Insecurities and self esteem issues can cause a lot of problems in life. You may over extend yourself, say yes when you need to say no, or talk yourself out of goals and dreams. The good news is that Self Esteem is not fixed and inflexible- it can change and improve. With the right people, practice and positivity, you can change that pesky sense of self-doubt once and for all. Whether you’ve suffered with low self esteem you’re entire life, or you’ve recently gone through something hard and you’ve lost your confidence, you can make simple changes that will improve how you feel about yourself.
Why do I struggle with Self Esteem Issues More than Other People?
The development of self esteem over the course of a life time can be complex. A combination of personality type, nurturing experiences, peer influence and skills attainment affect a person’s self esteem. My blog post last week addressed this in detail and is worth the read if you want to understand the development of self esteem better. Once you discover where your Self Esteem may have gotten delayed or off course, you most likely be ready to start practicing ways to improve.
People who struggle with self esteem rarely count that at their only problem. They usually complain that their self esteem affects their performance at work, their confidence as a parent, who they chose as a spouse, and how satisfying their friendship are. If you feel negatively about yourself, your relationships, career and meaning in life will also suffer. Improving your own sense of self worth is an essential task in life to experience significance and happiness. Here are Six Simple Steps to Improve your Self Esteem and start feeling better!
How to Improve Self Esteem
- Get free of toxic people: Toxic people are those who are so self-absorbed and/or empty that they use up your energy, your good-natured generosity, or your positivity in exchange for their negativity, criticism, gossip or control. Their dysfunctional behavior patterns do more to bring you down, than up. It is impossible to heal or improve your self-esteem when you’re too close to the poison of toxic, self-centered and vampiric people.
- Nurture Positive Relationships: It may be impossible to eradicate toxic people from your life entirely, but maintaining other uplifting relationships is an essential task to improving self-esteem. Once you untangle yourself from negative people, it’s time to find healthier people who will add to your sense of self instead of take away from it. You may find these people while you volunteer in non-profit organizations, or participate in book clubs, writing groups, neighborhood or exercise meet-ups. Many churches have recognized the need for community, and have structured means to connect to support that need.
- Self Esteem Exercises: Whether you’re good at bargain hunting, decorating, painting, programming, hosting, training dogs, or hiking, to improve your self-esteem, you’ll need to practice the things you’re good at, and start adopting a few things that you’re not. In the context of doing something you’re good at, add something that you’re not so good at, like surfing, cooking, or art, and start learning. Learning and perfecting a new skill is highly gratifying and confidence boosting. It may require taking a class, going to a workshop, and getting certified at something you’re interested in. Many people who are healing from a broken relationship, will “re-tool” for a fresh start. Maybe they acquire a Pilates certification, or go back to school to change careers, or join a writing critique group. Learning and becoming competent at a new skill energizes all the right areas of brain and soul, and will help boost positivity and hopefulness.
- Change the Brain: Negative and critical thinking plague the person with a struggling self-esteem. But the good news is that even an old brain can learn new tricks. The brain likes to streamline and go into auto pilot. It doesn’t like to work hard, so it tries to go the easy way. So if your brain has a habit of thinking overly critical thoughts about yourself or others, or if it jumps to negative conclusions, worst case scenarios, or self-ruin, it can change with the right intervention. If your brain is in auto-pilot-negativity mode, it’s time to take back the controls and train it to respond in a new and better way. Stopping old cognitive patterns and replacing them with more helpful and effective thoughts will re-train the brain to streamline in a more positive way. The more you exercise these new patterns, the more automatic they become.
- Trauma Work: Self esteem development can get arrested, detained and imprisoned by traumatic events. Trauma can not only stunt healthy growth, it can also make a person distrusting, hyper-vigilant, and over-reactive. Treating the effects of trauma with proven trauma therapy like EMDR, LifeSpan Integration or Bio Feedback can release the imprisoned energy from the trauma memories and reset it to neutral. Finding a counselor or psychologist who have experience and training treating trauma is a great first step.
- Embrace Spirituality: There are many faith persuasions, and each person must decide for themselves about their belief system. I have found a few things that are helpful here. Though some refer to God as a Higher Power or the Universe, I like to see God as not only my benevolent Higher Power, but also someone I can talk with when needing rescue. Sometimes we are unable to muster strength, confidence or faith enough to do the hard things required of us in life. It’s those times that faith in a personal God can add to our sense of connection to Someone and something far greater than ourselves. In that spiritual connection, our sense of feeling loved, seen and cared for rejuvenates our esteem and confidence.
Improving the way you think about yourself and the way you interact with the world around you is a key element in growth, healing and influence. As you feel better about yourself, you will attract healthy people and positive outcomes. Your perspective will change, as well as your self-respect. Next week, we will talk about how to build your self esteem after a toxic relationship. See you then!