What is self-esteem and how does it affect us?

We often talk about having low self – esteem, don’t we? But do we really know what it is and why it affects us so badly? 
It is characterized by a lack of confidence and feeling really bad about yourself. Those with low self-esteem often feel awkward, or incompetent. I think people who have low self – esteem have a fragile sense of self that can easily be wounded by others. Usually, people lacking self-esteem see rejection and disapproval even when there isn’t any. 

Having a negative perception of oneself can have serious consequences. For example, if someone believes that other people don’t like them, they are more likely to avoid interactions with others and become isolated – not wanting to go out and socialise. Furthermore, when we perceive ourselves negatively, whether we label ourselves unlovable, obnoxious, shy, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that others could possibly see us in a positive light.

How to Overcome Low Self-Esteem

The great news is that it is possible to overcome low self-esteem! There are two key elements to this negative self-image. The first is to stop listening to your inner voice that talks so negatively – The second is to start practicing self-love 

The inner voice is that internal gremlin that judges our thoughts and actions in a very negative way. It’s known as the critical inner voice. This mean, inner critic is continually pestering us with a pile of negative thoughts about ourselves and the people around us. It destroys our self -esteem with such thoughts as: 

“You’re thick”

“You’re overweight !”

“Everyone hates you!”

“You should keep quiet. Every time you say something you put your foot in it “

“You’re worthless.”

To be able to overcome low self-esteem, it’s important that you challenge these negative thoughts and stand up to that voice in your head. In my two hypnotherapy clinics in London and Berkshire, I help people to block out that inner critical voice. 

To help yourself – The first step is to recognise when you start thinking these kinds of negative thoughts about yourself. Then, you can choose not to listen to your inner critic’s negative advice. It can be helpful to imagine how you would feel if someone else was saying these things to you –  you’d probably feel angry and tell them not to be so rude or explain that they are wrong about you. Take this approach in responding to your inner critic. One way you could do this is to write down all your inner critic’s criticisms on one side of a piece of paper. Then write down a more realistic and friendly description of yourself on the other side. For example, if you write a self-criticism like “You’re overweight and ugly!” you could then write, “I may struggle at times with my weight, but I am beautiful inside”. 

Start Practicing Self-Love
The cure for self-criticism is self-love. Self-love is the practice of treating yourself like a friend! It is the best way to build more confidence in yourself. Research has shown that self-love is even better for your mental health than self-esteem. While this may sound simple, treating yourself with tender loving care and kindness may be challenging at first. However, you will develop more self-love as you practice over time.
Here are some ideas for practicing self – love

1) Be aware of your suffering

2) Be kind and caring to yourself as well as others.

3) Remember that not being perfect is part of life and something we all know about!

How to Become Self-Confident

I’ve written previously about children and teenagers with low self- esteem issues and helping them to develop more confidence. If we can ensure our youngsters have a moderate level of self – esteem – it means as they grow up, they will be in a very healthy mindset. In addition to challenging your inner critic and practicing self-love here are a few other tools for feeling better about yourself.

Don’t keep Comparing Yourself to Others

Looking to boost your confidence by measuring yourself against others is a huge mistake. Firstly, because we are all unique and we all have unique characteristics and personalities. There’s no point in saying “I wish I had nice thick dark hair like Jane over there” especially if your hair is naturally fine and blond!”  

Social media makes the problem worse of course!  As people post their picture-perfect moments of wonderful achievements, a person with low self- esteem will sit there and compare their “sad, lonely life” to theirs!
In order to build a healthy sense of confidence, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. Instead of worrying about how you measure up to the people around you, think about the type of person you want to be. Set goals and take the necessary steps to achieve them.

Self-confidence and self-esteem are built on SELF-RESPECT. If you live a life that is in line with your own principles, whatever they may be, you are more likely to respect yourself, have more confidence, and even do better in life. For example, a study at Harvard found that students “who based their self-esteem on internal sources–such as being a virtuous person or adhering to moral standards–were found to receive higher grades and less likely to use alcohol and drugs or to develop eating disorders.”

To feel good about yourself, it is important to have integrity and make sure that your actions match your words. For example, if living a healthy life and looking your best are important values to you, you will feel better if you maintain a good healthy diet and exercise regime. When your actions don’t match your words, you are far more vulnerable to self-attacks. That little inner gremlin (the inner critic) loves to point out all of  your shortcomings. It is important to think about your core principles and act in line with those beliefs when you are trying to raise your self- esteem and to boost your confidence.

Do Something Worthwhile!

All human beings tend to feel good about themselves when they do something worthwhile, like taking part in activities that are going to help others – like a charity run! This is one of the best ways to go about building confidence and developing higher levels of self-esteem.
Volunteering has a fantastic effect on how people feel about themselves.  

Many people volunteer to be a Samaritan and give up a few hours each week to take desperate phone calls from people who are struggling with life. Others help in homeless shelters or food banks. Helping the elderly can make us feel so good about ourselves too or even volunteering simply to read to children in the hospital whose parents can’t visit.

The main thing to remember is YOU are UNIQUE. There is no one like you. You are special, you are who you believe yourself to be – so start building that self – belief right now!  If you feel you need help in doing so, do contact me at:

www.focus-hypnotherapy.co.uk

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