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Lesson 2: Self-Esteem

What it is and how to improve it

A low self-esteem can negatively affect every area of your life. In this lesson, you’ll learn what is self-esteem (it doesn’t refer only to physical appearance) and some practical tips that you can implement today to improve your self-esteem.

What is self-esteem?

Self-esteem refers to the way someone assesses their own self-worth and overall value. It’s how someone feels about who they are.


It doesn’t refer only to the physical appearance, but can be evaluated based on respective domains of how someone feels either physically, academically, emotionally and socially.

You can experience both low and high self-esteem at the same time

For example, a student who excels in school might have a high level of academic self-esteem due to their long list of achievements.


But that same person might have a low level of physical self-esteem because their sports performance isn’t as good as their academic ones.


Physical self-esteem is also connected to emotional and social self-esteem.


The domains that make up global self-esteem (physical, academical, emotional, social) differs from individual to individual.


Interestingly enough, the domain that is the most important and meaningful to a person will have the most influence on their global self-esteem.


For example, someone who is self-conscious and insecure about their weight, could have lower physical self-esteem that may affect their global self-esteem if physical appearance is important to that individual.


If being accepted by their peers is more important to that person, then global self-esteem would be based on social self-esteem.


The relationship between weight and self-esteem is hard to understand, and sadly is often accompanied by feelings of shame, guilt, judgement and distress. 

You have the power to change how you feel

However what’s important to remember here is that you have to power to change how you feel.

Self-esteem is the way YOU evaluate your own self-worth physically, emotionally, academically and socially. 


No one can take away your power. No one can take away your worth or your confidence. You have the power to choose to be confident.


Your confidence and your own self-worth aren’t conditional on how much you weight or how you look like. You get to be confident in your body, at any size, but only if you let yourself be.


Self-esteem is a variable that can increase or decrease for a variety of reasons: new experiences, behavioural changes, lifestyle adjustments, professional input…


And interestingly enough, regular exercise has been shown to improve low self-esteem, not solely because it changes your physical appearance, but because it builds mental tenacity, increases self-efficacy, overall feeling proud of one’s accomplishment and consistency with their exercise routine.

Practical tips to improve your self-esteem

Here are some practical tips to follow if you want to improve your self-esteem

#1 Practice Affirmations

Yes, affirmations can sound like a silly idea, but they truly work.

But when your self-esteem is low, affirmations can seem like they are in conflict with your existing beliefs.


The goal of affirmations is to reinforce positive thoughts.


To make affirmations work, don’t just practice “I am…” affirmations (your brain isn’t dumb!). You need to add a proof using: ”I am… ___ because… ___”

Ex:

I am smart because I have a good job.

I am a good friend because I care about their well-being

I am beautiful because my eyes are nice.

Etc…


You can also practice affirmations of perseverance: ”I will… ___ because… ___”

Ex:

I will succeed because I am trying my best.

I will find true love because I’m a great person and I deserve to be loved.

Etc…

#2 Identify your skills and develop them

Your self-esteem is built around the little “wins” you can prove to yourself everyday.


If you pride yourself on being a good friend, reach out to your friends and hang out with them more often.


If you pride yourself on being a good cook, throw more dinners and invite your loved ones to enjoy your meals!


If you pride yourself on being a healthy person, challenge yourself at the gym by setting new goals (ex: lifting heavier, running for longer, ex).

#3 Accept compliments

When we feel bad about ourselves, we have a hard time receiving compliments because when don’t feel like we deserve them.


So, instead of being resistant to compliments, learn to accept them.

#4 Compliment yourself on a daily basis

Sometimes we are so hard on ourselves, we don’t realize we are our biggest bully.

How many negative thoughts do you have about yourself everyday?


Learn to shift your negative thoughts for positive ones. Instead of pointing out things you don’t like about yourself, point out the things you DO like.

Treat yourself like a loved one instead of treating yourself like the enemy!

#5 Eliminate self-criticism and practice self-compassion instead

When our self-esteem is low, we tend to damage it even further.

Instead of criticizing yourself, practice self-compassion.


When your inner monologue kicks in, ask yourself what you would say to a loved one if they were in the same situation (sadly we tend to be more compassionate towards family and friends, than we are to ourselves).

#6 Know your worth

Make a list of all your qualities that are the most meaningful to you, when you get hit by failure.


For example, if you fail a job interview, make a list of qualities that make you the best employee (hard worker, strong work ethic, etc).


If you are going through a divorce, make a list of why you are deserving to be loved and why you are the best partner someone could be with (ex: loyal, compassionate, loving, etc).


How to start:

Make a list of all your qualities (based on situations that didn’t go well in the past) and then write a short paragraph on why the qualities are valuable to you and why you deserve to be appreciated by others in the future.


Boosting your self-esteem is going to require hard work and consistency.

But the more you nurture your self-esteem, the better you will feel about yourself in the long run.

Just like anything else, it’s an investment worth making.

FR