Hello loves! I’m so glad to be back to posting more often now that the baby is close to being on a schedule. It’s definitely taking me a bit of time to get back into my grove but I’m getting there. Right now baby is sleeping soundly in his rocker, the dishes are washed, and my 3 year old is playing, so it seems like the perfect time to get some writing in. Last night I was thinking back to a time when I wasn’t feeling so great about myself. It’s funny because as I look through old pictures I can really see that my appearance shows those times when I felt down. My clothes weren’t fitting well, my face was puffy, and my smile was forced. I can tell I didn’t even want to be in the pictures. When you’re someone like me who battles with depression off and on, it can really take a tole on your self esteem because you often feel like you have to wear a mask all the time. You know the one- the “I’m fine” mask? Or worse, maybe even the “I’m totally happy and my life is going great, probably even better than yours” mask. Well I know that feeling and it’s tough, so if you are feeling the need to wear those masks right now, I’m sending you my love with tons of positive vibrations drenched with total acceptance of where you are in your journey at this time. I also want to give you a few tips, if you’ll take them, on how you can improve your self-esteem, even when things seem a bit hopeless.
Acceptance: Right now, right this minute, you are at some point in your journey of life. Everything that has happened in your life has brought you to this moment and maybe you don’t know where you’re going next. This can feel scary and maybe you’re upset over some of the circumstances. Maybe you’re angry at yourself about some of the decisions you’ve made, or disappointed in yourself for feeling angry, hurt, or sad. What I want you to do right now is to give yourself the gift of total acceptance of how you are feeling. If you feel angry- tell yourself -I feel angry and that’s ok, I accept myself as I am. If you’re sad, say to yourself- I feel sad and that’s ok, I accept myself as I am. If you feel you’ve made some bad decisions tell yourself- I feel I’ve made some bad decisions, and that’s ok, I accept myself as I am. If you feel others have hurt you, tell yourself- I feel hurt/disappointed by certain things others have chosen to do, and that’s ok, I accept myself as I am. If you need to cry, do it. Right now is the time just to sit with your feelings and give yourself acceptance and love, do not engage in blame (it’s all her fault!), negative self talk (such as-I’m so stupid for feeling this way), or false positivity (like shoving your feelings down and putting on a smile). Another tip, do not seek validation from others at this sensitive time. Unless you know you have complete trust in someone to just be there for you, then this is just for you. Now take a deep breath.
Trust Yourself: It’s not always easy to trust yourself, especially when you’ve made some bad decisions in the past. But remember no one is perfect. This is more about having faith. Faith that you will do better, that you will get back up when you fail, and faith that if you do your part, everything will work out eventually. Life isn’t easy, that’s just a fact and it will be harder for some than for others. Here’s a great way to look at it that I picked up from life coach Alexandra Abrego, “when things get hard think to yourself, “wow this is gonna make a great story someday”. The harder things get, the bigger the triumph when you pull yourself out. The trust part might be hard but it’s worth it to have faith because we can’t control everything, sometimes we have to leave it to a higher power. When I have a hard time trusting, I like to remember this- For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Protect Your Boundaries: This is one of the most important ones and it’s been a difficult one for me to curate. You cannot have self esteem without protecting your boundaries. Everyone has different boundaries and has the right to protect them. When you let others cross your boundaries you start to feel resentful and angry. It can be hard for some people like myself to hold strong to our boundaries. For example, I’ve had friends and relatives ask to stay with me while they get on their feet or when I know they can’t pay their rent, and words cannot express the amount of shame and guilt that welled up inside me when telling them no, but I knew my boundary was that no one that isn’t an amazing role model for my children could stay with me, so I forced myself to say it. Afterwards I always felt a rush of relief that it was over and that I wasn’t going to be responsible for something I couldn’t handle. Often times you may not even know what your boundaries are. For this reason it’s important to take all the time you need to make decisions and get clear on your boundaries. Don’t let anyone pressure you to hurry or change your boundaries for theirs or someone else’s benefit. Remember, you don’t have to argue or prove your boundaries are valid, just walk away if someone can’t, or chooses not to, respect them.
Authenticity: This brings us to the 4th tip, being authentic. Being authentic means communicating your, feelings, values, beliefs, and thoughts clearly and honestly. It means sticking to them in the company of your closest friends, worst enemies, and casual acquaintances. This doesn’t mean you have to tell the world all your secrets, it just means staying true to yourself. A good way to tell if we are being authentic is to check in to see if we are thinking about the other person’s reaction toward us and making a decision on how to act/what to say based on that. If you find yourself trying to be something, get your mind in the present and ask yourself what you are right now. Are you trying to be upbeat, but right now you feel anxious? You can express that to a friend by just saying “I feel anxious right now, but I want to try and stay positive”, instead of just pretending everything is fine and dandy. No need to get dramatic or prove anything because when you bring the drama, you are trying to be right, and that’s not authentic. It’s honestly not always easy. It can take some practice to really get in tune with our emotions, beliefs, and values, and learn how to communicate them. But you will feel so much better about yourself when your outer world aligns with your inner world.
Invest in yourself: While the other 4 tips will give you peace and make you not feel so heavy emotionally, investing in yourself will fill your cup and give you that radiant glow. Only when your cup is filled can you truly give to others at your full potential. That is why this step is so important. There are a million ways to invest in yourself, from meditating to going after your dream job, buying yourself a new pair of shoes to taking a class, going to a concert or planting a garden. Whatever makes you feel happy AND aligns with your values and goals is investing in yourself. So if your goal is to save money maybe you don’t buy the shoes right now but you save up for them. Each time you save some money towards those shoes is an investment in yourself, while still holding strong to your values. No matter what life throws at you, it’s wise to make yourself a priority. You will definitely have more energy for the tough stuff if you feel taken care of.
Add Value: I saved the best for last. So, people will tell you things like “it’s better to give than to receive” or “doing for others will make you feel better about yourself”. I’m here to tell you that this isn’t always the case. If you give to others before filling your own cup, you’ll just feel more depleted. People who need help, at times do not even have the strength to feel appreciation because they are in survival mode. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie. Seeking validation by helping others isn’t helpful because you’re looking to someone else to fill your cup. Instead you must look internally to see how your actions can add value to any given situation. It could be that you’re great at your job, you make amazing meals, you know how to make people laugh, you’re a great friend, you’re compassionate for the less fortunate, you always follow through, or whatever you feel brings value. When you’re feeling low, you can think of all you have to offer and remember what a great catch you are 😉. If you’ve seen the movie “The Intern”, Robert De Niro showed great self-esteem. I especially loved his video resume. He was authentic, accepted himself as he was, trusted that it would work out, knew he had something to offer, and was investing in himself by going after the job. Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMRSC89obYc
Well there you have it, 6 ways to improve your self-esteem. While there are many more actions you can take to feel better about yourself, I feel that you can use these as kind of a core system to check in with yourself. Do you have more ideas on how to increase your self-esteem? Let me know in the comments!
Bonus Tip: Always remember, we cannot control the actions of others. If someone is treating you in a way that makes you question your worth, it is time to walk away. You don’t have to prove how great or worthy or beautiful or smart you are to anyone. Other’s choices do not decide your worth, only you can do that!