Last update: 10 September, 2019
Self-esteem does not lend itself, it is not neglected and it is not forgotten in the pockets of others. However, we continue to be part of a society that needs external reinforcement to assert itself and we continue to say "yes" in a shy little voice when we should say "no" firmly. We forget, almost without realizing it, that few things are as lethal as stopping loving ourselves...
We must admit, few psychological dimensions have aroused so much interest, so many publications and manuals in the publishing and personal growth market such as self-esteem. Most of us are familiar with concepts, terminology, strategies and refined techniques that have been widespread for now renowned gurus who invite us to improve our everyday life and develop our potential.
But can we really do it? Are we really able to increase our self-esteem? The truth is, it's not that easy. We leave the house after repeating in front of the mirror phrases such as: "I love myself, I can do anything, nothing and nobody will get the better of me".
In a short time, we find ourselves on the exit box from the vicious circles made of negative thoughts. We come face to face with insecurity, with fear of what others will say and we dedicate our actions to a tireless search for approval to be used as oxygen to momentarily breathe our self-esteem.
It is not easy and it is not first of all because we often have a limited idea of what self-esteem is, why not, it is not enough to love yourself. It is equally important to improve and work on basic dimensions such as the perception of our own person, as well as on the interactions we cultivate with those around us.
As you may have understood, in a complex fabric which is our social and emotional identity, there are many seams that need to be reinforced or even renewed. We therefore invite you to reflect on the following strategies that we propose.
1. Learn to be enough
The fact of not knowing how to "feed", "take care of oneself", "be enough" is a curse, a sort of spell that constantly forces us to commit the same mistake, to adopt the same behavior, to dig the same grave: we seek in others what we do not offer ourselves.
If we start a project, we expect our partner, friends and family to support us in every idea, hope, goal and proposal. If they don't, if they evaluate any aspect in a negative way, we have the feeling that basically they just want to screw up our plans. At that point, we can consider it a personal attack.
We must be emotionally autonomous people, individuals who perceive themselves as courageous, valid and worthy to aspire to any goal, purpose or goal. In this way, only in this way, will we be able to find the positive part of the criticism.
2. Avoid positive and generic self-affirmations
We have already anticipated this at the beginning of this article: there are those who do not leave the house without first following a simple ritual, that of putting yourself in front of the mirror and repeating positive phrases such as: "I love myself, I can do anything, I'm beautiful, nobody can hurt me or I'm a good person".
It is possible that this ritual or similar formula may be useful to more than one person, but it must be understood that these generic expressions almost always work as "empty calories". In other words, they instill courage for a limited period of time, after a few hours they fade and so does their effect. They are unstable, abstract ideas, which hardly evoke memories that serve as real motivation.
For example: “In the past they hurt you, they made you think you were small and insignificant, but now that you have healed your wounds you have much tougher skin. You are now a giant, yesterday's frightened child is left behind. Now no one can harm you ”.
3. Build your emotional immune system
Low self-esteem makes us vulnerable to many psychological "injuries" that can occur in everyday life, be they small or large. We are less resistant to frustration, failure, disappointments hurt us more, we struggle to manage anxiety or stress.
- It is necessary to create a genuine "emotional immune system". Just as our body has organs, cells and different mechanisms to protect itself from viruses, bacteria and possible infections, we must also work on a psychological level.
- It would be just a matter of internalizing some awareness-raising strategies that make us understand the importance of adequate nutrients that can strengthen us, act as a protective and defensive barrier: self-love, self-confidence, good self-perception, positivity, resilience, a sense of humor, the ability to relativize, the ability to know how to say "no".
4. Self-esteem does not feed on hopes alone, it needs convictions
There are people who, in order to strengthen their self-esteem, say to themselves such phrases: "Everything will be fine, I will be very successful, I will get this, that and whatever else I want".
As already mentioned, reinforcements of this type have a battery that does not last long. We must understand that when we find ourselves in front of a person with low self-esteem, it is useless to feed false hopes, this person needs convictions, concrete, realistic and tangible things.
It is therefore necessary learn to "retro-feed" and in this sense the best thing to do is to focus on one's skills, successes and abilities, in a realistic perspective.
For example: “I'm good at social issues. I got high marks in university and I have the skills to work in this area. I have no reason to feel insecure because I have adequate skills, it makes no sense to doubt myself. I don't have to doubt myself. I know how much I am worth and I understand that I have a high probability of getting what I want, because in the past I have already achieved various milestones and successes… ”.
5. Accept yourselves, you are the best gift of this life
How can such a thing be denied? As children they guided us, oriented us and imposed the magic of praise, compliments, pats on the back or an approving look. They made us dependent on the recognition and approval of others. We also know that if we do not get them, the cause, of course, lies in our irremediable defects: because we are too ugly, too rough, too fat, too shy or too incapable.
Poco a poco we move away from ourselves as if we are wearing someone else's skin and not feeling comfortable, a foreign body that we hate and that repels us.
- Throughout our childhood, it never occurred to us to ask ourselves, “Am I proud of myself? Do I love myself well enough? Do I accept myself for who I am? ”. This is why we arrive at adulthood often disoriented and frustrated, without knowing where to look, whether towards the outside or inside of us.
- If we really want to improve and increase our self-esteem, then there is one thing to do: we must accept ourselves in body and soul, we must take this leap and understand that, in reality, we are the most beautiful thing in this life. There is no reason to be ashamed of thinking this way. Nothing is more important than having this body that allows us to move forward, to feel, to experience; nothing is more dignified than this mind, this skin and this heart that deserves to love, to be loved and to feel incredibly strong and beautiful.
6. Explore, search, investigate
Low self-esteem relegates us to the confines of the comfort zone, the foundations of stillness and the dark rooms of fear. He whispers to us that it is better not to try, not to risk and not to explore because we will most likely end up making a mistake or fail in front of others.
- If we really want to feel real and feasible changes in a month, we have to get busy: explore, search, investigate.
- You don't need to be completely safe from something to "try" new things, you have to take the risk and improvise more frequently, letting oneself be carried away by the principle of intuition and the sense of pleasure, rather than by the shadow of fear and worry.
Behind reality and everything that surrounds us, there are really pleasant things, people and situations that deserve to be discovered.
7. Find a balance between reason and intuition
People with low self-esteem have an inordinate tendency to rationalize anything. "If I do, they might think badly, I have to do this for them to realize that I am capable of it", "This thing is best avoided because I could fail, it is better that I shut up, that I do not say what I feel and that I behave as if I do not nothing had happened ".
- This rationalization, better obsession, of analyzing every detail, to the point of predicting what could happen and what not, it often leads us to experience destructive anxiety situations.
- We need to recover the sense of smell, hearing and taste of our emotions and give ourselves permission to abandon fear and insecurity.
We run the risk of savoring the feeling of prioritizing ourselves, to consider ourselves the most important thing in everyday life and to feed ourselves as we deserve, without too many chains, prisons or reticence.
8. Self-praise from time to time is a good idea
Self-praise is necessary and very useful for increasing one's self-esteem. However, you need to pay attention to one small nuance: we should not give ourselves praise lightly or exaggeratedly, but only when we have done something well, something we are really proud of.
- “Today I was able to tell that person that I will not go to his birthday party” → I am proud of myself because I am able to be consistent with what I want and what I do.
- “Today I feel good about myself because I was able to carry out my goal even though no one had faith in me”.
9. Reward yourself every day, you deserve it
It is possible that in everyday life you will devote every effort, thought or energy possible to rewarding others, to help them, to simplify their lives, to adapt to their programs, their expectations, what they want from you.
In the long run, this lifestyle can only give you one thing: suffering.
So, dear readers, to improve your self-esteem and start seeing real changes in a month, learn to reward yourself every day in different ways:
- Give yourself some time just for you.
- Go out for a walk, run, walk in the middle of nature.
- Offer yourself a cup of coffee and start an internal dialogue in which to determine what your priorities are.
- Treat yourself to a book, a little escape, an hour of silence and solitude.
- Reward yourself every day by being consistent with your desires and actions.
- Give yourself beautiful people in life and put aside the ones that make you feel uncomfortable, the ones that put thorns in your self-esteem.
In conclusion, we are aware that repairing and healing the fragments of a hurt or broken self-esteem takes time. However, such an enterprise needs two fundamental components: will and perseverance. Little by little, you will find an ideal dimension in which, through the right distances and self-confidence, you can love yourself a little more, without fear, guilt or worries. The way to get to this point is in itself very important and satisfying.
- Nathaniel Branden (2006), The six pillars of self-esteem. Milan: TEA
- Luis Rojas-Marcos (2008), But who do I think I am. Self-esteem. Our secret strength. Milan: Marco Tropea Publisher
Images courtesy of Katrhin Honesta