How To Boost Your Low Self Esteem Without Being An Idiot
Get Yer Big Green Bowl Of Self-Esteem, Right Here!!!
Low self esteem is something I'm personally familiar with. You can't struggle with depression, anxiety, and obesity for over two decades and not come away with some permanent scars. "Feeling like a loser" was a way of life for me for a long, long time, and it's something that still hangs over me on an almost daily basis.
I've tried lots of "How To Boost Your Self-Esteem" books, audio CDs and programs, but after awhile I just kind of started to feel pretty ridiculous.
Many Self-Esteem Boosters Leave You Feeling Like A Moron
You know what I mean.
You can tell yourself, "I'm a winner" til you're blue in the face, but in the back of your mind, you still know who you are, and you're not winning.
I've repeated affirmations and mantras for days and weeks. Do they have their place? Yes, they do. Do they help at first? Yes, they do. Do they help for very long? No, not really.
I've also spent a lot of time writing down my goals. Personal development expert Brian Tracy wrote a terrific book simply titled, "Goals." In it, one of his most powerful exercises is one in which you write down your top 10 goals...and he has you doing this literally every single day.
It feels good to write down your goals and believe that you will achieve them. It feels good to visualize what it's like to be successful, what it's like to have what you want, be who you want, and do what you want with the people you want.
But it only feels good at first.
Then it starts to suck.
It sucks when you look through an old spiral notebook that you had years ago and read page after page of unfulfilled goals. Seeing the words, "I weigh 170 pounds by December 31 2008" or maybe "I earn $5,000 per month by June 30 2010" written down page after page for a week, and then seeing those same goals written down and dated six months later...a year later...2 years later...without ever having achieved anything close to it...
It just makes you feel like a complete idiot. 100% loser.
It makes you feel worse than before.
The Key To True Self Esteem Is...
So what about all those people who say that affirmations helped them by reprogramming their subconscious mind and changing their internal yadda yadda yadda? Were they lying?
No, they were telling the truth. But understand that for every one person who did her daily affirmations and then went on to do great things, there are a thousand more who repeated the same mantras every morning and every evening and then went on to accomplish...nothing.
And the same could be said about those who practice mental visualization, written goal setting, retreats, audio seminars, and all the rest.
What does that say about all those programs? Doesn't that show that those things are pretty worthless?
Nope. Most of those things can be effective, even though in reality the people who purchase them rarely go on to accomplish anything to get excited about.
The key is not about finding the right program.
The key is you.
The key is action.
What's Wrong With Saying "I'm A Winner"?
Well, you can say it if you want. And if you're really down in the dumps with no motivation to even get out of bed, then maybe it can help you get your mind off of your self-hate and negative thinking long enough to get you out of bed. If it helps, do it. But know that it's not going to help for long.
Why not? Because you are not stupid.
What is a "winner"? Isn't a winner -- by definition -- a person who has won something? A person who has competed against others and conquered them all? Yeah. That's pretty much what a winner is.
So to say to yourself, "I'm a winner," first you need to go out and get a win. That's the secret to being a winner -- actually doing it!
What Is Your Low Self-Esteem Based On?
Self esteem needs to be based in reality. Concrete, real-world actions and results. If you've been feeling like a loser, there's a reason for that. It's probably based on something real that happened or failed to happen.
But it may also be based on exaggerated failures. Sometimes we aren't really such terrible failures -- we may actually have a lot going for us -- yet we blow our failures out of proportion and make ourselves feel worse.
You'll need to think about your own situation to see if that is true for you too.
How To Boost Your Self Esteem - The Reality
If low self-esteem is based on failures or low performance in life, then what is high self esteem based on? How do you really raise your self-esteem?
You have to do things! You have to go out and get some victories in your life! You want to feel good about yourself? Great...now go give yourself a reason to feel good! If you want to feel good about yourself, you need to go out and earn it!
You aren't going to feel like a winner just by repeating affirmations. Those can help give you a boost to get yourself moving, but you need to follow through by taking action, and you need to continue working at it (whatever "it" is) until you achieve it.
True self-esteem is earned by taking responsibility for your life, deciding for yourself what is important to you and what you want, and continually performing the actions needed to move you towards accomplishing your goals.
In other words, it feels good to get shit done.
The Importance Of Small Victories
It's good to have big goals.
Big goals inspire you. They get you excited. They're motivating. They make you want to leap out of bed every morning and take on the world.
But that enthusiasm doesn't last long unless you are winning little victories -- achieving small but meaningful objectives along the way -- and you can see that you are actually moving closer to your end goal.
That is why it is so important to not just think up big goals, but to break them down into smaller, short-term objectives, organize them into chronological order and overall value, and then track and measure your progress as you get those wins.
Rewarding yourself a little for those small victories doesn't hurt either.
The Power Of Accountability
Sharing those plans and small victories -- and frustrations -- as you go is also helpful. It sure is nice to get a little help from your friends.
A lot of people who struggle in isolation tend to spiral further into despair, and their self-esteem continues to plummet. With no words of encouragement from others, the only voice they hear is their own. And let's face it, most of us who are struggling with low self esteem are our own worst critics. We hate on ourselves and wound ourselves just as deeply as any enemy out there in the real world...maybe worse.
So it's really going to help you to meet up with some people who want to see you succeed. Chances are good that you have some friends and family members who would happily encourage you, if only you would let them into your world.
But that is not always the case. And even when it is, it can feel kind of awkward to reach out to those who know us...to those who know our history and our failures and our big talk and our small results.
Sometimes it's just embarrassing to share our goals with those we know, because we've been there, done that, failed repeatedly, and now we just don't know if they'll be on board or not. It's hard to share your goals with people when you don't think that they really believe in you.
So sometimes it's easier to share with new people. To make new friends with folks like you who are trying to reach their goals and who could really use some kind of support network.
Bloggers have blogging groups online where they can socialize and share their goals and get some feedback and just encourage each other. Homeschooling moms and dads do the same thing. People with all kinds of goals and dreams get together online for support, and if you haven't yet joined any groups like that for yourself, now is the time. You're going to need some support if you want to get anywhere.
Even blogging about your journey, your goals, your ups and downs...even that can be helpful. Whatever you choose to do or however you decide to put yourself out there, the point is to stop holding it all in and stop keep your inner warfare all to yourself. It's okay to be a little transparent and vulnerable.