The beliefs you have about yourself often appear to be statements of fact, although, in reality, they are only opinions of self-image. They are usually based on your life experiences and the messages that you have absorbed about your character and mentality. Many crucial experiences that help to form our beliefs about ourselves, frequently occur in childhood and parents, siblings and teachers all have an impact on bolstering our self-esteem. On the other hand, lack of encouragement from family or friends, or the stress of bullying at school or work, are traumatic events that can all affect our own self-image.
As we grow, we tend to accept the voices of people who are significant to us and which often remain with us throughout our lives. Of course, this criticism can be helpful, or harmful. And it is important to remember that comment about us may not necessarily be accurate but may be based on the prejudice of the other party. The converse of this is that the right word at the right time, especially in our formative years, can make a huge difference to our future confidence and self-esteem.
Daily stressors and challenging life events such as trauma, illness or bereavement can damage our self-esteem if not handled with the experience of proportionality. Good and bad events happen to all of us – it’s unavoidable. But it is how you handle both types of experience that will determine who you become and what you will achieve. Your own personality plays a vital role here and the love and care of your family can often determine your personality. Having said that, some of us are naturally more negative than others and set impossibly high standards for ourselves – thereby setting ourselves up to fail.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
Confidence is linked to self-esteem and nurturing a positive outlook is essential. If you convince yourself that it is safer not to step outside of your comfort zone, then this avoidance technique will become a part of your personal profile. Every time you avoid something, it will reinforce your underlying doubts and fears about yourself.
However, people with low self-esteem often feel that they need to always say ‘yes’ to every demand – and when this happens, they can become resentful, take on too much and then harbour feelings of anger.
Your self-esteem can also fluctuate from time to time. One day you might wake up feeling ‘down’ and lacking in self-confidence and the next day feel supremely optimistic. In this scenario, it is important to practice the art of positive thinking – to always count what you do have, not what you do not.
Some individuals think that physical attractiveness will guarantee self-esteem and will spend a fortune on cosmetic surgery because they believe that their outward appearance is everything, whereas, in reality, confidence and self-esteem come from inside of ourselves. We need to be aware that although an outward appearance is important, character and integrity come from within and are very easily recognised.
Driving a 12 litre Ferrari to work might make you feel good about yourself but it is very unlikely to win you promotion in your job. Everyone we meet, at work or in a social context, makes a considered judgement about us after only one minute. And that is based, not on what car you drive, but on what opinion and what experience you have – and how you are able to communicate that experience to others.
When you have a healthy self-esteem, you tend to feel positive about yourself and about your life in general. The problems that you face during the day become challenges to overcome – and when you do overcome them, that reinforces your self-image. Your positivity helps you through the ups and downs of both the good days and the bad. To one person, a metre high wall will seem to be an impossibly high obstacle to overcome – to someone else, it will appear to be virtually insignificant. Which is it to you?
Be focused and challenge your own negative self-esteem. Exploit the gift of helping yourself and helping others along the way. Maybe then those nagging little voices from the past will be put to one side and you can move on in your life.
- Being either negative or positive is a choice
- Self-esteem is an essential body armour
- Others instinctively know who you really are