexual or psychological abuse and bullying can all lead to feelings of guilt and low self-worth.
• Mental health problems
What can I do to build my self-esteem?
In order to increase your self-esteem, you need to challenge and change the negative beliefs you have about yourself and work on giving yourself some of that love you freely give to everyone else. Which brings me nicely onto..
Two of the most powerful or equally destructive words.
What are you telling yourself you are?
Often we’re not even aware or even realise just how much we criticize ourselves. Pull ourselves down and punish ourselves.
Would you speak to your daughters or your friends the way you speak to yourself?
NO. So why is it Ok to speak to yourself like this?
Start to notice those thoughts, those ‘I’m useless’, ‘ I’m not clever enough, not pretty enough, I’m too fat, I’m just a failure, I’m a waste of space type thoughts that you allow to control your mind. – Start to question these thoughts, are they REALLY true? Who’s voice is it? Challenge them!
These thoughts are not true, they are simply repeated words that have become your belief, albeit negative belief about WHO YOU ARE!!!
Start to repeat positive affirmations to yourself, see this inner critic for what it it! You created it and you can undo it.
– “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and that hasn’t worked, try approving of yourself and see what happens ~ Louise Hay
This might feel like an impossible task, but there are a lot of different techniques you can try to help you including alternative therapies such as EFT (Tapping), Mindfulness and Hypnotherapy.
Learn to be more assertive
Being assertive means you value yourself and others, and can communicate with mutual respect. It will help you to set clear boundaries.
The following things will help you act in a more assertive way:
- Express your feelings if you have been upset – wait until you feel calm and explain clearly how you feel.
- Saying ‘NO’ if you don’t want to do something, stop people pleasing and start putting yourself first for a change.
- Tell people if you need more time or support with tasks that you find challenging.
Speak in the first person where possible – e.g. ‘When you speak to me like that, I feel… ’. This allows you to explain what you want to happen without appearing aggressive or scared. Its about YOU and how you feel.
I call these I messages.
Assertiveness can be a difficult skill to learn, but like with anything the more you practice the more your confidence will increase until it comes naturally!
It is so important to set some time aside for yourself. To recharge your batteries so to speak. This can be in the form of exercise, a massage, a meal out with your besties, a meditation class or a couple of hours reading or listening to your favourite music.
Start a journal, log your feelings, the things you are grateful for, reflect on your day and note the positive things that happened, this will retrain your brain to search for the good in every day.
If you just haven’t got time, then that’s even more of a reason to start scheduling some self care time into your life! You need this and you deserve it.
Self care is by no means selfish, its essential. What good are you to anyone if you’re running on empty.. stressed out and frazzled.
Good luck. You got this!
Fancy finding out more about the work I do and how it may help you to get your mojo back?
Contact me here.