How to have your own back
AKA build your self-esteem
When we have low self-esteem we don’t trust ourselves. We don’t trust our judgment, ideas, opinions, and abilities. We don’t live lives that are authentic and true to who we are. We don’t get to feel our full range of emotions and we certainly don’t get to feel good about ourselves and live our best life.
I have increasing anxiety as I get older and I’m finding that developing a stronger sense of self and worthiness really helps to manage the anxiety I feel.
Here are 16 tips to having your own back.
Identify your negative beliefs about yourself.
I do this work and have been for a very long time now. I still find buried beliefs that I just believe without question. For example, I believe I have a bad memory. My brain isn’t as sharp as other people's brains. Now I know this belief, this thought, does not serve me. My brain and memory simply needs to be trained and exercised and nourished.
Get good at things.
If you love to cook, then really go all in and hone your craft. Being good at things or getting better at things will build your confidence.
Learn to accept compliments.
Instead of brushing them off or making excuses about why it was really nothing, simply say, Thank You and nothing else.
Pay attention to your self-talk.
Notice how you speak to yourself. Are you speaking as if to a best friend or loved one? Or do you instead find yourself speaking terribly? Telling yourself you’re fat, stupid, worthless?
Speak to yourself as you would your best friend. Be your own best- friend, this is where self-love begins.
Write a letter to your inner child.
Be gentle and loving, give to your inner child all the understanding, validation, and love you craved. Assure the inner child that she gets to be a child, that she is safe, that she is enough, that she is worthy and not less than.
Affirmations help us to keep the new thoughts we are practicing in the forefront of our mind.
When we affirm new thoughts about ourselves it serves to help reinforce those new thought grooves we are trying to create.
The key to affirmations is to make them believable. If you don’t really believe them, they will simply make you feel worse.
Explore what you want and who you truly are.
Get to know your authentic self. Knowing yourself brings awareness around where you are coming from and also lights up the path to who you want to be.
If you don’t know what you want, it’s too easy to just do what others want. If what is important to you is top of mind it’s easier to choose you.
Practice the Pause.
Before you automatically agree to do something or even volunteer yourself, make sure you pause and think about what YOU really want in the situation.
Say no and stop putting people before yourself.
Saying no may be difficult but people truly prefer you to be genuine. They want to trust that what you say is what you mean. Don’t say yes and then feel resentment, that's not fair to others.
No one truly benefits from you being a martyr.
Practice being assertive and confident.
Respect other people’s needs and opinions but not more than you do your own.
Learn to trust yourself. Trust your opinions, actions, and ideas. Don’t assume others know better and constantly second guess yourself. No one has the exact right way, give yourself the chance to discover what you are capable of.
Meditation helps you to have a clean and clear mind. I’m not saying that you aren’t going to have a jumble of thoughts, meditation helps you see that you are not your thoughts. You don’t have to believe or attach to them. They are just thoughts.
Recognize common thought errors.
All or nothing thinking…if something goes wrong or doesn’t work you throw your hands up and declare, I’m a failure. I never succeed. I’m too stupid. Thomas Edison tried tons of things that failed, Ben Franklin tried thousands of things that failed. Thank goodness they didn’t throw in the towel.
Not separating facts from thoughts and feelings…For Example. The fact is you text your friend and she didn’t text back. Your thoughts might run to, she’s mad at me. You may feel upset or fearful. The fact here is that she didn’t text back. That’s it.
Save yourself the grief and don’t make up stories.
Jumping to negative conclusions…see above example.
Mental filtering…taking a situation and filtering it through your negative low self-opinion filter. Removing or down playing the positive and accentuating the negative.
Think dark vs rose colored glasses.
Connect with the greater human family.
Recognizing that no one is better or worse, we are all human. We truly are all made of the same energies and at our core we are sharing the same earth and space.
We are all born, we all age, we all have ups, we all have downs, no one is perfect and we all are perfect, then we all die. SAME
Practice, not perfection.
Changing how we think about ourselves will take practice. The grooves we have worn in our brains for pleasing people, perfectionism, and procrastination will take a bit of time and energy to climb out of. But with practice you will soon be creating new grooves for your thoughts to travel.
Don’t beat yourself up if you struggle changing your thought patterns. Shoot for progress not perfection, changing our thinking can be tough work.
Keep a list of achievements.
I know I have a tendency to focus on what I didn’t get done. What I did imperfectly. All the negative aspects of pretty much everything I do. It’s just where my brain goes. So to combat this my coach recommended I keep a running tally of all the goodies. What I did well, what I have accomplished, and what I’m good at.
Take a look at who you spend your time with.
Some people tear you down. This can happen in big ways but in many cases it’s many subtle little digs. Find and surround yourself with people who build you up. People who see the best in you and encourage you to see it in yourself.
Remember too to be others cheerleaders, not their caretakers, not their critics. I know sometimes when we are really self-critical we are also critical of others. It’s the tendency to look for the bad instead of the good.
Allow yourself and others the grace you all deserve…
Building our self-esteem is work.
Paying attention to and changing our thoughts and beliefs takes mental energy and can actually wear us out physically. Keep at it, it is an on-going practice. I have been at this work for years and still find ways to grow and become stronger and more confident.
The time and energy for me have been well spent, it’s totally worth it because the reward is authenticity, autonomy, and wellness.