In the social-media-filled world of today, there is so much evidence of what other people are doing. So much emphasis on how you should look, what you ought to eat, how you should act, even what you should feel. And so few of us seem to measure up!
This constant comparison to your own detriment can easily lead to a sense of low self-esteem.
The Tyranny of Expectations
Some people call this the tyranny of expectations: the expectations placed on you by society, but also the expectations you place on yourself. Always trying to measure up to some idea of perfection, or just of how your life ought to be.
And when you fail, which you always do because life is never perfect, then you blame yourself and feel worthless. Not only that, but the worse you feel about yourself, the more you undermine yourself.
It’s a bizarre fact that often, if you feel bad about yourself in one area of your life, this will generalise to other areas. Low self-esteem spreads a pall of malaise that undermines your happiness in all aspects of your existence.
For instance, if you feel you are not slim enough, you may not present yourself well. People at work will notice this reticence, and take it as a sign that you are not good at your job. Being down on yourself will also make it hard for you to believe someone else could love you, so you sabotage your friendships and more intimate relationships. So, what started as just weighing a couple of pounds or kilos more than you think you should can lead to a downward spiral of ‘I’m not good enough!’
This is why it’s vital to get a handle on your self-esteem and reverse this pattern. The great bit is that there are lots of ways to work on your self-esteem. And that by boosting how you feel in one area, that will also generalise across your life – to the positive!
Top Ten Tips to Boost Self-Esteem
- Stop negative self-talk – while this isn’t always easy, there are lots of ways to go about it. For example, try journalling the negative talk you most often fall into. Becoming more aware of it, you can start to notice it in the moment as it happens. And then remind yourself that this is just trash talk. Finally, remind yourself of something positive about yourself, to reverse this pattern.
- Meditate – closely related to the last point, meditation is great because it helps you to become more aware of the thoughts that float through your mind, and also to realise that they are not ‘you’.
- Focus on positives – this is not about being falsely happy. Rather, just as you journal about negative self-talk, also take time to reflect on the positives in your life. A gratitude journal is a wonderful support in this. Try to make these positives real and down-to-earth. For example, give thanks for the ability to see, or for the beautiful sunrise, or for the smile someone gave you on the way to work.
- Connect with others – it’s a truism that no person is an island. You are a social animal, whether you like other people much or not. Even people who tend to say they hate everyone still find people they can sit and enjoy a conversation with, or a book that engrosses them (which was written by another person). Cultivating any form of connection with others will support your self-esteem, as others will see your positives more easily than you do.
- Be more assertive – standing up for yourself, and defending your own positives and point of view, are goods ways to remind yourself that you really are worth it!
- Find something to stretch you – being in flow, doing an activity which challenges you enough to be interesting, but not so much as to overwhelm you, is hugely uplifting. You lose all sense of time, and feel very alive. This boosts your self-esteem, as you see what you are achieving, and have fun at the same time.
- Practice self-care – be it having a relaxing bath, rubbing on moisturiser, cooking yourself something delicious and nutritious, or any of the other myriad things you can do to be kind to yourself, these things all show you that you believe you are worth taking care of.
- Find healthy ways to motivate yourself – sometimes, people think that their negative critic is a good thing, as it pushes them to be better. However, this generally doesn’t work out, as you can never please that inner critic. Instead, find some positive forms of motivation. For example, remind yourself of the positive benefits of anything you want to achieve. Once again, a good use for your journal 🙂 Refocus on what you enjoy: doing something you enjoy is intrinsically motivating, rather than you having to fabricate motivation out of thin air.
- Self-appreciation – in the same way that you journal about things you are grateful for in your life, spend a bit of time each day thinking about what you appreciate about yourself. Try to find three things each day that you did well, or that you can simply appreciate about yourself. For example, you might have listened to a friend in need, or you might have taken time to do some self-care.
- Recognise that you are good enough – this connects back to the first point. Oftentimes, your inner critic is down on you because you aren’t perfect. So, take some time to recognise that you are good enough. This combines compassion and realism. For example, do you really need to have a perfect eating day to achieve your ideal healthy weight? Maybe you can recognise that just doing one small thing better than you would normally do is already an achievement. Walking an extra stop rather than catching the bus, or eating a piece of fruit instead of a piece of chocolate, these are all steps in the right direction. Not perfect, but good enough!
In line with that last point, try to adopt just one of these practices, or maybe one a week. You don’t need to do everything all at once! Making small changes will add up to improving your self-esteem over time, generalising it to your whole life.
How coaching can help
It’s all well and good to set goals for yourself. However, often these goals are chosen one day and abandoned by the next. To make lasting changes, it can be useful to have some support.
A coach can help clarify what the true purpose behind your end goal is, and in that way help you choose the best way to move towards it. They can also focus you on how realistic your goals are. Finally, a coach can help you create a practical action plan to make your goals happen, and keep you accountable so you stick to it.
How hypnotherapy can help
Hypnotherapy can be especially useful in dealing with negative self-talk, or so called automatic negative thoughts. These thoughts do become automatic over time, and so an intervention like hypnosis can be just the ticket to break the habit! You can also use it to instil more uplifting patterns, to keep your focus and motivation.
In addition, using hypnorelaxation can be a way to try out different meditation techniques, to see which one/s work best for you in calming your mind and your inner critic.
Finally, you can use so-called pseudo-orientation in time to project yourself into the future. That way, you improve your motivation and unconscious goal orientation by seeing yourself succeed at what you’re intending.
If you’d like some support in increasing your self-esteem and achieving your goals, why not get in touch? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call on 07561 231 281.