How does your self-esteem impact on your life?
At this time of year our emotions are put to the test from expectations of how this festive time should look to how we should feel & act. We all have times we have low confidence, self doubt & indecision however studies have shown that low self-esteem can effect the whole of our lives including our thoughts, actions and feelings. This low self-esteem engulfs the whole of us until we start to believe that this is who we truly are. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
So What is low self esteem?
The term self esteem is used to describe the belief system we have about ourselves. Whether we view ourselves in a positive or negative way. This belief system then evaluates own self worth. The healthier the self-esteem the more positive beliefs we have about ourselves.
Low self esteem flourishes & grows in our lives when
- we have no praise
- our achievements are not celebrated
- nothing is good enough
- we are told we are ugly, overweight or not clever enough
- love is conditional
- we deal with conflict by accepting blame or fault when it is not ours to accept
Where do these beliefs come from?
So where do all these negative thoughts come from? The image we have of ourselves, the expectations of others, what we believe others expect from us, our core values & how we interact with others all comes from our childhood experiences & environment or can even be passed down through generations as we observe this behaviour growing up.
Examples of these are
- How people dealt with conflict especially parents or the primary carers
- How people interacted with us & others in our early years
- Our environment (social & cultural)
- How people dealt with chaos (or did they create it?)
- How key individuals around us dealt with their emotions (logical/practical/caring/over the top)
Other key factors growing up have also a part to play
- punishment, neglect or abuse
- failure to meet parental standards
- failure to meet peer-group standards
- being on the receiving end of other people's stress or distress.
- belonging to a family or social group that other people are prejudiced towards
- difficult experiences as an adult, for example long-term illness, losing your job, the loss of a loved one or someone close or at the end of a relationship,
How can we start to think differently and love ourselves?
Here are a few examples of how low self-esteem can affect our thoughts
I hate myself / Hate my body
There are many times when we dislike ourselves but the constant barrage of “I’m not good enough” I cant do that” ‘ I am so fat” I am to skinny” starts to eat aware at our confidence until there is nothing left. These negative harsh words plunge our self worth lower and lower. Can you start to be a nicer to yourself showing a little kindness & love?
Worry what others thing about you
This is the most destructive, creating pain and self-doubt. Questioning everything you do in order to please others. Looking for recognition from others and when this is not forthcoming believe you are not worthy.
Feeling fearful & anxious
The belief that things cannot get better, that you are powerless to make changes within yourself. Every situation feels like a mountain that needs to be climbed and that you aren’t strong enough to even think about it let alone climb it.
How can you make a change?
Start treating yourself with kindness.
Be aware of your internal dialogue & start saying nice things to yourself. Negative dialogue fuels self-hate, so start being your own best friend
We all make mistakes, so start by forgiving yourself. Shine a light on your shadows, the areas you want to develop and start to move forward by loving yourself
Challenge what you think of yourself.
The image you have of yourself is not who you are. Observe this negative image of yourself as a wrapper that can be peeled away layer by layer.
Don’t compare yourself to others
This is something lots of us do however this is so destructive and it will only lead to disappointment. Start by reflecting each day on what you are grateful for. Also start looking after your health, eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep.
Challenge your thoughts on what is actually been said.
Anxiety is created by being fearful of the future challenge yourself & your emotions to see if these fears are based on the reality of the situation or an emotional trigger from the past.
Start doing something that you love each day.
Just for you, it could be something as small as taking 5 minutes enjoying a coffee & relaxing or going for a walk, the aim is to get to know yourself again & reclaim your voice.