And here’s how it went…
Self-esteem. This is a very loaded word which corresponds to how we feel about ourselves. When we’re young and the world hasn’t impressed upon us how we should think, feel, and look it’s easy for us to have a good sense of self-worth, for us to feel special. The older we get the bigger the internal struggle we feel with outside influences to truly love ourselves. It’s hard sometimes to reconcile myself as a Christian when God says we should love our neighbor as we love ourselves. I know I do my best to love others but it does beg me to question: can we really truly love others if we do not love ourselves fully?
The ugly truth to that question is that we can’t. Until we make peace with our own strengths and weaknesses we can never truly appreciate and understand someone else’s. In my last post, I discussed my life long battle with anxiety, which often goes hand-in-hand with my self esteem. If you ask me how my self-esteem is, I’ll tell you it depends on the day. I have days and weeks where my self-esteem is top notch then I have other days where I can barely look in the mirror. If you ask my husband, however, he will say I am my harshest critic. Whether it’s a comment about my body or on my character, I admittedly put myself down much more then I raise myself up. This is a very unsettling self-assessment.
The moment I decided that I wanted to write this, I knew I wanted to do this realistically and in the most authentic way possible. In the slew of Internet findings there are dozens of articles on how to improve your self-esteem but one particularly caught my eye. It came from a blog called the positivity blog and it was how to improve your self-esteem: 12 powerful tips. My first thought of course was, oh I like power! When I read the article I definitely found that these were exercises I could try and report back on here if they were successful for me or not. So without further ado I give you the list of 12 steps to improve your self-esteem, courtesy of The Positivity Blog, along with my results.
1. Say stop to my inner critic.
According to The Positivity blog ” a good place to start with raising your self-esteem is by learning how to handle and to replace the voice of your own inner critic.”
The first two days this practice was rough for me. Honestly, I was tempted to put myself down several times but I also noticed a pattern. These thoughts tended to come to mind when I was getting dressed or putting on my makeup for the day. The positivity blog suggested saying “no no no no, we’re not going there” to myself but I found this method as successful as Hillary Clinton telling the truth. Instead whenever I was forced to look at myself in the mirror and felt obligated to put myself down I remembered something key in breaking the pattern. I thought like this while I was doing things I’m really good at. When I spend a night listening to beach waves under the unconditionally loving arm of my husband, when I finish either a digital or hand drawn/painted portrait, when I help my friends work through an issue, or spend time with my niece and nephew, and help a co-worker through her growing pains at work I feel exceptionally good about myself. So I took this tip with a twist, every time I looked myself in the mirror as I prepped for the day and my inner critic voiced its displeasure I countered back to it with a, “yes I may have put on weight, but I’m an excellent wife, friend and aunt.” Countering with a positive seemed very forced at first but by Thursday I found it was quite natural. A positive for every negative.
2. Use healthier motivation habits.
According to step two of the Positivity Blong “To make the inner critic less useful for yourself and that voice weaker and at the same time motivate yourself to take action and raise your self-esteem it is certainly helps to have healthy motivation habits.”
So how did I interpret this into my self esteem routine? I wrote a list of things I didn’t like about myself…
1. My weight- Okay, yes! I get it! Well, what can I do to change this? I can start walking more, eat healthier for sure and drink more water. This is very changeable. I also need to accept that the girl who was a size 5 jeans is gone. My body has changed, I’m a woman, I’m older and I need to learn to love my curves. So I did, I stood in the mirror and looked at my body and found things I did like. I won’t share them on here but I will say it was harder at first then I’d first imagined but once I began to compliment myself it became easier. Yes, I still want to be like 30 pounds lighter and I’m confident I will be but I needed to love myself today to help myself tomorrow.
2. I Start Things Without Finishing Them- whether it be my writing this blog or a novel I’ve been working with on and off, I get pumped about an idea begin working on it feverishly then when life and anxiety gets in the way I just stop committing to it. I can correct this by committing to writing things I’m passionate about…I think I just tired too hard to appeal to the masses and get this blog noticed that as a result my posts were forced but ever since I’ve been writing about my real life struggles and world issues which matter to me I’ve found my writing came more effortless and enjoyable. It’s a work in progress but I’m finding my groove and I’m happy with that.
3. Take a 2 minute self-appreciation break.
According to The Positivity Blog “This is a very simple and fun habit. And if you spend just two minutes on it every day for a month then it can make huge difference. Here’s what you do: Take a deep breath, slow down and ask yourself this question: what are 3 things I can appreciate about myself?”
So there I sat with a pencil in hand and wrote three things I appreciate about myself:
1. I’ve laughed in the face of adversity more times then I can count.
2. I can give people really solid advice and make them feel better.
3. My empathy
It wasn’t much but it was a start…a sort of, I love me proclaimation…soon I was able to write all my positive traits on an index card
4. Write down 3 things in the evening that you can appreciate about yourself
The Positivity Blog calls this “a variation of the habit above and combining the two of them can be extra powerful for two boosts in self-esteem a day.” Basically an affirmation was what I took it as.
1. I made an amazing dinner…chicken and mashed potatoes. Tom really enjoyed it.
2. I am a child of God and wife of an amazing God-Fearing man.
3. I have very beautiful eyes.
As I kept track of different things I loved about myself as the week progressed, I found it was awesome confidence boosters for when I was feeling down.
5. Do the right thing
The Positivity Blog talks about doing the right thing to help boost confidence. So I began a mission called: Friendly Friday’s where I do a random act of kindness anonymously. Whether it’s buying a co-worker coffee and leaving it on the table when she bemoans she’s tired, allowing someone to pull out in front of me or leaving a nickel in the vending machine random acts of kindness no matter how small have helped me to feel good about myself.
The other seven things the blog spoke about consisted of basically about breaking habits of perfectionism, handling mistakes/failures better, being kinder to others and not comparative, spending time with supportive people and staying motivated to loving myself.
Of these seven things I’d say most can be considered in your best interest to curb or cut out completely. For instance, perfectionism is good but sometimes its self destructive, especially for me. My best is never good enough for myself, if success isn’t met then I go into self defeat mode. This week, however, my mantra was, “I did my best that’s all I can do. I did my best and that’s good enough for me” and it was oddly refreshing, when I focused on the good I accomplished I was able to write my daily list easier. Letting go of the idea of everything going “how it’s supposed to go” helped me to grasp how to handle my failures better in the future. Also you are who you hang out with, let your tribe be filled with people who love and support you and help build up both your self esteem and character. I am fairly blessed in this way as I have an amazing tribe of family and friends who although flawed like me do their best to raise me up each day. Nobody is perfect everyone,including me, will fall short of someone’s expectations at times and as human beings that’s OK.
In today’s world we’ll always be confronted with someone who has the perfect body, the perfect job, the seemingly perfect life and if we hold her selves to someone else’s standard we stifle what is unique about ourselves. We will never be happy with ourselves and our loved ones if we are always looking for our lives to be like someone else’s.
So my overall opinion after going all week following the steps on the Positivity Blog was although at times it was extremely overwhelming to face a lot of uncomfortable truths when it came to how I saw myself I realized that we all have the power to change the way we see ourselves by taking small steps. Would I say the 12 steps to better self-esteem fixed me in the week that I did it? No, I’m a work in progress but it did help me to pin point ways to make small changes in the way I see myself and that’s fine by me.
You can check out the Positivity Blog ‘s article here: How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips
How would you rate your self esteem? Leave your thoughts and comments below…
Love you. Mean it.