Where Does Self-Esteem Begin?
Feel comfortable in your own skin...We’ve all heard the phrase, but what’s wrong with our skin? I’m all about visualization, but if you really think about this one, it’s kind of gross! This saying is clearly a metaphor for being comfortable with who you are. You know, really liking ourselves, feeling confident and secure. So why is building self-esteem so hard?
We constantly compare our insides to other people’s outsides
We don’t feel like we fit in with the people we surround ourselves with
It's easy to feel like we don't belong
Media is a constant reminder of how great everyone else’s life is (btw, so not accurate!)
We embarrassed ourselves at some previous time in our life, and continue to fear this happening again.
There are many reasons why we don’t feel secure with who we are.
Why is so difficult to focus on our strengths?
1. Our brains are really good at creating patterns and habits. When you try to insert a new thought, emotion or behavior, its first function is to resist it.
2. A lot of us believe that if we focus on our failures or the characteristics we don’t like about ourselves, we will be reminded not to act/think this way in the future.
3. Negative experiences pose a threat of danger. We see potential seclusion, “differentness” as a threat to our lives. Really!
So what builds self-esteem?
Learn to befriend that inner critic of yours. Your worst enemy belongs to you.
Identify the negative self statements and ask yourself “would I talk to a friend this way?”
Practice self-compassion. See how you were able to practice compassion in #2? Talk nice to yourself!
Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect. Everyone that you compare yourself to has flaws too. Some of those people may actually think you’re pretty great.
Take a breath and ask yourself. “What do I appreciate about myself?” Really think about this one. It’s important.
It's OK to be who you are!
Most of us, at some time or another, feel uncomfortable in our own skin. Just like you created a habit of self-doubt and insecurity, you can create a habit of self-love and self-compassion. You can learn to identify real danger from perceived danger. You can learn to love that evil bully in your head and make him or her your buddy. It’s time to be nice to yourself. You’re the only self you’ve got!
Lindsay Melka, LPC