If you’re struggling to raise your self-esteem, you may find yourself saying things like:
I wish I was happy as they are.
I wish I was as motivated as they are.
I wish I was as smart as they are.
I wish I was as healthy as they are.
I wish I was as good looking as they are.
I wish I was as wealthy as they are.
You get the point, right? And isn’t the grass always greener on the other side, folks? With the rise in social media and filters that make us appear flawless, low self-esteem has become an epidemic. Keeping reading to find out our top 5 ways to raise your self-esteem.
Remember middle school? Feelings of unworthiness can begin at a very young age. When we experience peer rejection, isolation for being or feeling “different” or bullying, it lays the foundation for low self-esteem.
As adults, we experience the same feelings. Access to images and posts highlighting other people’s perfections makes it easy for us to focus on our imperfections. Ultimately, if these feelings of unworthiness or “less than” are neglected, they can potentially lead us down the long, winding road of depression and anxiety.
Low self-esteem is damaging to the mind, spirit, and soul. Finding ways to feel better about ourselves and our abilities is vital to our well-being.
5 ways to raise your self-esteem:
Quiet That Inner Critic
Negative self-talk is common for most people, but it becomes a driving force when you are struggling with low self-esteem. If you’re one of those people whose inner critic is constantly beating them up, it’s important you quiet that voice. Try to replace any negative comments with positive ones. For example, the next time that you criticize yourself, follow it up by highlighting something that you did/do well. What are some strengths and abilities that you have? It’s not always easy to do, but force yourself to give it a try and see how you feel. Is it helping to raise your self-esteem?
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others and Start Focusing on What’s Working
We are all so unique, but we get it- it isn’t always easy to celebrate what makes us individuals and for many of us, that also means spend time comparing ourselves to others. Setting yourself up on standards that are not your own is setting yourself up for feelings of sadness or inadequacy. Comparing yourself to others is different than admiring someone who you aspire to be like. How is this different? Because admiring and aspiring in positive ways comes with motivation and self-love. So if at all possible, stop comparing yourself to others and instead, concentrate on being the best version of you that you can be.
Give Up the Quest to be Perfect
“Your imperfections are perfect for me”. Being human means being imperfect. We all have flaws, we are all works in progress. And that’s okay. We’ll say it again- that is OKAY. Striving to be something that simply doesn’t exist is exhausting, depleting, and ultimately a futile mission. How about those Hollywood’s A-listers? They’re perfect, aren’t they? Actually… they are typically photoshopped in print and online because they have an image to keep up for us, who look to them for what “perfection” looks like. We give them the job of taking us away from our everyday reality and giving us a peek into what it is like to be “perfect”. And the truth behind that perfection is that many of them have also been treated for depression and other forms of mental health issues. They are human and struggle like anyone else.
So, instead of spending so much energy on trying to attain other people’s goals for yourself, make your own realistic and achievable goals that will work for you.
Appreciate Your Body
When we think of ourselves frolicking on the beach, we’ll be the first to admit that we’re not always thinking about how great the sun feels on my skin- we’re wondering if people are going to notice how much our bodies have changed over the years. But if we really think about it… nobody on that beach CARES! Not to mention, what are the chances that anyone there knew us twenty years ago. Oh, and also, most of them are probably too busy wondering the same thing about themselves as we are. Many people struggle with body image issues, and honestly, much of it is because of the photoshopping that we just mentioned. It IS hard to appreciate and love your body when you are expected to look like the people that grace the covers of magazines.
Instead of focusing on what your body looks like, or how much you weigh, or how big your muscles are, focus on being as healthy as possible by nourishing your body with good nutrients and giving it the care and rest that it needs. Be grateful for your health and even if your health is not great, think about how hard your body is working to try to keep you healthy, even when it is having a really hard time of it. Make healthy choices and appreciate yourself for that and that’ll surely help to raise your self-esteem.
Raise Your Self-Esteem By Cutting Back on Social Media
All these social media platforms have their good points. We’re on them and so is everyone- well, except maybe that one neighbor who might still be on MySpace! However, social media can also set unrealistic expectations about what relationships should look like and the type of lifestyles that you “should” be living. It’s important to remember that online, people tend to only post images that make their lives seem awesome, but it’s not always an accurate representation of the truth. Spending too much time looking at other people leading seemingly “fun” lives can lead us to spend less time enjoying our own, and you’ve only got one, so why spend it looking at someone else’s? Besides, do you REALLY want to go swim with the sharks and then climb Mount Kilimanjaro? Ummm, no thanks.
If self-image issues have become a serious problem in your life and have lead you to anxiety and depression, consider working with a therapist who can help you work through your memories and emotions and help you to raise your self-esteem.
About the author(s)
Karen is the founder and Clinical Director of Cohesive Therapy NYC. She earned a Masters in Social Work from New York University and has extensive training in Hypnosis, Anxiety, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Brainspotting, and DGBI. She is a member of the Institute of Certified Anxiety Treatment Professionals, The Rome Foundation, the National Association of Social Workers, The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, and the American Social of Clinical Hypnosis.