There seems to be an epidemic of women with low self-esteem: women not feeling good enough, women feeling they’re not achieving enough, women feeling that they don’t look right, their home isn’t good enough…what’s the answer?
First of all, what is self-esteem? It can be summed up as how you perceive your value and worth, and through this lense, you will decide what to make things mean, and how to act and feel. How you feel about yourself has a huge impact on many areas of life.
A low self-esteem could hit your health, career and finances, relationships, social life, fun, well basically everything. It will seep into every area of life.
Now, you might know you’re ok in this area, or maybe you have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t always see yourself in the greatest light, and a hunch that it’s holding you back.
One of the features of low self-esteem is often a critical inner voice. That inner dialogue that tells you you’re not clever/successful/beautiful/thin/insert your favourite criticism of yourself/ enough, or perhaps that you shouldn’t have said that thing or mustn’t’ speak up. The voice that stops you from investing in yourself, or if you do, tells you to feel guilty about it because do you really deserve it…do you ever wish that voice would just pipe down and be quiet? Maybe you even tell it to, but that makes it come up with even more reasons why it’s right and you need to listen.
Another sign could be that you might not believe the good things other people say about you, and be unable to recognise your own strengths and achievements. You might find it hard to make decisions. You might be pinning your worth on external factors such as a job or relationship – thought like ‘I’ll know I’m ok when I get that promotion’ or ‘when I’m settled down with a partner, I’ll stop giving myself a hard time.’ Except without those things, you don’t value yourself. It’s all conditional.
What’s the answer?
I don’t believe that you can purely think your way to a new way of thinking, feeling and acting about yourself. Mantras don’t work if you don’t already believe them.
However, you can act your way to a new way of thinking and feeling about yourself. Every action you take is either honouring and supporting yourself, building self-trust, or it’s chipping away at your self-esteem.
To feel good about yourself, behave consistently. Only standing up for yourself half the time, or only eating well on weekends, doesn’t work. Self-sabotage messes with your self-trust, as does inconsistent action.
One way to work out where to take action is to notice without any judgement how your actions effect your inner critic. What makes it louder? And what turns the volume down. Notice that you are in fact in charge of all your actions and thus the volume button.
Once you’ve got some awareness and gentle honesty with yourself about how your actions affect your self-esteem, you are ready to start changing things.
In the meantime, how about imagining your inner critic is Donald Trump. Bet you wouldn’t believe it then, would you?!
About the author
I’m Harriet Waley-Cohen. I believe in life changing transformations. And I empower people to make them. I’m a coach, an experienced mentor and an established and sought after speaker. FInd out more about Harriet here: www.harrietwaleycohen.com