I’m finding more and more that the media is pushing a carbon-copy view of how people should act and look. I don’t want to be a copycat of someone else. I like who I am, quirks and all. I can’t say I was always that way, though. I wanted to look and be like my friends when I was in high school and younger. However, that was never going to happen. I grew up in an area where 99% of the people came from a different part of the world than my parents. So, instead, I had to focus on being the best me possible or my self-esteem would have suffered. Keeping my self-esteem in check is still a work in progress to this day.
Self-esteem comes from how valuable you think you are. It’s a combination of who you think you are, who others think you are, and who you’d like to be. Your past and present successes and failures, and the support and recognition you have received from important people in your life, e.g. parents, friends, teachers or employers all play a part in your self-esteem.
If your self-esteem is low, not only are you giving yourself negative messages, you end up approaching life and people with a negative attitude. This method keeps negativity alive around you and can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy (your negative expectations come true, sometimes resulting in rejection or failure).
Changing the way you view yourself helps improve self-esteem. If you think you could feel better about yourself, these tips might give you some ideas about how to start.
What do you say about yourself?
We all carry-on dialogue in our heads. Have you ever listened to what you say about yourself internally and to others? Do you put yourself down or call yourself names? Listen to what you say about yourself. When you find you’re thinking or saying something negative about yourself, replace it with something positive. Here are some examples.
Positive self-esteem statements
- I like myself.
- I value myself.
- I remember my successes.
- I see mistakes as a way to learn.
- I focus on positive feedback from others.
- I look for ways to make positive changes.
- I have a self-improvement program.
- I try to take action rather than just plan it.
Statements to avoid
- I’m no good.
- I’m not like ________ (name).
- I’ll never be successful.
- I fail at lots of things.
- I don’t get enough approval.
- Stop negative self-talk to take the first step towards building a positive self-image.
Make a list of your achievements, no matter how small they may seem to you. They may not mean anything to anyone else, but your accomplishments have worth to you. For example, you decided to cut out caffeine and finally kicked the habit; you finished a project a week earlier than planned; you learned a new skill, or you changed your spending habits.
By recognizing your accomplishments, you can begin to understand your importance and that you have self-worth.
Keep negativity away
Keep negativity away as much as possible. Spend time with people who value you and who make you happy. Listen to what they say about you. If others are always putting you down, you might want to reconsider those relationships or at a minimum spend less time with them. It might be difficult, for example, if they’re in your family, however, you can try to focus on the positive things others say about you instead.
Keeping negativity away also holds true if you’re active online and you are experiencing negativity or bullying through one or more of your accounts, whether it’s Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or another account, you may want to stay off of it for a while.
Think about it this way, the people you choose to be around, and the things you decide to do, often mirror how you feel about yourself. So what message are you sending when you keep people or things in your life that don’t make you feel your best?
Assertiveness simply means expressing your thoughts, feelings and opinions in a manner that is direct but respectful of the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others. Learn to be assertive and to practice clear communication. Some of the things you can do to be more assertive include:
- Recognize yourself as an equal with others. You deserve the same respect as everyone.
- Protecting your rights is your responsibility. You need to stand up for yourself.
- Always acknowledge and respect the rights and needs of others.
- Be comfortable saying no. It’s most often our own worries that stop us from saying no in situations when we need to stand up for ourselves.
- Say what you mean but be respectful of what others have to say. Remember that you have rights, too. Looking after yourself does not mean you are selfish; it’s key to your health.
Be tolerant of yourself and others. Nobody’s perfect. Try not to criticize yourself or other people regularly, and don’t think it’s normal for others to criticize you regularly. When you feel like you’re about to criticize something about yourself of someone else, take stock of the things that are most important in life. Whose standards are you trying to meet or do you think the other person should meet? Are they yours, your parents, a partner or an employer?
Once you realize that standards are different for everyone and some of them may be unrealistic, you’ll be on the road to becoming more tolerant, productive and happier.
Don’t be afraid to try any steps to help increase your self-esteem. Although it’s difficult to take risks when you lack confidence in yourself, expect the positive! If you need support, it’s important to talk to a mental health professional, healthcare professional or counselor, especially if you’re also experiencing feelings of depression or sadness.
Do you have any tips for keeping a healthy amount of self-esteem?