Self-esteem is the way that you think of yourself, your self-image. But more than self-image, esteem is the way that you talk to yourself inside your head: your self-talk
Most people are talking NEGATIVELY to themselves instead of talking POSITIVELY.
Positive self-talk is one of the biggest indicators of self-confidence and self-esteem. On the flip side, negative self-talk is one of the primary causes of low self-esteem, giving up, and a lack of interest in even trying.
As a society, we often blame a person’s low self-esteem on outside factors. The way they were treated by their parents. The way that school children or work colleagues treat them. The images they see in the media: super-thin models, good-looking artists, successful businessmen, etc.
These are all elements that can contribute to low self-esteem, yes. But the root cause of esteem is still internal: the way you perceive yourself, and the thoughts that you have about yourself.
It’s a very serious issue. And certainly not something that can be solved in a single book. Many people, young people especially, have deep-rooted confidence issues which stem from horrible upbringings, traumatic experiences, and a real belief that, no matter what they do in life, they can never get ahead and succeed.
These beliefs, which manifest themselves at an early age, take root and create a lifetime of agony, pain, bitterness, and suffering. This can lead to worse societal issues, like violence, crime, hatred, or just plain apathy.
So how can you eliminate low self-esteem? It doesn’t happen overnight, but there are certain steps to achieve it.
How to Gain Self-Esteem:
1. Make a commitment to be nice to yourself.
Start talking positively to yourself. That is the single greatest thing that you can do for your own self-esteem. Be encouraging, and be positive. Positive talk is at the root of all achievement and success. Make a daily practice out of saying nice things to people, and making positive statements about yourself. It may sound silly, but actually talk to yourself in the morning, when you are looking at yourself in the bathroom mirror. Make direct statements about your day – “I will close that sale.” “I will go tot the gym.” ”I’m going to look amazing in that new outfit.” I know that it’s super corny, but it does actually work. I’ve never admitted this before, but I speak to myself, when nobody else is looking. I make these positive affirmations, like Stuart Smalley from SNL. (I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and people like me.”)
2. Learn that it is okay to make mistakes.
We all do. I make more mistakes than I care to admit. In this one blog post alone I’ve probably made five mistakes. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop writing. I love writing, I love working on this blog, and it brings me happiness. To be honest, I don’t really care if I make little mistakes. Life keeps moving on. Learn to forgive yourself of mistakes and shortcomings. Imperfections are what make you perfect. Focus more on the big picture stuff. Work on getting that right. You can make small mistakes, so long as you are nailing the big stuff.
3. Exercise and breathe.
It is well known that exercise releases endorphins which make you feel good. Daily exercise actually gives you more energy throughout the day. Deep breathing will have the same effect. It is amazing that one of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies is deep breathing. Everyone is breathing all the time – it is a natural action. However, nobody actually concentrates on their breathing during the course of the day. Therefore, nobody is breathing with proper technique. My daily ritual includes waking up early to work out – either doing yoga or doing a circuit training. Yoga is the best workout, because it forces you to concentrate on your breathing, and to practice daily mindfulness.
4. Stop abusing drugs.
This may not be applicable to everyone, but a lot of people with self-esteem issues get caught in the cycle of drug and alcohol abuse, addiction, lies, and self-loathing. I’ve attended a couple AA meetings in the past, and I was shocked at the number of people – old and young – that attend on a daily basis. There are more people than you realize who suffer from addiction issues. Addiction is the leading result of low self-esteem and self-worth. If you believe that you might be one of them, then seek help. There is a community out there that is more than willing to help you.
5. Don’t live inside of your own head.
Talk to someone. Seek counseling. Write your thoughts down on paper. It is very important to talk to others, and realize that your problems are not your own. Human beings are a communal people, so we need the community in order to feel good. Don’t live in a vacuum.
To change our emotion requires changing two different core beliefs about self image. The first core belief is that we are not good enough. The second core belief to change is the image of success that we feel we should be. False self-images of perfection cause of low self-esteem and lack of confidence. We must not seek perfection. We must realize that we are all special because we are all created in the image of God, therefore ever single individual has special value and was put onto this earth for reason.
Finally, remember this important quote from Ghandi on change:
“Your beliefs become your thoughts,
Your thoughts become your words,
Your words become your actions,
Your actions become your habits,
Your habits become your destiny.”
As I said before, it’s not as simple as reading several blog posts with bullet points, a magazine article, or a TV show. It takes a real commitment to be positive and focus on mental health.
You cannot escape your own self-image, and you can not exceed it. What you can do, however, is change it. Your personal self-image can absolutely be managed, modified, and manipulated. It can be reverse-engineered to erase all negative or self-limiting beliefs, to create a new internal message of power and positivity.
We are our own self-fulfilling prophecies. We are a product of our internal beliefs and thoughts.
Whatever you don’t do as a way of routine or discipline has a way of not getting done.
You are what you constantly do. Your internal core beliefs eventually become your daily habits.
So focus on changing your core thoughts. Allows those thoughts to be positive and loving. Allow those thoughts to manifest themselves in your daily actions.