Bluetree’s psychology intern Alannah Fallon writes about tackling self esteem issues and how we can help..
Self-esteem refers to the way in which we feel about and value ourselves. It refers to the confidence we have in our own abilities and beliefs, and the way in which we exhibit this through our behaviour. Someone with healthy or high self-esteem may have a great amount of self-belief in themselves and their capabilities and further, hold a high level of respect for who they are.
However, certain experiences and events throughout life may potentially harm the process of having a healthy self-esteem. Do you find that you tend to talk down on yourself and criticise everything about you and your abilities? If so, these may be signs that you have low self-esteem.
Low self esteem
When we have low self-esteem, we tend to see ourselves in a more critical way, with lower amounts of self-belief and trust in us as an individual. Such beliefs can be caused by a number of factors and sometimes, has a strong foundation in our childhood. The way in which those around us respond to us and make us feel can have a significant impact on the way in which we view ourselves. The same goes for things we view, such as the media, with messages they send out having the potential to make us feel bad about ourselves, such as beauty standards and stories of wealth and success. Other causes can be the impact of adverse life events in which we may have experienced, such as the death of a loved one, experiences of abuse, and illness.
Low self-esteem may be characterised by things such as having negative views about yourself to the point where you feel incompetent and worthless. It can also lead you to avoid socialising with others, attempting new things, and doing activities you once loved due to the fear of judgement and embarrassment. You may also hold a lot of self-doubt, telling yourself you’re ‘too stupid’ or ‘not capable’ of doing certain things, which in reality, is more than likely not true at all.
Consistent low self-esteem is very capable of negatively impacting everyday life and can translate into the way in which you behave and view the world around you. It can manifest itself in ways which affect your relationships, your work life and even your physical appearance through neglect. In the long term, consistent negative thoughts, and beliefs about oneself, are detrimental to your mental health, and beliefs are harder to change the more you reinforce them. These negative thoughts start to become your reality and, in some cases, can lead to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.
How to improve self-esteem
Although these thoughts can become debilitating and the way you perceive yourself may seem like the truth to you, there are ways in which you can break out of these negative thought patterns, improve the way you view and treat yourself as an individual, and ultimately, improve your self-esteem.
Below are listed some simple ways in which you can help to improve your self-esteem and be kinder to yourself:
- Identifying negative thoughts and patterns
The first step in improving your self-esteem and the attitude you have towards yourself is identifying the negative thoughts you hold about yourself. Identifying these specific thoughts is the first and most important step in tackling them as it allows you to break them down into smaller compartments and increases understanding of the mechanisms behind the thoughts and their causations. From this, you can work to dismantle these negative beliefs you have about yourself and rationalise them. You can think / jot down things that challenge these certain opinions, showing you that these thoughts are not reality and do not define you.
- Avoid people / things that tend to make you feel worse about yourself
Leading on from the first point, identifying patterns if your negative thoughts may have led you to identifying certain things, such as people and/or situations, in which worsen your self-esteem. It may be good practice to lessen contact with individuals who seem to make you feel worse about yourself and leave you in a negative mindset. This can be the same for things you view such as social media platforms and TV shows. Cutting down your involvement in these things can help reduce negativity in which you may view yourself and allow you to build your self-esteem back up with a clearer mindset. You should never feel guilty for cutting things out of your life which negatively impact who you are and serve you no purpose.
- Self-care – look after yourself
This may sound like an obvious one but look after yourself! Many people tend to neglect self-care, something which is essential for a positive and clear mindset. Some simple things which you can implement day to day are having a good morning and night routine, exercising, watching your favourite films, drinking enough water, spending time with people you love and eating good nutritious foods. Taking time to take care and be kind to yourself can have a positive impact on the way you then view yourself, leading to increased self-esteem, and further, is shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression in which you may be experiencing. Your mind and body are your home, and therefore should be treated with the utmost respect!
- Positive affirmations!
Another thing which may sound simple but is extremely effective is doing daily affirmations. Positive affirmations are phrases in which you can repeat to yourself to help stimulate a positive mindset and view of yourself and life. Examples are writing down a list of things such as ‘I am worthy’, ‘I am strong’ and ‘I am resilient’ and repeating them to yourself every morning and night. Affirmations have been shown to help combat self-deprecating thoughts you may have and increase confidence. Repeating affirmations can help you start to believe in yourself more and can lead to positive changes in the views you have of yourself and your outward behaviour.
- Try talking therapy
Talking to a professional about the way you feel can also be a great way to fight low self-esteem if you believe you may not be able to overcome it completely alone. Professionals offer a range of different talking therapies in which aim to identify and break down negative thoughts and behaviours, implementing strategies in which you can utilise to help you turn these around and better your mindset and life.
The Blue Tree Clinic have a wide, multi-disciplinary team of caring and hard-working professionals offering a wide range of services aimed to allow you to be your best self and fulfil your potential, no matter what your problems may be. Please don’t hesitate to enquire today and find the right help tailored specifically for you and your needs.