Put simply, self-esteem is how you feel about yourself and your abilities.
If you’ve got positive or high self-esteem you’re likely to feel pretty positive about yourself, to be resilient and confident that you can handle whatever challenges life throws at you. Having this belief in your capabilities makes it far easier to bounce back when things don’t go as planned because you’re less likely to take it as a personal failure or rejection.
So much of what happens to us isn’t personal and self-esteem helps you to realise that. With confidence in yourself comes less need to worry and far fewer anxious thoughts and feelings. It becomes far easier to trust that no matter what happens, everything will be a-ok.
Yes, we all know someone with a little too much self-belief so I can understand if you’re worried about getting so sure of yourself that you’re verging on cocky… There is a parable about a man dying of thirst who finds an oasis in the desert, but refuses to drink as he’s heard of the dangers of over-hydration. As a wonderful human reading an article on how to boost your self-esteem, I’m pretty sure cockiness won’t come so easily to you!
The problem with low self-esteem is that it can result in a more negative outlook. You might feel unable to handle life’s challenges, leading you to say no to opportunities for fear of failing. Without some level of confidence in your abilities it can be very difficult to receive feedback, because even the most well intentioned advice can feel like a personal jab.
Now remember that life has natural highs and lows; it is totally normal to have days when you feel less confident and days when you are a self-esteem queen! Your self-esteem may also differ across the the different areas of your life.
So why do you need to boost your self-esteem?
If your self-esteem is low you are more likely to play it small and stay in your comfort zone. This might not sound like a big deal, but the reality is you’ll be missing out on so many opportunities. You want to be experiencing all the magic that life has to offer! Socially low self-esteem can also affect the quality of your relationships and prevent you from starting new ones.
The truth is you ARE good enough. You are worthy of everything you desire. Think about a baby: they are born into pure love, their every laugh and gurgle is celebrated, their squishy little rolls are stroked and adored. They have full belief in their right to be cared for. And you were all once that baby. So what went wrong? At what point did you start to doubt yourself?
As you grow older, the media tells you you need to be more/better/thinner/less hairy. It’s a sales tactic. By making you feel less than they create a desire in you for their product, so you buy it in the hope it will make you better and they make their money.
Some people can’t stop reading beauty magazines that leave them feeling lacking. Others are pressured by high expectations from their family. Many feel social pressure from their friends and colleagues. Whatever the reason for your low self-esteem, it is not your fault.
Your thoughts are not facts but they can feel pretty real sometimes! The way you think is immensely important because the thoughts you are having directly affect the way you feel and act. If you’re constantly telling yourself you’re an imposter, you don’t deserve to be here, you should have tried harder, you’re not good enough, then no wonder you feel rubbish about yourself! You wouldn’t let your friends talk to you like that, so why do you take that sort of chat from yourself?
It is time to re-write the stories you’re telling yourself and start supporting yourself like you would your bestie. Your thoughts really do create your reality… and changing the way you’re thinking is quick way to boost your self-esteem.
Self-compassion is key! Allow yourself to acknowledge your humanness; we forgive other people when they make a mistake, so do the same for you. And while you’re at it, drop those perfectionist standards. No one in the world is perfect, so why do you expect yourself to be? Mistakes play a huge role in your growth as a person, so instead of seeing yourself as a failure when something doesn’t go as planned, ask what can be learned from the experience and take that info forwards with you for next time.
If you set impossible high standards for yourself and keep coming up short you are creating a vicious cycle for yourself. Set smaller goals so you can enjoy the feeling of achievement and be satisfied with your efforts.
Sure, unshakeable confidence and self-love probably won’t become your default mode overnight, but try to start simply accepting yourself exactly as you are. There is nothing more magnetic than a person who is comfortable in their own skin, who knows who they are and what they want. Focus on your strengths, your uniqueness, your quirks rather than mentally filtering out the good stuff and only noticing your self-perceived flaws. The following quote sums this up perfectly:
“Everybody is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.
When you can wholly accept who you are you stop needing to compare yourself to others and it gets easier and easier to celebrate your own personal wins.
The one piece of advice no one ever wants to hear…! But doing the things you don’t want to do is one of fastest ways to grow your confidence in your abilities. How do you know you’re no good at something if you’ve never tried? Start to see life as an experiment rather than an exam – it’s not a pass/fail situation. You’re either winning or you’re learning.
When you push the edges of your comfort zone, your confidence grows in a variety of different situations. You prove to yourself through your actions that you are in fact capable and good enough!
They say that you’re the sum of the 5 people you spend the most time with, so have a close look at who those people might be… Fill your life with people who lift you up, whose company nourishes and inspires you, who believe in you as much as you’d like to believe in yourself. There is little more precious in life than positive and supportive relationships.
If your friends aren’t the cheerlead-y type then seek out that kind of energy. Can you find a local women’s circle, a bookclub, a wild swimming crew? Or if you need a little bit extra seek out the support of a coach or therapist. Without you realising, these people will be role-modelling assertiveness and positive self-esteem to you. You’ll be learning by osmosis simply by soaking up their company.
Building up your self-esteem might not be an overnight job, but you have far more control over the way you feel than you realise. How empowering is that? Take your confidence into your own hands! Think about the sort of person you want to become and make sure every decision you make supports your transformation.