It’s interesting how sometimes a person you’ve never met can walk into a room and you can detect if they have high or low self-esteem.
A timid voice, poor social skills, a lack of assertiveness or the opposite – an aggressive nature, all point to signs of low self-esteem.
But a head held high, a wide smile, a confident, humble, kind demeanor – these are all qualities of someone with high self-esteem.
Everyone wants it. But unfortunately, we can’t achieve it by snapping our fingers. Self-esteem is a complex concept, so let’s start with the definition.
Our self-esteem is based on how much we value ourselves and how competent we feel in life.
To be clear, it’s different from self-confidence.
Our self-confidence is wrapped up in our ability to do something successfully.
Self-esteem is our sense of how worthy and capable we are. It refers to the extent to which we like, accept and approve of ourselves.
Now, we all have higher opinions of certain aspects of ourselves and lower opinions of other aspects.
So the question is, where do these opinions come from?
The good news about self-esteem is that it’s possible to improve with the right tools and an effort to change. And with a newfound sense of self-worth, we have the ability to become centered and confident in our true self.
Challenging your core beliefs.
Often, our critical beliefs are inspired by other people: our parents, our peers, or through media and culture. There may be a specific event that influenced that notion. So you may be able to trace that criticism or belief back to a time in your past.
We’ve grown so accustomed to hearing these thoughts we don’t challenge them even though they may not be true. Out of habit we just keep repeating them over and over.
The more often our thoughts go by unchallenged, the stronger they become. So we want to pay attention to our inner critic and start to question the validity of our thoughts.
Once we’ve done that, we can take the next step and reframe them.
Regardless of whether you can recall the origin of the criticism, ask yourself the following question:
What if that belief isn’t true?
Or what if it’s only a partial truth?
What if it’s an exaggeration or an assumption or misinterpretation and that belief is hurting you?
Releasing limiting beliefs.
Thoughts trickle into our unconscious mind and become our core beliefs, but the good news is no matter how ingrained they are it’s possible to let them go.
So the next question is, are you ready to do that?
Are you willing to release that criticism?
Or are you at least willing to see how it would feel to be free of that belief?
Keeping in mind that all your strengths and weaknesses make you human and unique.
And every moment is an opportunity to grow in your self-acceptance.
Imagine how it would feel to believe the opposite were true.
Or if that’s too far fetched, a kinder more balanced version of that thought.
You don’t have to try and create one now, just picture who you would be if you didn’t hold that critical belief about yourself.
So instead of telling yourself you’re foolish for making a mistake, remind yourself you’re human, it’s okay to trip, and you’re learning.
This can be hard to do at first so a helpful practice is to consider what you’d tell a friend who said the same thing.
We tend to be far more kind and compassionate to our friends than we are to ourselves.
Each time a self-critical thought comes up, challenge it by replacing it with a kinder, more balanced one.
Sense how liberating it would feel to be free of it. What it would do to your self-esteem.
The more we pay attention to our self-critical thoughts and beliefs, the more skilled we become in catching and reframing them.
When that happens, we begin to see the person we deserve to see when looking in the mirror. And we feel a kind affection for ourselves in our heart.
In our 7 Days of Self-Esteem program we explore how self-esteem is developed and how to improve it. You’ll learn techniques to challenge your thoughts, quiet your inner critic, soften your perfectionistic ways and drop your comparisons. You’ll also develop the ability to enhance your level of self-acceptance and self-compassion.