In our modern world, we are inundated with the do’s and don’ts of what will bring fame or shame. So much of our self is suppressed to fit in, to look perfect, to be perfect. However, we must realise that how we accept ourselves is how we humans can live a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Clinical Psychologist Dr Guy Winch calls self-esteem our ‘emotional immune system’. It is a psychological strength and a critical tool to face challenges. It is the spark that drives us forward.
In that context, self-esteem is a powerful
strength that affects our thoughts, behaviours and actions. Having healthy
self-esteem is all the more relevant to pursue goals and dreams, with the
resilience to face challenges.
We are wired from childhood to prove our worth, to be better than the
best, to compare and aspire, to believe that we have to be perfect at
everything. As we grow older, we are affected by external judgements.
Psychological studies have shown that social media has affected our self-esteem
in negative ways. When we enter social networking sites, a lot of the time, we
compare our lives to others. We feel we are less than the online displays of
success and beauty. After logging off from the virtual world, the feelings of
inadequacy tend to linger. This in turn affects how we feel about ourselves,
and we become fragile and fearful.
We seem to have forgotten an important fact: We
are imperfect humans, and we are not meant to lead perfect lives, nor fit into
a specific body shape, nor have a smooth road to success. In the virtual world,
no one displays the struggles before success or the pains before the gains. Each
one of us has different set of skills and talents. We contribute to society in
our own distinctive and creative ways. It doesn’t mean that we are less than or
more than anyone else. We each have our own journey, and if we support and
respect ourselves and others, the journey becomes easier.
Here are three essentials to strengthen self-esteem:
- Keep a lid on the inner critic:
- You are Good Enough:
- Courage to face the fear
Often, when a person is overwhelmed by critical
words, it crushes the spirit. We all have an inner voice, very often it spills
out as negative commentary. The judgements are painful and undesirable. We are
drained by the internal battle of finding ways to feel good about ourselves. The
best way to deal with this inner voice is to question it, and ask ‘why am I not
good enough or capable enough?’ Listen to the response, and then challenge it
again. The critical voice will diminish. Another way is to imagine speaking to
a friend in that harsh way. You would never hurt your friend’s feelings. Be a
friend rather than a foe to yourself.
We often compare ourselves to others. And then
we feel we are not good enough. We never appreciate any achievements, nor
internalise praise. We do our best, and we feel it is not good enough. We have
a set of skills and uniqueness which we contribute in this world, journal all
those achievements, and acknowledge the personal challenges that have been
overcome. Write them down every night before you sleep. Mentally, pat yourself
for all the achievements. Remember, you are good enough as you are.
Often, we want to fit in because it’s easier
than standing out. We are afraid to dip our toe into new waters, or test new
ideas. We are afraid to fail. When we look back, we are going to be filled with
regret if we don’t pursue that goal, that dream, or that desire. We have this
one life to achieve our fullest potential, to explore possibilities. Fear is in
the mind, it is the ego holding us back. If we don’t try our best we will never
know what we are capable of achieving. All one needs to do right now is to take
that one small step towards your dream.
Self-Esteem is not about being
arrogant or self-absorbed, it is being aware of one’s positives with humility
and the capacity to accept any negatives with compassion and inner strength. Self-compassion can motivate people to overcome their
feelings of not good enough.
If we can change the way we
esteem ourselves, we can determine the way we behave in the future. It is time
to make that commitment to oneself.
The article has been authored by Shobha Nihalani, who is an author and certified life coach.