Many people consider confidence to go hand and hand with self-esteem. However, that isn’t entirely true. The difference between the two is that confidence is a quality that generally appears externally, while self-esteem is a quality that appears internally and manifests itself externally in an indirect manner. People who are perceived as confident are considered to be self-assured, they walk around in the world knowing that they can obtain whatever it is that they desire and this very belief typically assures that they do. Confidence is a quality that you can “fake until you make,” however confidence is also a quality that can come naturally to a person. A naturally confident person may appear charismatic, positive and magnetic, yet silently suffer from low self-esteem. Self-esteem is all about how you perceive yourself. Someone with low self-esteem typically engages in negative self-talk and self-destructive behaviors because they believe that they are not worthy of their own love and respect. Low self-esteem is typically a byproduct of a traumatic life event that an individual internalized and took personally, even if the event was not personal. The process of internalizing the event and taking it personally, leads the individual to believe that they were responsible for it and so they then engage in self-destructive behavior due to their feelings of guilt. Many people who possess low self-esteem often perceive incidences that are outside of their control as personal even when they are not personal. Someone with low self-esteem may for instance respond negatively to any form of criticism, or they may criticize their-self when another person is praised for a particular quality. Overall, someone with low self-esteem has a negative self-image and rarely thinks positively of themselves. Someone with high self-esteem however, respects and even loves themselves. Contrary to popular belief, loving oneself despite life’s difficulties is an honorable task, because only when we love ourselves will we ever truly be capable of loving another. I mean how can you give another that which you don’t have within yourself to give? People with high self-esteem hold themselves in a high regard, they consider themselves as worthy of love and all of the good that life has to offer. Therefore, they walk away from anything and anyone that is unloving and does not bring good into their lives. Someone with high self-esteem is aware of and honors their values, and because they ensure that all of their actions live up to their values they live a life of integrity. Only by becoming aware of what you value can you begin to start living up to your own expectations, rather than the expectations of those around you. When you release yourself from the expectations of others, you realize that a majority of the events that you perceived as personal were entirely outside of your control and largely had nothing to do with you.
So how exactly does someone who suffers from low self-esteem begin to enhance their perception of themselves and step into their own esteem?
10 Steps Towards Self-Esteem
- Quite all of the voices in your head that tell you that there is something “wrong” with you or your body, that you are “not enough” or that you are a “bad” person. These are not the voice of your true self, these are the voices of other people’s expectations and their perception of what is wrong, right, not enough, enough, bad and good.
- Analyze and question what it is that YOU value. Values are deeply held beliefs that shape our perception of what we consider to be “right” and “wrong”. Question your current beliefs, analyze whether or not the current beliefs you hold about yourself are yours and whether or not they serve you. If they aren’t yours, and they do not serve you, let them go.
- Become a critical observer of social and media messages, and question their intentions. Society and the media play an important role in shaping our perception of the world and what we value. Ask yourself whether or not society’s values are aligned with your own, and consider which expectations may have been influenced by society and the media.
- Remind yourself that beauty and success are subjective, and that true beauty and true success are neither skin-deep nor symbolized by a dollar sign. True beauty is a state of mind not the state of your body, and true success is defined by how fulfilled you feel not by what you can afford in an attempt to fulfill you.
- Write down a list of the top-10 things that you love about yourself, things that aren’t necessarily related to physical attributes or accomplishments because they don’t last. List 10 inherent qualities and/or talents that your character is comprised of and that you feel good sharing with others. Memorize this list, and resort to it often.
- Appreciate the things that you love about yourself, and everything that makes you YOU! Surround yourself with positive people who appreciate you as well. Eliminate anyone from your life that doesn’t lift you higher or inspire you to simply be yourself. If you can’t eliminate everyone, then eliminate the energy that you give to negative people and negativity.
- Use the time that you would otherwise be tempted to spend on self-destructive behavior on self-constructive actions necessary to achieving your goals, and use the energy that you would otherwise spend criticizing yourself on acknowledging your strengths, accepting your weaknesses and praising your accomplishments (big and small).
- Do something nice for yourself. Pamper and indulge yourself in whichever way that you desire, whether it’s painting your nails, taking a bubble bath, buying a new outfit, eating healthy or getting some exercise. Whatever it is that you need to do to show YOU that you love yourself, DO IT!
- Honor and respect your feelings. If something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it or remove yourself from the situation. Take the time to actually feel your body, experience your emotions and be present. When you do not respect your feelings, you allow yourself to rely on the feelings of others. Always take the time to assess how you feel.
- Forgive yourself, and everyone else. Take the time to forgive yourself when you make a mistake or don’t live up to your own expectations. Forgive others when they don’t live up to your expectations as well. When you refuse to forgive another person who did something to offend you, you continue to perceive their offense as personal. However, you can not control another’s behavior, you can only control your own. Therefore, it is not personal. When you realize this, other people cease to have power over you and how you feel about yourself.