Something I see often in my practice and with those around me in my personal life is a tendency to be very hard on ourselves. We often set very unrealistic expectations for ourselves and think about ourselves negatively. So many people not only lack self-esteem, but even view being confident in a negative light. Our own voice is the voice we hear most throughout the day and if we are not being kind to ourselves, it can really have a negative impact on us. When I bring up the idea of being confident I often hear that people are worried about appearing too full of themselves. We need to change the way we see self-esteem, confidence, and self-love. Self-esteem is a good thing and it is healthy. Being confident does not mean we have a big ego, it means we are able to realistically recognize our positive attributes and the beauty with in us. Self-esteem is so important and can benefit us in a number of ways.
Self-esteem impacts us in all areas of our lives. It impacts how we are emotionally, mentally, socially, spiritually, and even financially. Self-esteem helps us to develop independence and resilience, it helps us to try new things, and to cope with not being successful when we do. Low self-esteem is quite common and can be caused by a number of different things including unmet needs during development; overly critical friends, family members, or partners; bullying; abusive relationships; and an absence of praise or affection from those around us. It is also impacted by our culture and the standards that exist as a result of culture. People with low self-esteem often feel unlovable, awkward, or incompetent. They are often sensitive to criticism or defensive, very self critical, and socially withdrawn or overly dependant on others. Low self-esteem may present itself as being overly controlling or overly compliant and people with low self-esteem often struggle with setting healthy boundaries within relationships, and often enter unhealthy relationships.
People with higher self-esteem take risks and can manage change, they are more likely to try new things and seek out challenges. They are more independent and can form healthy relationships with healthy boundaries where they are able to express them selves. People with high self-esteem accept their imperfections and embrace them. They seek to improve but understand that perfectionism is not the goal.
Tips to Boost Self Esteem
- Identify and challenge negative beliefs of ourselves and accept and embrace our imperfections and acknowledge the beauty in them.
- Identifying the positive aspects of ourselves and what we bring to the table. Accept compliments from others.
- Use positive self-talk and positive affirmations and ensure we are telling ourselves positive messages. Challenge negative thoughts.
- Build positive relationships and remove toxic and negative people from our lives when possible.
- Take care of our physical needs including sleep, diet, and exercise.
- Forgive yourself for past mistakes and not knowing what you didn’t know, remind yourself that life is a journey.
- Set attainable goals and relish in your accomplishments.
When we boost our self-esteem, we become more resilient. We experience difficult emotions such as rejection or failure as less painful. We become less dependent on others and a healthier friend or partner. When we boost our self-esteem, we become more successful because we take bigger risks and set higher goals for ourselves. When we feel more confident in ourselves, we can help those around us to feel more confident as well.
Changing how we see ourselves is not easy. In some cases, we have been programmed to think badly about ourselves and the world around us for many years, but change is possible. It starts with one step at a time. Challenge one negative thought at a time and acknowledge one positive aspect of ourselves at a time. Do the same for those around us, build up friends and loved ones, we all deserve it. We are all perfectly imperfect. Self-love is a beautiful and powerful thing. Let’s change how we perceive confidence and help to encourage ourselves and those around us to feel the benefits of self-love.
Amy Shaw, MSW, RWS
B. Skinner Coaching & Psychotherapy