We've all felt under the weather at some point. Sometimes because something's happenned and that's our way of coping with it, and other times just because we don't feel our usual selves. And it's ok to go through these cycles, ups and downs are part of life.
Do you know anyone who is happy, confident and in bliss 24/7? If you think you do, think twice. They may be happy and confident whenever you meet them, but that's not all day everyday of their life.
Now, there are many ways people refer to confidence and self-esteem, and that's because true 360 degree confidence covers so many aspects of how you think and feel about yourself and how you think and feel about the way you portray yourself to others.
So they all overlap despite being different. That's why you can be confident at work but lack self-confidence. And in the same way you can have self-confidence in your ability to do something but lack self-belief to follow your dreams.
And self-esteem is one of the many aspects that contribute to your confidence. When you say you hold someone in high esteem, you mean you have high respect and admiration for them, you like them and perceive them as a person of value, as a wise and intelligent person whose opinion matters.
So self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself in different areas, like intelligence, personality, appearance, and success. We all have self-esteem, we all have an opinion of ourselves.
Now, the way that opinion makes us feel about ourselves, is what results in having low or high self-esteem.
If you think you are not as pretty, attractive, sexy, intelligent, smart, sassy, witty, entertaining, sociable, lucky, successful, driven, or whatever it is, as others, then you have low self-esteem.
You do realise what is driving your low self-esteem, don't you? That's right, you are constantly comparing yourself to others, therefore you are judging and criticising yourself all the time. No matter what you do, it'll never be good enough, it'll never be as good as what other people do.
And because you are always judging and criticising yourself, you think other people are also judging and criticising you. And this makes you really sensitive to other people's comments.
High vs low self-esteem
Imagine spending hours doing your hair, your makeup and deciding what to wear and which shoes are the best match because you want to look as fabulous, appealing and attractive as everyone else at this event you are so excited to be attending.
You finally look in the mirror and are satisfied with everything, you look amazing, you feel confident and you are proud of yourself.
You get to the event, scan the place, scan the people, and what do you do? A high self-esteem person joins in, whether as an observer, participant or leader in people's conversations or in the activities that are going on because they see an entertaining playground where they can have fun.
A low self-esteem person starts seeing all the reasons for not joining in - "Look at all these interesting people, attractive women, fabulous dresses, there's no way I can compete with that."
And even if some people complimented you and told you how good you look, you'd feel uncomfortable and you'd focus on the one comment from the one person who suggested using a different colour lipstick to match your outfit! And boom, "Earth, please swallow me!"
Now all the good feelings you had when you looked in the mirror, feeling fabulous, appealing and attractive are gone. And to top it all of, you think everyone is noticing and criticising your lipstick mismatch. You feel small, insignificant, less than. And it sucks!
It sucks to have to go through life experiencing these knock-outs again and again. Each and every one of them leaves yet another scar in your self-esteem. And the thing is that even if these KO moments disappeared from your life completely, you'd still wake up tomorrow rejecting the compliments and admiration other people showed you because you have low self-esteem.
If someone compliments you on your looks, your achievements or your knowledge, and you deflect their comment, that's a sign of low self-esteem.
A friend may tell you how good you look in that blue dress and your response is: "Oh, this is just an old dress." You see, you are rejecting praise.
A friend is giving you their true, honest and real opinion of you but, because it's a good opinion, you are diminishing yourself by adding a negative comment.
But the truth is that you are a unique person, special in your own way, with all your good and all your faults, just as you are. We all are perfectly imperfect people. The perfect person doesn't exist, that's what makes us human and what makes our lives interesting, fun and worth living.
So how do you move from low to high self-esteem?
5 Tips to Improve Self Esteem
1.- Be YOU and do it for YOU!
Whatever you do, do it for you! Do things that make you feel good, look good and that allow you to achieve your goals. But do it for you, according to your own judgement and opinion, not based on the opinion of others, or what they like, have, do or expect of you.
We all have room for improvement in any aspect of life. Whatever you think makes you feel better about yourself, dive in! Colour your hair if you want to, work out, eat healthily, be the best version of yourself! Not only physically, but also spiritually and mentally. Meditate, connect with yourself, set out goals for yourself, and feel the great sense of accomplishment of having achieved them.
We are all different, look different, have different personalities, like different things and have different goals. Why would you want to live someone else's life? Living your own life is enough. There cannot be two J Los, two Shakiras or two Jennifer Anistons. They are irreplaceable and so are you!
2.- Be present
Like the high self-esteem person, who went to that event and saw an entertaining opportunity to seize, just go in with it all and grab it! Do you think people have time to spend examining and judging you? No, they don't. Wherever they are, they are there to have fun, to network, to achieve a goal.
Honestly, they couldn't be the least bothered or interested in the colour of your lipstick, your outfit or your broken nail. They would definitely be more interested in getting to know you!
So be present in the conversation or activity at hand. Agree, disagree, give your point of view or some comment you saw or heard of on tv or social media. Focus on the conversation or whatever you are doing and you will see comparisonitis vanishes!
3.- Ditch criticism and toxic people
If you are actually surrounded by people who are highly critical of you, you have a choice. What is more important, their ego or your wellbeing? Of course, your wellbeing. So here's your choice: stand up to them and nicely tell them to shut up because you don't appreciate their comments, or cut them out of your life, or at least see them the least possible.
This may sound drastic, especially if the most critical people in your life are your family. But there is one thing you have to understand and accept: people are not going to change, you have to change. These people, regardless of your relationship to them, are emotionally abusing you and they will continue doing it. The good news is, you have the power to stop it and you are the only one who can do it.
Set your boundaries, set your expectations, set your rules and stick by them. Anyone who disrespects them is disrespecting you and is not deserving of your company. Let them know their words or behaviour is unacceptable and that you are ready to cut them out of your life if they insist on their ways.
There are billions of people in the world you can engage with online and hundreds if not thousands of people you can engage with in your community who will respect you. You don't have to be a social bee to meet new people, you can join groups of whatever hobby you are into, engage with the people there and create new friendships that way.
With family and friends you may want to take a softer approach. So you can start by replying to them: "Well, that's your opinion." If they carry on say: "You are hurting my feelings." And finally you can move on to: "This is not really about me, is it? This is about you. You are so unhappy and dissatisfied with yourself that you need to diminish me in order to embellish yourself."
You must show people how to treat you and the only way they can learn how to treat you with the respect you deserve is by calmly standing up to them.
4.- Accept praise
From now on, whenever someone says something nice about you, start replying with "Thank you". As you start getting used to receiving praise, and when you are ready, the next step is to start adding a positive comment and say something like: "Thank you. Yes, that's true. This dress looks really nice on me, doesn't it?"
5.- Praise yourself
Other people's criticism or opinion can affect you but you can always choose to ignore it or deflect it. However, the most destructive critic in your life is you. You are harsher on yourself than others are. And the criticism you give yourself over and over again, will get stuck in you as what you believe about yourself.
Realise that the only way to improve yourself and move on in life is by making mistakes and learning from them. If you met someone who were always criticising what you do, would you consider becoming besties? I doubt it.
But you are the one friend you cannot escape. You have to spend your entire life with yourself.
So start being a better friend to yourself, become your best friend and cheerleader. Appreciate your effort, your progress and achievements, big and small, and always praise yourself, every step of the way.
Remind yourself every day that you are enough, just as you are. And in the same way you ended up believing that you are not enough because that's the lie you've been telling yourself for so long, in time you'll believe the real truth, that you are enough.
Wrapping it all up
Self-esteem is a subset of confidence and low self-esteem comes from constantly comparing yourself to others and thinking you are not enough. But the truth is that you are unique and irreplaceable.
Despite whatever criticism you take from others, your worst enemy is the criticism you give yourself as it forms the belief that you are not good enough.
But you have the power to increase your self-esteem. Teach people around you to treat you with respect and treat yourself with respect and self-love.
The more you practise your response to criticism, the more indifferent you become to it and the more power you gain to be confident in yourself.
Accept compliments, praise yourself and always be willing to learn. No one is perfect, least of all the critics themselves! So give yourself a nod and a smile every time you tell yourself that you are enough just as you are.