How to Build Self-Esteem From The Inside Out
Self-esteem is the ability to accept and love yourself mistakes and all. When self-esteem is based on external things like marital status, a new house or financial success, it doesn't last. These can change without warning so counting on them for validation creates problems.
What if you lose a job or your partner leaves? Naturally, you'd be upset but if your sense of self is rocked to the core, that's a bigger issue. Basing your self-worth on outside stuff is a quick fix, not a long term solution.
What is self-esteem?
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.
Use this checklist to identify weak areas and more importantly areas to improve. If you struggle with self-esteem, you're not alone. Many of us were not raised with the tools to create healthy self-esteem from the inside out. Instead, you learned to get your value from a relationship, what you do or in achievements. Here you'll learn how to build self-esteem from the inside out.
Childhood experiences have an impact on how you feel about yourself today. Think back to how self-esteem was modeled in your family.
- As a kid, what were the messages you learned about self-esteem?
- Was self-esteem considered to be conceited or self centered?
- Were accomplishments celebrated regularly?
- Did adults set the example by sharing 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. Some feel comfortable acknowledging success because parents never modeled how to do that graciously.
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 didn't learn.
Without healthy self-esteem, you think you don't measure up. You assume that others are smarter, thinner, more capable than you. These negative thoughts create problems in relationships, at work, and in being able to enjoy life. You assume the worst without realizing that your assumptions may not be true.
The impact on relationships
When you don’t feel good about yourself, your relationships tend to reflect that. For instance, picking partners that don’t treat you well or attracting friends that take advantage of your kindness.
Without a healthy sense of self, boundaries take a backseat to seeking approval. Examining self-talk is a great place to start. Self-talk consists of a running dialogue of your private thoughts.
Facing that critical voice
Negative thoughts influence mood so learning how to decipher them becomes the first goal. Ironically, most negative thoughts inside your head aren't even yours.
They represent the "critical voice" from childhood. Whether they comes from a parent, or abusive relative, those childhood messages make an impact on self worth. These messages can be direct or indirect.
Maybe your family compared you to a sibling so you never felt good enough. On the other hand, when the message is implied but never said it's more difficult to recognize. For instance, if no one ever acknowledged you, the message received is neglect. An absence of positive encouragement makes the child assume that something is wrong with them.
By being willing to examine these experiences you become accountable to change the things you can. Facing the hurt builds self-esteem because in confronting the past, you can let go of what no longer serves you.
In 12 step programs, there is a writing exercise called a personal inventory. It focuses on the impact of past events in order to understand present behavior. Doing this provides clarity and helps heal past wounds.
This personal inventory addresses painful experiences that impact self-esteem. Here's how you start.
- Write about an old hurt or resentment. Tell the story.
- Write how this affects you.
- Write out what you contributed to the situation, such as your 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 problem areas that get in the way of feeling good about yourself.
If you write about childhood abuse, your "part" 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. This also lessens anger.
Tips for improving self-esteem
- Write your personal inventory on issues affecting self-esteem.
- Acknowledge your individual talents and gifts.
- Assess your relationships for mutual respect and support.
- Do what you love! It makes you happy.
- Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself. Mistakes are 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?
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