What Is Self Esteem And Strategies To Improve Self-Esteem
Tackling Those Inner Thoughts
A few years ago, I attended a women’s conference in my hometown. During a breakout session at the conference, the host asked all the women to complete an exercise, and it consisted of us creating a list of all the things that we love. She gave us a few minutes to jot down our thoughts. Some of the women wrote down the things they loved feverishly while some pondered about what to put on their list.
Everyone, though, had written something down eventually. When our time came to an end, we all placed our writing utensils down on the table. Afterward, the host asked us to share what we had written on our lists. Each woman one by one shared what they loved most, touching on everything from their children and families to their careers.
After everyone had spoken, the host said, “I was waiting on one of you to include yourself on the list.” The facial expressions of every woman in the room changed, and I could clearly hear several women saying, “Wow,” Ohhh,” “I didn’t even think about myself” and “I would have never thought to put myself on that list had she not mentioned it.” As the host continued with her breakout session, I began to introspect about the exercise we had just completed. I started to wonder if I would still place myself on my list of things that I loved. At the time, I did not have an answer. Since I did not have an answer, it made me question my self-esteem and personal beliefs concerning myself.
I had to take the time to reflect on my thoughts and feelings about myself. I believed that the best way to do so was to create another list with every thought that I had about myself. Once I finished writing the new list, I discovered that some of my thoughts and beliefs about me were negative. I labeled myself as a failure because, at my age, I had not achieved certain marks in my life that I thought I should have accomplished. Also, I felt as if I was unattractive because I did not have the hourglass figure and lighter skin tone. Often, I played the comparison game amongst other women and myself. In a world full of “perfect” bodies, skin tones, pictures, and careers; it was difficult not to compare myself to others. If I did not possess what they had, I immediately felt unworthy. However, I did not lose hope. I decided to change my narrative of myself and get a handle on my self-esteem.
What Is Self-Esteem And How Does It Affect me?
Self-esteem is a trait that everyone has, whether it is high, low, or somewhere in the middle. As life happens, our self-esteem will shift from high to low and vice versa. Our level of self-esteem plays a significant part in different areas of our lives. We make decisions for ourselves based on our self-esteem level. If we possess high self-esteem, we are more likely to be confident, cultivate and maintain healthy relationships, and be assertive. We would also be less likely to develop a mental disorder, feel helpless, and possess negative thoughts about ourselves.
How To Raise Your Self-Esteem
First, we must evaluate the level of our self-esteem by engaging in self-reflection, and asking ourselves tough yet specific questions. For example, why do I compare myself to other women, and how does comparison take a toll on my self-esteem? Or asking why do I think so negatively about myself? Also, during your self-reflection, it may be beneficial to remember the moment or incident that significantly impacted your self-esteem.
Once we answer those questions and remember those occurrences, we may start making the effort to change our thoughts and beliefs. Some of you may wonder how we transform our ideas and feelings about ourselves. Well, I’m here to encourage you to try, because you can indeed change them. It does, however, take work and consistency to change those thought patterns. I’m forewarning you now that it will not be an overnight process. Truthfully, your self-esteem did not reach a low point overnight; it took many downfalls and unfavorable situations to alter it.
Combatting Negative Inner Thoughts
So now that we have identified and acknowledged our thought patterns and belief systems; it is now time to tackle them with effective practices and activities.
One way we can address poor self-esteem is through therapy. Depending on your therapist, they may want to practice Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to make improvements to your self-esteem. CBT is an idea approach to increasing or altering poor self-esteem. Several techniques within the CBT model can enhance your self-esteem by addressing your personal beliefs and feelings about yourself. CBT assists us in figuring out how we developed those negative feelings and behaviors. Additionally, it retrains our minds to find and believe in positive attributes about ourselves instead of focusing on our negative ones and seeing the positive in those attributes that we identify as unfavorable. We have to practice these techniques to maintain our self-esteem continually.
Creating A Self-Esteem Vision Board
As for me, I created a self-esteem vision board. Truthfully, I was nervous at first to complete my board because I was afraid that my board would be blank. Those same self-critical and negative thoughts re-entered my mind, and I could not think of what to put on my board. In my mind, I believed that I was somehow fake or inauthentic by placing words and phrases on my board that I did not quite think about myself.
Despite this initial hesitation, I pushed forward and completed my board. I filled my board with positive words and phrases that were in opposition to every negative and critical thought that I believed about myself. Even after I completed my board, I still had my reservations about it. A few weeks after I made the board, I had a rough day at work, and, once I made it home, I read and recited those words and phrases out loud. On that day, it was beneficial to me to read those positive phrases and words, learning at that moment that it requires practice, patience, and kindness to raise my self-esteem and not allow those negative thoughts to overtake me.
If you have low self-esteem or have experienced anything that I mentioned above, I encourage you to make a change. There is hope for you to alter your thought and belief systems if you practice the CBT techniques with a therapist or create a self-esteem vision board as I did. You do not have to live a life riddled with negative thoughts and emotions. You have the choice to make a change because once you think better, you begin to live better.
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