Building Up Your Self-Esteem

Today on the blog Stacey talks about how to build up our self-esteem by changing the way we speak to ourselves

Build up our self-esteem by changing the way we speak to and think about ourselves and dispel those self-limiting beliefs from our lives in order to boost our self-confidence and joy. 

building your self esteem, asian american model, self care photoshoot

Self-esteem dictates how we think about ourselves, our mental health and everything that we do. It also affects our relationships, what we attract to into our lives, and how our lives play out. Self-esteem can be high or low or even somewhere in between. A low self-esteem is not only detrimental to our mental health, self-worth and lead to a continual spiral of limiting beliefs, but it can also affect our job performance, prevent us from reaching our highest potential, and make us stay in abusive situations. 

Self-esteem can also fluctuate, and vary in the different arenas of our lives. We have what is called “global” self-esteem, which speaks to how we feel about ourselves overall, and self-esteem related to specific domains of our lives, such as our jobs, our home lives, our body image, our relationships, etc. For example, if say we are criticized in an aspect of our lives where we are particularly sensitive (usually one we identify with strongly), it could lower our self-esteem in that domain, and may, in turn, affect our self-esteem globally as well. However, if you maintain a high global self-esteem, criticisms, rejections, and failure will hit with less impact and will hurt less. 

Therefore, it is important to reach and maintain a healthy level of good self-esteem. Not only, will we better succeed in life and relationships, we will be able to find satisfaction and happiness within ourselves. And while we will always have bad days and struggle with self-doubt, but with good levels of self-esteem, we can always bet that we can bounce back strong and with confidence. 

building your self esteem, asian american model, self care photoshoot

So what causes one to have lowered self-esteem?

From the moment we are aware of our surroundings and the people in them, we start to piece together our identity, and in that, we let our environment, society, and other people’s words shape our self-worth. As children, the words and actions of those we held as important, such as our family, our teachers, our peers, severely impact they way in which we speak and act towards ourselves. Perhaps our parents would often reprimand us for not being smart enough or earning good enough marks at school, or making passing comments about our looks or weight. Maybe there were bullies at school who would make fun of the way we spoke, or dressed, or even fundamental things about ourselves. Whatever it was, these negative experiences become deeply rooted into our psyche and is carried along with us from our teenage years even into adulthood.

We may also experience blows to our self-esteem as adults, due to rejections and failures, which we leave neglected and unresolved. We tell ourselves that we’re not good enough, or we aren’t worthy of receiving anything good in life. This dangerous spiral of downward thought becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that keeps us in a cycle of low self-esteem. When we have this self-limiting narrative ingrained in us, we start to believe that we are unworthy, a failure, and incapable of greatness. 

What happens if we continue to have low self-esteem and how will it affect our lives?

With perpetual self-limiting beliefs, comes unhealthy habits, which produce negative outcomes in our lives. For example, if we believed that we are not good enough to be promoted at work, then we will never go for the opportunities that allow us to be noticed, and eventually, we will not be able to grow professionally, since we are holding ourselves back. Similarly, if we believe that we are not worthy of love, we might allow others to treat us badly, or jump from bad relationship to bad relationship, reinforcing our limiting belief. 

Having low self-esteem prevents us from seeing our true potential, providing ourselves with the best opportunities, and living our best lives. Low self-esteem can lead to low performance in school and the work place. It can make us lose motivation and give up easily. We may feel extremely insecure and feel the need to seek validation through external sources or other people. And at worst, low self-esteem can lead to mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

building your self esteem, asian american model, self care photoshoot

What are some examples of self limiting beliefs we tell ourselves?

Achieving a healthy level of self-esteem can not be done overnight. Most of the time, low self-esteem is a result of years, if not, a lifetime of negative self narratives and beliefs. We have familiarized ourselves with our own inner critic that tells us we are not enough or worthless, and we believe it to our core. 

In order to start on the path to improving our self-esteem, we must first identify what our self limiting beliefs have been, and what does our inner critic tell us that holds us back. Become cognizant of the narrative you have in your head. Examine every single thing that you think to yourself and consider if it is self-limiting. Some examples of this would be:

“I’m a loser.”

“I’m ugly.”

“Why would anyone like me?”

“I’m stupid, and have nothing to contribute.”

“Why can’t I be like ______?”

“I’m always failing, and I’ll never be able to succeed.”

Cross all of these thoughts out of our heads immediately.

Would we ever say that to our friends? No!

So why are we saying them to ourselves? 

Flipping the script and changing that self narrative to build your self esteem is the next step and can drastically change the way we feel about ourselves. 

How can we talk to ourselves to improve our self-esteem?

Here are some steps we can take to rewrite the narrative in our heads to build your self-esteem, and start seeing ourselves in a new light:

  1. Be nice to ourselves. Show compassion, and just STOP the self-criticisms. When those damaging words kick in, ask ourselves if that’s something we would say to a friend. What would we say to the third party instead if they were in the same situation, and direct those same words to ourselves. 
  2. Learn to accept compliments and words of affirmation. In order for us to accept compliments or positive affirmations from ourselves, we must first learn to accept them from others. This could be hard if we inherently believe otherwise, but try to say “Thank you” instead of jumping to automatically bat the compliment away. Start by accepting them externally, and one day we will begin to accept them wholeheartedly. 
  3. Focus on what we CAN do. We all have strengths and we all have weaknesses, but what we choose to focus on is what will dictate what rules us. Listing out our accomplishments, no matter how big or small, can remind us of what we are capable of. 
  4. Remember that we are ALL worthy. We are not defined by how we look, how much money we have/make, how many friends or followers we have, whether or not we are in a relationship, what stage we are in our lives, what we have or haven’t experienced. As people, we are all inherently born equally worthy of life, love and value. Therefore, there is no use comparing ourselves to one another.
  5. We are enough. We must accept who we are and love ourselves unconditionally. We must remember that our value comes from within, not from external sources. We must stop trying to seek validation from other people, fame, wealth, achievement or any other shallow sources. When we do that, we will never feel enough, and there will be no end in sight. 
building your self esteem, asian american model, self care photoshoot

“I may sometimes fail, and make mistakes, as all humans do, but I can learn from those instances and become better.”

“I look the way I look, and it does not speak to who I am or my worth.”

“I am worthy of love, and deserve to be in healthy and loving relationships and friendships.”

“I am capable, and can do my best to work hard to achieve my goals.”

“I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

Photos by Calvin Chu

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