Self-esteem: what is it and how to get a healthy one

There will always be someone who can’t see your worth. Don’t let it be you.

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Self esteem, self love, self care… I feel like those words have been overused these past few years, especially by companies trying to sell us more stuff we don’t really need. But if we ignore the marketing talk and focus on those terms and what they mean, we realize that there’s a lot to learn about the “self” and how to keep it healthy.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between self-esteem, self-love and self-confidence:

Self esteem is the opinion you hold of yourself and is gained as you grow up. It’s usually impacted by your environment. If you grew up in a family where love and affection were not demonstrated, where you were diminished and often criticized, where a sibling was treated better than the others, it could explain a low self esteem as an adult. It is not a constant, your self-esteem goes through ups and downs as you navigate through life’s challenges.

Now, self love and self care are about how much you love yourself and the things you do to take care of yourself. I’ll go into more details about these subjects in another article.

What about confidence? Self confidence is the belief that you are capable of doing something. All these notions are connected but you could lack one and still have the others. For example, I used to be confident but I did not have a healthy self-esteem. How is that possible? I knew I was capable of doing anything I wanted but I did not respect myself because my lifestyle was going against my values.

If your real values are modesty, simplicity and faith in Allah but you find yourself living a life completely opposing those values, your opinion of yourself will be negative. In your mind, there is the image of the person you want to be and then there is who you truly are at the moment. When the gap between those two is too big, you haven’t met the expectations you have set for yourself.

Sometimes, your self-esteem will be low because those expectations are unhealthy. You might have thoughts like “I’m too fat”, “I look horrible”, “I’m a bad mother”, “I’m not good enough”. Your expectations of what you should be and how you should look like are putting you down constantly and that leads to behaviours like: not believing you’re deserving of love, staying in toxic relationships, tolerating unacceptable behaviours… And you will probably attract people who are on the same vibration, putting themselves down and engaging in self destructing habits. It’s a toxic environment to be in.

So how do we fix this? How do we work on getting a healthy self-esteem?

The first thing you should do is ask yourself what are my values? Examples of values are: honesty, freedom, generosity, faith, helping others, making a difference…

Then notice where the misalignment is happening and decide if you should change the value or your behaviour. Misalignment is when your behaviour doesn’t match your values. For example, if one of your core value is honesty but you’ve been lying a lot to your parents lately, work on being more sincere with them and you will notice a real change in how you feel about yourself.

If you have unrealistic expectations that need to be changed: maybe because you compare yourself to people you see on social media for example, review your definition of success. Acknowledge that we all are different and learn to love yourself the way you are right now. Your perception of a better you needs to be motivating and not so out of reach that you give up on it.

Note how you talk about yourself, whether to yourself or to others. What is your inner dialogue saying? Once you’ve taken notes, make changes: be kind to yourself, no more degrading yourself, no more “I’m stupid”, “I look like shit”, you would not talk to a friend like that, would you? Treat yourself better than you treat anyone else because you are your best friend.

Stop seeking external validation: when you start doing inner work to love and respect yourself, you realize how much you’ve unconsciously been begging people to compliment you, to give you attention and to validate your choices. Start doing that for yourself and you will soon understand you don’t need anyone else.

Get to know yourself: spend time alone, reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far, what you want to accomplish in the future, the things that make you happy and those that don’t. If you know what you dislike, you can start saying no and set boundaries for your own good. Respect yourself by never compromising on your values for someone else’s benefit.

Give a make over to your environment: cut off unhealthy relationships, distance yourself from people who make you feel small and replace them with the opposite: people that inspire you, that are authentic and kind. Feed yourself with positivity too, read personal development books, watch motivating shows and movies! My current favourite is Queer Eye, I just love how these guys transform people from within by helping them love themselves as they are.

There is so much more to say about this subject! I have also compiled a few experiences to improve your self-esteem in my 7 days Self-esteem workbook, give a try and let me know if it helped you.

The main thing to take away is know yourself, respect your values and love yourself like you love your closest friends, if not more, because no one will do it for you. An unhealthy self-esteem will affect your relationships, your professional life and your spiritual life. Make it a priority to develop and keep a healthy one.

If you need help and idea, check out the Self-Esteem Workbook that I wrote for you here and don’t hesitate to seek help, whether with me or someone else.

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