What Is Self Esteem and How Do I Get It?
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Jenny Charles MBACP (Accred)
13th April, 2007
You can't touch it, but it affects how you feel. You can't see it but it's there when you look at yourself in the mirror. You can't hear it, but it's there every time you talk about yourself. Self esteem is how much you value yourself and how important you think you are. It's knowing you are worthy of love and respect and accepting your limitations and boundaries. It's how you see yourself and how you feel about your achievements.
Why Is Self Esteem So Important?
Good self esteem is important because it helps you to hold your head high and feel proud of yourself and what you can do. It gives you the courage to try new things and the power to believe in yourself. It lets you respect yourself, even when you make mistakes, and when you respect yourself, other peope usually respect you too. It also helps you to make good choices about your mind and body. If you think you are important, you'll be more likely to make good choices. If you have good self esteem you know that you're smart enough to make your own decisions. You value your safety, your feelings, your health - your whole self! Good self esteem helps you know that every part of you is worth caring for and protecting.
Low Self Esteem
When you have low self esteem you tend to view life in a very negative way which makes everything seem hopeless, pointless, too much effort. You see yourself as being worthless, think other people are better than you, have difficulty in saying what you really feel and want. You lack confidence and find it difficult to stand up for yourself or be assertive and consequently find that often people will take advantage of you and treat you badly. This in turn may make you feel depressed. There may be any number of reasons why you may have low self esteem. It could be abuse you have suffered as a child, or as an adult, you may have had a breakdown in a relationship, been involved in a violent relationship, been bullied, lost your job, be suffering from ill health - there are all sorts of things which can affect a person's self esteem. You may find that you have not been able to talk about some of the difficult things which have happened to you; you may not have received any support and be trying to cope on your own. You may have been in a situation where you felt another person had control over you - you felt powerless to do anything about it - you may have felt used - all these things can lead to a person having low self esteem. You may not feel valued as a person, may not feel loved and wanted, may not have much affection, you may not feel cared about. You may feel that nobody is there to listen to you; you may feel isolated, alone and unsupported.
Boosting Your Self-Esteem
When your self esteem is high you view life in a positive way, you feel confident, you enjoy life, you see difficulties as challenges, you are able to be assertive and say what you want and feel and you don't allow other people to treat you badly and take advantage of you. You are able to stand up for yourself, believe in yourself and believe that you are worth just as much as anyone else. Of course it's OK to have ups and downs in your feelings, but having low self-esteem isn't OK. Feeling like you're not important can make you sad and can keep you from trying new things. It can keep you from making friends or damage how you do at work. It's important to know you're worth a lot.
If you think you might have low self-esteem, here are a few things that you can try to increase your self-esteem:
• When you hear negative comments in your head, mentally tell yourself to stop. The critical voice inside you will soon lose its power.
• Write a list of all the things that you like about yourself, what your strengths are, remind yourself of the things you do well, of compliments others have paid you, of small goals you have achieved
• Put post it notes on your cupboards with positive sayings like ‘I am doing okay’; ‘Today is good day’; ‘I always do the best I can and that is good enough’. Your mind will unconsciously absorb the message.
• Remember that your body is your own, no matter what shape, size, or color it is
• Remember that there are things about yourself you can't change - such as skin color and shoe size - and you should accept and love these things because they are part of you
• Remind yourself of things about your body that are okay
• Give yourself three compliments every day. Don't just say, "I'm so great." Be specific about something good about yourself, like, “l was a good friend to Jill today" or "I did better on that test than I thought I would."
• While you're at it, before you go to bed every night, list three things in your day that really made you happy.
• By focusing on the good things you do and all your great qualities, you learn to love and accept yourself, and that's the main ingredient for strong self-esteem. Even If you've got room for improvement (and who doesn't?), realizing that you're valuable and important helps your self-esteem to shine
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