Everyone knows or has at least heard of the importance of loving yourself. The pressures of adulting these days or just life in general requires a thicker skin and an ability to be able to be confident in our day to day lives. A positive self-image helps to trample all the curveballs, conversely making it a challenge to get through a range of life’s unexpected events if you lack this element of self love or confidence. Of course, while it can be easy to hurt your self-esteem (sticks & stones), building it up can also be a fairly easy job.
I look back on the version of me that existed even five years ago compared to now – and the difference is wow-worthy. My self confidence in my looks, beliefs, and even my ability to boldly speak my mind were hardly there – and now I’m this completely sassy and blunt person dishin’ out the tea on a daily basis (Instagram). It’s striking how many people reach out to me with messages like ‘oh thank you for saying that – I never could! or I’m too afraid I’ll make other people mad. Stand by those convictions! You’ve got to start some day, why not now?
To help you out with this, let’s explore some of the different parts of your life which this can impact, enabling you to pinpoint where your issues may lie, along with providing you with the information you need to make a difference. You never have to feel unhappy about who you are or the should have/could have/what might have been situations ever again!
This sort of problem is most likely to impact the social interactions you are engaged in and can occur on many different levels. Even when talking to friends, it can be hard to be confident when you don’t feel self-assured or if their opinions differ from yours. Being one in a crowd can seem daunting but think of all the people who went beyond that thought and became the “stiletto in a room full of flats.” Thankfully, recognizing this in yourself is fairly easy, giving you the chance to make a change and be more brazen, as long as you can identify what is hindering the way you look at yourself. In a lot of cases, it will be something you’re not doing, rather than element which already exists in your life (fear of confrontation, taking the easy route, etc.). By going out and doing something which puts your skills to the test, you can give yourself a much needed boost. I cannot tell you how intimidated I was when I made my first Insta-story. First I felt silly, then I doubted myself (who would care about what I had to say), and then I began to compare myself to others (would I be relevant, would I be funny enough, would I seem stupid). Then I finally said screw all that and went for it! Now I can’t stay off of stories!
While we normally can talk to our friends without any problems, there will be plenty of other social situations which will put you to the test. Job interviews, parties, and loads of other scenarios can be made very difficult when you don’t feel good about yourself. Remember, your self confidence is visible. If you find these sorts of environments difficult, it could be worth considering what you’re truly worried about, giving you the opportunity to dissect the problem and figure out how to tackle it.
Some people love to spend time around others, while you may prefer to be alone every once in a while (I neeeed my alone time or I become impossible). This isn’t something to feel bad about, though, many of us are introverts or have personalities that need a healthy balance between time alone and time with friends. I’ve always said alone time doesn’t reflect how you feel about spending time with your friends – and if they don’t understand that about you, they might not be in your best interest to begin with.
Next, let’s discuss a rather important and under-appreciated topic; body confidence. You know in the movie Mean Girls when each of the plastics stands in front of a mirror hating on themselves? I fully believe self deprecation is a learned behavior – from peers, from social media, from media in general. It’s awful and it’s everywhere. There are loads of different qualities which people will perceive to be problems with their body, ranging from being too large or small, too hairy, or not having clear enough skin. Of course, in reality, all of these things are superficial, though it can be hard to convince yourself of this when it is on your mind or worse, if you’re being picked on for it. One of the healthiest ways to solve this issue is by taking action where you can. If you don’t like how many spots you have, for example, look into some treatment options. You can either choose to take action or you can choose to embrace yourself or even both! Taking action about something that irks you doesn’t mean you don’t love or value yourself and vice versa. The only way you’re not showing yourself love is by believing in any of the negative comments thrown your way (we’ve all heard them at some point in our lives). I remember being in 3rd or 4th grade and coming home from school in tears because the kids at school constantly made fun of my hair arms and legs. I begged my mom to let me shave them, to which she finally caved. Kids are still ruthlessly mean.
The implications of low body confidence can often be a lot more severe than simply not wanting to go out wearing unpopular clothing. Over time, when something like this plays on your mind incessantly, it can begin to form a psychological impact on you, bringing about serious issues like anorexia (been there, done that). Overcoming a condition like this can be an uphill battle (one I very much still battle), with the way that your body changes making it hard to go back to eating normal amounts. If you’re struggling with this, here’s a great place to get started, offering loads of information to help you to find healthy eating habits, nutrition tips, and mental health resources. I use anorexia as an example because that’s what I personally know, but the implications of low body confidence can have many manifestations other than eating disorders.
The people closest to you should enable you to be as honest as possible. If you feel like these people don’t respect you, or you don’t respect yourself, it will be incredibly difficult to even be your true self when you are around them. This can often lead to long and drawn out arguments which don’t really end (bottling up all those emotions or things unsaid), simply damaging your relationships in the process. This is particularly bad when you are in a personal relationship with someone. In the words of my beloved Rupaul “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else?” AMEN! Overcoming this can be a real challenge, especially when you’re worried about reactions. But in all honesty – being your truest self is so much less exhausting than pretending to be/think/do something you’re not. You feel me? Surround yourself with those who will embrace the true you – not those who make you feel the need to be anyone or anything less than YOU.
Believing in yourself may sound like a bit of a cliche, but this ESSENTIAL. Without it, achieving any of the goals you have for yourself will be impossible, especially if they involve pushing harder and reaching beyond your limits for better results aka going for that promotion or training for that half marathon or hosting that dinner for some new friends – whatever goal means the most to you. If you don’t think you can do something, then you’ll probably never do it. Solving this is hard because the solution involves tackling the problem head on which is unnerving and frightful for most of us. You need to prove to yourself that you can achieve something, and the only way to do this is by going for it and likely achieving it. Sometimes, it’s better to ignore the way you feel about your chances of success, saying screw it and simply working hard to achieve the best results you can. I wouldn’t even be here typing to you all had I listened to the demons in my head all laughing at my idea of starting a blog. Do you have those? They’re the worst.
Don’t let the demons or negative voices in your head ultimately make normal life into a distant dream. You won’t be able to get the jobs you’re fantasizing over (and know you fully deserve), or go as far as you want in any goal without building confidence. If you’ve been struggling with this for many years, it could be worth talking to a mental health professional – I did! It’s amazing how much impact a short conversation can have, with the right people being able to dig out the problems which are causing the most grief in your life. I promise it’s worth the time/cost/distance – whatever excuse you might create – it’s worth it.
Most people expect bullying to stop when they leave school, with the silliness of childhood being left behind them – amen, goodbye high school! Of course, though, in reality, this sort of activity only takes on a different form, rather than going away entirely. Bullying at work can be incredibly difficult to deal with. Did you know nurses are notorious bullies? The very fact that it can go on in the first place means that people aren’t recognizing it as wrong. Speaking up about this can be very intimidating if you have a low self-esteem or are just genuinely afraid for fear of your job, though, and bullies tend to target people in this position. Remember – you always have the right to be able to do your job without having to experience negative social interactions. Period. The End. No apologies!
To make sure that bullying like this doesn’t last, it’s always worth talking to your boss about it. Hopefully they’re receptive (I definitely had one who wasn’t – she was part of the problem). In most cases, however, they will prefer for you to avoid having an argument with other team members, making this the right move to make on a professional level, while also giving you the chance to avoid the confrontation and risking your job. It’s easy to think that you have to solve something like this yourself. In reality, though, it is in your boss’s interest to make sure that you’re not being made to feel unhappy lest they lose you as an employee and all the time and resources they’ve invested in you.
Feeling bad about yourself is never a good way to live. While it will have an impact on all of the areas above, it will also change the way you feel on a daily basis triggering a cascade of mental health issues. Some people can deal with this more easily than others, and won’t feel too bad about their low self-esteem- seemingly brushing it off. Others, though, will only have their situation made worse the longer they are stuck in it. Life isn’t all negativity, though. Instead, when you get up each morning, practice gratitude (yes, I’m working on this too) and being thankful that you are the best version of you currently available. Pick three things you’re AWESOME at and go from there. Me? I’m crazy cool at remembering numerical sequences, can recite the Lord of the Rings movies by memory, collecting an absurd amount of coffee mugs! Once you manage to unlock the doors to this lifestyle, it’s hard to close them again, with your confidence growing as the day and eventual years go by.
With all of this in mind, I hope you’re feeling ready to take on the challenge of improving your self-esteem. We can ALL make improvements, always! Living with self doubt or low self confidence can be incredibly hard or even debilitating, especially when you don’t have the confidence to talk to others about it. Thankfully, there are loads of tools and resources out there which are designed to help us all with this – so we’re halfway there already! By doing some research, reading blogs (hi!) and browsing forums, you should be able to gather up some handy tips and tricks which others have developed to deal with their own struggles. This sort of sharing is the cornerstone of recovering from something like this. Even the mere act of seeing someone else climb out of a self-esteem pit can be enough to drive you towards doing better in your own life.