In order for us to have healthy interactions with people and advance in our aspirations, we must have a healthy and confident self-esteem. First, we must make sure that we are all on the same page. I am not talking about “cockiness” or having a gargantuan ego, which can be a glimpse into a narcissistic personality disorder, nor am I talking about all the positive psychological self-talk or mental exercises.
When I talk about having a healthy self-esteem, I am referring to knowing who you are, and out of this understanding will come forth a person’s understanding of their self-worth and self-respect. Simply put, the way you see yourself and feel about yourself considering all your strengths and weaknesses can be defined as a healthy self-esteem. In this way, you will not go to the extremes of narcissism or feelings of worthlessness. This is why when it comes to having a healthy self-esteem, it involves our beliefs of ourselves and how those beliefs are lived out.
The reason why this is such an important topic is that a healthy self-esteem will determine whether you succeed in life or not. Our self-esteem plays a role in our attitude, motivation, and even our expectations in life. Therefore, the way we view ourselves will guide us in how we live our lives. Sadly, in cultures where there is a greater emphasis on performance and accomplishments, there are more cases of people who struggle with low self-esteem. This is why we must tackle this issue by taking small steps and building good habits, in order for us to advance in our life goals and to face the challenges that we will go through in life. Here are 6 skills (ESTEEM) that you can work on in order to build up a healthy and balanced self-esteem in order to succeed in life:
- E – ELIMINATE negative thoughts. The battle is really in the mind. If you win this battle, then you can win the war. One negative thought can sabotage your whole life. It is critical that you identify the negative thoughts that trap you in the cage of low self-esteem and then, take steps to speak the truth to yourself. It is incredible how our negative thoughts affect our outlook on life and how we behave. Stop dwelling on the past and the things that you cannot change. Stop allowing the fear of failure to hinder you from moving forward. Stop thinking that everything will go wrong. Stop thinking that you deserve bad things to happen to you. These are all lies that prevent you from having a healthy self-esteem.
Next Steps: Find some positive quotes or reminders and memorize it. Then when you encounter a negative thought, speak those reminders to yourself.
- S – STOP being reactionary. Too often, we are constantly reacting to situations and people around us. Instead of reacting emotionally or irrationally, it is helpful to take a “break” and focus on your breathing. Just by taking three slow deep breaths, you are able to calm down (some people like to count to 10). Then quickly ask yourself several questions: “What is happening around me?” “What am I feeling right now?” “Is this situation within my control or out of my control?” This helps you to take control of what you are feeling. Also, it gives you some time to gain perspective on the situation. Whenever we respond with negative reactions, we will end up experiencing a downward spiral with our emotions – bitterness, depression, anxiety, etc. Then we will start to criticize others or even make excuses for ourselves.
Next Steps: When a negative thing happens and it triggers our low self-esteem, then take a moment to breathe and make the correct assessment of the situation.
- T – TALK as your future self. There are lots of negative self-talk that goes on in our mind. We start to put ourselves down, and we are relentless in beating ourselves up for inconsequential things. This is where you need a vision of your future self. Imagine yourself overcoming the issue that you are facing. Think about how some of the things that you are facing right now will one day pass. Visualize what you would be like if you overcame the situation in a positive way. Then, once you get that picture, speak to yourself from that perspective.
Next Steps: The next time you face a low self-esteem inducing situation, fast-forward to the future, and speak confidently to yourself that you will overcome. For example, “Seth, what you are facing now might seem overwhelming and discouraging, but I want you to know that it is going to make you stronger so you can face new challenges.”
- E – END the comparison game. When we play the comparison game, we will always lose. We will either end up fueling our narcissistic side because we think we are better than others or we will end up feeling depressed because we think others are better than us. Regardless of which side you tend to lean towards, it is a lose-lose proposition. The better way to look at it is to remind yourself that there is only one you and that no one else can be exactly like you.
Next Steps: When someone else succeeds, genuinely muster up the courage to congratulate them and encourage them with some positive words. Try it. It will free you from the comparison game.
- E – EVALUATE yourself correctly. When you put on someone else’s prescription eyeglasses, what happens? It is hard to see. In fact, things will be blurry. This is why it is important to have the right prescription that fits your eyesight. When you are able to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and then, accept them as part of your life story, you will be able to have a healthy self-esteem. You will start to see things correctly and it will give you clarity. You will no longer try to be someone that you are not and you will not see yourself with a distorted view.
Next Steps: Ask someone to name 3 things that are your strengths and 1 thing that is a weakness in your personality. Then see how each one of your strengths positively impacts people, and find ways to work on the weakness.
- M – MASTER the art of gratitude. A person with low self-esteem doesn’t have a lot to be grateful for. They are always looking at life from a negative perspective. Instead of seeing the other side of things with a positive attitude, they are always complaining and wondering why things are the way they are. In order to break this cycle of negativity, we need to master the art of gratitude by being thankful for what we have. It is an art because it is a skill that requires us to spot out the positive in everything that we see, regardless of how grim things might look.
Next Steps: Every day before you sleep text out 1-2 things that you are grateful for to someone that you trust and knows that you are working on this issue.
There are a lot of bad habits that sabotage our success and advancement in our goals. We allow negative thoughts to fuel our low self-esteem, which then hinders us from viewing ourselves with a healthy perspective. If we are serious about succeeding in life, then we have to build up a healthy self-esteem. Start by working on these six skills of self-ESTEEM:
- E – ELIMINATE negative thoughts.
- S – STOP being reactionary.
- T – TALK as your future self.
- E – END the comparison game.
- E – EVALUATE yourself correctly.
- M – MASTER the art of gratitude.