This article was originally published on nickhatter.com
Without adequate self-esteem, many things including our work, relationships and health will suffer. It is akin to building a house on sand and not on concrete. As a London life coach, I have seen too often clients suffer because of low self-esteem.
Self-esteem is like oxygen for the soul.
There are several facets to esteeming the self which I outline below in the hopes that it will help you.
1. Admit you are imperfect but loveable
Whenever we view ourselves as perfect, whenever something cracks this self-constructed false reality, it tends to leave us devastated and crippled. Thus the solution I have found is to accept one’s self as inherently imperfect but loveable.
When you were a baby, you could not speak, do anything unassisted, you were clumsy, you soiled yourself, and you made a mess. And yet, you were still loveable! That inner baby is still within you today, so love it with all of your heart!
The best way I know how to do this is by admitting “I am imperfect” and by being willing to apologise quickly for any mistakes I may have made.
The more you view yourself as perfect, the more it is going to hurt when you inevitably fall short (as all humans do).
2. Recognise your intrinsic strengths and weaknesses
Comparing one’s self to others can be a common source of self-esteem failures. For example, we see someone who is slimmer, more attractive, more wealthy, more accomplished or someone who has what we don’t have, such as a romantic partner, children, property, prestige and so forth.
When we make these surface-level comparisons, we can very quickly feel less-than, worthless, and less loveable.
A great tool you can use is to look at your intrinsic strengths and weaknesses.
For example, yes, this person may be more accomplished in one area of life. However, I have my own gifts: I am entrepreneurial, both intellectual and spiritual, I am empathic, I am a successful London life coach.
Similarly, if I find myself feeling unjustly superior to someone else, I can remind myself of my inherent weaknesses: I can be intense, moody, over-sensitive, workaholic and insecure.
The best place to be is neutral: you have your strengths and weaknesses, and I have mine – neither of us is better or worse.
Keep in mind to not compare your insides with others’ outsides and be mindful that everyone has inherent strengths and weaknesses.
3. Make peace with your existence
What are your core beliefs? Do you believe you are here by mistake? Are you just flesh and bones? Were you just born by chance, or is there a greater plan for your life? Is your life meaningless?
As a Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner, I believe that our core beliefs (our spirituality) determine how we decide, think, feel and act.
As such, I find it most helpful to believe that I am a child of the Universe, I have a right to be here, I belong, and the Universe has a greater plan for my life.
The alternative might be spiritual cynicism; you exist by some sheer chance, you are but an ant amongst a terrifying cryptic cosmic cypher and your life does not matter nor does the Universe care whether or not you live or you die.
Which core beliefs serve you the best? Re-think your beliefs.
4. Let go of old shame
No doubt that we have all done things we are ashamed of (myself included). In addition, we may be wrongfully carrying the shame of someone else (such as a parent who shamed us as a child).
There are a number of ways to let go of shame such as:
Shame reduction therapy and hypnotic exercises to give back carried shame to those who wrongfully shamed us.
Making amends to those you have harmed unless to do so would injure them or others.
Choosing to live and act differently today if you cannot make amends.
Practising spirituality such as prayer.
5. Reframe “failure”
Falling short of our goals, not succeeding in interviews, dates, competitions, etc. can be another source of self-esteem failure.
If we see events and outcomes only in terms of winning and failing, then is it any wonder that we feel like failures? This is a very limited and binary perspective to have.
A more helpful perspective is: It’s not failure, it’s feedback.
Perhaps you didn’t get that job, perhaps your date just wants to be friends. What can you learn from these experiences? Certainly in the startup world, the only way to learn is to go out there and fail I believe. People either buy your service or your product – or they don’t. And if they don’t, find out why, refine, retweak, re-test.
Thomas Edison didn’t fail a thousand times; he just had feedback of a thousand different approaches that did not work for the lightbulb.
Another helpful perspective is: This may not be about me.
Sometimes it’s simply not personal. Let’s say you did everything right in the interview and you still didn’t get the job. For all you know, the interviewer may have decided to give the job to a friend or a cousin.
Perhaps your date already has a partner, or they’re still getting over a previous breakup, or they have unaddressed subconscious trauma.
To summarise, be mindful of the story you are creating about yourself based on the events that happen to you.
6. Say “no” and set boundaries
How many times have you said “yes” when you meant to say “no” ? Perhaps you took on an extra project when you had no available bandwidth, maybe you took on underpaid work for your level of experience, or perhaps someone asked you an unreasonable request.
Every time we say “yes” we may be saying “no” to ourselves.
Whilst we should practice charity, we should also practice being balanced and boundaried. Make sure your oxygen mask is on first before attempting to give to others.
Give generously, but do so with love for yourself, rather than depriving or depleting yourself.
7. Practice self-care
Nothing says “I love you” more to yourself than practising self-care.
This can be as simple as brushing your teeth, good personal hygiene, taking regular breaks and time off work, sleeping enough, eating healthy food, getting a massage, replacing broken/faulty items or clothing, seeing a life coach or a therapist, addressing health issues etc.
It can also be saying to yourself outloud “I love you and you’re okay” and gently soothing yourself by patting your heart or your stomach.
Self-care is not a luxury; it’s a necessity for our health, our self-esteem, our well-being and our sanity.