It happens to the best of us, someone gives us a genuine compliment, and we then deflect it. Someone else helped you succeed, so you can’t take the credit. Your success was pure chance, and you just got lucky that you didn’t make a mistake. These are classic indicators of low self-esteem. While it’s common, it’s also painful, and there are things you can do to mitigate the effects.
It can take many forms, but low self-esteem is compliment deflection, praise refusal, issues with body image, a negative relationship with yourself. While it seems low risk on the surface, low self-esteem can cause other mental health issues, impact your well-being, and lower your quality of life. This is also a reversible equation, with lower quality of life contributing to a marked reduction in self-esteem. Luckily, there are a handful of tools available to help build confidence and create healthy self-esteem.
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Create A Self Care Plan
Creating a consistent self-care plan can foster a healthier and more well-rounded everyday life. This extends beyond a little positive self-talk in front of the mirror. A solid self-care plan is a concrete path toward addressing and caring for all aspects of “you”.
Your plan should include some form of physical self-care, which will help your body to function optimally. This will generally mean getting a solid amount of sleep each night (or day, depending on your work schedule), as well as eating food that helps you feel good, and getting a beneficial amount of exercise or physical activity. Your plan may even include medical checkups or physical contact with others.
Additional items to include in your self-care plan are emotional care items like deep breathing exercises or starting a gratitude journal. Be sure you plan on spending personal time on hobbies or pastimes, including spending time with friends and family. Part of keeping your emotional health topped up is finding social fulfillment.
Use Positive Affirmations
We’ve all heard about the benefits of positive affirmations in our lives. These are messages that we may struggle to believe about ourselves, but which can lift up our self-esteem. Rehearsing statements like “I will keep trying” or “each mistake is an opportunity to learn”, or even simply “I will make it through the day”, can start to work their way into our self-image after some repetition.
Many people find that they are better equipped to handle their emotions and feelings once they actually know what they are. By simply sitting down daily and journaling about your feelings and self-esteem issues, you can begin to analyze them and find patterns yourself. Journaling can be an incredibly powerful introspective tool.
Become More Active
It has been shown that physical activity and exercise contribute to better mental health and more balanced emotions. It also contributes a healthy and enjoyable dose of endorphins to your body, which can improve your mood.
Exercise may put some people off, but it doesn’t have to be rigorous high-impact activity. You can get out for a walk for 20-30 minutes a day. In the time it takes you to go around the block once or twice you could be feeling a significant improvement in your emotional state.
Work Toward A Measurable Goal
This can go hand in hand with physical activity, and it can be a source of easily-reachable milestones. Set a goal for yourself, even if it’s as simple as “get 15 minutes of walking in, 4 days this week”, and celebrate when you reach that goal. Then, when that goal has become comfortable, move it just out of your comfort zone again, maybe raising the goal to 20 or 30 minutes, or adding a day, then work toward that. If you’re not into exercise, set a goal to read more books. If you don’t like books, maybe there is a skill you’ve always wanted to learn. There are endless options.
Limit Social Media
While social media networks can be a place to vent, consume some great memes, and even toot your own horn about accomplishments now and again, it’s just not a healthy place to constantly hang out. Falling into a “scroll-hole” too often or too deeply can give you an inaccurate depiction of the lives of those in your feed.
If all you had to go by were the posts in your feed, everyone would be living their best life, vacationing, cooking delicious and healthy meals daily, and in their ideal relationship. Remember that social media is a marketing tool. It doesn’t reflect the reality of daily life, but rather a carefully curated moment in time shot from the perfect angle with good lighting… and filters. Consuming your feeds constantly can present a mental health challenge.
Get Professional Counseling
Sometimes, we suffer from self-esteem issues that might be a little too hefty to work through by ourselves. This is where professional self-esteem counseling can pay off. For professionals, artists, or creators who may suffer from imposter syndrome, this can be a crucial tool to begin building self-esteem and confidence in their work. Issues of self-worth and deservingness can also be explored during counseling, and working with a professional can help break cycles of negative thought patterns and negative self-talk.
Even with all these tips and activities to help build your self-esteem, it’s important to remember that low self-esteem is something you can recover from, but healing isn’t linear. You are sure to have some days that you just aren’t feeling your best, and you need to cut yourself some slack.
You deserve to feel the best you can about yourself, and to be able to take pride in the work you do and the progress you make. It will take time and effort, but in the end, you will find that the elevated self-esteem and ability to feel fulfilled in your activities will be worth it.