“I’m not good enough” is a phrase that has become all to familiar to me.
I may not outright say these words to myself, but I have definitely felt this way on more occasions that I would like to admit.
Perhaps you have also found yourself struggling with issues of self-esteem.
I know from personal experience that it is a long uphill battle to self-esteem recovery. I continuously find myself confronted with an internal demon that whispers in my ear:
“You’re not good enough.”
This demon seems to rear his ugly head the most during times when I am already in a slump, feeling down or in a funk. It is in those moments that I somehow manage to forget all of the amazing qualities about myself.
It’s as though all of the good silently slips away and disappears into the back of my consciousness where it becomes replaced with negative thoughts—self-sabotaging thoughts.
Although, in the moment, those thoughts may seem like my reality, in truth, they are not.
They are not me.
They do not define me.
They are not who I really am.
Those negative thoughts are my fears and insecurities speaking.
It took me many years to realize and understand this concept—I am not my negative thoughts.
Self-esteem is defined as the confidence in one’s own self-worth or abilities, it is how we value ourselves. When we are able to boost our self-esteem, we see our self-worth.
We know that we are worthy and deserving of love (from others and from ourselves). We find ourselves in healthier relationships with those around us and with ourselves. We have self-respect for ourselves and we are better able to self-soothe during difficult times.
Establishing self-esteem is a journey. It is not a “read this quote” or “do this activity and you will have self-esteem” type of thing.
The journey to self-esteem recovery can be a long and bumpy road, but know that you are not in it alone.
Here are five ways in which you can kick-start your journey to self-esteem recovery and boost your confidence right now.
Ya know, telling yourself nice things.
If we were to really stop for a moment and think of all of the self-talk that goes on in our heads, we would probably notice that most of the time we are not saying kind and loving things to ourselves.
Most of us say kind and loving things to others, so why not say them to ourselves.
Write down three to five positive affirmations and place them somewhere where you can see/read them everyday.
2. List of Accomplishments.
What have you accomplished in the past week, month, year, five years?
Take a few minutes to sit quietly and really think about your accomplishments.
Maybe you graduated college or received a promotion at work.
One week while I was sick, I felt like all I’d done was sit on the couch and watch Netflix. I decided to write down my accomplishments for the week and I instantly felt a little better about myself. My accomplishments weren’t huge hurdles in life, but instead, more simple activities such as cleaning the house, laundry and making holiday decorations.
When I took the time to reflect on my week and write out the things I had accomplished, I began to feel a boost in my self-esteem.
3. Take a look in the mirror.
When I used to look in the mirror I would, without awareness, tear myself to pieces.
“My breasts are too small. I have wrinkles around my mouth. Crows feet, yuck. I wish my stomach was flatter. Is that cellulite?”
These are the thoughts that would rush through my head so quickly that I didn’t even notice them.
One day, I stood in front of the mirror, completely naked (talk about feeling vulnerable) and I really looked at myself. I listened to all of the negative self-talk running its usual list through my head, and then, I replaced it with loving-kindness.
I said, out loud, all of the things I loved about my body.
And guess what, over time, with a lot of practice, I actually began to love my body, just as it is.
4. Reach Out.
Send an email to your closest friends and ask them to reply with what they view as your strongest traits or qualities.
Be mindful of who you reach out to.
Choose friends that will be loving, supportive and empathetic as opposed to those whom might respond with judgment or criticism.
When I did this experiment, it was wonderful to get back messages full of kind words from my friends. There was often overlap in the messages each of them sent, which made me realize that those qualities they view in me must be true.
5. Treat Yourself.
Most of us live with the mindset that it is selfish to spend money on ourselves. We may even feel guilty if we treat ourselves.
I am hear to tell you that it is okay, in fact, it might be considered a necessity in some cases.
Treat yourself to something that makes you feel good, something that nourishes your mind, body and soul.
For me, that was an investment in massages.
It was challenging at first to convince myself that I was deserving of receiving bi-weekly massages, but now it has become one of the greatest gifts to myself.
Your treat might not even cost you anything. Perhaps you’re a busy mother always devoting your time to others, maybe your treat is one hour each day to yourself, to sit in quiet. Or perhaps, your treat is a long walk after work.
To undo and rewire years of negative self-talk will take time, patience and loving-kindness for yourself.
Be patient with yourself through this process and remember that you are still growing little by little each day.
It is my wish that one day you will look back, whether it is in three months from now or three years from now, and be able to see the tremendous progress you’ve made on your journey of self-esteem recovery.
Author: Melinda Quesenberry
Apprentice Editor: Brandie Smith/Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Used with permission from Carlos Mozo.
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