“Our self-image, strongly held, essentially determines what we become” – Maxwell Maltz
Your self-image is what you feel you are within your mind. If you have a good self-image, you are bound to feel confident and good about yourself. Alternatively, If you have an inferior self-image, you are bound to feel inferior about yourself and have very little confidence. Our personal opinion about ourself affects our self-confidence and self-esteem and is crucial to our emotional, mental and physical health. It defines how we live our lives and interact with the society.
Indeed, it is important to improve your self-esteem as it makes you who you truly think you are!
What influences Self Esteem
- Childhood – Home & School
Our childhood is when we start forming our self-image. A lot is learnt and imbibed into our minds as we look at our parents act and feel the way they do. We imitate their attitudes and reactions as we watch the world through their eyes. Did your parents role-model themselves as having a healthy self-esteem?
At school, relationships with your friends, teachers and administrators influence your self-esteem. Experiences with school work, sports, extracurricular activities etc play an important role in shaping the kind of person you will grow to be.
Think about all the people in your life growing up and how they might have influenced your self-esteem. If you come up with negative influences take the time to let it go. Put your past behind you and move forward knowing that you are in control of how you feel about yourself.
Society is another major contributor influencing our self-esteem as we have people around us all the time and telling us what to do and what not to do, how to do and how not to do, etc. There are expectations on what kind of job you should be doing and whom you should be marrying and what kind of clothes to wear etc. The nature of the people you surround yourselves with modify you.
Think of all the times you have been influenced by the society and thought that you were not good enough to do something. Do what you feel is right at such moments and this will boost your self-confidence.
- People around You
We spend a lot of time with family, friends, colleagues at work and many people who we don’t even know. Are they supportive of you, hold you up in good esteem, cheer you up or are there many who bring you down, spread negative vibes? Are the people you spend time with, contributing to you having healthy self-image of yourself?
Surround yourself with people who are happy and creating a positive atmosphere, who are supportive in your good and bad times. Set boundaries from people who send out negative vibes, not because they want to but they themselves have a low self-esteem and blame all the external conditions for their internal thoughts.
In today’s time, we are constantly surrounded by media advertisements, be it on television, in magazines, on the hoardings, on the radio, and morever through social media on our phones and computers! These ads play games with our mind making us feel and look good should we decide to purchase the wares. They give us a feeling of being inferior the way we are and the way to feel better is to purchase those products being advertised. They make us feel that we want to look good like the models promoting those products and we give in to our temptations acknowledging the fact that we have a weak self-image.
Why is Self Esteem important
Now that we know what influences our self-esteem, we ought to understand why is self-esteem important. Self-esteem is based on our self-worthiness, which is a rating we giving ourselves based on the influences of the external world. If we consider ourselves not to be worthy of something that we desire, then unfortunately we have a low self-esteem.
Do not underestimate the importance of self-esteem. It changes how you feel about and value yourself. It affects your confidence, and this can affect your success and thinking in a big way. High self-esteem is something that lifts you up in life. It gives you the feeling and the desire to achieve your goals. When you have high self-esteem, you’re naturally happier, more confident, and more successful.
When you have low self-esteem, you naturally hang your head down low, find it more challenging interacting with other people, and you’re naturally less happy, less confident, and less successful.
So self-esteem is important, because it affects your entire experience of life.
We are aware that we need to build our self-worth thus helping to boost our self-esteem. But self-esteem is something that varies depending on the current state of our feeling and it is not easy to work on and develop our self-esteem.
Below are some steps that we can take to build our self-worth and self-esteem:
- Be compassionate to yourself and not self-critical
Many a time, we are self-critical and list all the negative qualities within us instead of looking at our positives. This damages our self-esteem and we need to realize to substitute this self-criticism with self-compassion. This is about being kind to yourself no matter what and that means being accepting of yourselves and letting go of the negativity that you see in yourself! Think of what you like about yourself and approve of yourself a little more. Listen to your gut… the inside invoice and say good things to yourself….” I deserve good things in my life; I am loving and confident; I am good at what I do” and so on. Be self-compassionate and your self-esteem will care of itself.
- Accept Compliments
When we feel bad about ourselves, we tend to be more resistant towards compliments, even though that is when we need them most. This is because we feel we are not worthy of those compliments. So, set a goal for yourself to accept compliments when you receive them, even if they make you feel uncomfortable. Prepare yourself to use the simplest of responses such as “Thank You” and “It’s very kind of you”, when you receive compliments for your work or for the way you look or treat others etc. Over a period of time, you will get over the feeling of uncomfortableness and this will be an indication of your self-esteem getting stronger.
- Work on your talents
Everybody has talents. We only fail to nurture them over time and our talents get deep hidden within ourselves Take time to go back and think what made us happy when we were children, what made us happy as we grew to be adolescents and then what makes us happy in our work and our relationships. Find those talents and nurture them. It could be as simple as writing, singing, speaking, cooking, dancing etc. Give time to your talents and your self-esteem will grow, probably giving you an opportunity for a side-hustle as well!
- Stop blaming yourself and affirm your real worth
So what if you have made mistakes in your past, being insensitive to friends and relatives, have debts you feel ashamed of? That’s OK, move on. Stop blaming yourself and live in the present.
Affirm your real worth by believing in your actions. When you are confident in your actions, you will do better at the things you do. When you achieve more accomplishments from these actions your self-esteem rises even more and you begin to feel that you are good at things which leads to further happiness.
- Use Positive Affirmations
What you say matters. You can be your biggest critic or your own best supporter. Self esteem affirmations can come in here, big time. You have to convince yourself or your own self-worth by saying good words to yourself.
This could be difficult when your self-esteem is low. But start by changing your feelings, thinking of the times when you were happy and the times when you felt good about yourselves. Change your state of feelings and good words will start flowing.
Self-esteem has a vital role to play for your success in life. When you believe in yourself you are more likely to be more confident and take action. Confidence allows you to stand up for yourself and helps you to find new opportunities. Self-Esteem leads to confidence and allows you to overcome your fears. Confident individuals set the bar high and aim high. Lack of confidence leads to weak goals, setting the bar too low, and mediocre results. You are stronger than you think. Confident people believe in success. And more importantly, they believe in their ability to succeed.
Believe in yourself. There is goodness and strength in everyone. You only have to find it and let it shine.
“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs, ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
– Howard Washington Thurman