So, life is humming along and, out of the blue, so it seems, you feel down in the dumps and you wonder: what just happened to my self-esteem? Why are my thoughts about myself so darn critical and belittling all the time? How did I lose sight of who I am? How do I get out of this labyrinth of dark self-loathing thinking?
First, let’s look at the signs of a healthy self-esteem:
- You know your needs (not wishy, washy wish list of stuff) and you ensure they are met in a healthy way
- You take ownership of what you need to do for yourself and you go after it – the small stuff and the bigger stuff
- You keep learning, trying new things, experiencing the world around you – in small and bigger ways
- You connect with your people and stay open to new acquaintances and relationships
- You are aware of what you can offer and you contribute to the world you live in – in small and bigger ways
- You have respect for yourself and a healthy mindset for personal growth and personal happiness
- You are able to overcome small and big setbacks or disappointments
- You recognize the “woe is me” symptoms (the victim) and you are able to shake them off and press on forward
- You are able to celebrate someone else’s success without feeling left out or feeling as one always missing out
- You have the ability to be content and experience happiness pretty much on a daily basis
Signs your self-esteem is under attack:
- You experience self-doubt almost on a daily basis
- You compare yourself to others pretty much all the time or over think what others might think
- You dismiss or minimize compliments from others
- You have little or no appreciation for your accomplishments – the small and bigger ones
- You are clueless as to your strengths and personality assets and what you contribute to the world around you
- You are afraid of trying new things and exploring new possibilities even to the point of staying in a rut
- You avoid social settings and sometimes even your own good friends and family members.
- You have trouble dealing with setbacks or disappointments – you might spiral into self-pity for days
- You have difficulty celebrating and honoring someone else’s success and accomplishments.
- You feel happiness is a word that rarely or never applies to you
For starters, you don’t just wake up one morning to find out your self-esteem is a 1 out of 10. Usually it is a slow and progressive decline, which gets you to that low number on the scale. A tough season is often what contributes to the downward spiral. This tough season can include many factors such as a difficult work or school environment, poor health, financial concerns, a falling out with a good friend, you have way too much on your plate or you are bored with your career and face no healthy personal challenge. Another contributor to low self-esteem is your unhealthy internal dialogue. That can be a real biggee!
related: Small Changes Go A Long Way
Regardless of how you got there, what matters is you are now aware your self-esteem is in need of your attention. That realization alone is your first step aligning you back to a healthier you.
The second step, which I believe, is the most crucial one: Become your own best friend!
“You have been criticizing yourself for years, and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” – Louise L. Hay
How does one become one’s best friend?
Start by reviewing and genuinely celebrating your accomplishments, the small ones and the bigger ones, of the last few years.
Pay attention to compliments others give you, acknowledge and internalize them. These are gold nuggets of truth that reflect what you project to others.
Find a tool that helps you examine your setbacks realistically with the goal of learning valuable wisdom.
Choose a few good individuals that become your wisdom counsel people. These are not perfect people – neither are you yet the power of hanging out can do wonders to help you get out of a debilitating fog.
Aim your focus in a direction that will give you an immediate positive outcome. It could be as simple as cleaning your socks drawer, making an appointment to the dentist or inviting a friend to “a fighting the blues” home cooked spaghetti diner. Repeat this one daily – maybe 2 to 3 times daily.
Brainstorm and define what would 5% personal growth look like for you?
Explore the possibility of talking to a professional. Maybe you need to find a therapist, a life coach or a mentor. This doesn’t have to be a lifelong commitment – a few sessions could be all you need for a push in the right direction.
Fostering a healthy realistic view of who you are is all about learning to first respect yourself, second developing an appreciation of your strengths and your weaknesses, and third honoring the unique individual that you are. I compare self-esteem to a muscle – you have to work at it to keep it strong. Pick one off the list of actions above and get started!
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