Healthy self-esteem is essential to living a happy life. But it’s not always easy to build and maintain it, especially when social media make it seem like everyone is doing better than us. Worse, the pandemic has shaken up our sense of normality and security, filling us with deep anxiety about the near future.
Many things we knew about life and ourselves have now changed.
For some of us, we might not know what we’re going to do next. We question our place in the world. We feel like you’re falling behind our peers. Even long before the pandemic, the thought that we’re not good enough already circles our mind — during this uncertain time, it’s getting so loud and unbearable.
If this is you, I want you to know that it’s normal to feel insecure about yourself. Even the best of us suffer from insecurity and go through days when we just can’t be bothered to get out of bed.
Let’s admit it — it’s hard to be a human in this modern age.
We’re supposed to have everything we’ve ever asked for but, in reality, we’re getting more disconnected and depressed than ever.
We’re receiving tons of mixed messages every day, making it almost impossible to be at peace with ourselves. Yet, somehow, we’re also the ones to blame.
Luckily, the human mind is strong.
We don’t have control over the world but we have control over ourselves.
We have the power to change our mental and physical habits to live a healthier and more fulfilling life.
If you doubt yourself today or have doubted yourself for a long time, follow these 7 steps.
1. Breathe. Stay in the present.
Take a deep breath and pull yourself back to the present. Look around you — there’s no danger. You’re okay. You’re safe.
Nothing is real except the physical world in front of you now. Everything else only exists in your mind — in this moment, it does not matter. In this moment, nothing can get to you.
When you slow down and anchor yourself in the moment, you will be able to see your insecurity for exactly what it is — a thought in your head. It can amplify if you keep feeding it. So don’t. Observe it and let it pass by.
2. Accept your feelings
Whatever it is you’re feeling, let it be.
Try to identify your emotions and thoughts. Write them down in full sentences, for example: “I’m worried that I’m not as good as I think I’m at…”, or “Seeing people doing well on social media makes me feel like I am…”
Then add “It’s okay” at the beginning of these sentences, for example: “It’s okay that I’m worried…” or “It’s okay that seeing people doing well…” Then read them out loud to yourself.
When you put your insecurity into clear words, it will lose its weight. You will realise that it has far less power over you than you assume it does — you’re the one who’s powerful because you decide what to write next after those sentences.
3. Surround yourself with love and comfort
The next step is to tend to the rough parts of yourself — wrap them with love and comfort for however long it takes.
Call your close friends and family if possible. Put on the outfit that makes you feel most yourself. Watch your favourite movie that has a happy ending. Write a love letter to yourself and remind yourself that you are so loved, so needed, so important, and so much more than whatever you think of yourself when you’re in a low mood.
Make it a habit to treat yourself with care and respect. Prioritise feeling good about yourself and draw boundaries with negative thoughts.
4. Do your “thing”
For each of us, there’s a thing that can instantly lift up our mood and make us feel good about ourselves.
For example, writing, singing, dancing, playing video games, or even trying on clothes we like and pretending we’re headlining a fashion show.
Whatever your “thing” is, lose yourself in it. Let yourself play like a kid again. Have fun with yourself — it will release your stress and energise you.
5. Find confidence from within
Your drop in self-esteem might be an insight into how you build that self-esteem in the first place.
If it goes away easily, it’s possible that you have been seeking external validations from all the wrong places.
For example, the people you date, the compliments you receive on your look, the grades on your assignments — you need them to feel better about yourself.
In other words, you base your sense of self on your performances and other people’s perception of you instead of your actual abilities and inner qualities.
True confidence should come from accepting yourself for who you are and knowing you have value regardless.
Now, look inward. Identify your core strengths and what you have abundantly. Use them as your value system, i.e. the lens through which you judge the world and other people.
When in doubt, base your self-esteem on your own humanity — living things have worth.
6. Make practical plans
If you have written down your feelings and thoughts, you can identify the root causes of your insecurity. For example, you feel bad about yourself because you don’t like your job and you don’t think you’re good at your job.
Tackle this insecurity by making a to-do list or a vision board that includes “getting training” or “looking for a new job” —be as specific as possible. Not only will a clear plan help ease your anxiety but it will also give you reasons to get excited about the future.
See, you might not be able to control what happens to you, but you can prepare yourself for what’s to come. At any point, you can take the wheel of your life and steer it in the direction you want.
7. Keep pushing through.
Life right now is hard — don’t make it harder for yourself.
Stand in front of the mirror and tell yourself that you are kind, you are beautiful, you’re worthy, and you are enough as the person you are.
Believe it because it’s true.
Make a list of all the things you love about yourself and your life and put it somewhere you can see easily. If someone doesn’t agree with you, that’s their problem, not yours. Navigate towards people who choose you and share the same values as you.
Don’t give up.
The older you get, the less you will care about what people think of you, and the more confident you will become — it’ll happen, so keep going.
While you’re working on yourself, don’t let life put you down or hold you back. You’ve got this.