In self-betterment circles, you will hear almost constant reference to self-esteem, but what actually is it? Self-esteem refers to the image of yourself you hold in your head, and shapes your approach to pretty much everything – how you talk to people, girls included, how productive you are at work, how much you enjoy social experiences and how much you get out of life.
Low self-esteem is a feature I see in many of my clients and it’s one of the first things we try to tackle together due to its importance. Heck, the question of how to improve self-esteem is what drives men both young and old to try a service like mine in the first place.
The following tips don’t suggest that you should become arrogant, or experience self-acceptance to the point you completely stop pushing to improve, but they do provide a handy framework in which to start overcoming low self-esteem.
Why is it important though? Well, low self-esteem can drastically advance the likelihood of stress, anxiety and depression, as well as throwing a spanner in the works of most personal and professional relationships you have. It many cases it can lead to substance abuse.
So don’t sit around and let your mind tell you that you aren’t sufficient. Take some of these steps and explore the changes it can make to your body image and self-esteem.
- Positive self-talk. …
- Don’t strive for perfection. …
- Don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake. …
- Focus on the things you can change. …
- Do things that you enjoy. …
- Celebrate the small stuff.
- Say stop to your inner critic.
- Use healthier motivation habits.
- Do the right thing.
I suck. I am worthless, nobody will employ me, girls are disgusted by me.
If these are thoughts that are clogging up your headspace, ask yourself: would you turn to your mum and tell her she sucks? Or if you were out with a friend as a wingman, would you tell your friend that girls find him ‘disgusting’? Would you look a colleague in the eye and tell them the world would be better off without them?
These are the people you turn to first; your friends and family (the real ones with whom you feel comfortable.)
Of course not. Everyone should be on a quest to find the ultimate iteration of themselves, but you don’t need to treat yourself in spiteful ways to get there; ways that you would never dream of turning on your loved ones. The monologue in your head is what shapes your actions, and your actions are what feed your high or low self-esteem. Even actively saying out loud ‘I am funny, I am intelligent’ and reminding yourself what’s great about you can give you the temporary mood boost you need to internalise a more positive pattern, to have a conversation with a girl you may not have had, or to take the affirmative action to work out or learn a new skill.
Make a point of writing down three awesome things about yourself each day. Or, at the very least, things you can appreciate about yourself. Get your brain used to a positive thought pattern and the idea of granting your mind permission to think great things about itself.
CREATE YOUR OWN BENCHMARK
What causes low self-esteem though? Well, mental illness can play a part, unsupportive friends or family, or even social media. If you’re poring through your Facebook friends list, and it seems like they all have perfect lives and even their lattes are flawless, then you are falling for the WE ARE PERFECT trap.
I always say to brand yourselves in a proactive and positive way, but that does mean most social media users are as well. And this means you’re not seeing the daily niggles and insecurities but their edited version of reality where they love themselves and everyone. This can feel like a slap in the face and only serves to draw stark contrast with your own negative feelings – feelings your friends’ list most likely have in spades.
Maybe deactivate social media for a short period to see how it makes you feel, and whether it leads you to compare yourselves less to your peers than before. While this won’t fix your low self-esteem by itself, it will build a platform without as much negative noise from others, and will afford you the space to focus on rebuilding your self-esteem.
What is self-esteem? It is how you view yourself, and because of that only your own standards matter. Set yourself goals and work hard to achieve them – on your terms. Do not worry what others think. To reach this mindset, it can help to mute constant Insta-filtered updates on the faultless little lives of others, and instead to focus on feeding your inner voice positivity to work with.
INVEST IN YOU
Needless to say, if you are not taking active steps to improve your own life then no amount of positive thinking is going to get you all the way to core self-esteem. You have to take stock of your negative feelings and address them, but not in a self-critical manner. You are not weak for thinking these things – but you can work on them.
Do you think you’re fat? Join a gym, or go for a daily run. Start exercising. You don’t like the way you talk? Take vocal coaching. You think you’re unfashionable or out-of-touch? Start reading the news or have a female friend or relative take you out shopping for a fresh look.
CELEBRATE THE SMALL STUFF
Facebook makes it seem like everyone you know gets married and pops out a child on a daily basis, but the key to overcoming low self-esteem is knowing that real life does not work like that. It is a string of minor victories and disappointments between the milestones. And if you punish yourself by sapping the enjoyment from all of your minor victories, you’ll never build up self-esteem and chances are that milestone won’t happen either.
Write down just three even minor things you’ve achieved each day – spoke to a girl and got her number today, got out of bus seat for an old lady, learnt a new song on guitar. You don’t have to physically reward your every tiniest bit of progress, as you could run the risk of becoming self-indulgent which will again tip you into low self-esteem, but do make a note of or track your goals.
Carrot always works better than stick as far as your own mind is concerned.
REALISE THAT PERFECTIONISM IS A LIE
Finally, you have to realise that being the best you can be and finding respect for yourself does not mean everything has to be or is going to be perfect. You will always hit road bumps and make mistakes – otherwise you wouldn’t know which parts of yourself to work on and invest in.
Perfectionism drives people crazy. The idea that the best possible outcome or representation of themselves has not materialised drives them mad and keeps them in an unhappy place where they think they are failing short simply by virtue of their own impossible targets.
You don’t have to be satisfied with shabbiness, and you don’t simply have to be defeatist and say ‘well, this is how I am – no work required or possible’. But do realise that self-improvement takes place in increments, with investment, and patience, and awareness of your actions. It’s okay to be wrong and experience a learning curve just like everyone else.
You don’t have to be the perfect person in order to bring your self-esteem into your control. You do, however, have to be the best you.
And this takes affirmative action. Let me help you explore a better you, and get in touch about my bespoke mentoring and tuition here.