How do we begin to improve our self-esteem?
One of the first steps in building our self-esteem is to believe that it is possible to do it. It is also necessary to believe in ‘self-help’.
For most people the lack of healthy self-esteem is whilst serious, not so debilitating that professional intervention is necessary. Sadly for some, professional help is necessary at least initially. If we are concerned about a young child having very low self-esteem then it is much better to seek out some professional guidance.
It is when first recognizing the need for improving our self-esteem, or self-image, that the success stories of others can be of most help. Feeling isolated and helpless is a very difficult starting point for self-help.
Thankfully, with the development of the internet, one of the greatest benefits is having access to millions of other individuals without necessarily leaving your sitting room. When you see how many people have benefited from the stories of others it gives real hope. One of the worst things about lacking in self confidence is feeling that no one else knows what its like.
Once you can believe in the possibility of change through self-help, you can review the methods advocated by experts, professionals, and individuals who have managed to improve their lives by learning how to value themselves.
Valuing yourself is also about valuing others. It is recognizing that we all have rights, we all have value, and we also all have a responsibility to behave in an appropriate way to each other.
There are various ways in which we can start to build our self-esteem, some are physical, and some are about training ourselves to think and act positively.
Physical health is really very important too. A healthy body helps you to have a healthy attitude. Regular exercise makes you feel good physically. It helps you sleep well, and both exercise and sleep help you function well mentally as well as physically.
How we feel can be affected by the production of chemicals and hormones, which is closely linked to our generally physical wellbeing.
Eating a good diet, and avoiding foods that have a dramatic up and down effect on your blood sugars, will help keep you calm and focused. Too much carbohydrate, particularly sugars, can give feelings of physical low or high.
It is far better to keep a regular blood sugar level by eating the right foods, and eating little and often. Snacking on fast food is definitely not that good for blood sugar levels. It is far better to eat ‘brain’ food and healthy foods, like celery sticks, carrots, cucumber sticks, and fresh raw vegetables, than packets of crisps, salty nuts and biscuits.
You also need to set some guidelines for how you are going to spend your time.
In addition to a healthy diet, regular exercise and getting enough sleep, you should ensure that you make time to enjoy yourself. We often feel we ‘should’ be doing this or that, and feeling guilty about time spent just enjoying ourselves.
However, have fun and enjoyment helps our systems release ‘good’ natural chemicals. Laughing is now known to be incredibly good for our health. If we are smiling and happy, we are likely to make the people around us comfortable. If we are frowning, looking worried, and generally miserable, we will be giving the wrong signals to people around us.
Think about what hobbies or interests you would like to spend time on. We all like different things and have different lives. Some of us like sports, whilst others are not sporty but still need some exercise.
There is no point in forcing yourself to join a team sport when really you would get far more enjoyment if you had two long walks a week, and read one or two good books. However some of us really don’t enjoy reading, but love joining in with sports and activities.
Whatever we choose, we should be thinking about spending less time in front of the TV or the computer screen, and more time in the fresh air, reading a good book, learning a new skill, or developing a new hobby.
Finding something that is of real interest is important.
One regularly recommended activity is yoga. For centuries this has been considered to be one of the best activities for our bodies, our minds, and our nervous systems. Most yoga teachers will incorporate into their classes, some relaxation techniques. These are often accompanied by ‘affirmations’ like ‘everything is good in my world’ ‘I am happy and healthy and love life’
Yoga is best learned with a teacher, as it is important not to strain the body and posture is very important. However there are tapes and DVDs and lots of books if you can’t find a class locally.
Most people who practice yoga find that it has improved their lives immeasurably both physically and mentally. They feel more relaxed, physically fitter, and more limber. They become comfortable with ‘positive thinking’ and understand that thinking negatively is not healthy. With yoga we learn to relax, and we learn the importance of living a healthy life and making sensible decisions in order to care for our bodies and our minds.
Getting things into perspective is also very important. Learning not to dwell on things when they go wrong is a good way of leaving some damaging thoughts behind you.
Once something has happened, it has happened – and it is gone. We can learn from events, but there is no value in worrying about something that is now in the past, and about which you can do nothing. You can’t go back and change it.
It is worth remembering too, that other people probably won’t remember it – they won’t be thinking about it each time they see you – they won’t judge your whole character on the basis of it either.
Someone once said to me that unless something is still going to be a problem a year next Wednesday, you might as well just let it go! And how many things are there to worry about a year next Wednesday? Not many! Carrying worrying and negative thoughts around with you is a burden. It stops you dealing with the next thing with an open and positive mind. It limits your opportunity to do well in the next thing you do
So don’t feel you must be overly critical of yourself, and when you achieve something, you should pat yourself on the shoulder, reward yourself if you think it appropriate. Again don’t dwell on it – there will be lots of other successes.
Sometimes of course, times are tough. Work is hard, things don’t go right, and people around you are putting you under pressure. Learn that it is best not to let things get you down too much.
Sometimes we need to take time out to think about something that is happening. Ask ourselves what if anything we can do to make things better. If it’s a situation that we cannot influence, sometimes we have to just hang on in there and carry on.
Put on a brave face, chin up and try and behave as though all is well. Soon it will be, and you will have shown self-belief that you will get through a tough time. You will have learnt to believe in yourself. This is success!
Success builds on success – it really is true. Once you begin to believe in yourself it feels like a weight is lifted and your enjoyment of life increases. Everything seems to be suddenly more achievable.
The ability to help ourselves is invaluable. Sometimes however hard it is to do, we benefit enormously by asking others to help us too. It is hard sometimes to know where to start, and hard to know exactly what help you are asking for. Although it’s hard to do, sometimes it’s helpful to ask your friends or family for their honest input.
Finding out how others see us is difficult but valuable. Find someone you trust and ask them how they see you. Ask them what it is about you that they think defines you. They may tell you they feel you are honest, loyal, and caring. They may say they think you have a wonderful sense of humor.
Try drawing up a list of what you think are your strengths and weaknesses and ask your friends if they think this is a true assessment.
We are none of us perfect, so if we are told that some ‘home truths’ about our character it’s not the end of the world. If we don’t realize these things we are not likely to think about changing them for the better.
Developing good self-esteem is also about being realistic. It is not necessary to suddenly aspire to dizzy heights of success in everything you do. It is about understanding where your strengths and weaknesses are, and thinking about how you can make the most of the former, and improve on the latter.
It is about knowing that you are what you are, and knowing that you can be a positive, confident person, worthy of being loved and respected.
If you want to know how to pick up girls you need to know that but you feel unable to approach friends or family, consider talking to a professional. Most large organizations will have counseling services available for their employees, and if you are a student, there will be counseling services available within nearly all educational institutions.
Counselors will deal with your concerns in a confidential way. You don’t have to tell anyone else if you don’t want to. Whilst it used to be unusual for people to have counseling, life has become much more complex for many of us, and counseling is now seen as a sensible way to deal with problems and promote good health.
Counseling is a very personal thing. It is essential to feel confident in your counselor. Remember that you should have the right to reject a counselor if you are not happy with them. Ask you could see someone else if you feel uncomfortable. This in itself is a difficult task for someone with low self-esteem, but it is worth it – and so are you!!