Many of us struggle with low self-esteem and lack of confidence and most of us believe that our self-esteem is based on how we look or act. But self-esteem, is in fact, based in emotion – it is how we feel about ourselves that depicts whether we have good or poor self-esteem.
The same goes for our levels of confidence – sure, if we feel we look good then our confidence is up, but it is far more important to believe in yourself and your abilities than merely looking good. Healthy confidence comes from belief in oneself as a good and capable person.
So just how do we go about improving our self-esteem and overcoming insecurities?
Change what you believe and you will change how you feel
When you have a specific image of success that you ‘should be’ your mind associates happiness and contentment with that picture. So when you compare your self-image with the image of success you begin to judge yourself for not meeting with that image of perfection and begin to feel unworthy and not good enough. Take a good look at what sort of images you are comparing yourself to and, perhaps, it’s time to get real about your expectations. By changing what you believe is important you also change how you feel about yourself. In other words, perhaps it is more important to be a reliable and trustworthy partner than to look like a stick insect, sorry, model. Look at the values and qualities that you believe are important and ascribe those to your image of success – I bet you will find that you meet the standards in more ways than one resulting in better feelings about yourself and increased self-esteem.
Practice self-acceptance and realise that all humans are flawed
No matter how hard we try to be perfect, we will always make mistakes and we will always have limitations as well as strengths. Human beings are inherently flawed and constantly striving for perfection is a futile battle. Practice self-acceptance of your limitations and your mistakes and focus on enhancing your strengths. Insecurities and low self-esteem often arise when we feel ashamed or embarrassed about our flaws.
Set realistic and achievable goals
Self-acceptance does not mean that you have to jettison all attempts at self-improvement. We all need to feel like we are progressing, achieving and accomplishing things. Feeling stagnant, or worse still, failing at meeting the goals we set for ourselves only serve to strengthen self-judgment and lessen self-worth. It is really important to have goals and desires as these keep you moving forward and improving on yourself and your lifestyle. Achievements in these areas make you feel great about yourself, but be careful that you are not setting unrealistic goals that are not attainable. Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are attainable and realistic, thereby ensuring you achieve them.
Practice acceptance of others
By learning to love those around you, accepting them with their flaws, their failures and their successes, you learn to love yourself as well. Being at peace with the world around you means being at peace with yourself.
Clinical Psychologist Annabelle Young has extensive experience in working with people with depression, anxiety (including panic), adjustment difficulties, stress, trauma, PTSD, bipolar disorder, low self-esteem, grief and loss, interpersonal difficulties, as well as alcohol and drug use issues.