I talked with a friend of mine about self-esteem the other day. I have been thinking a lot about it lately, if mine is good or bad. I have read and heard so many definitions on self-esteem and self-confidence that I cannot longer keep track on which one is what. And it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how I feel about myself, how You feel about yourself. So let’s start there.
To some people, or people who don’t know me that well, I might seem tough. If someone tries to pick on me – I stand up for myself. If someone pushes me – I push back. Many people will say that someone who does that has good self-esteem. Too me it’s not that simple. Because what you don’t see on the outside is that every harsh word is like an arrow to my soul. The scars they make will be there reminding me for a long time. If not forever.
It might seem like I brush things off and move on, and in a way I do.
Because I forgive. I forgive the person who let the harsh words slip out. Sometimes they don’t even remember saying it, sometimes they’re not aware it was hurtful and sometimes – they’ve just had a bad day. And I understand. I forgive. But after I have forgiven, the words stick around in my brain, and they haunt me. And that’s why it’s not so simple. Just because someone doesn’t let anyone on the outside push them down – it doesn’t mean they don’t push themselves down even harder.
Maybe that’s why I have such hard time deciding if I have good or bad self-esteem. Because I’m not gonna let anyone push me down. But then the words they say still get to me. A conversation with harsh words, a badly placed comment, a not so well composed sentence in the wrong time, sarcasm or a hearty but hurtful joke.. After a while it becomes my reality. I let the unthoughtful words of others become me. And it’s not the person who shoots the arrow at my soul who is to blame. It’s all in my head. I have been aware of this for quite some time, but haven’t been able to figure out what it’s all about – until now.
What my friend said about how to build your self-esteem, or self-confidence, was the last piece I needed to solve my puzzle.
She said; in order to build your self esteem you need to prioritize and value the time you put on yourself – just as highly as you would with time spent on, or for others. I thought about that for awhile and it was suddenly so clear to me.
It all comes down to respect. Respect for yourself. Respect for your opinions, your feelings and for all the aspects of your personality that makes you, YOU. Good and bad. In order to build your self-esteem – you need to value all those things just as highly as you would if it came from someone else. All the times I make time for myself – just to feel bad when I’m actually spending that time on myself. Because there’s always so much else I could, or should, do.
All the times I have bowed down my head as I walk into the Supermarket, just because i didn’t put make-up on in the morning. Like I’m not worth looking at without make up. All the times I have excused myself for not being good enough, not knowing enough, not having enough experience or just not being the right person for the job – just because I thought everyone else knew better. All the times I have made time for myself, for something I really wanted to do – just to cancel it and spend my time cleaning, meeting friends, helping someone out or being productive instead. Because time spent on others, or for others, feel more valuable then time spent on me.
All the times I have felt out of place, stared at or judged by others – when really the only one judging me – is me.
I would never look at, think about or feel half of the negative things about someone else, as I do about me. I value others higher than myself. Even so badly that their thoughts about me, become my reality. And that’s why being out in nature have become so important to me.
Because only there, in the silence, I can hear my own thoughts. Out there among trees, mountains and rolling rivers – I find myself. The real me. The person who doesn’t try to please everyone else. I find the little girl who speaks so quietly I can’t hear her when there’s people around. Every time I go out there and listen within, her voice becomes louder even when there’s people around.
And you know what? This little girl that I’ve pushed down for so long – she’s got some good things to say.
Respecting yourself. That’s the key.
I hope you have found that out a long time ago. But if you, just as me, haven’t come to that realization until now. It’s okay. And it’s never too late to work on all of it. We’ll get there, one step at the time. If you want more tips that have helped me, let me know ♡
And when you meet someone who seems to have really good self-esteem – look twice. Sometimes looks can be deceiving.
Out in nature is where I hear my thoughts. This is where I find Me.
Here are some useful tips that helped me build my self-esteem
- Accept who you are and see your strengths instead of your weaknesses.
- Start taking yourself seriously – listen to yourself the same way you would listen to someone else.
- Take care of yourself – physically and mentally. Make time for you!
- Say no – and don’t dwell on it. If it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.
- Put up realistic goals for yourself – and make a plan to reach them.
- Take time to celebrate your achievements! Focus on what goes well for you.
- Ask for positive feedback – and absorb it. Accept compliments!
- Lower your expectations on yourself – it doesn’t have to be perfect. What is ‘good enough’?
- Reflect on your own needs – and take responsibility for them to be satisfied.
- Try things outside of your comfort zone – you can do so much more than you think!
- Stop comparing yourself to others – We are all different and we are good at different things! Comparing makes you feel inferior and you don’t deserve it.
- Be kinder on yourself – You are good. Just the way you are.
- View mistakes as learning opportunities – we all make mistakes! It doesn’t define you as a person.
And the last one, that I like the best, comes from Kidshealth.org:
Take pride in your opinions and ideas. Don’t be afraid to voice them. If someone disagrees, it’s not a reflection on your worth or your intelligence. That person just sees things differently from you.
Trying to teach my son to respect himself, and others, from the beginning. And it all starts with me.