One's sense of self-esteem is often based on the experiences that they go through and the feelings associated with those experiences. "Over time, we tend to begin considering experiential feelings as factual descriptors of ourselves, giving way to a skewed self-esteem. In simpler words, low self-esteem is a negative, judgemental evaluation of oneself, influenced by parenting styles, childhood beliefs, and significant past events," explains Sanjoni Sethi, Clinical Psychologist.
Working on your self-esteem—or any other subjective evaluation of your worth—takes commitment, honesty, and effort. If you're looking to better yourself (which is presumably, why you're reading this), congratulations, you've conquered step one on the road to healing! It's never easy to accept your flaws and acknowledge that there is room for improvement. Now that you've achieved this feat, learn how to cope with your deepest, darkest insecurities and help boost your self-esteem, courtesy of these cardinal tips by Sanjoni.
Explore Your Train of Thought
Being hard on yourself comes easy for many, especially if you're feeling less secure within. Consider challenging self-critical thoughts by asking yourself the following questions:
- How would you view someone else in this situation?
- What suggestion would you give to a friend with similar thoughts?
These link questions to one's thoughts and will channel your train of thought to explore a less critical approach.
Mindful Evidence Seeking
Low self-esteem, at any given moment, is likely to enhance attention to selective information. For instance, recalling failure, rejection, and awkward encounters. Hence, while doing so, ensure that you are also mindful of your past achievements, joyous occasions, satisfactory gains, triumphs, and virtues. Remember, things are always better than you let yourself believe.
Pen the Positive
Do you often find yourself brooding over your mistakes and limitations? If yes, then consider compiling data on your positive qualities and life achievements instead. Daily data entry by simply jotting down a minimum of five skills/qualities/traits/actions you possess will offer contradictory evidence to your critical thoughts. For instance, something as basic as taking out a few minutes of your time to speak to a friend who is having a rough day, or being patient with an elderly member at home.
Willingness to Accept Self-Barriers
Assessing one's limitations or thought-induced fears such as feelings of incompetence, rejection, and failure are likely to bring to the fore emotional monsters that try to pull us down. In such a situation, using the metaphor of 'driving your bus' is helpful. Consider this:
- Imagine yourself in control of a bus.
- Visualise yourself in a situation where you are expected to perform.
- Envision the emotional barriers and critical thoughts about yourself.
- Think of the first solution—driving your bus away to escape these monsters.
- Think of riding the bus with the monsters, where you are in charge.
- Explore how this journey turns out.
Acceptance and commitment intervention helps us increase the willingness of making a more mindful choice.
Labelling Negative Thoughts
Identifying and labelling negative, intrusive thoughts is paramount in the process of improving your self-esteem. Instead of saying, "I feel like I'm not good enough," speak out loud and say, "I'm having the thought that my mind is making me feel like I am not good enough." This way, the thought doesn't directly target your sense of self. Instead, it assumes the role of a fleeting feeling that will shortly pass.
Seeking Professional Intervention
A trained professional will help shift your awareness towards and work on building insight-orientation regarding the probable causes of low self-esteem. Awareness, as a tool, is equally important to finding a solution to an existing concern. Psychologists facilitate this journey of recognising self-judgemental thoughts and self-defeating behaviours and help you re-evaluate your journey.