How do I Improve my Self Esteem?
By: Jessica Plancich, MFT
First of all, I want to congratulate you for even going this far and recognizing that you could have better self esteem. The process to improve and have healthy self esteem for the remainder of your life is a process that you’ll have to work at forever. It’s like dishes, laundry or brushing your teeth…just because you did it once doesn’t mean that it’s gone. It’s just one of those things that needs regular maintenance, which is what you’re doing now. Below are some key ideas for you to begin to consider and embrace if you want to feel better in the skin that you’re in.
Self Esteem Is a Choice
You’re already showing that you’re willing on some level to take action toward improving your self esteem, simply because you’re reading this page. How you choose to view yourself is entirely up to you. No one can force you to see yourself in any particular way. You may have influences, history or learning experiences in your past, but it takes you to buy into these ideas. It takes 2: one person or circumstance to try to influence you AND your participation and willingness to agree with it. Otherwise, it remains a neutral event and dies there. If you don’t like your reflection, you and you alone can shift that. That’s a good thing and a challenging thing.
Challenging if you don’t yet believe that you have the ability to change it.
Good since you have the full capacity to see yourself in any way you want.
Understand this completely. If you can’t accept this as possible and truthful, then you’ll have a hard time with anything else we present. If you are having a difficult time with this notion, ask us questions and seek some support (parents, a counselor) to assist you in grasping this idea.
Hand in hand with seeing your view of yourself as a choice is taking responsibility for your actions. Assuming a victim stance is the first give away that your self esteem needs work. I love to crack at this one; people don’t stay victims long when I’m around because I quickly get them to see how they’ve created their circumstances, so they can create others. You’ll get no pity from us, but you will get support and praise for becoming accountable to and for the only one that you are responsible for….YOU.
One of the outcomes of taking responsibility is solving problems in your life. When you recognize that something is not going the way you want it to, do something about it. Instead of staying in your problems, find solutions. Ask questions and be willing to hear answers that may be difficult to hear. That means that when a teacher, friend or coach gives you feedback about your behavior, see it as a chance to improve. It’s not YOU they’re judging, it’s your BEHAVIOR that they’re talking about. Try seeing it as something outside of you so that you don’t take it so personally.
Taking action toward finding a solution will build which your confidence. When you take on a challenge and strive toward a resolution, your sense of self improves each time, regardless of the outcome. Your willingness to seek answers is the most important self esteem building component here. Despite the consequences, your motivation to quest, inquire, explore and take action is key to improving your sense of worth. No one I know feels good about sticking their heads in the sand.
There are a few common things I see among those with a low sense of self worth…they see the world through dark and doomed lenses. They struggle to see the things in their lives that are flowing well. They have difficulty practicing gratitude for things like their health, having food to eat and family around them. They instead see the ONE aspect of their body that they don’t like, the material things they don’t have and want or the ways that their families are dysfunctional. Even if you got the things you want today, by next week, you’ll want something else, and else and else…until you spend your life chasing things and stuff, yet never satisfied and happy.
This way of doing life will leave you feeling satisfied If-and-only-if you fulfill your exact expectations of how things SHOULD be. By the way, this hardly ever happens, so it’s no wonder many spend so much time miserable. This leaves next to no wiggle room or possibility of anything else being useful or acceptable to you. This cuts off your recognition of the tons of things that are likely going your way.
Therefore, for the next week, for each time that you complain and moan about something, find something to be grateful for. For example, if your knee is in pain and you can’t use it very well, be thankful for even having a knee to use at all. There are lots of vets out there who’d love to have it.
Examine Your Expectations of Yourself
As you start to do things to improve your self esteem, I encourage you to do something different this time…be patient and kind to yourself. This is not something like taking a math test. This has no beginning or end; it’s a new way of being and a new lifestyle that you’re stepping into. This is related to the reason diets don’t work…people put a concentrated amount of effort for a specific amount of time, only to return to the unhealthy habits that broke their pant seams to begin with. Adjusting your lifestyle means practicing new ways of relating to yourself, today, tomorrow and forevermore.
Along these lines, I invite you to reconsider your expectation of perfection. Perfection is a changing set of notions that can and will mess up this process. Your version of perfect today will change a day, a month and a year from today. What are you chasing? This is a changing set of values that you think are important right now. Basing your worth off of that is like chasing your own tail. Consider giving it up watch how much happier you’ll be.
This means that there is no finish line and you’ll benefit from practicing these skills for the rest of your life. Sorry to break this to you, but this is not like a shot that you have once and forget about. This involves a shift in your perspective, including views of yourself, people and circumstances around you.
Jessica Plancich, MA, MFT is a licensed marriage family therapist with a background in clinical, spiritual and somatic psychology, reiki, yoga and massage therapy. She uses an integrative approach to healing and fuses Eastern and Western wisdom. Additionally, her company, Innerfinity specializes in assisting people to live from the heart and make choices in wellness, relationships and service that are motivated from the sage within. Through her own practices and insights, she hopes to inspire others to activate their intrinsic gifts and highest potential.