How to know your own worth and boost your-self esteem

Often people come to me because they are stuck on a burnout roller-coaster.

They’re in a cycle of giving, doing and rushing, and then crashing into a heap.

It can feel surprising when we discover that, ultimately, it’s your relationship with yourself that needs nurturing to overcome your challenges.

People-pleasing, fear, shame, perfectionism, inner bullying, disrespected boundaries — they all start to shift when you strip everything away and focus on how you view yourself.

Here are the four things to consider as you work to build your self-esteem and confidence.

Check in on the chatter

What does it sound like inside your head? How do you speak to yourself in the secret of your mind? If you have a good, helpful internal dialogue, it can act as a self-esteem-boosting encourager, cheerleader and coach.

If you have a constant negative internal dialogue, it can have the same confidence-shattering impact as being followed around by a terrifying teacher or a ceaseless bully. I encourage clients to imagine speaking to a child in the way they speak to themselves.

This technique is powerful because of course you wouldn’t want to speak to someone you value in such a critical way. But if it’s not good enough for another person or a little child, it’s not good enough for you either.

Seek more self-respect

We talk a lot about self-care but often it can feel hard to engage in things we enjoy when we haven’t yet nailed self-respect. Self-respect is crucial in order to lift our low self-esteem to a healthier place.

When you respect yourself as an individual — a human with needs, wants, flaws and limitations — this will impact the decisions you make, how you use your resources and where you place your boundaries.

Self-respect asks you to value your needs and take responsibility for your own behaviour and choices, as well as their repercussions.

Our self-respect encourages us to hold our hands up if things do go awry, feel the disappointment and then move on. Self-respect is about recognising that you are of equal value to those around you.

Consider where you get your hits

When it comes to lifting our self-esteem, a boost can come from two types of sources: ‘short and sharp’ and ‘slow and steady’.

Short and sharp self-esteem boosters are like that bag of sweets inhaled when you feel hungry. They promise a quick and easy way to meet a need but often they end up being temporary fixes instead.

They are the text message sent instead of the proper chat, the corners cut to save time, the empty words of flattery, the digital escapism, the chaotic working hours to save face.

As for the slow and steady boosters, if they were a food, they’d be the lovingly prepared roast dinner. They are the things that ground and anchor you, and bring you joy and meaning.

They are the creative pursuits, the acts that bring you back to yourself and make you feel grateful and present. We need a mix of both but if our self-esteem diet is more ‘short and sharp’ than ‘slow and steady’, it’s far more detrimental.

Reframe rejection

The more you invest in working on your healthy self-esteem, the less you will fear rejection. In fact, be ready for it.

I don’t mean in the sense of entering a room and being ready to defend yourself but just via an awareness that you may be rejected somehow — and that is not a statement of how valid you are.

Remind yourself that not everyone will understand or like you but many people will, therefore neither their likes nor dislikes are definitive statements about your ability to be understood or liked.

Talk to others about their experiences of rejection and how they overcame it.

Read biographies and find inspiration in stories of rejection that paved the way for more fitting opportunities.

Signs you may have low self-esteem

  • You find it uncomfortable receiving support, kindness or compliments from others. In fact, you’d much rather be the one doing the support.
  • Your internal chatter is far more critical than kind. It might be akin to bullying or it may be strict, unforgiving and impatient.
  • You worry and ruminate over what others think about you. You replay conversations and scenarios in your mind, fearing you may have upset or offended someone unintentionally.
  • You sometimes feel like an imposter in your job or in areas of your life you are succeeding in. You fear being found out to be a fraud, as if you were acting.

It’s challenging for you to be open and honest with people and you worry about being a burden.

Know Your Worth (Little, Brown) is out now. Also see Mathur’s wellbeing site, themothermindway.com

To chat about mental health in an open, non-judgmental space, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.

Follow us on Twitter at @MentallyYrs.

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