Self-Esteem Is An Inside Job!
When self-esteem is based on things like marital status, a new house or financial success, it doesn't last. These are external things that can change without warning.
When that happens, your sense of self is rocked. Basing self-esteem on outside stuff is a quick fix, not a solution. This article focuses on how to build self-esteem from the inside out.
What is self-esteem?
The ability to accept and love yourself as you are - mistakes and all.
The ability to feel the love others have for you and not reject it.
The willingness to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and spiritually without delay.
Childhood experiences have an impact on how you feel about yourself today. Think back to how self-esteem was modeled in your family.
- As kids, what were the messages you learned about self-esteem?
- Was it considered to be conceited or self centered?
- Were accomplishments celebrated regularly?
- Did adults set the example by talking about their successes without acting better than everyone else?
- Was it okay to stand out and be special?
- Was it okay to be proud of an accomplishment?
Most of us didn't grow up in families where self-esteem was discussed or considered an important part of development.
How self-esteem impacts parenting
Building self-esteem is a vital part of healthy parenting. Children need constant reassurance and positive feedback to develop a healthy sense of self. As they become teenagers, they need praise for who they are becoming and their unique gifts.
If you lacked confidence as a child, you may not know how to model healthy self-esteem for your kids. It's difficult to teach what you don't have.
Without healthy self-esteem, you may think that you don't measure up. These negative thoughts cause problems in relationships, at work, and in just enjoying life. Without effort, they never go away.
Taking action increases self-esteem
Negative thoughts influence mood so pay attention. Don't believe everything you tell yourself. Some negative thoughts aren't even yours! It's that "critical voice" inside your head.
In 12 step programs, there is a writing exercise called a personal inventory. It's writing out details of past events in order to understand your behavior. It provides clarity and helps heal past wounds.
By examining past experiences you can become accountable to change the things you can. This builds self-esteem because it takes courage to confront the past. You can let go of what no longer serves you.
This personal inventory addresses painful experiences that impact self-esteem. Here's how you start.
- Write something or someone you resent. Tell the story.
- Write how this resentment affects you.
- Write out what you contributed to the situation, such as reactions, thoughts and emotions.
- Have you ever had this feeling before? If so, find the pattern.
Getting it out on paper gets to the root of the issue. It can highlight problems areas that get in the way of feeling good about yourself.
If you write about childhood abuse, the your "contribution" will be blank. There is no personal responsibility in abuse suffered. Usually, the relief comes from realizing your part in the situation which creates empathy for others.
Tips for improving self-esteem
- Write the above exercise on issues affecting self esteem.
- Acknowledge your individual talents and gifts.
- Do what you love! It makes you happy.
- Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself. Making mistakes is how we learn!
- Join a support group such as Al-Anon or one that focuses on self esteem.
- Seek your own therapy if you need additional help.
What's one thing that you can do today to improve your self-esteem?