Self-esteem, self-confidence, self-concept. These few words are in everyone’s mind. These concepts are fully connected with each other and they are the key for us to feel good about ourselves and others. In almost every situation in your life, your posture may well determine the final result and as soon as you know yourself and your abilities, you will learn to respect and love yourself for who you are.
The successes and failures experienced in all areas of life will have a great impact in your self-esteem. It’s a cycle that begins the moment you are born and it’s really hard to break it, especially for a person whose self-esteem is, in a general way, low.
The way you feel about yourself is reflected in the people around you and without you even realizing it, it will most definitely affect your life. It will create an impact on others and will act in many situations of your life, like getting a new job, finding a new boyfriend or girlfriend and it can even have a role in the fact that you may, or may not, fall prey as a victim of some kind of violence.
You must understand that each one of us has his own limitations and if the most of them can be surpassed with commitment and will power, there are others that can be conditioned by factors which are not in our hands. So, no matter the kind of limitation you face, the first thing to do is to accept it as a part of yourself and learn to live with it.
Growth, age and maturity will help you overcome most difficult situations, your life will evolve and at some point you’ll realize, that a lot of things that bothered you before, are not so important after all. Over the years, you’ll learn to overcome said difficulties and face complicated and unpleasant situations as a natural process of learning and internal growth. This way, you’ll become less vulnerable.
The problem begins when you realize that there are parts of you that you like and others that you don’t. So, what does it mean? Some time ago, an old lady asked me if we have more than one self-esteem. She thought of it, because she could recognize her own professional value, yet she hated her appearance.
Well, the answer is no. There isn’t an ideal and we do not like every single thing about ourselves. Never. We can believe in our amazing intellectual capacity, for example, but dislike our prominent belly, or we can have a really toned body, but despise the fact we’re not so bright in Mathematics. These aren’t different self-esteems, but the different parts that we take into account to construct our self-esteem as a whole.
Self-esteem is a global concept, built from our weaker and stronger points, our conquests and our defeats and it’s based on the value we give any one of these traits and the way we view life. In the end, are these factors balanced?
The way you value each area is actually the most important factor in the construction of your self-esteem and the most decisive one too. If you give way too much importance to an area where you have a poor performance and you don’t judge so relevant the things you’re actually really good at, your self-esteem and self-confidence will suffer, and most likely be low.
The most decisive way to influence our self-esteem is to experiment daily success. The more times you do succeed, the easier it’ll be for you to believe that you’re capable of doing something and you will engage yourself more in future tasks. Consequently, the more times you try, the more times you’ll actually succeed.
Everyone has ups and downs and the so-called “complicated phases”, when you feel the blues, sensible and even a little depressed. However, it’s important to pay attention when these “down moments” stop being just moments and become too long or too deep and intervene in time. So, to protect yourself and the people you love, stay alert for these warning signs, which could be a good indicator that something has to change. The severity of the symptoms may require professional assistance. Do not hesitate in contacting said professional help since the sooner you do this, the easier and faster that process will be.
Anxiety, insecurity and uncertainty. You feel more and more doubts about your capacities, anxiety makes you avoid some tasks for being too stressful or too far from your routine and comfort zone. Many times, your heart seems to beat faster, you have some difficulty breathing, headaches or more frequent gastrointestinal problems. These are the main symptoms and they are serious, so you should think about looking for professional help.
Lack of self-confidence. When some situation or task demands something more from you, you keep asking yourself if you really can do it. Many times, you just give up even before you had even started, because you believe you’re not capable of said task. This is also a classic sign and tends to spread to all situations if you don’t do something.
Emotional dependence from other people. You feel an extreme need of praise and approval in your work. Everyone likes to receive some compliments but if you really need it to know that you’ve done a good job or took the right decision, it means that you do not have enough confidence in yourself. Try looking at your own work without bias and without being depreciative.
Difficulty in defending your rights and opinions. This could be a subcategory of the above, since it’s also caused by the need of approval and recognition. It’s natural that, sometimes, you have some trouble showing your points of view or defending an opinion which is contrary to the majority, but if you can’t do this in any context, you should start to worry. And, do not forget, a heated discussion and aggressive behaviours are, also, indicators of difficulties at this level.
Difficulties in the interpersonal relationships. Relationships are increasingly distant and superficial, or even nonexistent. How long has it been since you made a new friend? When was the last time you talked with someone you didn’t know? Many times? How about your friends? Are they longtime friends or new friends? The exclusivity of any of the situations mentioned above are disconcerting, however, yhis depends on your age. If you’re a teenager, a whole year without knowing a new person is really serious, yet, if you’re an adult this is an acceptable period of time.
General insatisfaction about yourself. You feel hugely unsatisfied with your whole life, although you couldn’t put it into words. You just want something to change. You feel inappropriate, your abilities do not seem enough or, on the contrary, you feel you aren’t doing enough with your abilities. This insatisfaction, if not intervened in time, can lead you to serious cases of anxiety and depression, which tend to perpetuate in time and get worse every day. Look for psychological support.
How to get better?
It’s important that any person learns to love themselves, it’s a source of balance and helps you in overcoming the difficulties you’ll inevitably face throughout your life.
One needs to make an effort to help himself and evolve on this level. The first step is to really know yourself. It’s not easy, but it’s important to have some points well resolved in your head, before anything else.
So you should start by asking yourself:
Do I like myself the way I am?
Are there some things I’d like to change about myself? What? Why?
What do I need to do to perform that change?
Is that totally dependent on me?
If you answer yes to the last question, it’s a very good starting point. Now, you should seat down and think carefully about what you can do for yourself. If the answer was no, do not despair.
The first thing to do is to establish small goals. Most of the time, our difficulty of accomplishing what we want is due to the grandiosity or complexity of our goals and not because of our lack of abilities. Everything in life takes some time and you should elaborate small steps that will help to reach the final goal and fulfill each one of them carefully and without any rush.
Each one of these steps is extremely important and they should be seen as a goal by itself. Every time you accomplish one of these steps, however small it may seem to you, you should stop and reward yourself (it can be in an emotional way or any other way that makes you feel good). Face every small conquest as an accomplished goal. You managed, enjoy that satisfaction for a moment, before proceeding to the next step.
Do not feel weak if you need other people to help you in accomplishing some goal. It’s natural and can be good. It will provide a way to get closer to your friends and family, and besides, it will be much more fun, when the time comes to celebrate that victory.
And please, spoil yourself, do something you like and every day take a moment for yourself. Half an hour at the very least. You will definitely feel better.
Ki Magazine – No. 13