Therapy in Chester, NJ
Do you feel like you aren’t good enough, are too nervous or anxious to do something you want to do, are constantly comparing yourself to others, and putting yourself down? Is your mind flooded with negative thoughts when you look in the mirror or engage in self-reflection? Do you hold yourself to extremely high standards, and beat yourself up when you’re anything but "perfect"? If any of this rings a bell for you, you might have low self-esteem.
While it may seem that it’s no big deal to have poor self-esteem, this lack of confidence may be associated with lifelong issues in mental health, behavior, interpersonal relationships, and employment success. Though this association does not necessarily equate to causation, it would make sense that the influence goes both ways, meaning that low self-esteem could lead to the aforementioned issues, and vice-versa.
With this logic, it is not hard to imagine how frustrating and stressful it might be to deal with low self-esteem among a mix of other psychosocial difficulties. How can you muster up the energy, motivation, and strength to make behavior changes or seek treatment for your mental health issues if you lack the self-confidence to go to the beach with friends, go on a job interview, or even ask for help?
Most likely, you won’t be able to have high self-esteem with the snap of your fingers, but there are many small steps you can take to make improvements. They may seem too simple to be effective, but a combination of small efforts can really make a big difference.
1. Post positive notes about yourself in place where you need it most. Little reminders on your mirror or on your closet door that you’re beautiful (inside and out!) can help you get through your morning beauty regimen a little easier – rather than thinking that you have to cover up your face with makeup, a positive note can inspire you to think that you’re highlighting your best features. Similarly, a positive note on your desk can act as the motivation to go for the promotion that you deserve!
2. Taking it a step further, engage in positive self-talk every day. This means standing in front of the mirror and telling yourself what you excel at, why you are worthy of love and happiness, and other positive statements. If you’re struggling to come up with what to say, ask around for inspiration. Talk to your mother, father, spouse, close friend, therapist – anyone you feel comfortable with who can give you an honest (confidence boosting) opinion to get your positive self-talk ball rolling.
3. Set reachable goals for yourself each day, and be proud of yourself when you achieve them. These goals can be anything from eating at least one vegetable at every meal, to sending out your resume to a potential employer, or even completing one household chore each day. Try to set a new goal for every day or week so it won’t be hanging over your head too long, and you can reward yourself and feel accomplished more often.
4. Write down everything you like and love about yourself, including physical and internal characteristics. Now think of one (just one!!!) thing you aren’t a big fan of AND have the power and ability to change. Note: this is different than a laundry list of things you wish you could change about yourself in a perfect world. Now, make a specific plan for the steps you’re going to take to change that one thing, and then do it! This may seem counterintuitive, but it is meant to help you exercise your autonomy and prove to yourself that you are capable of positive change.
5. Create or edit your LinkedIn page. While simultaneously improving your networking, you will also be telling the working world, and yourself, all of your strengths, skills, and experiences that make you valuable and job-worthy. What better way to convince yourself that you’re wonderful than to convince all of LinkedIn?
6. Go through your closet and prepare two or three “go to” outfits that you know will make you feel good about yourself no matter what. This way, when you’re feeling like nothing looks good and you’re putting yourself down, you always have an outfit that accentuates your positive features and makes you feel confident. If clothes aren’t your interest, then choose an accessory, fragrance, or even a lucky pair of underwear – no one has to see it because it’s all about the way you feel about yourself that matters.
7. Make the effort to stop comparing yourself to others. Easier said than done, right? Well, think about it. When you compare yourself to your friends or the attractive person sharing the elevator with you, you are comparing your behind the scenes with everyone else’s highlights. You don’t know what they think or feel or deal with behind closed doors – you are only privileged to what they choose to display (their highlights). So you are putting yourself down because the Elevator Girl looks like she has it all together, when you know that you’re totally stressed and haven’t slept well in days. But this isn’t a fair comparison! And even if it is your best friend, you will NEVER truly know or understand his/her experience, so you can never truly compare yourself to them, thus you’re better off not even going there!
If you could use help building your self-esteem, I am here to help!
Risa Simpson-Davis, LCSW