We are now living at a time where 'the self' has become the new obsession, from our addictions with selfies, self-appearance, to our indulgence of self-care treatments. We are constantly finding new ways to enhance 'the self.' As a culture we have created millions of brands that perpetuate our myths and ideologies about what healthy self-esteem looks like, but many of us still struggle with developing healthy self-esteem.
Depression, inferiority complexes, hypersensitivity, narcissism, and negative self-talk are common symptoms of low self-esteem. Within our society we have developed an entire culture which preys on and supports people in having low-self esteem. The cosmetic industry tells women that if they don't have the latest make-up accessories they'll be unattractive, to the overt messages that are feed to men that if they don't look like an Adonis model straight out of Men's Health they are somehow less of a man. Even the clothes we wear are a reflection of our self-esteem. For women it might show up in a desire to fit in to tight clothing to enhance feelings of self-confidence, or men who use suits to make them feel more powerful. These are all uniforms of clothing which in many cases are used as a substitute for not having healthy-self esteem. When you look at the clothes in your closet, what you are actually looking at is your self-esteem. Think of when you bought certain items of clothing. How were you feeling about yourself when you bought it? What did you want it to enhance? Or better still what did you want it to hide?
So, what is self-esteem? In psychological terms, self-esteem is used to describe a person's overall sense of self-worth or personal value. Self-esteem can involve a variety of beliefs about the self, such as the appraisal of one's own appearance, beliefs, emotions and behaviors.
When we begin to consciously realise that self-esteem is vital to our emotional and psychological wellbeing we often start with the physical form, for instance we might start going to the gym to improve the outward appearance of our bodies or take up yoga but there is often a deeper self underneath the physical body that is trying to emerge.
To help you access this deeper self here are 7 steps that you can take right now!
1. Become self-aware.
I spoke in greater detail about this in my last blog post about psychological abuse. In developing healthy self-esteem become conscious of your self-loathing, self-rejection, and self-criticism and observe how it affects the way in which you feel about yourself.
2. What are the emotional ingredients that make up your self esteem?
What is the emotional foundation of your 'self?' Is it a self filled with self-loathing, self-rejection, and self-criticism or is it filled with self-respect, self-love, honour, and integrity? What kind of self do you have? If it's a self that is mostly negative, look at why you feel this way about yourself, perhaps you are holding on to things from the past that is distorting how you look at yourself in the present.
3. Look at how you can enhance your self-esteem.
What makes you feel good? What do you feel passionate about? Finding time to do things that make you come alive is often the best way to enhance your self-esteem.
4. Ditch the excuses.
Developing self-esteem is really about your own path to empowerment which means approaching your life directly. If you experience a lot of resistance in this process, ask yourself why you don't want to attain the level of self-esteem you say you want? What are you really afraid of?
5. In the process of developing healthy self-esteem, make a concerted effort to find at least one thing in yourself to respect and honour.
It may only be one thing, but as you begin to develop healthy self-esteem you will find more positive things to respect and honour about yourself.
6. Be prepared for criticism.
This doesn't always happen, but sometimes when we decide that we are going to pay ourselves more attention, we get criticised for being selfish. Realise that in developing healthy self-esteem you are not only changing the way you relate to yourself, but also to others. See this process an opportunity to create new relationships that are in alignment with how you now feel about yourself.
7. Develop a spiritual practice.
Ultimately the self you are striving for is beyond your physical form. What you're really reaching for is the essence of who you are. Having some kind of spiritual practice whether that be meditation, prayer, mindfulness, some form of creativity or just sitting in silence for 5 minutes everyday will give you the strength to stay committed and connected to developing healthy self-esteem. Like everything worth having its practice, so just take one day at a time.