Self-esteem is often a tricky concept that we throw around but rarely do we fully understand what it means for us in our daily lives. Most of the emotional pain that I help my clients overcome has some connection to low self-esteem. Self-esteem can be described as a confidence in one's own worth or abilities. Years of feeling depressed, anxious, worthless, or helpless in bad relational dynamics erodes a person's confidence in one's perspective, gut instincts, and abilities to do hard things.
To heal, we have to create a new environment for ourselves. Typically, the best place to start is in creating new healthy routines. You'll want to create routines where you are important and worthy. You'll also want routines where self-care is paramount. After all, we take care of the things that we find worthy and you are worthy.
Without stability, chaos makes us question ourselves, our decisions, and our ability to manage stress. We can often avoid this by putting in simple routines where your day becomes more predictable and known.
Now it's time to put it into action. Map out a small group of people that are stable, consistent and reliable that live with healthy self-esteem. Think about ways in which you could learn from their stability. Watch how they create stability in their routines and relationships in order to feel their best. If everyone in your life is unstable, rethink your connections with others and how their chaos and instability are making you feel unpredictable.
Now write out a list of very simple ways in which you can create stability in your own life. What’s the most unstable thing in your life right now? What would need to shift for it to be stable, healthy, and reinforcing of your self esteem? How can you anticipate ways that would help you feel better and "more on top of things" in general? Make a goal of putting two things in place a week to begin topractice stability.
One of the root causes of low self-esteem can be the consistent experience of feeling like your needs are not met. This generally leads to an overall psychological experience of feeling unworthy of good or healthy. If your needs aren't being met, then it's likely that you have a boundary issue. If you are needing some help on what boundaries are, why they are important, and how you can put them in place, I wrote about that here.
For you to begin healing your self esteem, it's important that you protect your time, energy, and space. Begin by making note of when you want to bend boundaries or give up your valuable time, energy, and space despite knowing it is not the best choice for you. These exact moments when you feel pulled to neglect your own needs for fear of upsetting someone else is likely because your self-esteem is low. What boundaries could you put into place to protect you from feeling that your needs aren't as important as others?
Mastery involves creating situations where you can overcome an obstacle and prove you have skills. It is essentially a way to increase your confidence that you can do hard things and even do them well. My favorite way to increase mastery is learning a new skill that you’ve always wanted to learn. You start by reading blogs and books, attending events, investing in classes and education. Then you have to do the actual hard thing.This is the hard part but you'll get better with practice.
List a few new skills or areas that you really struggle to overcome. It might be going to a busy grocery store, reading that difficult book, or taking on that new project at work. Now take one of those things on and begin practicing the new skills. Along the way, spend some time focusing on how far you’ve come and how much you are improving. This is all about movement forward, rather than perfection. Focusing on your accomplishments (even the small ones along the way) can bolster your confidence and increase your self-esteem.
As with any healing, these things take time and commitment. If you have suffered from low self-esteem, you know that healing can be a long and difficult road. This is a great time to start a relationship with a professional to help you manage the underlying issues that are contributing to your low self-esteem.