Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3 Ways to improve your self-esteem

I have purposefully avoided the self-esteem topic for several months now. It is such a ridiculous struggle that I get so sick of hearing about and dealing with. I am embarrassed to admit that I still fall into this shallow, self-pitying dilemma. Logically, I know all of the many reasons why I should love myself. The primary reason being that I am a daughter of God who deserves love, respect and to be nurtured...especially by me. I know that if I don't love myself first that two things will happen. First, I will not understand how anyone could love me so I will look for reasons to disprove any such evidence, therefore stifling and damaging vital relationships. I don't see the love that is being expressed and use that as further proof that I am undeserving of such a gift. 

The second issue that will arise if I don't love myself is that I will lose the ability to genuinely care for others. My lack of compassion for myself becomes projected onto other people. I'm quick to find fault, especially those I care about most. My children, my husband, my parents and siblings are constantly unable to fulfill my high expectations. They continually let me down, irritate me, hurt my feelings or annoy me. 

So, why does this problem still occur? I have come leaps and bounds from where I was as an insecure teenager, but at sensitive moments, such as pregnancy, those same waves of insecurity come flooding back. Because I often base my self-worth solely on my physical appearance, my confidence is deflated when unpleasant changes in my body occur. I think most women experience this to some degree, which is why I want to share my thoughts. Here are a few key points that have helped improve my self-esteem.

1.) Honest Self-evaluation

When I evaluate myself, honestly, I can find many beautiful and wonderful attributes. Yes, I make mistakes, but generally I am a good person. I am a caring wife and mother. I can share my talents, experiences, hope, creativity and compassion easily with others. When we look deep inside ourselves we can all find those innate characteristics that make us amazing people. It was recommended to me that I make a list of all the things I do well. When I couldn't think of anything else I had to ask someone close to me (such as a spouse or parent) what else I could add to the list. It was really amazing to see everything on paper that I did well. Even if it is something as simple as being punctual or making really yummy mint-lemonade. Beauty comes in many forms. 

2.) Forgive Yourself

When I forgive myself of my faults, my past and everyday shortcomings, I can move forward with a more positive perspective. There will always be the haters. There will always be those little voices in your head or in real life pointing out your imperfections. But rather than indulging those voices I have to make a conscious choice to ignore and even contest those accusations. I stop those comments or thoughts with a strong and calm, "no, that's not true. I'm really good person." As corny as it sounds, when self-forgiveness and positive self-talk become a habit it's hard to get caught up in shallow things like the number on the scale. 

3.) Stop Comparing

As a Christian I believe that envy and jealousy are sins. Yet, they are subtle and therefore creep in almost unnoticed on a daily basis. I look at other women's bodies, hair, clothes, make-up, house, car, the way her children are dressed, career, etc., etc....and I make a quick determination if I rank higher or lower than her. That split-second evaluation is deadly to my self-esteem! In these moments I'm either giving myself credit for something superficial or punishing myself for something that doesn't matter. This has been refereed to by mental health professionals as "self-plagiarism". Comparing ourselves to others is a completely inaccurate evaluation of self-worth. We will continually be disappointed in our findings.   

As I expressed earlier, we all go through phases of being self-confident and less-than-so. There is always growth to be made. Finding love for myself and understanding that as a human being my life has worth, is extremely powerful and liberating. It may seem so simple and basic to some, but for those of us who have lived without this belief, it means the difference between a life of happiness or misery.

You are beautiful!

1 comment:

  1. I just happened across your blog and for a definite reason. You wrote this for me! Thank you!! You are such an insightful women and a talented writer, and I'm sure you didn't know at the time that your profound words would bless another. You are beautiful, and one of the most courageous women I know!