Having good feelings about yourself or having a proper self-esteem is important because it influences your self – confidence, productivity, social life and happiness. Here are a few simple tips that can help you to enhance your self-esteem.
* You need to know and accept that you have a right to be here on earth as a human being just like everyone else, irrespective of your background, experiences and perceived inadequacies. No one has a superior right than you to be here. This is your world. You belong here. You need no one’s permission to live or to be happy. It is your right to be here, and your right to be happy.
* Accept yourself. Self – acceptance is accepting your uniqueness. Self rejection is the most harmful form of rejection. Individuals are different in many ways(physical characteristics, intelligence, personality traits,). Talking about intelligence, whether you have a high, average or low IQ, what is important is being able to maximise your IQ through your commitment to continuous study and other forms of self empowerment. While it is an advantage to have been endowed with a high IQ, what will set you apart in practical terms, is how much useful knowledge you have, and how you are able to utilise or apply it in the best way possible. The most successful people on the earth today are not necessarily the most intelligent people. You cannot change your level of intelligence because it is hereditary but it is possible to achieve more than people with higher levels of IQ if you acquire the right amount of relevant knowledge and utilise it well. As regards physical appearance, please, note that the worth or value of a man or woman is not all about beauty or handsomeness, muscles or six packs. While it is okay to make efforts to enhance your looks, being preoccupied with this at the expense of other important areas of your life, such as academics, career or business success and character could be meaningless. You do not have to be like anyone else to be okay. You are okay the way you are. It is cool to be different.
*Challenge negative thoughts and labels with self affirmation. What are those self defeating statements you have been making to yourself? What are those derogatory labels others (including your significant others) have attached to you over the years that you have internalised? It is time to begin to replace them with self enhancing statements. For instance, You can replace “I am worthless ” with “I am a man or woman of inestimable worth”. May be you should do a list of five of such negative thoughts or statements and write self affirmation statements to replace them. Keep saying them to yourself until you believe them and internalise them.
* Improve your criticism management. Positive feedbacks (properly presented criticisms) help us to appreciate our efforts while pointing us to areas where we need to improve. However, not everyone knows how to give positive feedbacks. Some people offer criticism in ways that could come across as malicious and derogatory. Having regular contact with such people could be emotionally draining and make one to feel empty or inadequate. Whenever you encounter harsh criticism, instead of becoming irritated or letting it affect your self -esteem, the beneficial approach is to acknowledge that the person offering the criticism may lack the skills to present their criticism appropriately and not intentionally out to demean you. This way, you will be able to maintain your calm, express appreciation for the criticism and pick out the useful ingredients in the criticism while your self – esteem is untouched. If this happens within a close relationship, you may later approach the person and suggest more helpful ways to present subsequent criticism after thanking them.
* You need to understand that you do not need to have a perfect life to live an amazing life. No one’s life is perfect. No one’s life is exactly the way they would like it to be. The important thing is being able to harness all the good sides of your life to make the best out of your life.
* Celebrate your strengths, your positive qualities and all the things that are going on well for you. May be you should start by making a list of five things that you admire or appreciate in your life. They could include the people that love you, your dreams, your qualities.
*Focus on your strengths, how to improve them and utilise them. There’s no need to envy others. Your friends may excel more in certain areas than you do but this does not make them better than you. Struggling with other people in their areas of strength could make one to feel inadequate. You also have your areas of strength where you could excel more. You need to identify and develop yourself in such areas. You will only discover the genius in you, when you begin to invest most of your time as well as physical and mental energy in your areas of strength.
* Accept areas of your life where you need a positive change, and start making effort to change them. These may include your attitude to people or your work , personal grooming and how you treat your environment. Do not pretend about or ignore the positive changes you need in your life, and do not “flog” yourself because of them. Others have such areas that require a positive change in their lives too. What is important is being committed to efforts that will lead to a positive change.
*Learn to live with things in your life that cannot be changed. Everyone else has such things in their own life.
* Spend more time with people who accept and believe in you than with those who continuously put you down.
* If possible, avoid people who have an “I am okay, you are not okay” life script. They make others to feel that everything about them ( health, relationships, finances,) is rosy and perfect while everything about others is pathetic. They find it hard to see anything good in others’ lives, and consequently tend to make others around them to feel unfortunate and miserable. You may be having a better life experience than those who make you to feel that your life is pathetic.
* Be ambitious. Be desirous of the best things in life and work towards achieving them. You have a right to be successful irrespective of your background, experiences or perceived inadequacies. No one has a greater right than you to be successful. You can achieve your dreams if you believe in them and in yourself, and if you work hard and smart towards them. Knowing that you have a great future or that you will turn out well,can make you to feel good about yourself.
*Set realistic goals based on your dreams, plan how to achieve them, and work hard and smart to achieve them. It is essential to set realistic goals because unrealistic or unsupported goals can lead to feelings of inadequacy if one falls short of them. Always assess your performance and growth based on your own goals, and not others’ achievements or expectations. Looking at your own achievements instead of assessing your worth by others’ achievements can help you to realise your value.
* Be optimistic. Look at the positive side in all situations. Be positive about yourself, your life and your future. Wish yourself well. There is no adversity that lasts for ever. Be positive about your abilities. The fact that you attempted an examination or a project and didn’t attain your set target does not mean that you won’t succeed if you make another attempt. You only need to work harder.
* Empower yourself with education, skills as well as positive and supportive relationships.
* Do not internalise rejections. No matter what you have or how good you are, you will not be accepted by everyone. The fact that someone refuses to give you the acceptance you desire does not mean you are not good enough to be accepted and celebrated by others. You may not be “the bomb” to some people but you could be “a rare gem” to others. It is a mistake to think you are worthless because someone thinks you are not what they need. It is not a problem if you are not liked by someone.
*Increase your relevance. Everyone has something to offer to society. There is someone around you who needs your help. You may want to volunteer with an organisation to render free service to your community. The realisation that your life is useful to others, especially those in need, brings a special kind of fulfilment. There is so much in you to offer, even though you may not have realised it. Look inwards and reach out.
* Take every step you take in your life, not because it will impress people but because it is the right step to take. Trust me, the people you work so hard to impress may not be thinking about how to impress you. As long as you keep trying to impress others, you will always feel empty, inadequate and inferior because it is impossible to impress everyone or even anyone at all times. We do the right thing, not because we want people to applaud us or approve of us but because it is good to do the right thing. If you order everyday of your life based on this principle, you will always be happy with yourself.
* Get past your past. Excessive guilt and regrets are some of the most distressing feelings one can experience. They can make you feel empty or worthless and angry with yourself. It is okay to feel remorseful over your mistakes or choices that did not turn out well. However, dwelling on past mistakes can deprive you of the fulfillment that comes with all the right choices you have ever made. The fact that you made one or two mistakes or bad choices, no matter how bad you think they are, does not mean that you have never done anything correctly. May be you should pause, and ponder on some of the right things you have done, the steps you took that paid off, and the right choices you have ever made. Making mistakes is a normal part of living. No one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes though our mistakes may differ. Forgive yourself. If you think your mistake may have harmed someone, apologise to them, and make restitution where possible. Figure out how to prevent a repeat of similar mistakes or choices. Be determined to make the right choices going forward and move on. The past is past, take advantage of current opportunities to do things right.
* Get help to heal from abuse. The experience of abuse, whether it is physical, sexual, emotional or other forms of abuse, can make one to feel powerless and worthless. Chronic abuse can have a severe negative impact on one’s self – concept and self – esteem if one does not get the needed help. One important thing to remember is that, if you have suffered any form of abuse, it is not because you deserve to be abused or you do not deserve to be treated with respect but because the abuser has a problem with their own behaviour. It is not your fault if you were abused. People who abuse others have a problem with how to treat people correctly. No one deserves to be abused. If you are finding it hard to reclaim your self – esteem after an abuse, please, do not be shy to seek professional help. Likewise, if you are in an abusive relationship or you work in an abusive environment, please, seek professional help.
*Love yourself. Self preservation is not self -centredness. Rather, it is preserving yourself to be able to do more for society. Treat yourself nicely. Improve your personal grooming. Spend some of your time, energy and money on yourself. Take yourself out. Buy yourself a gift on your birthday or when you think you have achieved something worthwhile. This is your life and your only chance to live it. Love yourself. Take care of “you”. No one will take care of you more than you. Show others the way you wish to be treated by the way you treat yourself. Please, stop treating yourself casually as if you are not important. You deserve the best things of life. Love others but not more than yourself. Remember, you are only able to love others and care for them because you are alive and well. If you allow yourself to become overwhelmed by living for others at the expense of your survival and you lose your mind, you will become a liability.
* Seek professional help if necessary. Sometimes, we may feel we don’t even have enough strength to help ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with this feeling. We all sometimes get to this point. If you think you need professional help to improve the way you feel about yourself, please, do not hesitate to ask for help. You deserve to be happy with yourself.
Dr. Rosemary Oshiomah Ogedengbe.