I spent most of my adult life letting others dictate how I felt about myself. I’ve gone to extremes to change my appearance to receive affirmation from others. I wouldn’t part my hair in the center because someone told me my nose was too big (and I read in a magazine this would draw attention to it), I wouldn’t wear shorts because someone said my legs were too skinny and out of shape. Even after successfully completing two college degrees, I let my then- significant other convince me I would never be capable of holding down a full- time job.
What could have stopped these comments from penetrating into the depths of my soul?
An unshakeable self-worth would have created an unseen forcefield.
With a strong sense of self- worth, what other’s think of you is simply that- what other’s think of you. It does not have power over you and cannot change how you feel about yourself. I think back to the way comments hit so hard, how I would do anything to modify the comment’s target — be it a physical attribute or character trait. I had to prove to them (and myself) that it wasn’t true. I lived in a world where I spent the majority of my time focusing on the five percent of the population around me that had something negative to say to or about me. I was justifying my every move, how I looked, and fishing for compliments from others to falsely inflate my low self-esteem.
Becoming a mom was the push I needed to look in the mirror and be honest with myself. I felt like a fraud. Here I was, wanting to raise a child to be confident, to love everything about them when I didn’t practice what I preached.
From that moment on, I put the following six tips into action.
I stopped the negative self-talk.
I realized the comments that struck me to the core did so because I let them stay in my mind for days, weeks, even years later. I gave those thoughts the boot. I wore a hair tie around my wrist (a rubber band would work well, too) and would snap it whenever my mind was racing down the wrong path.
I focused on what I did well.
I started to celebrate the small things. Instead of dwelling on my less than best moments, I made a conscious decision to celebrate all the “wins” in my life- big or small. Did that new blush make my skin glow? Did I make a great choice by ordering a salad and drinking enough water? Did I make a dent in my endless email inbox at work today? I would focus on the positive instead of berating myself for falling short of perfect.
I used affirmations.
Affirmations were hard for me. When I began, my self-esteem was in the gutter. I felt I was lying when I said anything positive about myself. I had to literally “fake it until I make it” and continue with the affirmations regardless of how I felt about them in the present moment. Over time, as my self- worth improved, I believed my statements, and they solidified my new found love for the person I am.
I stopped trying to be liked by everyone.
I focused more on deciding what I liked. I worked on finding things that interested me and quit trying to be interesting to everyone around me. I used to be a chameleon and feign interest in whatever was “in.” While doing this, I was creating my misery. When I began being true to myself, and loving myself, I grew a stronger sense of who I am. Self-identity is everything.
I protected myself from emotional abuse.
I set boundaries. I wouldn’t allow anyone to talk down to me, or degrade me any longer. I no longer confused emotional abuse with constructive criticism. I began to listen to my intuition and focused on what my heart told me was right.
I stopped comparing.
Comparison is the thief of joy. I focused on my goals, my plans, and how I could better myself without taking the time to play the comparison game.
Increasing my self-worth has allowed me to shake off negativity, harsh criticism, or setbacks with grace. I no longer feel fragile. I know who I am and for what I stand. I have come to love myself- quirks and all. Improving my self-esteem has been the key to my happiness, and I hope these tips can do the same for yours, too.
Focus on mindset to reach your fitness goals www.northingtonfitnessandnutrition.com
Originally published at medium.com