Building Your Self-Esteem
“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”
– August Wilson
If you need to learn to love yourself, it’s obvious that you can’t do this if you don’t see something positive about who you are. Thus, it’s important to learn to build up your esteem for yourself. This happens over a period of time, but there are things you can do to help the process. Some of the most effective things come from doing things that you know add value to other people’s lives. However, people who have bitter experiences in the past invariably end up being used by people because they don’t understand the difference between volunteering and being used as a doormat. If you allow yourself to be surrounded by negative people who use you, you are re-affirming your own lack of worth. Thus, you need to cut ties with people who do not give as much to relationships as you do.
Giving is a great way to feel good about yourself, but only if there are no expectations or strings attached. For example, if you decide to bake a cake for an elderly neighbour, do it out of the goodness of your heart, without any expectations of thanks. The trouble with expecting thanks is that you invariably get disappointed when those thanks don’t happen. You are putting conditions upon your giving as well. When you drop that idea and give for the sake of kindness and giving, you expect nothing. How this makes you feel good is that it gives you a sense of purpose. Many people volunteer to help out within their communities, and you can instantly see the difference between those who do it for recognition and those who do it simply because they want to be helpful. You need to be within the latter category of people.
Volunteerism is a great way to build your sense of worth. This means perhaps volunteering to help out at the local dog shelter. You may even have time on your hands to help serve out with serving up meals to the homeless or helping out assist with other tasks that they need volunteers to do. In these jobs, no one does them for glory. They do them because they need to be done, and your sense of self-worth increases because you see yourself as compassionate and kind, and these are wonderful things to experience in your life.
Keeping a Journal
When you keep a journal, you can record all the things that you feel grateful for each morning and also look at the development of your mind as you walk through this journey toward positivity. Give yourself small challenges because this helps you to keep track towards the future instead of looking back at the past. You may even want to learn to use meditation and if this is something that interests you, it’s a great way to learn to discipline the mind and keep all those negative and bitter thoughts under wraps. A journal will help you with this too, because you can record how you felt after meditation and use this to help you to improve the situation.
Back to Basics…
You can’t feel self-love if you don’t make yourself worthy of that love. Many people make the mistake of replacing self-love with other actions – such as binge eating or trying to compensate by doing too much. You really need to get back to simplicity and list out your priorities in life so that you always have a forward direction to go in. Imagine life a little like a series of stepping stones. When you try to jump backward, you get your feet very wet, and that’s exactly what you are doing when you think in terms of bitterness and regret. Start to mark out stepping stones for yourself that take you in a forward direction toward approaching every day. Get into all the healthy routines. Even if you need to set the alarm clock a little earlier, sit down, and enjoy your breakfast. You need to learn not to neglect your own needs. Take a lunch break. Even if you can’t afford much for that lunch break, go out into the park, and eat sandwiches. You need to respect that each step you take through each day needs to be charged with positive moves in a forward direction.
There’s something very valuable that you can use to help you to appreciate life more. Draw up the stepping stones of your day onto a piece of paper, and carry it with you, being very proud to tick off each one as the event passes. When you start to think about the past, let go, and work toward the next stepping stone.
I want to tell you a very interesting story here. Patricia’s husband left her for someone else. For months, she felt sorry for herself and grieved that relationship. In fact, she allowed her grief to become her life. When she started to recover and to step away from the past, she discovered something very amusing. She actually liked her new life and saw that all her ex-husband’s weaknesses were not as endearing as she had pictured them. In fact, she was very glad that she had been given the opportunity to start again, even though it took her a while to get there. When she accepted and she liked her new life, it made her physically more attractive, and her ex asked if they could try again. She laughs as she tells this story because the person upon whom she was so dependent she now sees as the worst mistake of her life. His asking her back established in her mind that she was worth more and didn’t need his reassurance to become whole.
We don’t need validation from others. In fact, if you find yourself seeking approval from others, make a mental note of it, and examine why. It’s important to your future that you do not carry on a habit such as this because it opens you up to all kinds of disapproval, and when you don’t meet other people’s expectations, you feel worse about who you are. As long as you know yourself that you have done your best, don’t let other people make you feel that you didn’t.