*Warning: f-bombs dropped below!
The last time that you fucked up (and you did, you aren’t fooling anyone), how did you treat yourself?
Did you give yourself a nurturing and encouraging message, or were you critical and scathing?
They say speaking to yourself is the first sign of madness; however, we all have an internal voice in our head, and sometimes it comes out as spoken words that allow us to coach ourselves through situations.
In light of this, let’s sit comfortably in accepting that we must all be “mad,” and therefore, that is the norm.
In this exploration of the messages you tell yourself and how you coach yourself through life, what kind of a coach do you think you are?
What kind of qualities would a coach need to have to get the best out of you?
Sure, sometimes we respond well to an arse-kicking, but it would be targeted abuse if it were a constant thing.
Think back to when a parent or teacher was critical of your efforts on something. How did you feel about that?
I am going to guess that it didn’t feel great.
When I was criticized as a child, I would feel disempowered and stupid, leading me to sulk and crumble on the inside.
One of the keys to building self-esteem is understanding that it differs from general esteem or “other esteem.”
Esteem is about respect and admiration. While it can be deemed essential to be liked and admired by others, the responsibility and duty that you hold to yourself are more important.
Many different factors can alter your other esteem, but only you can influence your self-esteem. Self-esteem is determined by your thoughts, feelings, emotions, interpretations, and beliefs. Other esteem is determined by everything external to you: how others treat you, and your living or societal position.
There are correlations in your other esteem growing once you have worked on your self-esteem.
So, let’s take stock of you for now:
For a moment, take a breath and clear your mind. Cut out everyone else’s thoughts about you and everything that has ever happened to you. Instead, ask: Do you respect and admire yourself?
Put it on a scale of 1 to 10.
One meaning you are the worst person on this earth. Five meaning you are okay and would like to think more of yourself, and 10 meaning that nobody comes close to how amazing you are.
What evidence do you have supporting your score?
In one month, after practicing these seven add-ins in your life, take stock of yourself again. See where you have gotten to.
Here are seven add-ins for your life that come at no cost other than the commitment to doing them. The result is increased levels of self-esteem and confidence:
1. Bite back at the critical voice in your head
Now is the time to be aware. When we have awareness, we are doing something, and then we can change it. Every time you do something, listen to what you tell yourself.
Whenever you hear something like, “You fucking idiot, what did you do that for?” Or, “You are pathetic,” or “You can’t do anything right,” in your head shout, “Stop!”
What you need to hear is something encouraging and compassionate, so think of a new message to tell yourself. Something like, “Good effort, let’s do something different this time.” Or “We can learn from this; let’s go again.”
2. Focus on today
Take on new challenges on a day-to-day basis. You can only influence today. Tomorrow will come around, and you can influence that then.
Want to stop doing something? Commit to stopping it today, and then tomorrow recommit to it again. Maintain it for that day and then keep going from there.
Make a list of things you want to achieve for the day, and at the end of the day, before you go to bed, tick them off. Anything missed will roll over to tomorrow. Laying in bed, worrying about it all night is never going to resolve the issue.
3. Be compassionate toward yourself and your mistakes
Everyone makes mistakes, some of them big, some of them small—everybody is imperfect. Being critical of yourself only makes you feel worse. What you need to hear at that moment is your coach saying, “That’s alright, it’s not ideal. We can sort this out.”
Hint: you are your coach.
4. Set boundaries and enforce them—no matter how scary it feels
Boundaries are there to protect us. People with low self-esteem lack boundaries—so, set some. Take action and let the consequences follow. Ensuring that healthy people surround us is vital. Your head is full; it’s not available for bad tenants to rent out space in there.
5. Do at least two things (every day) that are just for you
It can be two small, five-minute things that you enjoy (or more if you can find the time), but make sure that you are investing time into yourself. You are worthy of two things that are just for you every 24 hours. If you have low self-esteem, this can evoke feelings of guilt. Remember to tell yourself that you are not taking anything away from anyone.
You are giving something back to yourself (and it’s quite overdue).
6. Be honest about the things that are bothering you
Facing up to the honest truth is not always comfortable, but honesty is how you move forward. If you are in a situation that you don’t like, be honest about it—work through the awareness of it. Living in denial (just because it’s more comfortable) won’t get you anywhere.
This is the time to start realizing that you don’t have to accept when bad things happen. Acknowledge your own discontent with it; you are entitled to emotion.
7. Do not commit to trying—commit to doing
This is a big message in any therapy or coaching session where you are setting goals.
Trying is not enough!
Say you will do something (that is achievable) and do it.
Write it down to be marked off and put out into the world—whatever it takes to commit. Once it is done, you have proven to yourself that you can achieve these things.
These seven tips are just the start, but they are necessary for building the bravery, compassion, loyalty, and honesty that you require to achieve a more fulfilling life.
You can only feel fulfilled when you are full on the inside; the outside will follow naturally.
By silencing your head’s critical voice, you are working toward the greater potential in yourself and those around you. You wouldn’t watch someone else being criticized continuously and think it’s okay. You’d have reservations about it. When you regularly criticize yourself, you play the role of both the abuser and the victim.
Your inner resentment grows toward the abuser (that’s you), and the victim feels powerless in their position (that’s also you).
It is about fucking time you start showing up for yourself.