Self-esteem. Where does it come from, and how can I raise it?
I bet many of you will doubt yourself regularly; I know I spent most of my life doing so and was unaware that there was something I could do to stop the self-doubt and low self-esteem that came with it. If only we could trap the negative thoughts that float through our minds and weed them out, wouldn’t that be wonderful?
I feel compelled to talk about self-esteem as it significantly affects our self-image and our thoughts.
Feel Good Naked. They are three powerful words, but how many of us feel good naked? And if we don’t, then why not? A complex, thought-provoking question for a blog, you might think. But here goes.
We want to encourage you to think about how your self-esteem affects your thoughts about your nakedness.
When we created The Tan Brush, our objective was to help every woman feel good about her body and also feel good within herself, embrace her natural femininity and feel proud to be a woman. To Feel Good Naked, no matter what size, shape, imperfection, scar or stretch mark. We feel so passionately about self-image that we built our Ditch The Mitt Campaign around supporting women who have experienced significant breast surgery.
We all have an inner critic. A little devil who thinks of ways to knock your con-fidence and stop you from being who you deserve to be. We will name him Norman.
Norman will periodically chip in with unkind remarks – “You’re not clever enough”, You’re too fat”, You’re not capable of doing that”, You don’t deserve that”, and so on. And unfortunately, too many of us listen to him.
Norman is our inner belief. He puts into words what we think of ourselves, which happens through life experience as we evolve and grow from childhood to adulthood. Then, when something simple happens, like you can’t pull the zip of your jeans up, Norman reaffirms, “I told you, you’re fat!’ and there’s the proof.
We then tend to spiral into something that’s called a looping thought. One thought leads to another, leading to an action that brings us back to the original thought. As so, it goes on.
This can drastically impact our self-esteem or self-value and, in turn, our self-image or how we see ourselves, which is fundamental for our happiness. We all deserve to be happy! Right?
Some people, especially on social media (and I am using this as an example because most of us can identify), can trick us into thinking that they have their shit together by the perfectly groomed image they portray to the world. They feel liked and accepted by the positive responses they receive. However, without this identity, they will feel they don’t matter. So they must display this image to tell themselves that everything is OK.
Every single one of us tells ourselves stories. It’s what we do. We say them out loud, but we also internalise these stories.
The good news is that we can change the story and, with that, change our thinking, raise our self-esteem and undo some of the harm.
Have you ever stopped and listened to how you truly speak to yourself?
Imagine carrying a tray with six large cups of hot coffee from the kitchen into the living room. You trip and drop the tray, burning yourself in the process, ruining the carpet and smashing the cups. What do you say to yourself?
I imagine you’re shouting, and I guarantee there are a few expletives.
Now imagine a six-year-old little girl carrying the tray. She trips and falls, and the same thing happens. What do you say to her?
Better still, another woman in the corner of the room shouts at the top of her voice at the child, using the derogatory words you used while inwardly berating yourself as you dropped the tray.
What would you do?
Would you protect her? Would you help and stand up for the little girl?
I’m guessing you would be appalled at the woman for speaking to a child that way. So why do we do this to ourselves? Why don’t we protect ourselves?
The exercise demonstrates how much harm negative self-talk can do.
The mind believes precisely what we tell it.
So, in other words.
Be nice to yourself. Be careful of the words Norman chooses; Norman is you!
I would love to share this simple hack with you; I wish someone had shared it with me when I was young; however, such behaviour would have been considered frivolous back then.
The words that follow I am…. are who you are and what you will become, so pick them wisely. Praising yourself is the fastest way to improve self-esteem. Praise from others isn’t necessary; it tends to make us needy. Self-praise is much more critical. So, stop with self-criticism.
Look at yourself in the mirror while you say your new truthful, positive words. Say them every morning, maybe as you brush your teeth. Watch how your confidence grows and your self-esteem improves.
I am ….
And so on… You decide whom you want to be.
As I write, I listen to Christina Aguilera’s song – Beautiful.
“I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can’t bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can’t bring me down, oh no
So don’t you bring me down today?”
Your own words can bring you down if you let them. So, be kind to yourself.