Throughout our lives, we need various degrees of nurturing and support to build trust, security, and a sense of confidence. Self-esteem is the opinion we have of ourselves and how we respect ourselves that is developed based on a variety of experiences that either reinforce our confidence and security or challenge it. Healthy self-esteem helps us to function at our best. Our body and our brain provide the foundation for a sense of wellness.
So how do we change our mindset and begin a path toward a healthy self-esteem? There are many ways to improve our self-esteem, but here are a few to keep in mind:
- Remember you are valuable. Just because you are human, you have value. Period. We are each on a journey towards valuing ourselves in the ways we deserve.
- Understand where your thoughts and feelings about yourself originated. We all have experiences that shape the way we think and feel. If we can understand what those experiences are and process through any negative effects we have experienced, we improve our abilities to challenge thoughts and feelings that may be contributing to our distain of our bodies and identities. Working with a therapist may be beneficial in helping you to identify where these feelings came from, how to process through them, and ways to challenge unhealthy thoughts.
- Be intentional about your environment. Choose to spend time with those who support you and your goals. Be careful about the media intake in movies, magazines, television shows, etc. Limit your visits to places you know are triggering for you, especially in early recovery. Set boundaries with those in your life who may not be supportive or healthy influences for you. Spend time engaging in activities you enjoy.
- Engage in service. Research shows that when we engage in service opportunities, whether that be volunteering at a local organization, showing up for a friend who is struggling, paying for the people’s coffee behind us, picking up trash on the side of the road, or expressing appreciation to the cashier at the grocery store, we feel better about ourselves. The other people also feel cared for, so it’s a win-win for everyone.
- Learn from mistakes and offer yourself grace. We all make mistakes and stumble; it is normal. I would say it’s healthy and helpful to make mistakes. When you make a mistake, focus on the opportunity. What can you learn? What is the opportunity you found? There is ALWAYS opportunity in falls; the most important part is what you do after the fall. Get back up, reach out for help, and use your support network to problem solve and figure out what you need so that the next time a similar situation happens, you have a different way to navigate it. Falling down is not inherently problematic; staying down is.
- Try something new. Stepping outside of your comfort zone increases your opinion of yourself. Even taking the smallest step towards trying something new will help you to appreciate yourself.
- Limit comparison. Comparing our self to others is never helpful. Each person’s journey is different, and that’s okay. There are a lot of things about other people’s journeys you don’t know, so instead of making assumptions and setting standards, try to focus on your own progress day-to-day, and moment-to-moment.
- Engage in self-compassion. Talk to yourself like you would talk to a friend or loved one. If you wouldn’t say it to them, try not to say it to yourself.
- Take a self-appreciation break. Take a deep breath and ask yourself, “What are three things I can appreciate about myself?” They do not have to be big things, maybe you took a healthy walk today, or you made someone laugh. Take note of the little things you do – they are important and so are you.
Feeling good about yourself is difficult if you are unhappy with your body, and taking care of your body is difficult if you are unhappy with yourself. It is a cycle that can be difficult to stop. Engaging in the tips above gets us each one step closer every time we can slow down enough to challenge our self-deprecation and engage in self-appreciation. Every small step helps, and you are worth it.
Remember that you are never alone, and there is always someone there to help you. If you or a loved one is struggling with self-esteem, Magnolia Creek can help. For more information, please contact our admissions team at 205-409-4220 or complete our contact form.