What is self-esteem?
Written by Cíara Ní Nualláin Le Chéile Coordinator/ Psychotherapist.
What exactly is self-esteem? Self-esteem is about valuing oneself and it is also about measuring how valuable we see ourselves in the eyes of others. Self-esteem is a fundamental aspect to our being and it affects our trust in ourselves and others, our relationships; and it is a key factor in each aspect of our daily lives.
We can all go through stages of having low self-esteem and some of us may have never known what a healthy level of self-esteem feels like. Self-esteem is something I have come to look at a lot as I navigated my own personal journey. I believe it is something that should be nurtured in young children to build their self-love and their resilience to difficulties they may meet as they grow into their adult lives.
We are brought up to think loving ourselves is a bad thing. The term ‘she loves herself’ has always had such negative connotations. We are hardwired to criticise ourselves but with practice we can teach our brain to do things differently. We need to go back to basics. I have been practicing a number of tools and some days they work; other days they don’t and I need to try something else. There is nothing ever wrong with starting again, that’s how we learn. You’re always going to have a bad day but the more you practice strategies which work for you the less stressful or long your down days can become.
Tips to improve your self-esteem
Here are a few ideas that are professed to work and try one at a time to see how they may work for you.
Self-care can be anything from eating a good breakfast to exercise. It lies in the art of saying no; one of the hardest words any of us can say without feeling pangs of guilt. It means to put yourself first. It means looking at how you speak to yourself.
Stop comparing yourself to others
We are all guilty of it. We think we know so much about other people’s lives but in reality there’s more to their lives than what we see on facebook. Be proud of yourself; including your perceived flaws and relish your uniqueness. Always try find one thing to be grateful for even on those terrible days and it can really help broaden your perspective.
Let go of perfectionism
There is no perfect world out there and striving for perfectionism all the time leads to unhappiness. Everyone wants the perfect body, the perfect family, the perfect home but they don’t exist; it’s a construct of society and the media. Love who you are. Revel in choice and don’t fear mistakes.
Let go of expectations of others
A lot of the time we can feel let down by how we think things should be or how we expect things to go. Expectation leads to feeling let down which we can turn in on ourselves. We are human and as human beings we are fallible. Remembering this we can be happier in our relationships as we won’t feel hard done by when a friend backs out of doing something they had a agreed to for example.
It sounds so simple but it is one of the hardest things to do. We can be busy trying to make people happy by acting a certain way and cutting parts of ourselves off. We look for validation from others but we need to validate ourselves. Spending time trying to please others moves you farther away from yourself and farther away from happiness and contentment. As the saying goes:
‘be yourself because life is too short to be anybody else’.