| Written by Julie Clappsy, LCSW
The ways we view ourselves can heavily impact the way we navigate the world. Different life experiences can impact a person’s self esteem in different ways. Negative life events such as losing a job or experiencing difficulties in a relationship can impact the way a person views themselves. Bullying, racism and discrimination can also play a role in the way an individual views their self-worth. Furthermore, social media, TV, and culture can contribute to the way a person sees themselves. Sometimes these factors can cause people to compare themselves and feel they are not enough. There are usually multiple factors and/or experiences throughout the lifespan that create different beliefs about yourself, others, and the world.
Self esteem is the way a person views themselves and their abilities. Low self esteem can look like self doubt, self criticism, insecurity, and pleasing others. Experiencing low self esteem can create worries about performance, the future and more. It can make it difficult to assert your needs or try new things.
Having self esteem does not mean that you believe you are perfect. In fact, self esteem acknowledges different strengths and challenges that you obtain. Nobody is perfect! Having self esteem means that you feel secure within yourself to try new things even if that means you do not succeed at first.
How do I develop a healthy level of self esteem?
Identify your strengths.
A good place to start is by looking at your interests. What are some things that you enjoy doing? Usually we can find strengths in our hobbies and interests. Someone that enjoys making music or art shows signs of creativity. If you are someone that enjoys helping others you demonstrate traits of compassion. Strengths can assist with working through difficult or uncomfortable situations.
If it is hard to think of strengths, ask yourself, what would a friend say about me? Or a family member?
Practice self compassion
Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your feelings without judgment. Break things down into simple steps and take one thing at a time.
Sometimes when we are kind to ourselves, it opens up opportunities to grow and learn. These offer opportunities to develop a new experience and start to challenge your original belief about yourself.
Challenge negative thoughts
Not all thoughts are facts. Our thoughts can feel real at times and create significant distress which can impact the way you see yourself.
There are usually multiple ways to view the same situation. When you find yourself critiquing yourself, ask yourself: what would I say to a friend in this situation? Usually we are a lot kinder to others than we are to ourselves. This technique can help with breaking the cycle of negative thoughts and help take on a more neutral perspective.
Engage in activities that make you feel good
Do what you love. When you engage in the things you enjoy, you can strengthen skills and build confidence.
Building self esteem can be challenging but not impossible. Self esteem is built over the lifespan and may take time to build to a secure level. If you notice that you experience a low mood on a daily basis in which it is difficult to engage in obligations or things you enjoy, these may be signs of depression. A licensed professional can help you with overcoming some of these challenges.
In her free time, Julie enjoys spending time with family and playing with her dog. She loves yoga, baking new recipes, and reading on the beach.
Check out Julie’s professional bio here.
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