Self-esteem: Confidence in one’s own worth or abilities; self-respect. (Source: Google Dictionary)
What if I told you you can grow your self-esteem to great heights THIS week? It’s true, and it involves very simple steps I wish I had taken a few years back when I had my own issues with self-esteem.
I have worked with clients who have suffered from low self-esteem, including those who have struggled with self-esteem since childhood (usually due to weight or bullying issues). I have also coached those whose self-esteem took a blow after a divorce, breakup, or job loss. The steps I now offer have helped my clients feel better about themselves and maintain positive frames of mind.
I think self-esteem issues are fairly common among both men and women. What I have learned in my own challenges with this issue is that I need to believe in who I am as a wonderful and gifted creation of God and to do some occasional “maintenance” work. The biggest lesson? We cannot place our self-esteem in the hands of others, including our spouses or any other person. We need to OWN our magnificence as unique living beings, endowed with many wonderful gifts and traits!
My self-esteem took a huge hit a few years ago when my fiancé and I started having some communication issues in what was supposed to be a temporary long-distance relationship. He decided to stay in his new city, and the way it all happened was the most hurtful thing I have ever experienced in my life.
How did I interpret it? His new friends were more important than me. He chose them over me. He’d changed. I wasn’t worthy of his love anymore. I was no longer important to the person with whom I had said “Yes!” to on a balcony far away. I wasn’t good enough anymore. On and on it went.
My self-esteem plunged from 99.9 to around 50. Tumbled. I’d just come off my biggest fundraising year to date at work, exhausted but awfully proud of the job I’d done, but I could no longer think of my successes. I had overcome major life obstacles, raised two sons by myself, and woke up each morning feeling like I was a special creation of God. Now, I considered myself a big failure with a capital F because I wasn’t “good enough” anymore. I blamed him. I blamed myself. And all of this snowballed into a highly suspicious woman who was always waiting for the next bomb to drop. I allowed the entire mess (first word that comes to mind) to affect my other relationships and my work, and it took me a few years to grow into a newer and more confident version of ME.
I was angry at my significant other, but I was angrier with myself for placing my self-worth and value in another’s eyes and hands. Up until that point, I hadn’t even realized this was the situation. What a wake-up call…
Where was my faith in myself, I asked. More importantly, why wasn’t I owning my worth as a creation of God, something I thought I did and had always encouraged others to do?
It was a tough time, but amazing growth emerged!
For the record, I wasn’t without fault either, and our once strong relationship had been on some shaky ground before that life-altering decision was made. Just writing about this turning point, though, still causes my heart to hurt a little, even though we have managed over the years to grow into much stronger individuals while simultaneously strengthening our relationship. He is now one of my biggest affirmers, but I am also MUCH more grounded in who I am as a loving person and mother, an accomplished woman, and, more importantly, a child of God.
If you are dealing with self-esteem issues, please don’t allow yourself to be beaten down! The key words here are “DON’T ALLOW,” and please… don’t struggle with this for years. Here are six ways you can grow your self-esteem THIS week:
Write down every personal and career accomplishment you can think of. Write as much as you can, listing anything and everything, from being on the honor roll in high school to earning your diploma or degree to overcoming a really challenging time in your life. Write, write, write! Sit with your list and own all your successes!
Ask 2 or 3 trusted friends to tell you what they love about you. Close friends can be great self-esteem boosters! Write down what they say, or ask them to write down all the great qualities they see in you. You can pin their words on your bulletin board or keep them in a place where you can read and re-read them.
Ask 2 or 3 colleagues or former colleagues to share with you the great business and personal qualities they see in you. Again, place these comments in a visible place, and read them several times a day.
Write positive affirmations about yourself on index cards, and tape them to places where you can read them a lot. Always write in the present tense, and place the cards on your bathroom or bedroom mirror, your car’s dashboard, or inside your bathroom cabinet. I strongly recommend keeping your affirmations by your mirror and on your nightstand. Why? Reading affirmations aloud while looking at yourself in the mirror is very powerful. This practice helps you “own” who you are. Having your affirmations by your bed is very helpful first thing in the morning and last thing at night, because you can begin and end your day in a positive frame of mind.
Own who you are as a creation of God! Unless you are an all-out atheist, you probably believe (and I hope you do!) that you are a unique creation of a divine God. For this reason alone, we should all feel amazingly great about ourselves. But, alas, our humanity does creep in, and we just cower in the awful depths of feeling we aren’t good enough. Dig into scripture, and read Psalm 139. Wonderfully made… yes, indeed!
Smile and get moving! Numerous studies have shown that the physical act of smiling can make us feel better. If you have ever smiled at a child who is having a meltdown, you’ve witnessed the power of the smile. The child starts smiling through his tears and fights the smile for a few seconds before giving in, letting the smile win, and moving on with his life. And speaking of moving, exercise is one of THE best ways for propelling your self-esteem. Those marvelous endorphins can make you feel better about yourself and in general.
Go back to the definition at the beginning of this post. YOU are worthy. YOU have abilities. YOU must respect yourself. If you aren’t feeling it, implement these six steps THIS week, and walk with your head held high.
And like the Phoenix rising from the ashes-or like yours truly bouncing back from her own issues-your fine self and self-esteem will GROW!
Amy Walton is a Virginia Beach-based women’s life coach and Christian life coach who works with clients around the country. When she isn’t coaching, speaking, or writing, she loves to dig into scripture, work out, and sit in a rocking chair with a good book and a nice red wine. A mother, grandmother, and widow (and, yes, a fiancée), she is finally learning how to effectively communicate in a long-distance relationship. Contact her at www.amywaltoncoaching.com or at email@example.com.