“Tell me how a person judges his or her self-esteem and I will tell you how that person operates at work, in love, in sex, in parenting, in every important aspect of existence – and how high he or she is likely to rise. The reputation you have with yourself – your self-esteem – is the single most important factor for a fulfilling life.” ~Nathaniel Branden
When I was a little girl I dreamt of becoming a teacher when I grow up. But low self-esteem stopped me. It was like a giant wall between me and teaching.
I thought about teaching for many years. Yet, I didn’t do anything about it. Until one day a few years ago, when everything changed.
I told my fiancé about my dream. He told me to go for it.
Although I wanted to teach, thinking about it made me scared. I told him I couldn’t do it. “I’m too shy and nervous. I don’t have enough confidence. How can I stand in front of a classroom and teach?”
“June,” he replied. “You can do it! Just believe in yourself. You’ve got all the qualities. And there is no way I’m going to agree that you can’t teach a class. If you don’t try how will you ever know?”
He eventually convinced me. His encouragement and support helped boost my self-esteem. I enrolled on a teacher training course. A year later, I was a qualified teacher.
If I didn’t take action to change my life, I wouldn’t have progressed.
The tips I’m about to share with you, are the same tips I used to develop my self-esteem.
Be kind to yourself and don’t put yourself down
When you have low self-esteem it’s easy to put yourself down.
Or speak negative words such as:
- I look awful.
- I can’t do anything right.
- I’m a mess.
- I’ll never be able to make it in life because I’m not good enough.
Those words will embed themselves deep within your mind. What you think about yourself, and say to yourself consistently, will become a part of who you are.
I knew a lady who was always sick. She either had headaches, a bad knee, kidney stones or something else. Every week she suffered from an illness. And every day she fed those sicknesses with her words.
She would say to herself, “Oh you poor soul. I am so sick. My head hurts. My poor kidney! Oh my bad knee!” The negative words she spoke about her health became a part of her daily activities.
I was tired of listening to her nursing her aches and pains. So, I asked her, “Do you know that those words are probably making you worse? Try saying that you’re well. You’re not sick and you’re healthy.” She looked at me like I was mad.
“I can’t say those things. How can I say that when I’m so ill?”
I tried to tell her that if she changed her thinking and the words she spoke, her health might improve. But it was too late. She was 81 and set in her ways. Because she had affirmed those self-destroying words for years, they became part of her personality. She saw herself as a ‘poor, sick old soul.’
Although this story is about negative words and health issues, it also applies to your self-esteem. Be careful with your words.
What I’m trying to say is, change your thought patterns and the words you speak about yourself.
“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.” ~ Bettie Eadie (from ‘Embraced By the Light’) ~
Affirm positive words to yourself every day
The best way to reinforce positive words is to repeat them every day. Type or write them on cards. Keep them by your bedside. In the morning before you take your shower or bath, read them aloud. Or maybe stick a card on your mirror. As you brush your hair, read the words again.
I suggest that you use one affirmation for a whole week.
These are examples of some positive affirmations. Please add to them so that the words are meaningful to you.
- I forgive myself for all negative thoughts and imperfect actions, past, present and future.
- I am confident, self-assured, strong and healthy.
- I am proud of who I am now and of who I will become in the future.
- I am a winner and not a loser.
- I love every part of my personality.
- I am thankful for my life because I am a valuable contribution to society.
- I love every part of my body unconditionally.
- I believe in myself and I will achieve my goals in life.
- I refuse to think negative thoughts about myself.
“Everyone’s a star and deserves the right to twinkle.” ~ Marilyn Monroe
Step out of your comfort zone and improve yourself
“If there’s something about yourself that you don’t like, take steps to change it.” ~ Dr. Greene.
Coming out of your comfort zone will build your confidence and develop your self-esteem. You need to feel the fear and do it anyway. Sometimes the best way to develop your self-esteem is to take a bold step in order to change your attitude.
Would you like to be more confident? Do you criticise yourself for not doing better in life? Well, you can change your life. You just have to want to.
If you’re in a dead-end job you hate, make a change. You might have to take a course to improve your skills or develop new ones. But you must take action to make that change happen.
Maybe you’re lonely and feel isolated. The solution is to make new friends. These are some of the things you can do to help you connect with other people and develop your self-esteem.
- Join a gym.
- Once a month do something that you’ve never done before, like taking a train to a new city and spending the day there.
- Start a brand new hobby. Maybe there’s something that you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have enough confidence. I joined the choir at church. It made me closer to the other members in the choir and developed my confidence.
- Enrol on an evening or weekend class to learn a new fun skill. And make some friends in the process.
- If you’re a mum looking after your young child at home, go to mother and toddler groups to socialise with other mums. You will both benefit from mixing with others.
- Visit museums. Approach someone else that you see on their own and speak to them. I’ve made so many friends by saying hello to people I didn’t know. And conversations naturally developed . I met someone at a bus stop many years ago. She later became my best friend.
- Smile when you’re out. You’ll be surprised how many people will smile with you. That will definitely make you feel good about yourself.
Exercise and build your self-esteem
Exercise is good for the body and the soul. It produces serotonin, which is a feel-good factor. Exercising on a regular basis will produce more energy. You’ll feel more enthusiastic and upbeat as a result. And when you feel good about yourself, your self-esteem will automatically improve.
Set long-term goals and take small steps to meet them
My long-term goal was to become a teacher. In order for me to do that, I had to meet a short-term goal first. I signed up for part-time evening classes. I attended the classes one evening a week for two hours over three terms. I passed my exams and got my qualifications.
I then started working towards my long-term goal. I went to university full-time for one year, worked hard, passed all the assessments and qualified as a teacher.
That was a turning point for me. After that, I saw myself in a positive light and my self-confidence went through the roof. I achieved something I didn’t think was possible. And one of my dreams became a reality.
Think about what you would like to do, make a plan, take steps towards it and stick to your plan. Also, make sure you keep track of your progress.
Congratulate yourself every time you meet a goal, and treat yourself to something nice. Rewarding yourself for your successes will boost your self-esteem.
Look after yourself
“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one’s own sunshine.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Don’t stand in your own sunshine. Instead, let your sun shine on you to radiate your inner and outer beauty. Do the things that make you feel good. But most importantly love yourself, accept yourself for who you are, and believe that you are a wonderful person.
Value yourself and don’t say things to yourself that you wouldn’t say to friends or family. You are just as important as they are. In fact, you are more important to you than to anybody else.
If your low self-esteem stems from a deep emotional pain, you may need to get professional help from a counsellor or therapist. They will put strategies in place to help you develop your self-esteem.
Have you suffered from low self-esteem? What did you do to develop it? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.