In my Bexhill practice I see many people with low self-esteem. Sometimes it arises out difficult childhood events, such as bullying or abuse, sometimes it is the bi-product of depression, anxiety or insecurity. Fortunately, it is very treatable.
As children we take on board messages and believe that we are somehow not good enough, illness too can really squash our outlook. However, as adults we can now choose to take on, or reject the messages we are given.
High self-esteem arises out of a combination of key ingredients. The more you work to put in place these ingredients the higher your self-esteem will be. Building high self esteem is not something that can be achieved instantly. It is something that develops when you do certain things and stop doing certain other things. Every single person is capable of having high self esteem if certain rules are followed.
The ten simple rules are:
1. Stop putting yourself down. Don’t ever use derogatory comments such as, “you stupid fool” or any other such statement however negative you are feeling about yourself. Stop insulting or mocking yourself. Be compassionate, kind and understanding towards yourself.
2. Forget all about comparing yourself with others. There will always be people who are better (or worse) than you. If you start doing this you will never feel good because there are always going to be those who appear more confident, more intelligent, more witty, more wealthy, more sexy, etc.
3. Take on board compliments, say “thank you,” not “Oh, it was nothing.” Stop rejecting compliments, you are worthy of praise and remember people like giving compliments just as much as you should like receiving them.
4. Use positive affirmations on a daily basis. For example, repeating a phrase such as, “I am a valuable and worthwhile person who has views and opinions of my own.” Believe in your worth as much as your own views and opinions.
5. Use every opportunity to read about developing self-esteem. Make it your life’s work and remember this will be “work in progress” from now on. Even if you only find one thing that resonates with you when you read a book on self-esteem it will have been worth the money you spent on it.
6. Mix with positive people, avoid people who will put you down. They are confidence destroyers not confidence feeders. Just like a flower, you will grow in confidence and esteem with the right conditions, just as the flower will blossom with the right fertiliser and the right conditions.
7. Keep a positive book and list all your successes, however small. Read this list often. Shut your eyes and feel your success throughout your whole body.
8. Spend time doing the things you love and feel passionate about. Do things that make you feel good. Devote some time to others, helping them. Remember to give of yourself, for you are developing abundance and positivity.
9. Be true to your values. Live the life you want to, not the life others think you should have. The only person you need approval from is yourself.
10. Remember this always – You are a magnificent human being with a positive contribution you can make to the world. This is your birthright. You are truly unique, worthy of love for yourself and capable of giving love to others. Feel good and respect yourself.
Until next time, Steve Clifford, Cognitive Behavioural Psychotherapist